Only Arsenal Fans Care About Friendlies

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 12:11

Only Arsenal Fans Care About Friendlies

Please can we move on from mundane footballers. Write about the football please…to theeditor@football365.com

Would Rather Have Wenger Than Van Gaal
One for the United fans out there. How do you feel about LVG? Personally, as an Arsenal fan, I wouldn’t be happy to have LVG as our manager, or happy with the board for hiring someone like this. Not only have they hired a manager who has publicly stated he will retire after the 2017 season, showing short-termism beyond belief, but they have also given him carte blanche. Since then, he has gone and signed how many average players? Blind, Rojo, Darmian, Herrera etc, how many of these are world-class players? None.

Arsenal are in a position where they have money, but not Man Utd money, but we are restricting ourselves to the top tier of football players, waiting for the right player to become available rather than scattergun spending to try and get a quick title in before LVG retires. It absolutely reeks of SAF in his last season, putting his own personal gains before the long-term stability of the club. The fact that LVG would splash huge money on Di Maria, offer him massive wages even though it was widely known he quite fancied Paris, under play him and subsequently sell him on to Paris for a lesser fee, is absolutely crazy? It shows that he has no thought for the club, the future. LVG just wants to be able to say he won the league or a cup with the mighty Manchester united, their inevitable fall back from grace will follow unless they hire the right man after Louis.

The recent signing of Bastian Schweinsteiger was the absolute nail in the coffin for me. A fantastic player, granted, but he will not play more than 20 or so league games this season, and the year after that even less. United may get one great season out of him before he rapidly declines, but LVG won’t mind about that because come 2017 he will be hanging up his madness and getting himself started on that big money autobiography.

Don’t be surprised to see United sign more high profile, on-their-way-out players such as Ramos and co. These players are real winners who have been there and done it before and who could definitely lift United to some silverware, but the short-termism that LVG has showed towards the biggest club in the world is frightening and if I was a Man Utd I would be very concerned. Luckily I am a Gooner and have the wizard Wenger who is building something really special at the Emirates.
Ryan K, Dundalk FC/Arsenal – Not to mention Falcao or Valdes – This is the season of the OX

Not Listening To Silvio Dante
I opened the mailbox this morning, as I do every morning for the past six or seven years to read about the concerns over Rooney leading the line for Manchester United this coming season, and why it may not be the best idea in the world.

Now having seen none of the pre-season friendlies, I would have to base my opinion on performances I have seen from Wayne in the last few seasons where he has played as a striker(unfortunately/fortunately, I guess it depends on whether or not one actually places any emphasis on these glorified training matches). I read some of the concerns though and started to think, maybe it is a bit of a worry, some of this actually makes a bit of sense, coupled with the fact that I am a fan of Januzaj and Wilson, maybe they should get the nod to play alongside Memphis. Even the whole boxing analogy had me really intrigued thinking go ahead Louis, this guy sounds like he knows what he is talking about.

I got to the end of the mail only to find it was sent in by none other than the man who would be able to find a fault with anything Wayne Rooney does, even if he was to score three and assist three in one game with a passing accuracy of 95%. Needless to say, his opinion on Rooney means as much as the result of these glorified working holidays Man United have provided their employees.
The Chetty (Please keep up the pre-season tours though, I loved seeing them in Cape Town!)

Praise For A Journalist
After reading your depressingly accurate portrayal of media saturation, and having been conditioned into such depression by the brilliant Mediawatch, I thought I’d write in to sing the praises of one journalist in particular who has been a diamond in the rough waters of the worst summer of bulls*** I can remember.

Sid Lowe’s tracking of the Sergio Ramos situation for the Guardian has been absolutely superb. I have always been fan of Lowe’s writing, but in a summer where something that hasn’t happened yet is news (‘Manchester United yet to bid for Pedro’ was from the same paper. I was always under the impression that news was stuff that has just happened, rather than something that hadn’t happened at all) Lowe has reported the facts as he understands them, using what are clearly very finely-placed sources at heart of negotiations, and kept click-bait conjecture in his pieces to an absolute minimum.

