When I grow up, I want to be Sven, with the best seat and a nice rug
The commentator was going on about Sven, how hard he works, he's here, there and everywhere, never misses a match, whether in the UK or Europe, look, there he is again, in the directors' box, can you see him, it wouldn't be a proper game without Sven, they don't kick off till they check he's arrived, ha ha, what a treasure, what devotion, what a worker. Which made me think, yeh, I wouldn't mind some of that sort of work.
When I grow up, I'd quite like to be Sven. No need to send for tickets or hang on the line for hours and then get charged extra for having the impudence to expect to buy a ticket by phone. Free parking, with lackeys to do the parking. Drinkiepoos before, during and after. Best seat in the house. Tartan blanket on your lap, if it's parky. I wonder when he last bought a programme? Never, I bet. Or a pen. I've still to see him write down a word, yet he's supposed to be working. A hidden assistant probably makes notes for him. Lazy sod. And every penny he does have to pay, he can charge for, as a legitimate expense, which football fans can't. Plus he does get a million a year. Hard job? On your nelly.
When I was 11, I was asked by the headmaster of my secondary mod what I'd like to do in life, and I said be a footballer. At the age of 16, on arriving at Carlisle Grammar School, I changed it to teacher, dunno why, except to please my mum. At 21, on leaving Durham, I said to the appointments people I wanted to be a journalist and they said no chance, we haven't heard of anyone doing that, why don't you try to get on a management training scheme with Benzole. I thought they'd made it up, or it was a vulgar joke. She was only a garage mechanic's daughter, but she liked the smell of Benzole. But it was a real firm. And they turned me down.
Oh, if only I could have become a footballer, how life would be so different today. Probably be dead, or crippled by arthritis, or an alcoholic, or bankrupt, though I might have been prudent and bought a newsagent's shop.
Starting again now, which footballer would I like to be? Whose skills would I like to have? I'd have to take their character as well, such as it is, such as we all perceive it, which could be a problem.
It would have to be someone with sublime talent, otherwise what's the point. Not Becks. You'd have to be married to Posh and she's too thin, spends too much. You'd also get followed everywhere. Roy Keane, what a player, but what a miserable-looking bloke. Always seems to be moaning. Paul Scholes, I do like his talent, but his hair, ugh, and he does have asthma. I've got that already, so why should I be him?
Steve Gerrard, he's ace, but he looks stupid and is always being injured, throwing himself around like a daft hap'orth. I'm not doing all that. Robbie Fowler, he doesn't knock himself out, does a lot of standing around, looks a soft job, being Robbie Fowler, but he's also got awful hair. And I wouldn't like to play for Leeds. Soon. But not now.
Michael Owen? He's every boy's hero, admired by Boy Scouts everywhere, clean in word and deed, no filthy habits - but come on, it must be pretty dull, being Michael Owen.
I'd quite like to be Matt Jansen, not just because he comes from Carlisle, but he's ever so skilful, I do like watching him, seems a nice person, lovely hair, I bet the girls fancy him, but he's already made some wrong decisions in his career. Going to Blackburn is probably going to be another one.
Teddy Sheringham, he's one of my heroes. I like the way he passes the ball around, brings other people into play, does intelligent things. Shame about his age. He hasn't played so well the past two weeks. I suspect it could be downhill from now on. I also sense his time at Man Utd wasn't happy. So, on consideration, no, I wouldn't like to be him.
Two years ago, it would have been good being Dwight Yorke, playing with a smile on my face, so effortless, scoring all those goals, winning all those medals. I couldn't have lived alone the way he does, in such a big house, that would have been a drag, and having to put up with the tabloids writing rubbish about my sex life. But now, alas, his career is collapsing.
Thinking carefully, looking at our top players, at this moment in time, I can think of two I envy, whose skills and career I'd like to have, and whose personalities appear attractive. First, Steve McManaman. I like it that he's not big and muscle-bound, doesn't look like a footballer. I admired him going off to Real Madrid, showing the sort of enterprise and ambition that someone like Sol Campbell clearly lacks. If you call yourself a footballer, you want to have played with the best. His girlfriend is a barrister, another plus. I do like clever women. But he's not currently in the first team. That is a problem.
So, I'm going to be Thierry Henry, another weedy-looking player, who floats but stings. I'd like to be from Guadeloupe, have a World Cup winner's medal, with another WC to look forward to this summer, not be flash and overexcited when I score, be cool and put my finger up in the air, have got better and better every season, defying all my critics. I'd like to have foreigners chanting my name, Tee-Eree Onree, Tee-Eree Onree, and getting it almost right. Having to play for Arsenal, hmm, could I really manage that? Plus this summer, all the heavies in the world will be trying to kick me.
On reflection, perhaps it is best to stick to being Sven. Then I'll never get injured. Unless I fall off my blanket . . .