F o o t b a l l , d e s i g n & W IT
editor's letter oes anyone actually read the editor's letter? Surely it's just an excuse for the 'editor' (that's me, Arnold Bernid) to blow his own trumpet and brag about the ridiculous perks that go hand in hand with running a magazine. The international press trips, the no strings attached free gifts and boozy lunches on someone else's tab... it really is great. And as I recline in my Eames classic, speaking these words aloud, and they are taken down in shorthand by my PA, Brian, it looks like we might have pulled it off again. Another classic issue of Pickles. But surely there's more to life than kicking back with a stogie and a cognac, in the private members clubs that we frequent. What about the love of the game, Mr Bernid? The beautiful game? The working class ballet? It can't all be about the fast cars and the faster women? For a determined bunch of supporters, the values and traditions are worth fighting for. Not willing to let the soulless money men suck what little joy that is left out of the game, STAND, a fanzine set up by like-minded football fans offers alternatives to the negative aspects of modern football. Joe Downes caught up with founder, Seb White to get his view on the Against Modern Football movement. Long before Clarence Seedorf graced the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza's turf, another foreign import was making an impact in the capital of Lombardy. Paul Grech unearths a forgotten tale of football and forbidden love. José Germano de Sales, a Brazilian international, joined the Milanese club in the summer of 1962 but it was his romance with a young Countess that would define his life in Italy and change the course of his career. When Benoit Assou-Ekotto announced: 'I play for the money. Football's not my passion' back in 2010, his declaration was met with a mixture of emotions but you have to admit that an honest insight into the mind of a 'professional' footballer was refreshing. Luke Ginnell discusses the subject of professionalism and invites us to reassess our expectations of our sporting heroes. Ever wanted to delve a little deeper in to Carlos Valderrama's luscious locks? The excellent David Squires finds that there is more going on in that barnet than you would have possibly imagined in his beautifully illustrated strip. Oh yeah, and Pickles had the pleasure of hanging out with Ashley Cole. Official member of the 100 club and a reputation that certainly proceeds him, we caught up with the England international at the launch of the Nike Tiempo V. James Carruthers takes a closer look at the man we think we know all too well. The accompanying illustration and our cover artwork is by the talented artist, Patryk Mogilnicki. That's enough trumpet blowing. Thank you again for checking out our magazine; we appreciate your support and enthusiasm. A big thank you to everyone who contributed to this issue, and keep spreading the Pickles message. Arnold Bernid & The Pickles Team
Editor Arnold Bernid Creative Director Ned Read Words & Pictures James Carruthers Luke Constable Richard Copeman Joe Downes Luke Ginnell Paul Grech Mark Holloway
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A Love Story From Row H Not much glitters under Gould. Don’s gone. A time of few Good men. But in comes a Trigger To spark a fire To fire in the goals To take us up To take us home. Super Bob Taylor, with his film star name. Now that’s what you call a number nine, With boots of glory and thighs divine. Hark now hear the West Brom sing A king is born today His name is Bobby Taylor And he stole our hearts away Their debuts converge He scores and he catches Her eyes; with His goal, Or his thighs? Hark now hear the West Brom sing A king is born today His name is Bobby Taylor And now we’re going every week At Bristol he’d inspired Prose With his thighs Like an elephant’s, they wrote But in poems WE devote Space to love for our king. The thighs; The thighs that caught her eyes; Those thighs: the power and the size. He springs to rise and Meet The proverbial inviting. Nets stay hit. Once bitten, Her on the terrace Smitten. 37 goals. Wembley and up. Bob outgraces Swan. The crowd erupts. Her in lucky knickers The Lord is our Shepherd But she really does want. Desire flows and flickers. At Charlton away we dance the Macarena, The words neatly changed to “One Bobby Taylor”. One Bobby Taylor!
by mark holloway
Hark now hear the West Brom sing A king is born today His name is Bobby Taylor And that’s all she’s coming for. Our love survives a move North West. We see him boxed at the shrine, a daughter in stripes With “Daddy” across the shoulders. He scores against Villa and we know it’s for us. She smiles more than him when he scores against us. In a swapped shirt he approaches Just beyond our embraces; Heartbroken, Hopeless cases. Her interest revives When the saviour returns To keep us up; Beyond all hope Madly To take us up. A decade on, She still yearns. A magical May day A fluffed free-kick Fumbled to Bob Whose caress finds the net. Again. Afterwards With his shirt off: The best day yet. In the promised land He only starts twice. She’s confused. Why’s he so slow? Why’s he falling over? Where did his touch go? Poor Bob on the floor. Hurt again. Substitution board. Dew-eyed men rise to applaud. But she’s no longer there. Super Bob, Still today we’ve yet to sing of new born kings Since your thighs limped away. And she’s long gone, For such is lust, When all that glitters Turns to dust.
the league OF extraordinary gentlemen t was the great Dr. Oz – you’ve heard of him, right? Mehmet Cengiz Öz, the famous American TV surgeon? You might remember him from such shows as The Dr. Oz Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show. No? Fair enough – who said “as a surgeon you have to have a controlled arrogance. If it’s uncontrolled, you kill people, but you have to be pretty arrogant to saw through a person’s chest, take out their heart and believe you can fix it.”
professional Gareth Barry, Barton suggests “he’s also discreet and always agrees with the manager. He’s like the guy who sits in the front row and listens to the teacher. I certainly don’t lose any sleep when I play against him.” I wonder if Joseph ever loses any sleep wondering why some people conclude that he has an insufferably arrogant personality. I’d be interested to know if anyone outside of Joey’s family has ever reached the same conclusion, that he is in fact the best English midfielder gracing this land.
The same applies to the very best players in world football. I’m sure a few of the world’s most extravagant stars will truly believe they could successfully perform open-heart surgery, but at the very least they hold a certain arrogance, a certain swagger, that convinces both themselves and others that they can do whatever they have the audacity to imagine on a football pitch.
It’s just not enough to claim to be the best. You need to show people you are the best. Every week. Every season. When you do that, and then tell people you are the best, people will listen. They will at the very least, respect you. And more than likely, they might even love you for it. Jose Mourinho didn’t just tell us he was the Special One. He reeled off what he had achieved in football, then he proclaimed to be the Special One, and then he went and achieved a truck load more. And we said fair enough.
With that in mind, consider some of the greatest, talismanic, adored superstars in our game and drop them somewhere along the arrogance-scale. Ronaldo is off the chart, being nudged over the edge by an on-rushing Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Henry exuded arrogance after every goal he ever scored. We love these guys, don’t we? Here I was thinking arrogance was such an ugly personality trait.
“You can have a certain arrogance, and I think that’s fine, but what you should never lose is the respect for the others.” That’s correct, seven times Wimbledon champion, Steffi Graf. Respect is a huge component of likeable arrogance, and something again Joey Barton lacks when talking about the likes of Gareth Barry. This too, is where John Terry has fallen foul over the years. His various misdemeanours have shown a lack of respect for his fellow professionals (not naming Wayne Bridge), the Cobham tourist industry and the parking restrictions outside Pizza Express.