I’m a little biased, but for me, Clive, the Real Madrid and Ramos vs Manchester United and De Gea tussle has been one of the more interesting dramas this off-season, considering the bully-boys are finally being held to ransom and we have a bargaining chip. Lowe’s reporting of the situation has been refreshingly old-school and it’s reassuring, as someone with ambitions to enter the field, that this is still something that goes on.
Chris (Ramos and De Gea are both going to be at Real next year aren’t they. FML.) MUFC

What Have Liverpool Learned?
The famed moneyball approach by Liverpool’s American owners has brought little success so far. Looking at this summer’s buys it seems to me they are buying similar players who have failed them in the past.

The evidence:

Young up and coming Under-21 international striker – Danny Ings (4 goals in 13 u-21 and averages 1 goal in 3 at club level) having already tried Fabio Borini (6 goals in 18 u21 and averaged 1 goal in 3 at club level when he joined).

Southampton International defender – Nathaniel Clyne having tried Dejan Lovren.

Late 20’s 7 out of 10 England international winger – James Milner having tried Stewart Downing.

Expensive, physical, direct goalscorer who has a poor injury history – They have brought in Benteke (£32m 42 goals in 88 games) having already tried out Andy Carroll (£35m 31 goals in 80 games at time of purchase).

Overpriced fringe international attacking midfielder who had a good season in a mid-table club in a strong European league – Roberto Firmino (£29m 10 Brazil caps) having already tried Adam Lallana (£25m 10 england caps when signed).

I am not saying they are signing exactly the same players and maybe the new ones will work out better. However to say that Liverpool have learnt and are trying something completely different is a bit of a stretch…
Paul, London

Klopp for City?
So, now that Van Gaal has confirmed he’s staying until the end of his contract, who is Jurgen Klopp going to be managing next season?

It’s not going to be Liverpool even if Rodgers screws up massively, because that’s too big a step down from Dortmund (to anyone who is about to argue it’s not: how many league titles have Liverpool won in the last five years? How many Champions League finals have they been in? How about Dortmund? Thought so. It’s a step down) so anyone who says it will be should be ignored. I’ve thought for a while that Klopp was waiting for United, but I can’t see him waiting around another year. Klopp is on record as saying that he needs to know the language to manage in a country, and as far as I’m aware he only speaks English and German. I say ‘only’, being fluent in two languages is impressive for most people, but even Brendan is fluent in three – being multilingual is clearly a part of the modern manager’s toolkit.

Assuming the language thing is true (and that he’s not learning Spanish or Italian during his year off), then the clubs he would manage are limited. In Germany, there’s only Bayern as an obvious upgrade on Dortmund. In England, there’s Arsenal, Chelsea, United and City who are obvious upgrades on Dortmund. So which one for Jurgen? Bayern probably aren’t going to sack Pep for him, Arsene apparently wants to die on the job (given his thoughts on retirement), United aren’t available, and unless Jose does the world’s biggest Jose and annoys Abramovich for no reason outside of egotism then he’s not going anywhere either. City though, that’s an option.

I’m not psychic, so all this could look really stupid in a months time, but for me (Clive) City are not quite title challengers this season. They’re almost guaranteed top four, but they haven’t improved enough to challenge Chelsea – meanwhile United have and Arsenal look potentially deadly. I think that if City don’t lift or seriously challenge for the title and/or the CL then Pellegrini will be gone and Klopp would find it hard to resist City – huge money, huge draw for players, incredible facilities, playing in a league which suits Klopp’s ‘heavy metal’ style. I’d love to see him in the Prem, even if he’ll never manage Liverpool, because his teams are great to watch.

