Monday, 16 March 2009
Don’t you just love football? The sight of Rashidi Yekini in USA 94, grabbing the goal net and screaming out the names of his kids in celebration. An ecstatic Marco Tardelli, neck veins popping, as he ran the length of the field after despatching a heavily favoured German side. I could go on, but space and time don’t permit me. For those who cannot get excited about football, it must be excruciatingly painful and downright irritating, to watch fully grown men lose their minds over another group of exuberant males running after a leather ball.
I guess it is like anything in life, some people get it and some don’t. One man’s favourite food and all that jive, or is it one man’s favourite poison. Having said all that, I wish I could have the power to convince the unbelievers about the joys that await them in football heaven. I could experience the satisfaction of telling them how football was ‘not a matter of life and death, but something far more important than that’.
I could impart more ‘Shankisms’ into their virgin minds and impregnate them with stories of unbridled highs and lows experienced in the arena of giants like Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, Diego Armando Maradona, Alfredo Di Stefano, Hendrik Johannes Cruijff and Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore. Well okay, the South American names have a better ring to them. Saying that though,do you remember these Nigerian gems; Adokiye Amiesimaka, Alloysius Atuegbu and Haruna Ilerika...somehow, you just believed they were geniuses on the field just by the sound of their names!
As a Liverpool fan, I believe I am more than equipped with incredible accounts of personal enhancement derived from witnessing a catalogue of triumphs. Although, it is bound to distress Manchester United fans in particular, I could butter up the uninitiated with statements like; the most successful club in the history of British football, the greatest FA Cup final match of all time, the best UEFA Cup final of all time, the greatest Champions League final of all time and so many other wonderful accolades too many to mention. I could convince them that Liverpool do not just have to win, Manchester United have to lose, preferable on the same day! The tales I could tell…..
As the beautiful game becomes bigger and its fan base explodes, it has succeeded in enticing big business and the sky is the limit. Nothing in sport unifies the world the way it does and there is no greater medium in the world of competition. Sometimes, I wonder if those in charge of the game in Nigeria will ever appreciate the effective vehicle the sport can be. As a nation outrageously blessed with football talent, but lacking in organisation, you just hope we will one day fulfil our potential and please can we try and do it with a local coach. There is something very degrading about having the world’s most populous Black country being led out by unknown journeymen coaches from obscure European countries.
In the final analysis, those of us who love football do so because it is without doubt the greatest sport in the world. Take away the sometimes petulant players with overblown egos, the corrupt agents and the managers who are hell bent on their sons becoming even more successfully corrupt agents, the grey suits that sit at the top of the game and the men in black who are signed up members of the Stevie Wonder fan club (Sorry, Mr Wonder).
Take all that away and it’s a bloody great game.