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The delirious ravings of a sick puppy

Ronaldo

There was no live football for me last weekend. I wanted to go to Seddon Fields to watch Western Springs take on Birkenhead United in their belated third round cup tie, but I just wasn’t up to it. A sad bout of man-flu unfortunately reduced me to little more than a cowering mess of duvet encrusted snot.

It’s an odd sensation for me, not trotting out the door with my camera bag over my shoulder at any stage of a fine sunny winter’s weekend. How can I fill the yawning chasm in my life that the grassroots game leaves when I can’t indulge my passion for it?

In a desperate search for alternative entertainment, I downloaded the ‘Pokemon Go’ app to see what all the fuss was about.

It’s unfortunately one of those things that makes you register before you can use it. This is no doubt so they can sell your every movement to any and all advertisers who want to spam you. I don’t really care, given my life is pretty much an open book online already anyway.

But the crunch came when it asked for a ‘nickname’ that other users will know me by. I tried “Totti”, “Totti10”, “FrancescoTotti”, “FrancescoTotti10”, “TottiTottiTottiTotti”, and “LetMeBeTottiOrYouCanShoveYourStupidGameWhereTheSunDontShine” but unfortunately they were all taken by other users. So I deleted the ‘Pokemon Go’ app.

In the end, as it turned out, the only thing I could really do in my dark Codral clouded existence was follow both local and international football online and catch up with what both the pundits and Twitteristi were saying about the beautiful game in general, and in particular the Euro 2016 final.

On Monday morning I followed events in Paris with great interest as an unapologetic Portugal fan. I drew them in the office sweepstake right back at the start of the tournament. My heart sank at the time. The last thing I was ever going to do was cheer for Ronaldo! Not that it would matter, they weren’t a realistic chance to lift the trophy.

But then a funny thing happened – they got the kindest draw in big tournament history! The only serious threat to them making the final was always going to be Belgium, but like a gridiron defender Wales bumped them out of the way, clearing the path for the Portugese. And we all know that anything can happen in a final.

My perceptions of Christiano Ronaldo have changed. It’s funny how supporting a team he plays in has done that. All of a sudden I have seen the other side of him – one I’ve never understood before but now I get it.  I used to think that everything was all about him, but now I see that it’s not. The way he encouraged his team mates ahead of the penalty shootout vs Poland. The way he was up on his injured knee in the technical area like a coach urging on his players in the final. He’s not just a selfish prima donna – he’s a true leader.

But it seems I have only come to these conclusions because I knew that Portugal’s win, for me, would mean a significant spending spree at www.asromastore.com. For practically everyone else, my my we are a bitter lot…

Lots of vitriol has centred on the way in which they won the trophy. Some say they did it with so-called negative, boring tactics and that they should be hated for this. This is the same kind of mentality that people use to be down on Italy all the time. I don’t buy into it.

Portugal did what it took to win, and what’s wrong with that? Should they have employed a style of football that’s more attractive and gone down in some kind of glorious defeat to please the neutrals? Why should they do that?

They have been bridesmaids many times before with a more attacking mentality than the one they employed to win this tournament. If I was Portugese, bugger the neutrals, I know which outcome I would prefer!

In a decade’s time I may not remember this Portugal team as one of the greatest football sides I’ve ever seen. But I will look at my 2016/17 Roma home shirt and say “this is the shirt that Uncle Ronaldo shouted me. What a bloody good bloke he was!”

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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