It’s because we know what these guys do isn’t happening by accident. Henry’s knee slides, facial gurns, and cheeky smiles were emphatic punctuation marks to accentuate moments of greatness. When you are Zlatan, eccentricity becomes endearing because you have won the league ten times (eight times on the spin) and can do with an orange what John Carew can do with a football. So we’ve just proved arrogance is undeniably a good and virtuous gift, yes? Sorry? Joey Barton, you say? John Terry? Yes, I do remember David Bentley. I see where you’re going, good point. For every arrogant sod we love and adore, there are plenty who people deplore or would dub an “arsehole”. And with good reason, for these individuals lack some essential characteristics to successfully get away with an arrogant demeanour. Look at Mr Barton, a man who has claimed that “honestly, I think I’m the best. I’m English and I love playing for my country. Maybe the people at the top have a problem with me. I don’t know.” Not only does he hold such high opinion of himself, but of England and Everton model
'you have to be pretty arrogant to saw through a person’s chest'
We’re football fans and we love a show. We love a showman. We want our stars to be bold, confident and courageous on the pitch. But we also like to separate the showman from the real man. We don’t want arrogance spilling over into real life. We don’t want to see our idol in the street and have them look down on us. The true greats of the game, the ones we really love, aren’t great by accident. They know they are great and they work tirelessly to push the boundaries of greatness. But they also realise they’d be nobody and nowhere without their teammates and the fans whose attendance at games make their talent relevant. That kind of arrogance, I love
True lust lasts a lifetime words by joe downes
t first glance lust and football are hardly natural bedfellows. Lust is, after all, ‘strong sexual desire’ according to a few publications I managed to dig out. Therefore, other than planting one on the club crest, Gary Neville (whether you like it or not, Mr Scholes) or the stranger sat next to you at the 2012 Championship play-off final (To the man in Block 536, Row 7, Seat 302 I am sure you will agree it was a special day), there is not too much beautiful ‘in that way’ about the beautiful game. However, as Julia Fordham sang, ‘Lust moves in mysterious ways’. Okay, that wasn’t quite the lyric, but you get the picture. The point is that lust has a much broader meaning. It is a passionate enjoyment of, or an intense wanting for, something (power or knowledge, for example). With this definition the concept suddenly becomes easier to pair with football. Everyone connected with the game is passionate about it and this passion manifests itself in various ways. Travelling to some far-flung corner of the country and chanting yourself hoarse on a ramshackle stand, for instance. Thierry Henry explained this madness more beautifully than I ever could: ‘I eat football, I sleep football, I breathe football. I’m not mad, I’m just passionate.’ For fans that passion is more than enough. For others, though, it is merely the basis on which greater ambitions can be fulfilled. The transformation from game to business has introduced an inherently commercial and cutthroat nature to proceedings at the top level. Such are the rewards on offer that success and power have gone from being an added bonus for those running the game and our clubs, to something that is expected, demanded, ‘wanted intensely’. This element is dividing the football family. On the one hand those who passionately enjoy the game, on the other those who seek rewards – financial or otherwise – via it. One group firmly in the former camp is ‘Stand’, a fanzine that, according to its manifesto, ‘introduces
and investigates alternatives to negative aspects of modern football and brings together disaffected fans.’ Specifically the rapidly expanding group backs supporter-owned clubs, cheaper ticket prices and the introduction of safe standing areas. ‘The ideal club should be run by the fans on some level,’ says Seb White, one of Stand’s founding fathers. ‘Clubs like Exeter City, FC United of Manchester and AFC Wimbledon are always going to put the fans first. I’ve been to a few of Wimbledon’s home games and it just feels like a club should.’
‘The club isn’t the same one they grew up loving’ I point out that all of these clubs – and others like them – entered supporter-owned schemes as a last resort and wonder whether, as admirable as this model is, its natural home is in football’s basement and could never truly work at the highest level. ‘Maybe we’ll never know,’ says Seb. ‘If it happened to a big club with the infrastructure to rebuild it’s possible. If you’d have asked me before Portsmouth went then I’d have said definitely not. But they could get back there and Portsmouth fans I know keep telling me that, even though they’re struggling in League Two, they’ve never enjoyed a season as much as this because the atmosphere suddenly feels real again. If you’ve got a project and the fans are part of it then it can work.’ I am keen to find out whether Seb’s attitude is different when I bring things a little closer to home, so I ask him whether he would want major success, irrespective of the cost, for his own club, Yeovil Town.
‘The first thing to say is it’s all relative,’ he says. ‘Yeovil are in their Premier League right now. Last year was amazing and we’re not too far off in the Championship. As for going beyond that, I guess you look at Manchester City. We couldn’t do what they’ve done without being completely irresponsible in terms of the way the club is run. But I wouldn’t want us too. If you speak to City fans a lot of them say that the club just isn’t the same one they grew up loving and Yeovil would have to become a new club in all but name.’ I ask Seb what Stand can realistically achieve. ‘We were just a small fanzine to start with and could never have predicted what’s happened,’ he says. ‘The support we’ve had gives me real confidence even though it’s a huge monster we’re up against. We just want to make people think about what’s happening with the game and try and encourage them to go to their supporters trust and make a difference with the help of organisations like Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation.’ So large are the figures at the highest level that the game has gone too far in its pursuit of riches to reverse the trend now and things may get worse before they get better. However, whether it is TV revenue, players’ wages, ticket prices, transfer fees or something else, there will eventually be a straw that breaks the camel’s back. Steps taken by those running the game to reverse this – such as the overdue and lenient Financial Fair Play regulations – reflect that. For us, the fans, there remains a comforting thought, though. The investment of time will count for more than the investment of money in the long-term. As Stand say: ‘It’s us, the supporters, not the hedge funds, debt consolidators or oligarchs, who were here before they came along, and will remain long after they’ve gone.’ Stand is a not for profit fanzine. For more information visit www.standamf.com or follow on Twitter @standamf
thesunshineroom.com @squires_david concept by Chris Taylor
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro words by james phillips
ristiano Ronaldo has inspired many emotions in football fans over the past decade or so. The Portuguese wonder has angered some with his perceived arrogance, undoubted ego and of course, that famous wink at the 2006 World Cup. But the Real Madrid superstar has every right to his ego because of what he has achieved in his life to date, and the incredible work ethic he has shown to take his career to the preposterous levels that have now seen him claim his second FIFA Ballon d’Or at the age of 28. That victory shows how the perception is changing of Ronaldo, as his sheer brilliance begins to inspire people rather than attract negativity for his perceived prima donna attitude. Cristiano Ronaldo has shown a lust for life and a raw passion for football throughout his career and even before that. Growing up as the son of a gardener and a cook in the working class district of Funchal, a city on the isolated Atlantic island of Madeira, Ronaldo was obsessed with football. His talent was spotted by local clubs and he eventually left for Sporting Lisbon on the Portuguese mainland as a 12-year-old.Leaving home wasn’t easy but Ronaldo worked on his skills like no other, a trait that never left him. On joining Manchester United in 2003, Ronaldo was humble enough to request the No 28 shirt, but Sir Alex Ferguson insisted he inherit the prestigious No 7 shirt last worn by David Beckham. Phil Neville has said that the United lads didn’t take well to the youngster’s diving antics and gave him a thorough kicking every day in training. The likes of Roy Keane, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes ensured he was given a battering each week as he adjusted to English football, but the winger carried on grafting away. Contrary to popular belief, Ronaldo’s diving largely stopped fairly early on in his Manchester United career, and most incidents beyond his first season were more a case of him being fouled all the time in contrast to the unashamed diving seen by one of his United successors - Ashley Young. Yet while Ronaldo was given plenty of abuse by English fans, his game went from strength
