The Athletic had a terrific piece this week about the time a 12-year-old French lad went on a four-day trial at Chelsea back in 2011.
He played one game while he was there, a 7-0 win over Charlton, and while he impressed the club’s scouts with his attacking ability, they had their doubts about him when it came to his defensive responsibilities.
“You know English football – you tackle, you track back players when you lose the ball,” said Daniel Boga, a Chelsea scout at the time. “He wasn’t like that. When he lost the ball, he stopped playing.”
The club’s head of youth recruitment explained this to the players’ parents in a meeting at the end of his trial, Boga translating for them, telling them that “we want to see him again and we want to see this part of his football”.
The mother wasn’t impressed. “She said, ‘no, we won’t come again’,” said Boga. “I was translating. She said, ‘tell them, he won’t come back. If you want to sign him, you sign him now’. And she said, ‘in five years’ time, you will come back for him for £50 million’. She said, ‘Translate that’.”
The player? Kylian Mbappé, of course. His left ear lobe is probably worth £50 million now. At least.
Neuer never listens
Manuel Neuer went on a skiing holiday to help him get over Germany’s early World Cup exit ….. and broke his leg. “What can I say, the end of the year could have definitely gone better,” he said.
How sympathetic was former German goalkeeper and current Bayern Munich chief executive Oliver Kahn?
“He needed rest after such stress. He is a big fan of Alpine skiing and went to the slopes. I know that he was warned several times that there was very little snow, stones were sticking out everywhere and it was dangerous to ride, but Neuer never listens to anyone.”
“He reminds me of me.”— Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) paying the ultimate compliment to Kylian Mbappé.
22 – A reminder of Morocco’s world ranking. Let us never take that list seriously again.
Salt to the wounds
As if England-supporting Spurs fans weren’t already in enough pain after their quarter-final defeat to France, those on the club’s e-mailing list had a dagger inserted in their hearts when this popped up in their inboxes after the game:
“Experience the excitement and drama of a World Cup semi-final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium! With a place in the final at stake, England’s date with destiny awaits on Wednesday 14th December, 7pm KO. Will Gareth Southgate ‘s men make it to a first World Cup final since 1966?”
But look it, we’ve all pressed send by mistake.
It gets worse
Dorset company Wholesale Clearance UK has being getting a whole heap of publicity this week after its managing director Karl Baxter revealed that they were left with 18,000 T-shirts with “England, World Cup winners 2022″ emblazoned across the front.
[ Desert Outtakes: Bargain England World Cup winners T-shirts for sale ]
He claimed that he bought the stock because he was so certain England would win the tournament, so now he’s appealing to supporters to buy one of the T-shirts because “it’s a piece of history and a reminder of how well our team played – while they haven’t won, they are still winners in my eyes.”
At which point Michael Dowling, professor of finance at DCU, did some digging.
Last year? Baxter claimed that the company was left with a thousand Christmas jumpers with a design flaw – what should have looked like snowflakes actually looked like willies.
“We’re appealing to consumers to see the funnier side,” he said. “Getting one of these on Christmas Day could be a great way to break the ice with the in-laws.”
And February of this year? Baxter claimed that the company was left with 10,800 cups and plates which were meant to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee, but instead read: “Platinum Jubbly.”
“Previous royal memorabilia are often sought after by collectors, as they’re a great excuse to go out and buy a piece of history which will increase in value over time,” said Baxter. “Besides, what could be more unique than our limited-edition misprinted crockery?”
“It’s his business model, not a bad one either,” said Dowling. It wouldn’t be surprising if they were already snapped up – by shoppers in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.