Anyone else got ideas, or maybe even a clue? I’ll even take a bonkers theory, because my club is basically done with transfers in, transfers out are boring when it’s about cutting dead weight rather than a ‘saga’, I’m sick of friendlies and the league doesn’t start for a couple of weeks. Please, let me keep thinking about football. Please?
Matt, LFC

Villa For The Drop?
Given that I’m incredibly bored of reading about everyone meeting footballers and embarrassing themselves by trying to make contact (why would you even do that?), I’ll try and write something about actual football, well kind of, it’s about Aston Villa. A sort of season preview, if you will (I’m guessing most people are now skipping to the next email).

As a fan, you always want your club to make signings. It’s exciting, it gives you a new hope, expectations that you’ve unearthed the next star (although this is shortlived, when you realise that if you have you’ll inevitably lose them to the top clubs, but hey ho). So as a Villa fan, I’m looking at our business and found myself looking forward to the season. Signings are exciting. Football will be better again.

Then it dawned on me, it won’t, will it? We’re actually in real trouble. I mean, we’ve flirted with relegation quite a lot in recent years, treading water, lucky that other teams around us in this time have just wanted it slightly more than us. Now we’re making signing after signing, which on the surface looks decent, until you realise they’re mostly from abroad and will need time to settle and gel. Our back four alone will have three new players, with Richards slotting in a CB, Amavi and now apparently Crespo (not that one). There was even talk of replacing Guzan, luckily that seems to have stopped. A defence needs to be cohesive, to have played together enough to know each other’s game, to stick three new players in there is surely a recipe for disaster. Then into the midfield where we’ve replaced our captain and driving force with Gueye, another who will need time to settle. Up front? Yep, replacing talisman and only true goalscorer Benteke with Jordan Ayew, an effective striker I’m sure, but again with no Premiership experience. Add to this some of the players who are already at the club who are likely to get a look-in being the likes of Okore (26 league appearances), Gil (at club since Jan), Grealish (breakthrough season last year), Sinclair (at club since Jan), and it’s looking dangerously inexperienced. I can’t even work out who our captain will be.

I’m not saying we’re signing bad players, they’re probably talented, but to bring so many in at one time worries me no end. Add to that our inexperienced manager, and it could be an absolute disaster. Ray Wilkins will have a huge job on his hands to help Sherwood steer Villa away from another relegation battle, and one in which we may finally succumb to the clutches of 2nd tier football. Let’s be honest, it’s been knocking at the door for some time. What do other Villa fans think? Can anyone make me feel better?

Thanks in advance.
Mike (AVFC), London
P.S. Saw Leroy Fer in Costa at Heathrow airport last year. Didn’t say hi, there really is no need.

Friendly Fire
This morning Rob, London claimed that friendlies are useless.

Try asking that to Jeff Reine-Adelaide who made the most of the Emirates Cup to show he means business. Or Iwobi who also played well vs Lyon and even got himself a goal while Hayden and Akpom also got to show their stuff.

I am not saying these guys will now start for Arsenal but they at least get a chance to ask the manager some questions. It allows the team to gel a bit more in ‘competitive matches’ rather than just the training ground and can even let the manager try out some new formations.

Besides, who doesn’t like more football?
Rob A (two cups in the cabinet already…) AFC

…In reply to Rob, London regarding friendlies being completely pointless, I have to completely disagree. Now, I do agree that form in a pre-season friendly means sod all when the season starts. For example, my mate in work has gone big time on Ighalo for his fantasy football team, chap will not let up, because he has been absolutely killing it in pre-season. Do I envision Odion Ighalo being top scorer in the league come May? Do I F*ck! But I watched the Emirates cup and I got to see young players who I will most likely not see again for the rest of the season. For me, this is why I find friendlies are still very relevant. Anyone who seen Arsenal v Wolfsburg yesterday will have seen Arsenal new boy Jeff Reine-Adelaide absolutely tear it up. That will do him the world of good for the upcoming u-21 season and will give him ambition to get back out in front a huge crowd at the Emirates.