to strength. Neville also recalls that despite his brutal treatment, the Portuguese never lost focus and every day would run around the whole of the Carrington training complex with a ball at his feet, practicing tricks to help him beat defenders. This dedication took a while to pay off. Unlike his eternal rival Lionel Messi, Ronaldo was not initially seen as the next global superstar. In Portugal, Ricardo Quaresma was viewed as the bigger talent, and at United Wayne Rooney was rated higher than the Portuguese for a long period. In Ronaldo’s first three years at United, Ferguson’s team struggled in the Premier League, and he only collected one FA Cup and one League Cup winners’ medal. At the same time, his goalscoring ability was yet to develop and he only scored 27 times in his first 137 games for the Red Devils. But the best of Ronaldo came to the fore when he faced adversity. He was vilified after the 2006 World Cup when Rooney was sent off for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho’s nether-regions. His crime? Winking at the bench after the referee had given Rooney the red card. Ronaldo had spoken to the referee prior to the sending off but Rooney was wholly to blame for such a ludicrous foul in a crucial quarter-final on the world’s biggest stage. The duo may have been club-mates at the time but on such a stage the majority of players would have said something to the referee if they were close enough as Rooney clearly deserved a red. The wink was simply a show of confidence that he felt his team could go
His physique has gone from weedy winger to that of a body-builder
on to win the match after the England forward had been correctly sent off. Ronaldo was proved right, as he buried the final and decisive penalty to send the Three Lions packing. He could not have foreseen the vitriol back in England, with both fans and media turning on him. But this was a turning point for Ronaldo, and his form the following season saw him win the Premier League and take home the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award – the start of an incredible run of goal-scoring excellence that has continued to the present day. Ronaldo has got better with age. Look at photographs of him as a young player compared to now. He is completely different. His physique has gone from that of a weedy winger to that of a body-builder. And on the pitch it shows as strength has become a key asset for his ability to fend off defenders both in aerial battles and when running through on goal. The tears that the newly crowned best player in the world shed when presented with the 2013 Ballon d’Or were telling, and perhaps a moment where many of his haters could begin to sympathise with him, much like Andy Murray after his 2012 Wimbledon final defeat. Ronaldo has worked his socks off for years and years. Since winning the 2007/08 Champions League with United, which helped him to land that year’s world player prize, he has been frustrated continually by Lionel Messi. No matter what Ronaldo did, Messi was bettering him. But the Argentine had a weaker year in 2013 and Ronaldo’s consistency paid off. After having to endure a bizarre mockery from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the relief of being recognised by the world football governing body must have been a huge relief for him. It was justification of both his super-human efforts in training and his on-pitch genius. The man from Madeira is a lot of things, but more than anything else he is a grafter. His lust for the game has taken him to the very top, and with the World Cup stage in Brazil waiting for him this year, the world truly is his oyster
my dirty secret
I have a dirty secret. My friends lead different lives so they cannot understand mine. Others have commitments, ties that bind them to vows of fidelity, the societal expectation of unity. That way of living just isnâ€™t for me. I like to go through â€™em. Use them to get what I need, then get out. My love and devotion can be bought with nothing more than the promise of excitement. I am a slut. I am a whore...
don’t support a football team. It doesn’t mean I don’t like football, I just found a way to like it without having strings attached. No emotions, nothing below the surface. Other people I know - Millwall fans, Charlton fans - are stuck in loveless marriages. The purgatory of dull oneness, telling themselves that they’re happy. How can any man with a Millwall crest tattooed on his calf truly be happy? Me? I’m happy. I go from fling to fling, casual as you like. I support teams in single servings, dipping in and out of innumerable different lives that have been denied me. The end result doesn’t matter, it’s purely about how I feel for those ninety minutes. This way I can be young always, forever in emotional stasis, with a flag unadorned by anyone’s colour.
my family, so I inherited no team, as most people do. In my early secondary school years I would become familiar with the term ‘glory hunter’, and would puzzle over what was to be done with it. Which would be the greater indignity, I wondered: supporting a good team and taking abuse, or discarding them at the first sign of trouble? I stuck with them for many years and have great memories, though looking back it seems they were memories of football rather than Manchester United specifically. Soon enough I realised that it could have been Arsenal, Chelsea, anyone. Even Manchester City: how could I truly subscribe to the hatred that sustains that rivalry, living in Kent?
I still remember some of the best ones. Cardiff City versus Liverpool in the 2012 Carling Cup final. Ghana at the World Cup in South Africa. Wigan versus Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final. Something about the underdog just does it for me; their vulnerability and puppyish desire to please, it just drives me wild. That’s not the only thing that gets me off though. I go for the more obvious types, teams that play attractive football, that have the best players - Barcelona, Bayern Munich. Who doesn’t like something good to look at, eh lads? If that sounds crass, then this is just how it is for a man without a club. I lust for one team after another to find the drama I crave, but it never feels quite right. I look at friends and pity them. I recognise my pity, reflected back to me in faces that stare back without ever truly knowing. How did it come to this? As a boy I adopted Manchester United as my team. They were the first I ever watched, and I was easily seduced by the names of Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Andrei Kanchelskis. Most of all it was Ryan Giggs who lured me in, burnishing my very first memories of football. He scored the only goal against Sheffield Wednesday in the first game I ever saw, in an otherwise dull encounter (there is no trace of the goal – the first I ever witnessed - on YouTube), but it did nothing to deter me. The comedian Daniel Kitson tells a story about what it felt like when his friend first gave him an album by The Divine Comedy: “You’re going to like this, and things like this, forever.” United, Giggs, Clayton Blackmore - it was as if a mystical box had opened before me, like a hamper festooned with Shoot magazines, Merlin sticker albums and formative moments that will stay forever embossed on my brain. I loved football and I would love Manchester United. Around the same time, Cantona was sent off twice in consecutive games against Swindon Town and Arsenal, and I wondered what all the subsequent fuss was about, assuming it was perfectly normal and that this was just part of the game. The next summer would be my first as a football fan, and 1994 bought with it a World Cup. I remember hearing of Andres Escobar’s death on the news, asking my mother what the word ‘assassination’ meant and realising that a man had died for football, and assumed that this, too, was normal. If football was something to die for, it was clearly so important. The very least I could do was stick by my team. But it wasn’t to last. How was I to know, at eight years old, that Manchester was 233 miles away from my house? There was no historical lineage of football in
I support teams in single servings, dipping in and out of innumerable different lives We grew apart, and lonely as I was, I decided that I could never love again. Jaded and forsaken, I knew nothing would ever be as sweet as that magical first team. So it remains preserved in the amber of time, like the first or best of everything in life. Or like Jimmy Saville’s dead mother’s wardrobe, which he kept in his house for years, back when that was the strangest thing about him. So now, when I’m asked the question, the answer is as difficult as it is simple. “What team do you support, mate?” I am an outside agent of a common pursuit. I am a lone wolf, a maverick, a blackheart. I am all of these things and more, but I am not a Millwall fan. Nor am I a Charlton fan. The beered-up throng celebrates around me as a goal is scored, but I stay silent. The moment fails to move me, and I wonder whether it ever could. These people cheer as their team succeeds, and I only watch on, voiceless amidst the tumult. I am a man without a club, and shall forever be
w o r d s b y l u k e c o n s t a b l e @ RGSOAS
