The Italian Ronnie Whelan continues Lionel Messi love-in

Desert Outtakes: Real Madrid fans straying into racism, English fan takes it much further

He even dribbles the camels in the desert

Last month we mentioned that Lele Adani’s co-commentary work for Italian channel RAI during the World Cup wasn’t going down tremendously well with everyone, not least the Italian Association of Radio and Television Users who were especially annoyed by his love-in with Lionel Messi during Argentina’s game against Mexico. They even made an official complaint about “the excessive and inopportune behaviour of the commentator – it seemed more like a broadcast live from a sports bar than a public service”.

How did he react to Messi’s role in Argentina’s third goal against Croatia? Strap yerselves in:

“Incredible! The dynamics of the unthinkable, that is football! Only a genius like Messi thinks of a move like that! He brings back Maradona to the football field, he even dribbles the camels in the desert! You never see him! You never catch him! He slaloms all the way along the by-line! There is no space, he creates it! He invents it! He dribbles everyone!”

Was he done? God no.


“He bestows love via a football, that is what Messi is doing! He redesigns the confines of his destiny, influencing everyone: team-mates and opponents! His eyes are those of a child who loves football! He bestows it upon everyone, even those who do not know how to love, open your heart and say thank you that Messi is still playing for all of us to watch!”

He’s kind of the Italian Ronnie Whelan, this lad.

Word of mouth

“The Royal Belgian FA is looking for a full-time national team coach who knows how to win.”

The coldest line to appear in a post-World Cup job advertisement? We’ll go with this one which started the Belgian FA’s ad seeking a successor to Roberto Martinez.

“I actually sang My Way with Harry Kane.”

Robbie Williams revealing he sang a duet with the England captain when he performed for the squad during the World Cup. Hopefully there’s no footage of poor Harry crooning “regrets, I’ve had a few…..”.

“No words for you Messi. You deserved to be World Champion before, but God knows all things and will crown you this Sunday. You deserve this title for the person you are and for the wonderful football you have always played. Hats off to you. God bless you.”

The legend Rivaldo ... that’s some tribute from a Brazilian.

“The one who surprised me the most is Pedri. He’s insane, I don’t know how to explain it. He’s like Harry Potter – he does magic.”

The now former Spain coach Luis Enrique on the one ray of light from his World Cup experience.

Really easily offended

Even before he made his debut for Palmeiras in October at the age of just 16, Brazilian Endrick Felipe Moreira de Sousa – or just Endrick, as he’s better known – was in the highly sought after category having averaged a goal a game in his 170 appearances for the club’s youth team.

By all accounts, Real Madrid have won the battle to sign him, the Spanish press reporting that a verbal agreement has been reached with the player who the club hope will join them in 2024.

If he didn’t know yet how, well, spiky their relationship is with Barcelona, he does now after he so offended a section of Madrid’s support on Tuesday night with a tweet that he ended up deleting it.

What did he say? While watching a certain Argentina player work his magic against Croatia, he tweeted: “Man, Messi’s absurd.” That’s it.

“Delete that child or Florentino Pérez [the Real Madrid president] will return you to the favela,” was one of the replies, Football Espana reporting that a bunch more “strayed into racism”.

With any luck, he’ll join Barca instead.

In words

“What planet did you come from?”

—  Spanish paper AS with a simple question for Lionel Messi.

In numbers

1978 – That’s the last time a World Cup final did not feature at least one player from both Bayern Munich and Inter Milan – and the 2022 final will too. Some record.

With fans like this ...

A court case in York on Tuesday gave us a flavour of some of the delightful communications Gareth Southgate occasionally receives from England “fans”.

“Dear Gareth Wokegate,” began this particular email. “Not only did you cause England to lose the European Championship final against Italy by ... picking penalty takers who were black instead of being competent, you ****ing clown, but you still appear blissfully unaware that 99 per cent of English citizens hate Team Snowflake taking the knee in support of the racist, Marxist, fraudulent, rioting, looting and terrorist murderers of BLM [Black Lives Matter]. I hope the virtue signalling, racist shit pretending to be Team England get hammered every match.”

This, incidentally, was the only repeatable part of the email.

The author, a Brian Martin, received a two-year community order and a fine. “It is an honest opinion, it is a legal opinion,” he argued. “My human rights have been breached.” Okay, Brian.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times