FOOTBALLERS are not supposed to be intelligent – at least that’s the popular conception.
There have been some great examples of dullards donning boots and keeping their brains in the same place, but to be fair I’ve met thickies in all walks of life, it’s not a club exclusive to footballers.
The magnificently named former county cricketer John Robert Troutbeck Barclay told a story at the Pool Cricket Club dinner the other night of a colleague whose “brain was uncluttered by knowledge” – a wonderful way of saying he was as dense as a forest.
Words of wisdom have been spilling from the lips of Xavi Hernandez and Phil Neville in the last few days to prove that there are footballers out there with IQ’s that would impress even Carol Vorderman.
Xavi, a wonderfully blessed pass master whether in the colours of Barcelona or Spain, has imparted his philosophy of the great game roughly along the lines of “Think quickly, lift your head up, move, see, think again and pass the ball to someone in the same colour shirt.”
He believes football should be played with grace and style, that it should be beautiful and entertaining for those who have paid to watch.
Agreed. I also go along with the younger Neville’s view that there can be no more fulfilling reward for a young sports man or woman than to represent their country.
Neville senior isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but like Phil, the recently retired Gary gave everything for his country. It was appalling last week to switch on Teletext and read of one after another player pulling out of international duty for breaking a finger nail or losing their favourite headband.
Neville said he was “disgusted” and “ashamed” that, in particular, players who dropped down from the full national team, found excuses to withdraw from an Under-21 friendly.
David Seaman said no matter what he achieved in the game the most spine-tingling moment came when he sang the national anthem for the first time in an England jersey. His heart burst with pride.
Stuart Pearce, who had the job of replacing all those waverers, would have walked on hands and knees to wear the Three Lions on his chest, and I go along with the suggestion that, apart from exceptional circumstances (e.g. family bereavements or serious illnesses) a player declared unfit to play for his country should not be allowed to play in his next club match.