We need to see more of Diego Maradona
If we remember the 1990 World Cup for Gazza's tears, or Roger Milla's dance, there is a fair chance the enduring image of this competition will be Diego Maradona's backside.Updated: Jun 14, 2010 12:24 IST
Instead of another tiresome travelogue, broadcasters should provide us with a 24-hour Maradona watch
If we remember the 1990 World Cup for Gazza's tears, or Roger Milla's dance, there is a fair chance the enduring image of this competition will be Diego Maradona's backside. Boy, that is some tuchus. And when you are the proud possessor of a heiny the size of a small South American republic, what shows it off better than a lightweight grey suit?
Clearly, there is pride involved, because the little magician is turning his mighty caboose to the camera at every opportunity. First there was the training/bonding exercise where the winning team was invited to fire shots at the manager's behind, footage that seemed to be on some sort of a continuous loop so often was it shown in the first couple
of days of World Cup coverage. Then there was Diego's celebration of Gabriel Heinze's goal against Nigeria, a joyous rear-view shot of the great man cuddling one of his subs, and shaking his booty like a five-bob stripper. I swear it was still moving when Nigeria kicked off again.
Instead of yet another otiose South African travelogue (memo to BBC and ITV: we do not need to see one more reporter in a township "bantering" with the locals we get it) why not take us on a Cook's tour round Diego's gluteus maximus, possibly looking at the place of the rump in football iconography (keen students of the low centre of gravity in our national game will know that Leeds United's well-upholstered forward Tony Yeboah is the only player to have won Match Of The Day's Goal of the Month contest two months in succession)?
I am hoping Argentina go all the way, because I believe Diego has so much more to give. This is a man who, while recovering from addictions and weighing in at around 20 stones, allowed a TV crew to film him being hosed down in Cuba as part of his "treatment", a man who chose to host a chaotic, off-the-wall TV chat show as part of his recovery. In many ways he is the bastard love child of Bobby Charlton and Russell Harty (kids, ask your dad). Gabby Logan and Gabriel Clarke, you must leave the England camp now. Nobody in there has anything interesting to say. On behalf of the audience back home, we need you both on 24-hour Diego-watch.
Another highlight of the Argentina v Nigeria match was Mick McCarthy, the BBC co-commentator, not only for his no-nonsense approach to the game ("Gerr 'old o' someone an' mark 'im" was his sound advice to the Nigerians at corners, that fancy zonal marking being summat they have no truck wi' round Barnsley way) but also for his adherence to the
aberrant Yorkshire 't,' indicting Nigeria for their "drettful" marking.
I believe banks often site their telephone services in Yorkshire because surveys show we associate the accent with common sense and financial probity (How is that going, by the way, banks?), so when McCarthy calls a spade a bloody shovel, one is similarly inclined to believe he knows of what he speaks. He may turn out to be as wrong-headed as the banks, but for the time being he seems a good signing for the BBC.
The only problem was my ears had become nicely attuned to Mick's flat vowels and deliberate delivery, when I was confronted by studio guest Emmanuel Adebayor's 200 mile-an-hour punditry. I received a tweet suggesting Iwritethewholescreenbreakcolumn- inthestyleofManu who is the vocal equivalent of a typewriter (kids, ask your dad again) without a space bar. I got about one word in every three.
Finally, hosannas to the ITV commentator Jon Champion for the most enjoyable commentary of the World Cup so far, on the Greece v South Korea match. "Who is the South Korean coach?" Jon asked the summariser Craig Burley, a jokey reference to Huh (Jung-moo), the South Korean coach. This was not, as the commentary made clear, casual racism, but an Abbott and Costello reference (kids, I promise you, you will not have to trouble your dad again), something in which modern football coverage is sadly deficient.
The other chucklesome moment enlivening a dull match was Champion's description of Greece coach Otto Rehhagel's hair as "unfeasibly dark for a man his age."
How appropriate," said Champers, "that a Grecian should stand accused of colouring his hair." All right, Otto is actually German, but anyone unwilling to let the facts get in the way of a good joke has my support for the rest of the competition.
First Published: Jun 14, 2010 12:13 IST