“The comparison between Messi and my dad is made by those who don’t watch or understand football – we’re talking about two different planets.”
Diego Maradona Jr, whose dad was, well, you know.
The number of shots on target in the Uruguay v South Korea game (plus two that hit the post). Idle goalies, then.
Canada’s English manager John Herdman has been making a bit of a name for himself in Qatar with his rather lively interviews and press conferences, not least when he revealed what he said to his players after their 1-0 defeat by Belgium.
“I just told them that they belong here and we’re going to go and ‘F’ Croatia – it’s as simple as it gets, that is our next mission now.” Croatia, you’d imagine, will sellotape that quote to their dressing room wall on Sunday.
But being exposed to the spotlight inevitably means that some people will have a rummage through your past, and the former manager of the New Zealand and Canada women’s teams has experienced just such a fate.
“Herdman was once hauled up before a Spanish judge after a joke about carrying a bomb on to a passenger jet backfired spectacularly,” revealed the Mirror, a sentence that had you doing a double-take.
“He boarded a flight from Newcastle to Malaga and caused a panic by telling the pilot shortly after take-off that he was carrying an explosive device and wanted to be taken to Beirut. The pilot radioed Britannia Airways to ask for advice and was told to continue to his destination. Herdman was escorted off the plane by Spanish police and searched.”
It should be hastily pointed out here that this happened in 1993, when Herdman was just 17, and which one of us didn’t tell a pilot at that age that we were carrying a bomb?
The best part of the yarn is that the judge who heard his case let him off after Herdman convinced him that it was just a joke. He was, he said, just trying to “break the ice” with the pilot. Like you do.
Having been drawn in a group with Spain, Germany and Japan, this World Cup was never going to be an easy ride for Costa Rica, but their 7-0 defeat by the Spanish on Wednesday suggests it might be even trickier than they feared.
Their best ever World Cup performance came back in 2014 when they reached the quarter-finals, but despite that less than glittering record they went into this tournament with no little pressure on them, thanks to the country’s president. As The Sun headline put it, he “refuses to die” before they win the World Cup.
“What was the probability that I would win the presidency,” said Rodrigo Chaves Robles. “The same. It was zero percent – but there are surprises. I want to live, and not die, until I see Costa Rica become world champions.”
He’ll definitely still be alive, then, after this World Cup, although according to Wikipedia, the life expectancy for Costa Ricans is 79.3 years and “people commonly live active lives past the age of 100”. Chaves Robles is 61, so there could still be 40-ish years for the country to realize his dream. You sense, though, he’ll outlive Methuselah.
Word of mouth
“There are ex-players who were nothing, they were sh*t, and they talk about Cristiano as if they were something in football.”
Ronaldo’s former Portugal team-mate Fabio Coentrao standing up quite firmly for his pal.
“I don’t think I played a great game, I don’t know why I got the trophy. Maybe it is because of my name.”
Kevin De Bruyne at a loss to understand why he won the official player of the match award for his performance against Canada. Honest, that guy.
“But afterwards they lost the match. They would have done better not to do it and to win. We are here to play football, I am not here to send a political message.”
Belgium’s Eden Hazard did not quite show solidarity with the German players who put their hands over their mouths before the Canada game to signify that they had been silenced by Fifa.
Kudus takes aim
Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus was extremely peeved about a Guardian story which suggested that he was engaged in a feud with Brazil’s Neymar after the pair had a bit of a run-in during a friendly in September.
“He’s not better than me, he’s just a higher profile player, that’s all,” he was quoted as saying after the game.
“FAKE NEWS,” he declared when he took to Twitter on Wednesday, “just like Neymar I humbly want to inspire the next generation.”
Mind you, there was a little burn at the beginning of the 22-year-old’s message. “My family and culture raised me to respect the elderly.” Then again, from Kudus’ vantage point, 30-year-old Neymar is probably prehistoric.