Fitness, cohesion, tactics and personnel aside, getting to see the young lads who are in the youth set up have a game with the big boys is always great.

So yeah, friendlies are in no way meaningless.
Ryan K, Dundalk FC

…I think Rob, London needs to lighten up a little and enjoy friendlies for what they are. Yes they are meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but we only get a limited amount of time on this planet we call home, so why spend it in a state of cynical negativity? I agree that the importance of said friendlies are overblown by the media, but to blame this on those watching at home, who are merely enjoying a game of football (because that is what it is all about), seems disingenuous at best. Of course those claiming Arsenal are going to win the league on the back of the two pre-season trophies they won are moronic, but the vast majority of football fans have their feet on firmer ground. Cheer the f**k up mate.
Cam, AFC

More Mundane Footballer Meetings With…

Ashley Cole
Too late for a mundane Ashley Cole story?

I saw him in his BMW X5 when he was just coming through at Arsenal. So I ran up to his car (he had Paolo Vernazza sat next to him) and asked if he would sign my shirt. He looked at me, said ‘Nah’, and drove off. Seems he was always a pleasant chap then.

In hindsight he did me a favour.
Dylan Clarke

Sam Allardyce
I was walking back to work once (in South Quay, Canary Wharf) and saw Sam Allardyce waiting to get money out of the cash point at a well known supermarket. Apparently he lived in a rather plush high-rise apartment complex here during his West Ham days.

Working in and around London for quite a few years it is not unusual seeing famous people, and I am not the type to go running over asking for a picture or autograph. But given that Arsenal had just beaten West Ham (5-0 I think) at the Emirates a day or two before, I couldn’t help a smug “Mr Allardyce” with a strange nod of acknowledgment.

He didn’t nod back, I carried on walking back to work.
James, Kent

Nigel Quashie
A good ten years ago now I was in a club in Southampton and I spotted one Nigel Quashie propped up at the bar on his own. My friend had gone to ‘relieve himself’ and I was at a decent stage of inebriation, so I decided to wander up to him for a chat.

As luck would have it Southampton had played my team, Spurs, that day and the man himself had scored the winner, so I trotted up grinning and said “You scored against my lot today”. I now realise that this wasn’t the witty ice breaker that I thought it was. He replied with “…Right?” to which I said “I wish you hadn’t ha ha”. He stared at me for a good few seconds and then replied as deadpan as you like “it’s me job mate”. I replied “yeah, fair point”, smiled, then ambled away slowly.

This is the first time I’ve told this story in ten years.
Dave, Essex

Wojciech Szczesny
I once ran into Wojciech Szczesny completely by chance at SushiSamba.

I was visiting my girlfriend in London and we were supposed to go for a date to a restaurant, and after they messed up our booking and they could not seat us, we decided to head to Sushisamba. After they seated us, my girlfriend asked if we could get a better seat next to the windows.

As we sat in our new seat, I looked to my left and there was Arsenal’s keeper having dinner with his girlfriend and some buddies. He was very nice to me when I finally plucked up the courage to ask him if we could have our picture taken.

Who would’ve thought a messed-up booking would lead to that?
Malcolm, AFC

Denis Irwin
Once, as a 6-year-old in my home town of Cork, I was in a bar and waiting to carry my father’s pint of Guinness from the bar to his table. As I’m waiting for the barman to complete the second part of the two-part pour; who do I find towering over me, but one of my heroes Denis Irwin. I was wearing my Man United jersey at the time and he clocked this and as I stared up at him dumbfounded he handed me a bottle of Cidona and a pack of crisps.

I don’t like Cidona but I didn’t have the heart to tell him.

I have since learned he was also All Ireland Chess Champion.

Dennis Irwin is just an absolutely class act.

Kind regards,
John in Cork

Mustapha Hadji
I went to Southampton Institute, in Southampton there is a club called Ikon (obligatory misspelling of name), and in Ikon one evening were a group of players including Coventry player Mustapha Hadji (he was pretty good – I think).