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José Germano de Sales words by paul grech
hen Clarence Seedorf was announced as the new AC Milan manager there was little talk of his lack of experience in the role. Nor did there seem to be too much interest in what he might do to revive the club’s fortunes, struggling as it was in the wrong half of the league table. Instead, the aspect of the appointment that seemingly struck the most sensitive chord was that of the colour of his skin. The initial contentions that he was to be the first black man to manage in the Serie A were wrong – that honour fell to Faustinho Cane’ who flanked Vujadin Boskov as Napoli manager back in 1994 – yet that did not diminish the significance of the appointment. In a country that still struggles to accept its growing multicultural reality, it was a bold move regardless of Seedorf ’s past with Milan. It is unlikely that many will have noted, but for AC Milan being pioneers was a role that they’ve performed before in their history. Up until 1962, when they signed a player called José Germano de Sales, there had only been one black player in the Serie A, so he was both a novelty and the focus of the time’s racial ignorance. Newspapers debated whether it was right to let black players in the Serie A, whilst even the legendary Milan manager Nereo Rocco allegedly affectionately referred to him as ‘bongo, bongo’. Germano’s story started in Brazil with Flamengo. It was with them that he made his debut as a prodigiously talented eighteen-year-old winger who had speed and dribbling ability that unlocked defences. He was good enough to force his way into a national team that was one of the strongest the world has ever seen and only just missed out on making it into the Seleção squad that went to the 1962 World Cup. It was all of this that captured the attention of AC Milan who were looking to add to their squad having won the title the previous year. That he came highly recommended by two Brazilians who had excelled in the Serie A - Jose Altafini and Dino Sani - helped convince them. Initially it looked as if it was going to be an inspired signing. Germano scored on his Champions Cup (an
8-0 trashing of Union Luxemburg) and then did so twice more on his league debut, salvaging a point in a 3-3 draw with Venezia. And then, inexplicably, nothing. One month after joining and having played just five times for Milan, Germano was mysteriously and hastily sent on loan to Genoa. There he stayed until the end of the season scoring twice in twelve games with serious doubts surrounding his future. Undoubtedly, this series of decisions had sound footballing reasons at heart – he certainly was a bit stouter than the AC Milan coaching staff had expected him to be – and he had struggled to adjust to the cold Milanese weather, but there were also other factors. Early on in his time in Italy, Germano had met a local girl who was out horse riding in the fields adjacent to Milan’s training grounds. The two had fallen quickly in love which was not remarkable were it not for the fact that the girl in question, Giovanna, was white and which was no trivial matter in an era where mixed marriages were unheard of. It wasn’t just that, however. Giovanna was also the daughter of a prominent local industrialist, the head of the motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta, who also happened to be a Count. Not to mention that she was very young at the time when the two first started seeing each other. Inevitably, Giovanna’s father – Count Domenico Agusta – objected to the relationship and used his influence to ensure that Germano’s stay in Milan was as brief as possible. There seems to be little doubt that his pressure had an impact in the decisions taken in the Brazilian’s regard but that would only emerge later. At the time, it was simply assumed that Germano was struggling with finding his feet in Italy. Fortune certainly didn’t favour him either. Upon his return to Milan from Genoa, he was involved in a car accident and the resulting injury prevented him from playing. He remained in the capital of Lombardy for a further two years without making another competitive appearance. AC Milan finally sold him to Palmeiras. His story, however, was just beginning.
Back in his homeland, Germano’s form had returned and he played regularly but he pined for his love. So, barely twelve months after leaving Milan, he was back in Europe playing for Standard Liege in Belgium. The footballing side of the transfer seemed incidental to the fact that it allowed him to be with Giovanna who, unbeknownst to her family, had ran away to Liege. It was at this point that the story became public, giving the delighted Italian gossip magazines a story of prohibited love that captured the interest of the nation. It was under this public scrutiny that the two decided they were getting ready to get married, despite the absence of her father’s consent. Yet it wasn’t going to be that simple. Giovanna’s relatives were determined to stop the marriage from going ahead and they took legal action to ensure this was the case. Then, however, Giovanna revealed that she was pregnant and her family finally relented, albeit after making sure that there was a pre-marital agreement that safeguarded her assets in place. In June of 1967 the two finally got married and soon afterwards Giovanna gave birth to a daughter that they called Lulu. Unfortunately, however, there was to be no happy ending to their story and within three years their marriage was over. By that time, Germano had decided to leave football and for him there was no way back; the career that had promised so much ultimately fizzling out. He returned to Brazil where he lived on a farm bought in his home city of Conselheiro Pena, purportedly with money that his father-in-law had given him to ensure that he stepped aside. José Germano de Sales died in 1997 aged just 55. His footballing achievements had been largely forgotten as has his pioneering role in Italian football. Yet the starcrossed love story that compelled him to sacrifice his career in order to be with the woman he loved will live on. And so it should. Sometimes in life, football has to take the back seat Paul is currently working on a e-book with stories of personalities who make Italian football special. More information can be obtained from IlReCalcio.com
pickles meets ashley words by james carruthers interview by ned read
t is a truth universally acknowledged that Ashley Cole is an awesome footballer. How often over the last 10, 20, even 30 years of football can England realistically lay claim to having the best player in the world in their position? Some may point to Michael Owen’s European Player of the Year award or David Beckham’s global trophy haul, but an honest assessment would arrive at the answer, once. And it’s Ashley Cole. Thinking back over the career of a deserving member of England’s 100 club, perhaps the most poignant memories of Cole are of a player who emphatically wrapped shackles around Cristiano Ronaldo in both Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006. Praise indeed, that the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner would elevate Cole to the status of his toughest ever opponent. And now, he’s Pickles’ first ever football interviewee. We already know a lot about the guy; or at least we think we do. He’s notoriously media averse, having been bitten by the sharp teeth of the tabloids in his wilder days and he even swerved the Captain’s press conference prior to leading England in his 102nd international appearance. But now we’ve got him sat down in front of us at the launch of Nike’s new Tiempo V boot, and we’re going to put his media skills to the test. It’s immediately clear he’s perfectly capable of dealing with the press. He’s affable and his answers are well versed. They are the right answers, very correct and professional. It’s like he’s been here 1000 times before. He’s reading our questions like he’s reading the shoulder drop and shimmy of a top class winger, and he’s in a position to answer them before the last word has left our lips. He’s leading us in a direction of his choosing, giving the answers he wants to give. We’ve caught Cole at a good time in some respects. Chelsea have just defeated Manchester United at Stamford Bridge to all but end the Champion’s title defence. (Let’s be blunt, it was over in October, even if Cole himself refuses to write them off even now). Yet it’s a more difficult time personally for a man who has worked the left-hand side of Stamford Bridge almost non-stop for the best part of 8 seasons. He’s been confined to the bench in recent weeks and Sunday’s game was a similar story, so we wanted to know whether being on the bench meant he prepared any differently for games? “It’s the same,“ Cole tells us. “We had a good week leading up to it; intense training, not too much tactics. It’s a big game. We don’t really need to do that much leading up to it. You have the desire and the will to beat these big teams if you want to win the league. We trained well that week and we got the reward for that with the result.” It’s the kind of answer we’re expecting from the professional side of Cole. The team comes first. The result is the only thing that matters. It’s an answer Jose would be proud of. And to broaden Mourinho’s beaming smile, Cole has some special words for his two-time gaffer.
