England drew 1-1 with USA and I couldn’t care less. What’s more, no one could care less about my care less-ness. I have to try and get interested in football because I am writing a play on the subject, that’s just the simple truth of it. I thought one way in, for me, might be sex. Fancy the players. Go on, fancy the players. Go! Well, I’ve tried that, and apart from, predictably, Ronaldo and Drogba and to a lesser extent (though no hard feelings please in the unlikely event that you’re reading this) Fernando Torres, I haven’t had much success. The truth might be that although certain players (and I forgot to put in a word for Park Ji-Sung), can be distinctly alluring (sounds like a line from Alan Bennett) the activity in which they are engaged is demonstrably not. Let’s take Ronaldo. Go on, take him.
I’ve seen shots of Cristiano sitting in the changing room exuding sex and perspiration and body odour in equal measure. I’ve come close to what I can only describe as drooling over his image as captured by Annie Leibovitz and reproduced in Vanity Fair. I’ve ordered his evocatively titled autobiography (‘Moments’) from Amazon, read (more accurately, looked at) said autobiography, been transfixed by documentaries on the man, been charmed, mesmerized and…well, generally lost for words. But then I’ll watch him in action and it’s a quite different experience. In the heat of the match he appears to me all clenched muscle, arrogance, vein-popping determination, gaping spoiled little boyishness and, ultimately, sexless.
And as I watched the England team filing out onto the pitch at Rustenburg on Saturday (wondering whether the violent head rolling exercises Rooney was doing were an attempt to keep his temper at bay) I consciously laid myself open to be titillated. But it didn’t happen. In spite of his reputation John Terry doesn’t do it for me (nor does Beckham for that matter). It was only, I’m almost ashamed to say, Rooney who exhibited a glimmer of sex appeal. Yes, Wayne Rooney, the pitbull of soccer, the header of the year, the potential pin-up on my bedroom wall. Perhaps I’ve found a way in.