Having been lubricated by the £1:00 bottles of Stella I approached Hadji who looked immediately disturbed by my presence, this was only going to get worse when I told him I’d bought him, no spent the majority of my transfer money on him for Southampton and he turned out to be rubbish (the language, the volume of my words and the slurring of those words can be assumed as in need of adjusting)…but here’s the blinding bit; he apologised.

Mustapha Hadji apologised to a drunk 20-year-old. In a student nightclub. For being a bit pony on a computer game.
Dan Mallerman

Gareth Bale
Late to the party as I’ve not read in a few days.

I used to work in a Somerfield (now Co-op) in Woodford near Spurs’ old training ground, and Gareth Bale came in the day after he scored twice on the Saturday.

One was this worldie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFtD4-PFdRY while the other was a face/arse bounce-off and in.

As he was walking out it went a little something like this:

Me: “Blinding goal yesterday, Gareth.”
Bale: “Cheers, mate.”
Me: “The volley was alright en’all (with a half-wink).”
Bale: **Walks out looking a bit scared to his Audi R8**
Brian Badonde (Bourettes)

Matt Holland
Within a few weeks of moving to London, I found myself exploring the insufferable torture chamber that is Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford. As my girlfriend and I strolled along the top floor, I noticed Matt Holland, also in the company of a female, walking towards us.

Being a life-long Republic of Ireland fan, Matt holds a special place in my heart for scoring the equaliser against Cameroon in our opening fixture of World Cup 2002 which meant we didn’t lose. I had about three or four seconds before we crossed paths to decide whether I would acknowledge him or simply smile and keep walking. My rational thoughts clearly being skewed by that feeling of elation that eejits like me get when they see a professional footballer in the flesh, without any notice at all, I shouted out “You’re a legend!” and pointed straight to his chest.

Matt took a moment to take in what I had just blurted out before an awkward smile appeared on his face. “Thanks mate,” he responded softly. His female companion seemed to have no idea that he was in any way well-known and I could hear her ask him why a random man had just called him a legend as they walked on ahead. Similarly confused by my unannounced praise of a complete stranger, my girlfriend, assuming he was an old university friend of mine, asked me how I knew him. “He played for Ireland!”. “Oh right…okay…look there’s Topshop, they might have a sale on…”.
Jamie, London

Tim Howard
I thought this story of footballer meetings was a bit boring the last time we had them in the mailbox, but probably fits perfectly in to the mundane ones!

Must have been about five years or so ago when I was in a bar in Angel, Islington on Saturday night and one of my friends spotted none other than Tim Howard at the bar. I bundled my way through to talk to him being a United fan (though he had long since left for Everton). I had a nice chat with him, asking if he was offended by ‘his song’ that the Old Trafford crowd had for him, which he said he wasn’t, he loved it, and still liked the club a lot. I offered to buy him a drink, but he said that he was only on water and didn’t drink, and that was about the size of it. Very nice guy.

Part two if I’m allowed, I also met Paul Merson who was playing Tennis at my local club at about 9 years of age (me, not him) in the very early 90’s. I asked him for his autograph dressed as if the Man United Superstore had thrown up on me, decked head to toe, cap, full kit, and United autograph book and pen to boot. He saw the funny side and was also very nice!
AS Camden

Alan Smith
I was recently using the facilities at a local leisure centre (one in which I use every few months on a free day pass under a different alias). I was in the sauna when it struck me that I was sitting opposite ex-Leeds footballer Alan Smith. I struck up conversation and we chatted for quite a while, well as long as you realistically can in a sauna, he explained that he was now a Notts County player/coach and they did not have the facilities therefore the team used this leisure centre. We spoke for a good while generally about football and my team Birmingham City whom he had played that year in preseason. He was a very pleasant chap and whilst waiting in the reception area afterwards reading my complimentary copy of the Guardian and drinking my complimentary coffee, he actually approached me and struck up further conversation something I was taken aback by. Needless to say we did not exchange numbers however I will keep an eye out for him once enough time passes that the leisure centre will not remember my face and I can utilize their free one-off day pass once more.
J Baker

