This posting formed part of an e-mail message to friends in July 2006.
Well the World Cup was a recurring nightmare for English fans. So much anticipation and so little to applaud and be grateful for. We really did have a golden generation of footballers but they played like goldielockses. We just ask too much of our players I reckon every season and come May/June they’re just completely knackered. Sven didn’t help with his squad selection and tournament tactics but I’m convinced in World Cup and Euro Championship years England squad members should finish playing at end April to give them time to rest and recover, then prepare completely. But with titles/promotions/relegations at stake and cups to play for, there’s no chance of course. So when England were knocked out against those dirty cheating Leeds-like Portuguese (perhaps it’s worth reminding myself that it was Rooney who stamped on Carvalho’s genitals) I didn’t cry. I simply shifted my allegiance to my adopted country, Italy, whose team happened to be running into form at just the right time. Call me cynical, I don’t care.
So Italy went on to win the WC and were easily the best team in the tournament. The atmosphere in our local bar/restaurant and in the streets of the towns just got more and more passionate. I wasn’t about to get all sulky just ‘cos DB announced he’d had enough of the captaincy (so had we D). But back to the azzuri. Cannavaro must have modelled himself on my style of performance – I didn’t realise that videos of my games at left back had been recorded for posterity. In your dreams pp. Seriously what a player. Italians just turn defending into an art form – look at Maldini, Nesta, Baresi, Gentile. Sheer brilliance. Materazzi? There’s always an exception which proves what pric*s they can be too I guess.
But something happened to us on the road to Darmstadt – we got Sky tv sorted out after lots of pleading, mid -way though the tournie. There’s another potential blog posting there but I can’t be bothered. I was so pleased to get the coverage in my home, I’d forgotten the grief getting it installed. Except that Peppino who eventually came to do it spent 6 hours at our house, most of it clambering on our roof and drilling through 3 ft thick walls. He was just a diamond geezer.
But the thing you notice about football coverage in Italy are the presenters. We aren’t talking Gary Lineker and Richard Keys. We are talking Ilaria D’Amico who makes Sue Barker look like…. Peter Beardsley. She is a stunner, always immaculately dressed (low cut tight dresses and high heels are de rigeur) and always feisty. I’ve no idea what she’s going on about – I pray she’s talking intelligently about the football and not going on about Maldini’s cute hair – but she harangues all the dowdy male guests on the show, never allowing them to outshine her. There’s a little bloke who acts as her co-presenter but he’s as charismatic as a male weather presenter.
The male guests on the Sky Sports shows always fall into 3 categories:
– the former player with very long jet black hair and open shirt (Rachel in ‘Friends’ used to sh *g him before Ross)
– the middle-aged journo with a cynical eye
– the middle -aged cheeky chappie celebrity footie fan.
Ilaria wipes the floor with all of them; she’s like Janet Street Porter inside the body of a young Sophia Loren, with Mariella Frostrup’s voice. But it’s not unusual for an attractive woman to front a major TV programme here. Indeed on Italian TV – especially on Sig Berlusconi’s channels – ‘velina’ (which I think translates literally as tissue paper) girls dominate. If you’re offended by sexist portrayal of women on the telly, don’t tune in. It’s like watching Benny Hill without the comedy. Great looking women, usually dressed in the way that Sig B likes his girls to look, and always accompanied by the Italian equivalent of Lesley Philipps. Some of it is good fun especially where the women get top billing but a lot of it is leery beery stuff. Telly here is dominated by rubbishy game shows which make 321 look like Brideshead Revisited.
Ah well, back in the UK I’ve been having to watch a lot of Joseph and You’re the One that I Want, of late. If it came to a viewing choice between Lord ALW and the velina, I know where my preferences lie. He looks like he’s been watching the Joseph’s and enjoying the tissue paper too.