“He knows what he’s doing. He knows what the Premier League’s about. All the players enjoy him being there. He definitely gets the fight and determination out of the players and that will to win.” We’re listening intently to Cole’s courteous answers. Whatever may have been written about some of his more rebellious conduct, he’s obviously got a lot of respect for the game, the team he works with on a day-to-day basis and the opponents he squares up against week after week. We wonder whether there’s any hint of a selfish streak to the player, a lust for more individual recognition. The list of nominees for the 2013 Ballon d’Or featured a distinct lack of left-backs, with only Philipp Lahm’s name thrown into the hat for the award. Perhaps Cole craves more individual respect for himself and his defensive compatriots? “It’s something that I’m not really focused on. I’m focused on trying to get back in the team, trying to win the league and cup for the club and the fans, though it’s always nice if someone gives you recognition for what you’ve done and achieved. Ronaldo is the king; he’s the best and has been for years. People probably don’t take to him as much as Messi because of his attitude, but for me, he’s been the best for the last 5 years and I was happy he got the reward for all his hard work.” We aren’t really surprised to hear another magnanimous answer to a question. And as the interview is progressing, we’re becoming aware that we aren’t going to get any particularly provocative replies from Cole. And that’s fine. We’re absolutely enjoying the conversation and we’re thoroughly engaged with the man. We’re pleased to hear that he’s considering the potential of a “scouting job, or something like that” when he finally hangs up his boots, and that a year out to possibly do some travelling may also be on the cards. But we’ve got a little nagging deliberation in the back of our minds. Just a little poser we’ve considered before and which has occurred to us once again. Players do seem to keep their guard high when they talk to the media these days…need they? We don’t feel the impulse to ask Cole directly, he’s perfectly entitled to answer our questions in the manner he sees fit. He’s been on the end of treatment from the press before and he’s not inclined to be led into any traps at this stage of his career. And thinking about it, we’re already fully aware of who is accountable for creating the modern-day breed of microphone-savvy, media-trained, self-aware footballers we typically see interviewed today. It’s all down to us. A bunch of blood-thirsty, ravenous, crazy-in-lust fans (and media types) intent on finding sound bites to distort and use to manufacture a bit of juicy controversy. Ah, controversy; the oxygen of football. Take the example of Cole’s England teammate, Jack Wilshere, who was effectively labelled xenophobic in some quarters because he wanted to convey the well-intended message that a player shouldn't be representing England simply because they can't get onto their own national side. Jack Wilshere will think twice before putting himself on the line like this again. And Cole, 11 years Wilshere’s senior, is a streetwise guy who is conscious of not giving away too much control to anyone who could ultimately prove to be an antagonist. The tag-line supporting the launch of Cole’s new boot is “I’m not done,” and it’s clear the man who made his Premier League debut in 2000 is not done with the game he loves. “At the minute I’m not playing, so I’d probably say I’ve still got things to prove to the manager, but I’ve been playing for 13 years now and I’m lucky enough to have won a lot of trophies. The hunger’s still there, the desire’s still there, and I still think I’m capable enough of doing a job. I just need to bide my time, hopefully get a few games and hopefully stay in the team again.” But it seems like he is done when it comes to putting too much of himself on show for the media. His stance against Fleet Street editorial agendas has been clear and steadfast for some time now, and that’s fine, we understand. We’ve no axe to grind at all. We are very fortunate to have been given an audience with an England great and we have certainly enjoyed the company. Following our time with one of the best players of our generation, we’ve ultimately learned one thing. The next time you’re watching a post-match interview and feel the urge to complain about the repetitive and predictable answers you are hearing from your favourite Premier League stars, don’t. It’s your fault... you, the one lusting controversy. Not you, Ashley Cole
When asked what he would be if he wasn’t a footballer, fugly beanpole, Peter Crouch, famously quipped “a virgin”. Seemingly even Crouchy has ploughed many an available furrow afforded to him by the wealth and fame of being a professional footballer (including his now wife, the angel-faced, scally-voiced Strictly queen, Abbey Clancy). But it’s probably fair to say that the ex-England target man would struggle to make the starting XI of the game’s more lustful exponents. This lot could certainly take on the world (and his wife): PETER SHILTON - Goalkeeper Back in 1980, on a secluded dirt track behind Nottingham racecourse, the legendary England shot-stopper was caught cavorting with a lady called Tina in the back of his car. Trying to evade Tina’s enraged husband, Shilton drove his Jag into a nearby lamp post and was subsequently charged with drink-driving. For the rest of his career, crowds taunted him with cries of “Shilton, Shilton, where’s your wife?”
PAT VAN DEN HAUWE - Defender It’s no coincidence that ‘Psycho Pat’ is onto his third wife. The former Everton, Spurs and Wales defender played hard on the pitch and just as hard off it. On one international trip to Malta, Van Den Hauwe sampled the hospitality of a rather accommodating local lady and got more than he bargained for – he spent a month in hospital with a particularly nasty STI. GERARD PIQUE - Defender A solid addition to the back four, because sometimes it’s important to prioritise quality over quantity. Of all the footballers in all the world, it was the United cast-off and Barcelona stalwart who captured the heart of the lovely Shakira,
a wholesome girl with small humble breasts that are thankfully difficult to confuse with mountains. Wherever, whenever, Shakira’s hips don’t lie, even when she’s on tonight, apparently, which actually sounds filthier than any tabloid scandal you care to mention. Her love for Pique, who’s clearly no oil painting, is beautiful proof of the fact that all a man needs to do to appear more attractive is stand near a munter like Charles Puyol. In Physics this is known as the Lineker-Beardsley principle. LOTHAR MATTHAUS - Sweeper For a man whose career was such a stellar success on the field, his life away from it has been something of a rollercoaster. The German legend has been married four times and has been known to have a penchant for models half his age, having been involved with several over the last 20 years. In Italian, scopare means both “to sweep” and “to shag”. Perhaps when he signed for Inter in 1988, Lothar misunderstood the role they wanted him to perform . GARRINCHA - Midfielder The Brazilian maestro was born into extreme poverty, had a deformed spine and one leg that was two inches shorter than the other. But far from letting that hold him back, he reputedly lost his virginity at 14-years-old to a goat and fathered 14 children by 5 different women – including one conceived during Brazil’s successful 1958 World Cup campaign in Sweden. STAN BOWLES - Midfielder It’s amazing that the enigmatic ex-QPR man ever found time to play football given he’s spent most of his life in the bookies, in the pub or bedding a succession of beauties. His exploits are all the more impressive when you consider that a) there was no money in football back then, and b) he looked a bit like the ugly one from On The Buses. No, not Olive…
JEAN-FRANCOIS LARIOS - Midfielder This particular ménage á trois almost derailed France’s 1982 World Cup campaign; Larios was rumoured to be having it off with the wife of one of his St. Etienne and France colleagues – none other than superstar, Michel Platini. The indiscretion cost Larios dearly; he was sent home from the World Cup squad in Spain and never played for Les Bleus again. Ooh la la! GEORGE BEST-Midfielder The undoubted star man, idol and captain of this randy roll of honour. Best was the ultimate playboy of his or any other era. Famed for his love of women and the drink, George was usually seen with a glass in one hand and a stunner on the other. A man of many quotable lines, this sums up his days as one of the world’s top lotharios; “I used to go missing a lot….Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World…”
GEORGE BEST PATO - Forward It takes a certain kind of Alpha Male to eschew the groupies and wannabe WAGS for the most powerful and well-connected woman on the radar. In England we were impressed when pint-sized goal terrier Paul Peschisolido pulled his club’s Managing Director (and even if Karren Brady’s not your type, she’s surely more of a looker than Ed Woodward), but in Italy, Pato took the footballer’s sexual conquest to a whole new level. I’ll see your Karen Brady, Mr Peschisolido, and I’ll raise you Babs Berlusconi. Yes she’s on the Board of Directors, yes her dad owns the club, yes her dad’s the prime minister, and yes she’s mine. And no she won’t be appearing on “The Apprentice – You’re Fired” when they can’t get hold of that Scottish bra woman. FAUSTINO ASPRILLA - Forward Former Newcastle maverick ‘Tino’ is quite a character. He was once arrested for firing a gun at police on his farm, he made romantic overtures to a porn star whilst married and has also posed nude for a magazine shoot. Recently, the retired striker was offered the opportunity to forge a new career in adult movies. Imagine if that had happened to Iain Dowie. No, on second thoughts, don’t imagine that. Whatever. You. Do. MALCOLM ALLISON - MANAGER ‘Big Mal’ beat off ‘stiff’ competition from the likes of Tommy Docherty and SvenGoran Eriksson for the privilege of leading this bunch of bed-hoppers. The exCrystal Palace and Manchester City boss reputedly had liaisons with Christine Keeler (of the Profumo scandal), singer Dorothy Squires and two Miss UKs. In 1976, he was famously photographed in the Crystal Palace players’ bath with porn star Fiona Richmond. A fine example for our randy bunch
words by mark godfrey
"I definitely don't think that money can buy you love. It can buy you affection but certainly not love"
FRANK WORTHINGTON - Forward Often described as a poor man’s George Best, Worthington certainly tried to emulate the Belfast playboy both on and off the pitch. He notoriously failed a medical at Liverpool due to high blood pressure brought about by “enjoying the fruits of being young”. He’d been dating Miss Great Britain, had had a threesome with a Swedish mother and daughter combo and deflowered a Belgian woman on holiday in the run up to his planned transfer to Anfield. His autobiography is entitled ‘One Hump or Two?’ Quite simply a pioneer crumpeteer.