Gary Lineker, Patrick Bamford’s Dad, Joey Barton
I managed to wangle a job in Barbados for six weeks. Whilst there I went to a beach bar to see England playing a friendly on Channel 5 (I can’t remember when it was but it was the early 2000s). Of all people to be watching said match in the bar was one Gary Lineker with a child (I assume to be his son). I sat about two metres away and plucked up the courage to go over to speak to him. As I did though he got up and lifted his son onto his shoulders. When he did his son banged his head on the roof. He then had to console him. I didn’t speak to him.

My second meeting is actually quite exciting (as it’s topical). I met Patrick Bamford’s dad about three years ago when Patrick joined Chelsea’s youth team (I was working in Surrey at the time). I showed him a house which he didn’t like. I never heard from him again as he refused to answer my calls.

Most recently I walked with a colleague past Joey Barton on Richmond High Street. He was standing talking to a blonde lady. I was intending to say hello but before I did I said to my colleague who he was (he doesn’t like football). He didn’t know who he was and so I had to stand and explain to him before I got there. However, due to the pause he then disappeared.
JazGooner

Andy Cole And Eric Cantona
Andy Cole: I was in Tanzania, in a hotel, reading the Tanzania times and the sports section when it was reported that Andy (aka Andrew) Cole was around on some PR thing for “the Man Utd brand”. At the same moment he walks through the café where I’m sitting and I notice him. I give him a thumbs up and he only went a winked at me (the big flirt). I got up, handed my camera to one of the Man U assistants and ask can I get a picture. Andy obliges whilst the assistant seems pi*sed. I imagine because of grown-up 23-year-old man-boys shoving cameras in their face. Andy even smiled in the photo.

The King: Just finalised uni in London and with two friends walking around in Soho enjoying the sense of blissful freedom that comes after finishing education and not realising what the real world has in store for you. My friend (Guy, real name) taps me on the shoulder “Tesh, it’s Eric Cantona. It’s Eric fucking Cantona”. I look around and indeed there he is looking truly magnificent with some young girl in tow (I figure out later it is his daughter). I run up to him and ask him, in French thinking this will impress him, can I have a picture. He grunts yes. I hand the camera to my friend, Eric puffs out his chest, wide stanced. I try to put my arm around him but he looks at me and I know this is a distinct no go. As he departs, I say to him he was my idol growing up. His response “bon” and he walks off. He didn’t smile.
Tesh, London

Martin Keown
Back in 2005, I had a summer job working behind the tills at a petrol station shop.

As a long queue whittled itself down, I found myself face to face with none other than Martin Keown.

“I haven’t got a pin number for this card, so I’ll have to swipe,” he promptly said, clearly wanting to hurry the process along.

I tried to keep it together and treat him like any other customer, however clouded with awe, I completely missed what he’d just said and upon payment, routinely asked for him to enter his pin number.

Mr Keown was clearly perturbed by his need to repeat himself and gave me a stern ticking off in front of my boss, colleagues and other customers.

I immediately empathised with Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Lee (Still wish I’d said something witty back) WWFC, Milton Keynes

Andy Marshall
As a student at an Essex University in the early part of this century I was briefly involved in a relationship with a girl whose best friend was the wife of the then Ipswich goalkeeper Andy Marshall. For reasons I can no longer remember we all ended up in the Student Union watching the England make very hard work of qualifying for the World Cup in the now famous 2-2 draw with Greece. Big Andy seemed distinctly unfussed by what at the time to me was a life or death affair, to the point where, with 20 minutes left to play and England trailing 2-1 he decided that he would rather ‘go and buy some curtains’ than see if England were going to the World Cup. More of a mundane parting than a meeting.
James, Brussels (Sadly)

Nemanja Vidic
Whilst working for a mobile phone manufacturer, I went for a business meeting in the glitzy town of Crewe. Sitting outside a café on the platform at Crewe station was Nemanja Vidic and his hot wife. I didn’t speak to him, ask for a pic or autograph. He plays for the Mancs and it wouldn’t be right! He wasn’t even catching a train to Manchester.
Sam Roberts, Tunbridge Wells

Thierry Henry
About 7-8 years ago after a slightly heavy night on the Saturday I resumed my normal Sunday routine of carting a football kit over to Regents Park from Essex to play for the Sunday league team I was managing at the time.

