All in the game



Super Mario just keeps on giving

How he wasn’t chosen as Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ we’ll never know.

The Balotelli chap was a God for those entrusted with the task of compiling footballing quotes of the week in 2012, because he was the subject of half of them.

Was he universally adored?

Not according to former Everton manager Joe Royle: “He is like Marmite – you either love him or hate him. Me, I’m between.”


“I told him if you played with me, 10 years ago, I give to you every day one punch in your head” and “I don’t speak with him every day, otherwise I would need a psychologist” – both from his sorely-tested manager, Roberto Mancini.

And words of fine wisdom from the man himself: “If I buy a Fiat Uno, I read that a guy like me is better suited to a Ferrari, but if I choose a Ferrari, they write that I should keep my feet on the ground and buy a Fiat Uno.

If I laugh then I am unprofessional, if I do not laugh then I’m the miserable rich guy who cannot enjoy even the best job in the world.”

Social networking

It was put to endless good use in 2012 by footballers, but none better than AC Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy: “The moment I got to Serie A, my sex life multiplied by 10. I use Facebook to pick up all my women. You find so much stuff on the internet.”


“Watched all three presidential debates. If I had to vote would vote Obama.” – Wayne Rooney using Twitter to endorse Barack, and with that it was four more years.

And then there was Gary Lineker’s rather splendid touché in a Twitter battle with Piers Morgan, who had explained to his American followers who Lineker was: “Soccer player who never won a World Cup, the League, or a tackle. Fled to Japan, big ears.”

Morgan: “Did you ever actually tackle anyone?”

Lineker: “Nope never hacked anyone.”


PS: Sam Allardyce hates Twitter, but even he was influenced by it in 2012 – on Andy Carroll’s latest injury setback: “Hopefully he’s only tweeted his hamstring.”

Quality quotes

“I’ve just watched the replay and there is absolutely no doubt – it’s inconclusive”

– Garth Crooks

“I’ve been consistent in patches this season”

– Theo Walcott 

“There are some luminaries who believe that only one type of football exists on earth. These people only know football through Google. They swallow knowledge, but know nothing”

– Jose Mourinho, according to Google

“I suspect that his father came from Krypton and brought the boy to Earth in a rocket, because the only thing that makes sense is if he is Superman”

– Santos president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro on super-hero Neymar.

Well, yeah

Hats off to Ian Holloway for the year’s most useful footballing insight:

“As long as you hit the target, they’re going to go in – if the keeper don’t make a save.”


“That’s exactly how you head a ball – you use your head” – Ray Wilkins sharing his expertise with aspiring footballers on Sky Sports and “If we’d kept a clean sheet tonight we’d have won 1-0” – Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cotterill after his side lost 2-1 to Middlesbrough).


There was, needless to say, some rather heated reaction on Twitter to Ireland’s 1-6 setback against Germany in October, much of it falling in to the “unrepeatable” category.

Paddy McKenna, though, summed up the display better than most:

“Sometimes when I play Fifa on my own I choose two-player for the craic and leave the controller idle. Ire v Ger.”


“It’s like watching an Audi racing a donkey” (Colm Tobin) and “The last time things were this humiliating on a Friday night I was 15 and Je t’aime was playing in the background” (RTÉ’s John Kelly).

Pardon? He's dead right you know

It was hard to beat the caller to BBC Radio 5 Live who was asked for his preferred candidate for the England job, after Fabio Capello’s resignation:

“My first choice would be Brian Clough, but unfortunately he’s dead.”

Runner-up: The BBC’s Dan Roan was kindly providing live twitter updates from a Harry Redknapp press conference, eg: “Redknapp: “On long drive this morning you start to think about thongs . . .”.

Soon after: “Things Things Things . . . sorry! Never realised until now how much difference ‘o’ ‘i’ can make in certain words!” Typo of the year?

A nod, too, to Garth Crooks for this tribute to West Brom’s James Morrison: “This is a player Roy Hodgson should now be taking a keen interest in.”

That’d be the same James Morrison who, the week before, had won his 24th cap for Scotland.

Trap talk

Where do we start?

Too many Trapisms to choose from, but the headscratcher of the year goes to:

“The Irish mindset, it’s very like mine, and the people are like my people – small farmers.”


Runners-up: We could be here all night. But:

“I don’t like to keep talking about this team playing 12 times without losing – but it has played 12 times without losing.”

“When I heard the crowd I thought Messi or Pelé or Maradona was coming on.”

– On the reception James McClean received when he came on for his debut back in February.

“I told them that when you lose, conceding one goal or six goals or three goals, it’s the same.”

– That was him trying to cheer his players up after that 1-6 at the hands of Germany.

One word: Hmm.

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