For Cottage and Country
In the fifty-odd years I have followed Fulham I cannot recall a game in which two of our sons were skippers facing each other in a World Cup game, as happened last night when Bryan Ruiz’s Costa Rica put out Karagounis’ Greece. Before I get a comment, I am talking tournament stage as Aaron Hughes, Brede Hangeland and Johhny Pantsil all captained their country in qualifying games. Johnny Haynes captained England in 22 matches. In the sixties Fulham did field internationals, but derived from the home countries and Eire, as the overseas player was a rarity. In our premier period we could field 11 internationals easily and sometimes no Englishmen.
With England out of the World Cup, having contributed little if nothing, I did not know who to support. Both Ruiz and Karagounis are players I enjoyed watching at Fulham but as I was interested in Mitroglou, who looked like he could poach goals, I favoured Greece. Rex wrote of the globalisation of the game under Blatter’s regime, which does indeed lead to a mix of culture and ethics off and on the pitch. Some of these players in the so called minnows’ teams have performed well on the world stage, notably Navas and Gonzalez of Costa Rica. I was laughing with Stefano recently about the insularity of the British football press, although if you listened to them whch is unfortunately unavoidable on Radio 5, you would think their knowledge matches Fergie’s. Stefano told me months ago to watch out for Columbia. True he mentioned Caudrado chiefly, but also James Rodriguez. You would think he was some unknown from the back street of Medellin when these know-alls talk of him, when in fact he was bought for 50m euros by Monaco.
Knowing the present regime at Fulham, they must be licking their lips at every Ruiz goal putting £1m on his price tag, but I would be sad to see him go. He has a reputation as a nice, if oversensitive, guy. I can vouch for the former as I took my godson to a Meet The Players Xmas event. Ruiz took the little lad in his arms for three photos and seemed a smiling happy guy. In the same event, my godson was photoed with US skipper Clint Dempsey too. That is something to show his pals and at Fulham we are proud to have had three skippers in the World Cup.