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Curveball: If only David Luiz could kung-fu like Eric Cantona ...


Eric Cantona and the infamous kick in 1995

Eric Cantona and the infamous kick in 1995

David Luiz

David Luiz


Eric Cantona and the infamous kick in 1995

MOST sporting organisations love nothing better than a good anniversary shindig, allowing them to wallow in some once-famous triumph that half of the population can't even remember because they weren't born.

Here at Curve Ball HQ, we must profess a preference for celebrating scandal, for revelling in notoriety. All-Ireland titles, World Cups? They can wait.

Which brings us to this week's special anniversary. This Sunday it will be exactly 20 years since Eric Cantona decided - for one magnificently mad second - that he was fed up being an avant garde footballer and rather fancied auditioning for Bruce Lee's latest movie.

No wonder a dodgy acting career beckoned. "Outrageous!" complained the po-faced moral majority. "Take that, you twat!" screamed the headlines. Curve Ball's response? We died laughing - which tells you more about us than poor misunderstood Eric.

Schadenfreude - that wonderful word defined as pleasure derived from another person's misfortune - is our second-favourite German invention after Heidi Klum. It also explains why we derive such pleasure from celebrating the greatest sporting outrages to have happened in the 20 years since Cantona leaped into infamy, on January 25, 1995 ...

1996: You probably think we're going to cite the all-in mill that scarred the Meath/Mayo All-Ireland replay? Not at all ... a far greater outrage were the cream Emporio Armani suits worn by Liverpool's Spice Boys before the FA Cup final. Yes, they lost.

1997: Offaly footballers, fresh from Division Four, rout a suspension and injury-ravaged Meath defence to win the Leinster final. Hilarious (for all non-Royals).

1998: Hurling goes mental. Offaly's sheep in a heap? Locky's broadside on Radio Free Clare? Jimmy Cooney's early whistle? No, none of the above matched the atrocity that was the Kildare and Kerry U21 hurlers, containing one dual jewel Paul Galvin, being denied a chance to play on Croke Park's hallowed turf by those Offaly pitch-invaders.

1999: Two GAA journalists find themselves trapped in a war zone - ie, locked in the grounds of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, on the day of the NFL final between Cork and Dublin ... with a hungry Alsatian heading straight for them.

2000: Sonia O'Sullivan brilliantly and bravely wins Sydney Olympic silver - hardly a cause for Irish dismay? Not exactly, until you see who took gold and start wondering if Sonia was robbed.

2001: A cautionary tale for all Schadenfreude devotees. Meath fans greet every pass with an "Olé" as their heroes play keep-ball against champs-turned-chumps Kerry. Cue the final against Galway ... now Meath mutate into the role of collapsing favourites.

2002: So, you thought Saipan and all the bitterness entailed was potentially ruinous to the health of our nation? Get your priorities right. What happened in Carlow that same summer - a queue of Dublin supporters, frolicking naked across the pitch in Dr Cullen Park, as their distracted heroes struggled past Wexford - was far more repugnant.

2003: We got over Saipan, and even Carlow - but some squeamish legends in Kerry have never recovered from being subjected to Tyrone's swarm defence "puke football", otherwise known as winning football.

2004: Westmeath footballers conquer Leinster. How dare they have the temerity to beat Offaly with a point that was clearly wide; and to not lie over and allow Dublin to tickle their bellies ... and then, worse again, to deny the legend that is Mick O'Dwyer in the final. Shame on them ...

2005: Lance Armstrong has just 'won' his seventh consecutive Tour de France and decides to get out while the going is good and the urine is still registering as pristine.

Here's the crime: all the credulous people who ever believed this fairytale.

2006: Steve Staunton has just been appointed Gaffer of the Irish soccer team. Even without the benefit of 20-20 hindsight ... did anyone seriously believe this would work out for the best?

2007: The golden generation of Irish rugby crash out of the World Cup group stages. The post-mortems are bitter and recriminating: did Ireland flop because of over-training, over-confidence or (with TV rights going to TV3 and Setanta) the scandalous overlooking of George Hook?

2008: Kerry, the great aristocrats, have just been denied three-in-a-row by dint of losing a third All-Ireland final in six seasons at the hands of those Nordie upstarts from Tyrone. You gotta laugh.

2009: Personally, the Thierry Henry 'Hand of Gaul' saga bores us at this stage. You'd swear we'd have won the World Cup (we mightn't even have won the play-off).

No, this year should be celebrated for the disintegration of the myth that Tiger Wood was a paragon of invincibility and fidelity. And to think it all started with an innocent car tip ...

2010: Frank Lampard's disallowed World Cup goal against Germany. The ball wasn't merely over the line; it had crossed into another time zone. Oh, and England crashed out. Again.

2011: Dublin versus Donegal. Gaelic football's year zero, as Jim McGuinness parks his double-decker bus and dares Dublin to pick his 14-man defensive lock. The romantics screamed blue murder; the crowd booed ... and yet if he'd won, we'd have saluted his genius between gritted teeth.

2012: They've all gone Olympic-crazy across the pond but not everyone's happy - specifically, the North Korean women's football team who walk off the Hampden Park pitch in protest on seeing the flag of South Korea displayed on the big screen. As gaffes go, ouch!

2013: Mayo play an entire All-Ireland final with 16 men (according to one, eh, slightly partisan witness) and still can't beat the Dubs. This is almost as embarrassing as Donegal's display against what seemed like 45 Mayo men a few weeks earlier.

2014: Brazil 1 Germany 7. Need we say any more? Except to think, after this hilarious horror show, a certain David Luiz made FIFA's team of the year. The judges must have been supping from Lance's magic bottle ...