While walking around the outside of the boating lake I came across a young girl hiding behind a post trying to hide from her Dad. As I walked across the bridge my blurry hungover eyes began to focus and I realised the man she was hiding from was none other than Thierry Henry.

As I was trying to figure out a greeting which involved trying to get him to play up front for the famous KeepEY UpEYs FC I instead gormlessly smiled and he was gone. My regret was heightened when we went on to lose our game 3-1.
Ross, London (He was playing for Barcelona at the time which made the meeting even more unusual)

Crystal Palace
I know everyone is sick of these Mundane meetings but I just have to share what happened to me last night.

The entire Crystal Palace team came to party at the club/bar I work at after their friendly in Cape Town.

Highlights of the evening include:

Watching Alan Pardew enjoying himself with the rest of the team but when I tried to approach him being stopped by his entourage saying: “It’s not the right time.”

Seeing Yohan Cabaye in the flesh, making him some cocktails, exchanging in banter and getting a selfie.

However the moment of the night, possibly my year and note I am an Arsenal fan, was during a chat with Chamakh; I looked him dead in the eye and said “Marouane, be honest with me, who is better you or Bendtner?” After a brief silence, he had a good laugh, throw his hands in the air and proclaimed “Me of course!”

All in all was an unreal experience.
Josh AFC, Cape Town

Jens Lehmann
I know you guys said you didn’t want any more of these but I’m really enjoying fans recollecting encounters with footballing superstars.

I once saw Charlie George at a restaurant but it’s the other Arsenal player I’ve encountered that I enjoyed more.

One works Christmas party I was at a cash point in Hampstead when a mate pointed out one Jens Lehmann in the immediate vicinity.

Seeing he’d been recognised, rather than acknowledging us in anyway, my favourite Arsenal goalie of all time chose to act like a startled squirrel, looking up and then disappearing into the shadows like the Springheeled Jack of Victorian folklore.

The encounter was very Jens and I much preferred it to a wink and a signed autograph as one might expect from the less eccentric players to grace our game.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

Ray Clemence (By Proxy)
I’ve have never met a professional footballer although my wife, as a newborn baby and due to a family friendship, was held by Ray Clemence for a photograph. Couldn’t ask for a safer set of of hands really when holding such a precious bundle of joy.
Mark (rarely bump into famous people) LFC

The Nadir
Some time in the 90s my brother and I went to the university of Limerick to see Jack Charlton being given some kind of honorary degree. Afterwards we saw the Irish team physio Mick Byrne in the lobby and asked him for an autograph. Our pen wasn’t working so he went away.
Robert, London

Just Stop It Now
Here is a list of footballers I have met or seen going about their lives:

Joe Cole, Dennis Irwin, Maroune Fellaini, Stale Solbakken, Quinton Fortune and Nigel Clough.

None of these incidents are in any way interesting. Clough, for example, was putting petrol in his car. Fellaini was walking down the road with his brother. Please can we stop with the stories of meeting footballers now and go back to talking about actual football?
Dan, Medway (I also know someone who once went out for a drink with Chris Smalling. Woo.)

…This new trend of mundane footballer meeting is really annoying for us fans not living there. Do you know that I would kill for the chance to just see a proper superstar, never mind the club he plays for. This is killing me and if you guys would have any compassion for us, please stop.
Zaki (If any manager reads this please come to India) LFC

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