Photography by Darren Lennon Fashion by Nicki Gillion
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Photographer - Darren Lennon / Plan Pictures Stylist - Nicki Gillon / Guesswho PR Assistant Stylist - Rachel Gillon / Guesswho PR Story shot on location in Manchester
Grooming - Paula Maxwell Model - Laurie Howarth / D1 Models Production - Dean Young / Plan Pictures
pickles meets Denis Dekovic nike football design director and and the man responsible for the tiempo v, nike's newest boot Can you explain the design process behind the creation of the Tiempo boot? Where do you take inspiration from? The Tiempo is an incredible boot to work on because it has such a rich history and has really become an icon. In the 1994 World Cup final, 10 players took to the pitch in the first Tiempo. For us, that moment was really the beginning of Nike football history, so we always approach the design of the new Tiempo with a lot of respect and consideration. As with everything we do, the work starts with the player. Listening to what his needs are with regards to the product, but also understanding his playing style and attitude on the pitch. With the Tiempo V, we focused on solving problems related to leather boots – such as water absorption and stretch – but we also looked at how we could best integrate key natural motion learnings from across sport and the company, and we could apply these learnings to a football boot. We wanted to capture the energy of today’s youth culture while respecting the past, so we pushed the style of the boot a bit more than what we normally do with a boot like the Tiempo. The process of going from players’ insight to the finished product took a little over two years and it required rigorous testing with our players to validate the ideas and make sure that those truly do deliver a new and better product. The boot has the same attitude as the original 1994 version, how did this affect the design process? It was definitely important to us that we keep the integrity and classic style of Tiempo. But our first
priority was to bring innovation to the boot. Since 1994, the game of football has changed – it’s faster with more dynamic full-field play. Looking at players like Gerard Pique and Ashley Cole we know that we wanted to create a boot that met the needs of the modern game to create the best leather football boot to-date. The original Tiempo was black and white, what were the reasons behind the colour choices of the Tiempo V? It’s been 20 years since the initial Tiempo launch, and we felt it was time take the boot in a bolder direction. We looked at colour blocking and took inspiration from nature and the flicker effect it can create. The most obvious example can be found in birds that have bold coloured feathers on the inside of their wings, this flicker effect creates an illusion of speed. For us, the parallel was to not only enable the player to be quick through design elements such as fit and traction, but also make him look and feel faster as well. The boot focuses on fit, touch, traction and style? When do you consider the players' needs? It always starts by listening to the voice of the athlete. We work with players from the elite to the every day to create products that will help give them every advantage on the pitch, so it's not only professionals like Gerard Pique and Ashley Cole, but younger players that are coming through too. Specifically on the Tiempo we were hearing that players wanted a classic leather boot, but without some of the age-old problems with leather – increased water absorption causing increased weight and the wear that causes over time. So, we really focused on providing the lightest touch through enhanced fit and innovative
materials, bringing the upper closer to the foot and utilising All Conditions Control (ACC) and K-leather to provide optimal touch in all conditions. Hypershield technology blocks moisture for a snug fit that lasts, allowing for a consistent touch regardless of weather. And the second layer of hydrophobic mesh ensures that the boot dries quickly and absorbs less water than previous leather boots. Were any new processes or materials used in the production of the boot? The upper construction is a new process that utilises two trimmed down layers to mimic the touch and lightweight feel of a synthetic. K-leather combined to provide optimal touch in all conditions while Hypershield technology blocks moisture for a snug fit that lasts, allowing for a consistent touch. This second layer of hydrophobic mesh ensures that the boot dries quickly and absorbs less water than previous leather boots. What are the key benefits of the boots and how will they enhance a footballer’s game? In addition to the elements mentioned above, further innovation comes in the boot’s engineered plate. The Tiempo’s plate moves with your foot and creates stability, traction and comfort. Heel and forefoot studs have been widened to help provide increased stability; conical studs are used at the forefoot and tip, designed to promote quickness in directional rotation; and, taking inspiration from Nike Free technology, the outsole plate flexes from the midfoot to offer increased movement and comfort for the duration of a match The Nike Tiempo Legend V, designed by Denis Dekovic is available at nike.com
joy of sex Deluxe Goalscorer's Edition
words by mark holloway
t has become clichéd for footballers to talk about whether or not scoring a goal is better than making love; Paul Ince even claimed that tackling was better than sex, which raises more questions than it answers, not least in relation to the importance of wearing shin pads. No doubt in the modern game scoring off the field is becoming easier than on it, thanks to a combination of enlightened defensive tactics introduced by foreign managers and Chinawhite’s door policy, but – with apologies to the cliché police certain similarities remain hard to ignore. The glorious anticipation. The rising excitement. A moment of ecstasy that subsides into mere joy, accompanied by a soundtrack of thrilled exclamations and stifled screams of delight. And the analogy doesn’t end there. Note the guilt and self-loathing that attacked Shaun Wright-Philips within seconds of his sneaky “soloeffort” against Chelsea. And in 1998 I’m sure I saw Fabien De Freitas roll over and fall asleep immediately after scoring his second against Norwich.
flexibility. And it’s perhaps best not worth considering any possible links between Finidi George’s “pissing dog” celebration and either bestiality or showers of a golden variety. Ipswich supporters will of course attest to seeing Finidi take the piss without any goals available to celebrate.
Facing the goal-vs-sex question in an uber-glamorous Metro interview in 2009, Ian Wright suggested that a player’s given answer would reveal a lot about their sex life. But actions speak louder than words. What could be more revealing than the behaviour we see in the seconds following a goal? Does it give us a glimpse of the goalscorer’s inner sexual soul? The lover within? The footballing world was shocked to learn of the extent of the shy and understated Ryan Giggs’ lascivious wassails, but wasn’t that hairy celebration against Arsenal a giveaway sign of the wild lothario hidden inside the wholesome yoga-toned frame?
