Friday 23 March 2018

World Cup Diary: Questionable legends

"NOW we welcome onto the stage, the former Argentina striker, Eusebio."

With a presenter like that, you sort of knew that yesterday's adidas Golden Boot gig with legends Eusebio -- the ex-Portugal star, just in case you don't remember -- and Gerd Muller was going to be a disaster. And so it proved.

The lads didn't appear to be in the best of moods, and you could hardly blame them given the standard of introduction.

That was followed by some pre-prepared questions from the MC, two of which asked their opinion on the likely winner of the Golden Boot.

Muller and Eusebio could barely hide their bemusement at the repetition.

It didn't really get much better when it went to questions from the floor, with each star's translator turning a simple question into a three-to-four-minute exercise.

'Der Bomber' restricted himself to one-line answers, while constantly looking to his side to see if there was any way to exit the stage quickly.

When asked for his opinion on Germany versus Argentina, "It will be a draw and then extra-time," was the considered response.

An earlier question, about what makes a good striker, drew the inspired observation "he must score a lot of goals". Muller should know -- he scored 10 in the 1970 World Cup alone.

Eusebio, in fairness, was a bit more open, though he stopped short of criticising individual players -- such as Cristiano Ronaldo -- who the Portuguese press were keen to push him on.

When asked about the differences between football now and in his time, Eusebio came up with the line of the day, as he complained that the modern game was "too commercially driven".

Quite a statement from a man who was surely receiving quite a lot of money for standing on stage in a blue adidas T-shirt, while surrounded by handlers and busybodies organising every little detail. Sometimes football is an irony-free zone.

Irish Independent

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