Even though I am a fully paid up speccy wheezy geek who was always picked last at games, I have a soft spot for football. Blame it on my father, who was an amateur goalkeeper through most of my childhood.
Not for me the instant gratification of American sports like basketball, nor the interminable games of cricket. Football’s the one for me. So please allow me this self-indulgent post as I waffle about the Beautiful Game.
A game where, last night, the French played with a sense of disinterested ennui as only the French can. What they really needed was a rain splattered window set up in the technical area that they could go and stare listlessly out of while smoking a Gauloise.
The match should’ve been filmed in black and white with Jacques Brel played instead of vuvuezelas. (If you’re not aware of vuvuzelas, they are an African footballing tradition, much like casual violence was on British terraces in the 80s)
For, when it is at its best, and I’m feeling a bit drunk and wanky, it transcends sport and becomes poetry. I offer you these examples.
Here’s Pele against Uruguay in the 1970 World Cup:
It contains everything I admire. Intelligence, beauty and heroic failure. He doesn’t even bloody score and it’s one of the best things I have ever seen.
How about Paul Gascoigne in Euro 96?
If I remember rightly – please correct me if I’m wrong – Gazza’s drinking was becoming more and more of a problem and he and others in the squad were being vilified in the press by their off-field antics. Yet, with two kicks of the ball, redemption.
And finally, Gordon Banks’s save against Pele in – again – the 1970 World Cup.
Goalkeepers are generally regarded as the drummers of the sporting world, but here Banks is Lennon, Mercury and Springsteen rolled into one. My father is still convinced that Banks broke the laws of physics to clear that ball.
He’s not a goalkeeper. HE’S A FUCKING JEDI.
Thanks for letting me get that out of my system.
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