Just as lovemaking should be spontaneous and free, so surely must goal celebrations. Search Youtube for Stjarnan FC of Iceland and you’ll find a catalogue of elaborate and expertly choreographed celebrations, performed by pretty much all the outfield players
How far can we push this analogy? Gary Lineker raises his hands to the heavens after equalising against Germany and we glimpse the joy of a man bedding a woman way out of his league. Jurgen Klinsmann’s selfdeprecating dive to celebrate his debut goal in England suggests a man who’s not afraid to laugh while on the job. He’s the kind of guy who will happily joke about his own phallic inadequacy or erectile dysfunction, no matter how seriously Pele tells him to take it. There’s a heartbroken female somewhere in Manchester who thought she saw love in Emmanuel Adebayor’s eyes as he was bearing down on her, only to realise later that he’d only had sex with her to spite his ex. Meanwhile Alan Shearer, whose name is of course an anagram of Vanilla Shag, must be as bland in the bedroom as his punditry; that drab salute tells you it’s going to be the same every time, and why shouldn’t it be? Who cares how many positions Prince can do on a one-night stand if our Alan can do the one so perfectly well? The crass and superficial among us might look to countries like Italy and Spain for the hot-blood of Latin lovers inherent in goal celebrations. But then we see Francesco Totti sucking his thumb, longing no doubt for the pre-sexual innocence of his mother’s lap. And despite the rimming connotations ring-kissing might trigger in a filthy British mind, in Madrid it signifies Raul’s loyalty and love for his wife and his Real. Cross the Atlantic to stereotypically hot South America and the image that comes back is even more wholesome than that of Raul caressing the third digit on his left hand: Bebeto’s arms rocking the baby son he has yet to hold. They’re good boys those Brazilians. They belong to Jesus, and God knows sex is just for procreation. I won’t risk wandering into the homo-erotic by wondering about the significance of Roger Milla’s rhythmic hips, or Lomana Lua Lua’s gymnastic
For legal reasons I probably shouldn’t mention the fact that Michael Owen’s celebration after scoring against Argentina in 1998 always put me in mind of a jewellery-jangling Jimmy Saville; recent revelations have obviously taken that connection to horrifically dark places. Darker still is the image of having sex with a cocaine-snorting Robbie Fowler, an eye-popping onsomething Maradona, or even a robotic piss-streaking Peter Crouch. Feel free to cross out the words “a robotic” and “piss-streaking” from that last sentence, unless of course you are currently wearing a short skirt and queueing up outside Chinawhite (in which case, save your eyeliner for later; you’re going to need it).
bedroom door are pretty short, for instance, and not just because he once wore the foul orange shirt of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Sex and violence are not a pleasant combination, and we should all be concerned that someone somewhere might have had sex with a golf-club-wielding Craig Bellamy, a spiteful revengefuelled Ruud Van Nistelory, or a machine-gun-toting Robbie Keane (see also Rob Earnshaw – which starts to raise concerns about short footballers in general). At a time when it’s our duty to be outraged by anything we don’t truly understand, we of course have to consider an ambiguous and hitherto unknown (at least inside Upton Park where it was “unleashed”) French gesture named after a dumpling (obviously) to be as shocking as the more recognisable salutes performed in stadia by Paolo Di Canio and Giorgos Katidis. While it must be terrible for a post-coital Mrs Di Canio to open her eyes and see her lover gazing wistfully at his Mussolini poster, spare a thought for anyone who has to spend the climax of any sexual encounter looking at Nicolas Anelka’s bored and miserable face. Anelka’s Quenelle has opened up a can of worms so ambiguous that if you tickle them in the middle, they smile at both ends, but surely his best defence against accusations of
wasn’t that hairy celebration against Arsenal a giveaway sign of the wild lothario INSIDE together, to which my words can do little justice. With names like bicycle, toilet, rowing team, and birth, the celebrations make for an impressive montage, and the guy who plays the hooked fish in fishing deserves some kind of award, but at the risk of coming over all Jimmy Hill, this is certainly not something I want to see creeping into the English game. Players get booked for diving into the crowd in case doing so incites violence. Pretend to have a dump after scoring against Millwall and I think you pretty much deserve the ensuing violence. Anyone with a soul will of course point to the brilliance of Jimmy Bullard’s piss-take of his thenmanager Phil Brown, sitting his teammates down and giving them a telling off after scoring against Man City. And no English man can remember Gazza and the dentist’s chair without heartstrings tugging and yearning for happier, more innocent days. So perhaps the choreographed celebration isn’t quite the post-goal equivalent of premeditated rape after all. But ah, I’ll reply, have you not forgotten Didier Drogba playing the corner flag as a guitar with Florent Malouda standing behind him playing a tiny air drumkit? The only sexual equivalent as embarrassing would be to walk in on your parents engaging in rubber-clad S&M, and realising that your dad is the letterbox rather than the postman. Pre-planned group celebrations: no thank you. Of course there are some footballers who celebrate goals with such aggression that you fear for the damage they might do in more amorous peaks of excitement. I suspect that the queues outside Temuri Ketsbaia’s
hate crimes is the fact that hatred is an emotion and there has never been any time during his career at which Anelka has looked capable of expressing an emotion. It does at least make sense that one of his best friends is a comedian who isn’t funny. It’s difficult to imagine Klinsmannesque laughter in Le Sulk’s bedroom. Any psychoanalyst worth their salt will tell you that the sexual proclivities of the adult can be traced back to childhood (I’m making this up – I don’t even know if psychoanalysts accept condiments in payment for therapy). One of my earliest childhood memories of a goal celebration was the epic ecstasy of Marco Tardelli streaming away from the half-volley he’d just unleashed in the 1982 World Cup Final. But Tardelli’s body language is more reverential than sexual, and it’s clear that goals of great beauty and magnitude are spiritual, not corporeal. They belong to a higher power. I knew this for sure, of course, when Darren Bradley’s screamer flew in against Wolves in 1993. The sexual equivalent could only take place in heaven itself, quite possibly with a cherubic Wayne Fereday plucking away at a harp on a nearby cloud. With the choices I’ve made in life up until now, I’m not expecting to ever have sexual intercourse with a footballer. But if life had panned out differently, I’d want my lover to be confident and in control, assured of their own brilliance and magic. Brian Laudrup, resting on his elbow after equalising against Brazil, perhaps. Cantona with his collar up, unmoved but radiating magnificence after a goal of rare rare beauty against Sunderland. Well, I would
for the love of the game w o r d s b y LUKE GINNELL
here’s a dying breed of football fan. It’s the kind who believes that players are as deeply in love with the game as those watching from the stands. By now, all but the most deluded are at least vaguely aware that for a lot of professionals, football is exactly that – a profession. It can be hard for fans to accept that a sport in which they invest so deeply is not such an all-consuming passion to those for whom it is a livelihood. As a fan, you want to believe the men or women you go to the bother of adoring because of their ability to kick a ball around a pitch – or the colours they wear while doing so – live and breathe the game as much as you. In a way, we want them to love football because we want our adoration requited. Who hasn’t felt the sting when a lover or partner professes no interest in a favourite song or film, the pang of disappointment when the desired mutual appreciation of Die Hard turns out to be mere fantasy? Something similar is at work in relation to the footballer-fan dynamic. And so we pursue the players, binding them to us through a forced marriage to which they are obliged to pay lip service. In essence, the fan becomes in the eyes of a footballer nothing more than a persistent, besotted Calypso, determined to tie down an aloof, disinterested Odysseus. Some supporters deceive themselves by thinking that such a union could be anything other than a marriage of convenience, but it’s not. Having escaped from captivity on Calypso’s island, Odysseus never again thought of her. So it is that the lovelorn fan succumbs to despair, anger or disbelief when the comfortable illusion of star-crossed love between footballers and football is shattered. “I play football for money,” said Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and watched as supporters worldwide went into meltdown. “I’m not a massive football fan, really. Quite a lot more players than let on are the same,” commented Bobby Zamora in 2012. But why
