“Before Pele, 10 was just a number ….. before Pele, football was just a sport.” Neymar’s tribute to the departed legend.
That’s how many euro Cristiano Ronaldo will earn at Al-Nassr….. a day.
No little bemusement greeted the news last week that just four of the England squad that won last summer’s European Championships had been included in Britain’s New Year honours’ list, Leah Williamson, Lucy Bronze, Ellen White and Beth Mead - manager Sarina Wiegman also picked up a gong.
Sir Hugh Robertson, chairman of the sport honours committee, tried to explain the decision not to honour all the players by saying “there is a danger in sort of carpet-bombing the entire squad, because then you get people who’ve done five minutes on the pitch and get an award”. But a few examples were then widely cited where squads had indeed been carpet-bombed with honours after sundry achievements, like every England cricketer back in 2005 who had taken part in their first successful Ashes series in 18 years.
Ireland 0-1 France: Frustration the overriding feeling as Kenny’s men shoot themselves in the foot again
If the rest of Wiegman’s squad feel aggrieved, though, they should spare a thought for George Cohen, Alan Ball, Roger Hunt, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson who weren’t honoured for winning the 1966 World Cup until …. 2000.
In reference to that snub, Cohen had named the opening chapter of his autobiography “The Forgotten Five,” as his obituary in the London Times last month pointed out. “It’s been a long time,” the Queen said to him when she awarded him his gong.
By that rate, then, the ignored Lionesses should make it to the Palace around 2056. A quirky auld honours system, that.
Word of mouth
Piers Morgan: “If it was just about money, you’d be in Saudi Arabia earning this king’s ransom, but that’s not what motivates you. You want to keep at the top.”
Cristiano Ronaldo: “Exactly.”
That was November. The mother of all u-turns. A lucrative one, mind.
“Al-Nassr’s vision is very inspiring and impressive. I am excited to join my team-mates as soon as possible.”
Ronaldo, with a straight face.
“He has the perfect body now - so sexy.”
Having suggested that Kalvin Phillips was a touch overweight after he returned from the World Cup, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola posts an update. Eat your heart out, Operation Transformation.
“The biggest son of a b***h in football. The most hated man.”
How kindly has former French international Adil Rami taken to Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s post World Cup-winning antics? Not very.
Ferguson on a technicality
Who is the youngest ever Republic of Ireland player to score in the Premier League? Well, after Saturday, some of us would have chuckled at the easiness of that particular pub question - Evan Ferguson, of course, the 18-year-old (plus 97 days) taking Michael Obafemi’s record when he scored for Brighton against Arsenal.
But it’s at times like this that you need to check the @irish_abroad account, because they know everything. Ferguson is the youngest SENIOR Republic of Ireland scorer, but if you leave out the ‘senior’, the answer is former under-21 international Andy Turner (17 years, 166 days) who scored for Spurs against Everton in the dim and distant past of 1992. He remains the sixth youngest ever Premier League scorer, Everton’s James Vaughan (16 years, 270 days in 2005) still holding the honour. So, ahead of your next pub quiz, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Most unfortunate choice of player by a football club for the first month of their 2023 calendar?
We’re looking at you, Manchester United.