Fine foot­ball, great com­pany

Post - - Sport - ASH­LEY GOVENDER

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.