does the he-should-be-happy-to-be-doing-what-somany-would-love-to-do lunatic fringe get so worked up about statements such as this? The reality is that fans resent Assou-Ekotto and Zamora because they burst the bubble. There’s anger that they’re living the dream and don’t seem to particularly care, and there’s anger that they possess the talent others covet but don’t see it as anything other than a work tool. Alas, if only they hadn’t said anything, we could all have gone on living in denial. Reaction to sportsmen’s occasional lack of “appreciation” of their talent takes a slightly different form in the USA, a country whose population we’re led to believe defines itself as much by its collective wage-packet as anything else. Perhaps there’s more scope for grass-roots empathy with the earnings-first mind-set of professional athletes in a land where sports teams are known as “franchises” and the highest-paid public employee in at least 35 of 50 states is a university sports coach. When John Moffitt quit the NFL citing health concerns in November 2013, aged just 27, the reporting on his actions was interesting. “Moffitt […] walked away from about $1 million in salary [and] various benefits for retirees who play at least three seasons,” wrote the New York Times. “Walking away from the game will cost Moffitt up to $1 million. He forfeits the $312,500 owed to him for the remainder of the 2013 campaign, as well as his $752,500 salary due for 2014,” informed Bleacher Report. No mention of “walking away” from the dream of a young life spent playing sport, just shock at such large sums of money going unclaimed. “After yesterday being forced […] to announce his retirement at 26 […] he will instead have one haunting question on his mind: how much could I have achieved?” wrote Paul Doyle in the Guardian about Dean Ashton’s retirement from football in 2009. “It was painful for me when I retired when I was 39 - he is only 26. Football is something you do with all your
heart and passion so I leave it to you to imagine how he is feeling right now,” said Gianfranco Zola, Ashton’s manager at the time. It seems there is more pragmatism on the part of American sports commentators. They express regret at lost earnings rather than a lost lover. Despite all the words said and written on the topic, many football fans still seem unable to accept the idea that the professional game – note: professional – is first and foremost a career. There are plenty of people who would, and do, play football for free, but professional footballers do not fall into that category. Football is a job and, inevitably, not everyone loves their work. Just because a child is born with a gift for sport rather than carpentry or engineering does not mean he is beholden to appreciate it more than the latter, more prosaic occupations. No matter what you do in life, it can be a grind. Writing about career-changers on Forbes.com, political scientist Marc Bodnick notes: “When they first picked their career, they had no idea what they wanted to do with their lives. They had a very narrow view of what career options were available. […] Then, after doing that profession for 7-10+ years, they feel locked in; they don’t know what to do next.” Bodnick’s points are as applicable to footballers as they are to anyone else. It’s just as easy for people like Zamora and Assou-Ekotto to become bogged down in careers they don’t enjoy as it is for chefs, writers, plumbers and mathematicians (etc.) to do the same. It’s often said that players are out of touch with supporters, but surely that must mean the reverse is also true. As much as footballers don’t identify with fans, fans cannot possibly identify with professional footballers. Of course we want to, and sometimes think we can, but we can’t. So why do we insist on projecting onto them how we think they should feel or conduct themselves in relation to their jobs? Let’s stop expecting footballers to be anything other than what they are: professionals doing what they’re paid to do
One word. One number. One love. w o r d s b y RICHARD COPEMAN
WOKE up thinking about it. Went to sleep dreaming of how I would devote every waking hour of the next day to it. I lived with it, and slept with it. It devoured me, and I loved it for it. I wanted it all the time. It was lust, total lust. But then it ate me up and spat me out. It drove a dagger through my heart with the venom of a woman scorned. It quickly moved on, while I attempted to cling on. Scant consolation that it’s next choice of victim, just four days later, brought a flicker of a wry smile to my longing lips (and those, I have no doubt, of millions more like me). I still wanted it and, some 24 years on, in truth, I still do. One foreign word and one English number. Italia ’90. There will never be a better example of the beautiful game. All-out attacking formations, teams playing without fear, and the type of carnival atmosphere amongst players and fans that cannot fail to inspire a generation. Not. (As Bill and Ted had started saying a few months before the big kick-off). Defences on top, negative tactics and a goal ratio of 2.21 per game (which, after all these years, feels a touch inflated). This, in truth, was anything but the stuff of footballing dreams. But to me it was the greatest sporting event in my lifetime. And one with a lasting legacy (and not just of England’s penalty shootout carnage). Just writing these words has given me the excuse to relive those heady days
yet again, as I reach for the dusty VHS entitled ‘England’s Heroes’, on which commentary is provided (and I'm fairly sure re-dubbed after the event) by the late, great Brian Moore. Just a shame it won’t fit in the Blu-ray player. Look, there’s Gazza on the cover, giving it the double fist pump celebration after beating Belgium in the last 16. Or was it Cameroon in the quarters? I should know that. I’ve let myself down there. Another good reason to look it up again. On Youtube, rather than this ageing and well-worn tape. You’ve got to move with the times, haven’t you? (Forgive me, but the rest of this piece is being written a little while later. I’ve just discovered the entire BBC presentation of the semi-final against the Germans. Thank you, ‘Thomas Hassler TV’, whoever you are. Except, strangely, the penalties aren’t on there. Although maybe that’s for the best. Without penalties, and a change in rules, we could have had a replay. Although we’d have probably had Neil Webb instead of Gazza running the show. Hmm… Everyone has a favourite tournament. It’s as much about where you were in your life, as what happened on the pitch. For me, these were student days, so the rose-tinted glasses have as much danger of slipping as I have of enjoying the sight of England in the semi-finals again anytime soon. Discipline, commitment and passion abounded. Not a match was missed. (Just a shame the same couldn’t be said for lectures and deadlines, while, despite needing the money, I lasted just three days at a tomato picking job as the 5am
pick-ups were clearly always going to conflict with the late-night highlights with Des on BBC1). But lust is a strong word, so why did my passion run so high? It was, as ever, all in the teasing. Desperate against Ireland, a little better when faced with the Dutch, and finally a victory (albeit 1-0 from a set piece) against the might of Egypt. Bobby Robson’s brave boys looked strangely more attractive every time I encountered them, and not just because the beer goggles were often on. Belgium hitting the post twice wasn’t great, but by this point I was numbed of pain, such was my emotional attachment (which was somewhat fortunate as I smashed my fist through a pub lamp in celebration at Platt’s coup d’etat). Cameroon next? No teasing tonight, surely just a straightforward love-in. Now, if we’d have had smartphones back then, I would have chucked Italia ’90 after Ekeke put the 'naïve Africans' ahead on 65 minutes. I’d have had to beg for forgiveness around drinking up time, of course, but surely I’d have been OK, because you can just mess with people’s emotions too much, you know. But, in truth, I had a sense it wasn’t going to work out soon after kick-off against the Germans. We were just too bloody good. They scored a total fluke (oh, Parker, why, just why?), and when Lineker struck it was more like ‘what took you so long’ than ‘thank f**k for that’, as against the Irish. Now, we’ve all seen the penalties far too often and probably swear the same
swear words we did 24 years ago at Waddle and Pearce. But for me, re-living the shoot-out brings on a strange sense of having somehow suffered a perfect execution. The end of term was set to fall between the semi-finals and final. With our days up at our student digs, our team of living, breathing Italia ’90 obsessives were going our separate ways. Returning for the final wasn’t an option, with my fellow disciples spread around the country and two decades short of the invention of social media to give us even a semblance of a chance of getting organised. So, even, in agony, that month provided me with a perfectly-scripted finale. One which ended on a night of high emotions, with its willing victim drowned in beer, sorrow and thoughts of what might have been. Which is why I still lust after Italia ’90...
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