Rejecting the Divine: Matt Le Tissier’s blasphemous omission from Hoddle’s 1998 World Cup squad

FAITH is a vague and complex concept. From St. Jerome to Martin Luther to George Michael, intellects have spent millennia trying to detangle the Gordian Knot that is humanity’s relationship with the divine. Ultimately, none of us have a definite answer to the greatest of questions, but belief presents itself in various guises. Nearly 60% of the British population still identify as Christian. Stories of modern day voodoo, neo-paganism, and brainwashing murder cults litter our collective consciousness and fill us with both fascination and dread. Some members of the Yaohnanen tribe in Vanuatu even worship Prince Phillip. No joke. Continue reading “Rejecting the Divine: Matt Le Tissier’s blasphemous omission from Hoddle’s 1998 World Cup squad”

Chasing Rainbows – Memoirs of 1996, Part Two…

HOLLAND provided the last test of the group stage. Often flattering to deceive, the Dutch were a team at war with each other. Childish in-fighting marred their campaign and at times it appeared they just didn’t want to be there. England just needed a point to qualify in what was their first evening game of the tournament, which meant cooler conditions for both fans and players. The game started brightly and England took the lead, the rejuvenated Alan Shearer tucked home a penalty after Paul Ince was fouled. That was the first half. Fairly comfortable. England on the brink. Continue reading “Chasing Rainbows – Memoirs of 1996, Part Two…”

An Issue of Identity: The story behind the Swiss goal celebrations

AN enthralling FIFA World Cup match between Serbia and Switzerland on Friday ended with a last minute Xherdan Shaqiri goal to win the game for the Swiss. As you can imagine, for a team of modest ability and slim hopes of World Cup success, Shaqiri’s goal sparked wild scenes among fans and players. As well as the usual pints of watery lager flying through the air we also saw whole wheels of cheese being flung around the celebratory Swiss crowd in Kaliningrad. 40 minutes earlier, Arsenal player, Granit Xhaka, thundered in the equaliser from the edge of the area. A marvellous spectacle, I’m sure you’ll agree. But there has been much made of the respective player’s goal celebrations, not to mention a cameo celebration from captain, Stephan Lichtsteiner. We have all seen the ‘eagle’ gestures made by all three players and there has been much talk about why so much controversy has been caused. I have an interest in Eastern European football and as such an interest in Eastern European politics, so it made sense to warm up the laptop and do a little digging to give a some more insight into what is ultimately a dark and bloody topic. Continue reading “An Issue of Identity: The story behind the Swiss goal celebrations”

The Boys of Summer – Memoirs of 1996, Part One…

JUNE 1996, a month, which will always bring a smile to the face of English people old enough to remember the European Championships in England. Not just because the hosts reached the semi final (a semi final for England back then was almost a minimum requirement), it was just a magnificent time to be a teenager in England. It was a Summer of Britpop, Blair and blonde haired dynamic, midfielders and it felt like the whole country was on top of the world for a few months. Continue reading “The Boys of Summer – Memoirs of 1996, Part One…”

Paul Gascoigne: England’s Vulnerable, Precious and Exuberant Talent

MILLIONS upon millions of words have been spoken and written about the career of Paul Gascoigne; the glory and the gormless, the poetry and the prose, the joys and the tears. If one aspect of the career of Duston’s finest ever sportsman epitomises his footballing life however, it is surely the time he spent wearing his country’s national shirt. It was that most rare of occasions, when a young English footballer burst onto the scene offering up the promise of a talent so extraordinary that it created a dream of glory, but then crashed and burnt in flames that consumed hopes and talent without mercy. There’s a phrase that’s often referred to when talk of Gascoigne and his time with England arises, so I’m going to borrow it from Gary Lineker. Let’s “Have a word” about Gascoigne playing for England. Continue reading “Paul Gascoigne: England’s Vulnerable, Precious and Exuberant Talent”

Feed me to the Cage: the shooting of Andrés Escobar

THERE’S a piece of graffiti on a wall in Medellin that reads: ‘Tie me to the neon. Feed me to the cage.’ It’s daubed in six-foot neon letters that seem to shimmer in the twilight like they’re coming to life. When the sun comes down and the moon shivers, the devils children stand beneath it. The Pans people of the sex and drug trade, swaying in the hot air like advertisements for a listless world or stranded angels looking like they’re about to be swept up by a chemical hurricane. Continue reading “Feed me to the Cage: the shooting of Andrés Escobar”

Fanta, Rossi and the Greatest Team Never to Win the World Cup

IT was an afternoon, a cool and nice afternoon in 1982. My father was 7-years-old and he went to buy an orange Fanta before the game started. The game in question was Brazil V Italy in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. When my father was walking towards the bakery, he felt the atmosphere of euphoria and festivity among the people. After the game was over and everybody had drunk the Fanta, my father went back to the bakery to return the empty bottle. As he was getting back to his home, the streets were silent and empty; he felt a sense of mutual grief. Brazil had just lost the game. Continue reading “Fanta, Rossi and the Greatest Team Never to Win the World Cup”