Fine football, great company
IT IS NOT often you are invited to a three-course meal where the food, venue, ambience, service and company are all first class. I experienced all of the above during the last 10 days.
For starters, it was Leicester City v Everton at the home of the 2016 Champions.
Chatting to some of their fans, they still cannot believe the roller-coaster experience over the last 18 months.
This included being crowned League Champions and a memorable run in last season’s Champions League.
Sadly, however, this was tinged with gloom with the sacking of Claudio Ranieri.
Now with a new manager in place, the King Power Stadium was buzzing and adding to this festive atmosphere were two first half goals by the home side.
The main course was the much-anticipated Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid at Wembley Stadium and what a delightful spread it was.
Spurs overwhelmed the defending Champions with a style of football more synonymous with Madrid.
Executive chefs, Dele Alli and Harry Kane, combined to serve a mouth- watering dish for their team- mates, which left the Madrid squad wishing they had some of the same.
Cristiano Ronaldo was left frustrated with the scraps he was fed, but he still managed to score a consolation goal to add to his personal scoring record.
Man of the Match, Alli, outshone the more illustrious and recently crowned FIFA Player of the Year, Ronaldo, by scoring a brace on the night.
If the main course was fine dining at its best then the dessert was just mind blowing.
It was a surprise, but when it was finally served, it was the perfect end to the evening.
It is not often you share a table and meet World Cup and Champions League winners and have other soccer personalities in the same room.
I was fortunate to be seated close to Roberto Carlos and Raul.
Carlos is often described as the most offensive left back ever and played in two World Cup finals for Brazil, including winning the tournament in Japan in 2002.
In his 11 seasons at Real Madrid, he won 4 La Liga and 3 Champions League titles.
Also at the same table was Raúl, who is considered one of the greatest Real Madrid and Spanish players of all time.
At Madrid he won 6 La Liga and 3 Champions League titles and also captained both club and country.
Spurs and Argentinian legend Ossie Ardiles was also present at the match. Ardiles won the 1978 World Cup on home soil.
I asked him about the current Argentinian team and how close they came to not qualifying, but he said their close encounter and Messi’s performance could galvanise the squad for Russia 2018.
Former Spurs captain, Gary Mabbutt was also happy to chat and he was extremely proud of his boys and stated that no-one would want to draw Spurs in the next round.
With Spurs scheduled to play Crystal Palace and England preparing for friendlies, Roy Hodgson (current Crystal Palace manager and former England and Liverpool manager) and Gareth Southgate (current England manager) were also in attendance.
I am sure they were comparing notes on how uninspiring the current England squad is.
Overall it was an excellent week for the English teams in the Champions League with wins for Liverpool, Manchester United and City, the only blip being Chelsea’s mauling by Roma.
The action continued over the weekend, with Man City continuing their blistering start with a deserved 3-1 win over the Gunners.
City are playing an exciting brand of football. City are scoring at will and currently it doesn’t look like any team in the Premier League can go toe-to-toe with with Guardiola’s men.
The match of the weekend saw Jose Mourinho lose at his old club Chelsea.
The size and quality of the United squad, its history and global following makes Mourinho’s “let’s not lose” tactics difficult to comprehend.
At the start of the season United were offensive and played to win and the results backed this approach but recently, the results have been disappointing.
Fans will recall the slogan “boring boring Chelsea” a few years ago, now it is “boring boring United”.
Ashley Govender with former England manager Roy Hodgson and the current coach Gareth Southgate.