Or how politics enters football
PATRICK WINTERS picks his team with a definite political leaning
Ihad been thinking of compiling a team of past and present footballers who happened to have interesting or even extreme politics. Of course, problems arose. Would a fascist winger track back to help out a commie full-back? Would that full-back overlap for the winger? The answer is: probably. Nevertheless I decided to make a team with vaguely right-wing sensibilities, from Thatcherites to fullblown Nazis.
Gianluigi Buffon With 113 caps and a World Cup winner’s medal to his name there is no doubt that Buffon is one of the finest goalkeepers of all time. However, controversy has followed Buffon since his early days at Parma, where he chose the squad number 88. ‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet and 88 is used by neoNazi groups worldwide to signify ‘HH’ or Heil Hitler. Despite this being common knowledge (particularly in Northern Italy), Buffon pleaded ignorance when it began to cause a stir. He did not offer any explanation as to why he did choose the number, however, and Parma eventually persuaded him to change to 77. Another shirt added fuel to the controversy years later. This time a t-shirt that he regularly wore to training emblazoned with the Italian fascist motto:‘Credere, obbedire, combattere’ (believe, obey, fight). Buffon is not known for his love of literature and took only one book to the 2002 World Cup – a lengthy tome on the Third Reich.
Wayne Brown A tough, journeyman at the back. Brown briefly graced the Premier League in Hull City’s colours but played most of his football in the Champi- onship. It was while playing for Leicester City that Brown revealed he was a proud supporter of the BNP. Leicester is a multi-cultural city and the football team are no different. In the dressing room in May 2010 some players were discussing the recent national elections when Brown made his political allegiances known. He is believed to have launched into a tirade re-hashing some of the BNPs favourite lines to his shocked team-mates. Winger Lloyd Dyer and coach Chris Powell objected but Brown refused to back down and the row escalated before other players narrowly prevented any blows being thrown. Brown was swiftly suspended and never played for the Foxes again. He left the club ‘by
mutual consent’ that summer.
Wayne Brown Sinisa Mihajlovic Possibly one of the best free-kick takers of all time Mihajlovic was an uncompromising defender for a clutch of Serie A clubs. His politics were similarly uncompromising and he played a central role in the infamous 1991 Yugoslav Cup final. Playing for the Serbian side Red Star Belgrade against their Croat rivals Hajduk Split, Mihajlovic targeted his (not entirely innocent) opposite number, Igor Stimac. The duel soon took centre stage as tackles flew in and the two players tried to injure one another. Mihajlovic finally did manage to seriously injure a Split player and was sent off. Players and staff from both sides were soon squaring up all over the pitch. All this against the background of the exploding conflict in the region. Mihajlovic has always been an ardent Serbian nationalist and recently contributed to an article praising the notorious Red Star hooligan and war criminal, Arkan, the leader of the Serb Volunteer Guard.
Jamie Carragher Jamie Carragher was a one club man. The curtain fell on his career at the end of last season and he was feted as a dying breed. The local lad done good and was loyal to the end. One of the reasons he is a dying breed is because the competition for places at clubs like Liverpool is intense these days. This can, in part, be attributed to players from overseas making Anfield their home. This is something that Jamie is not so pleased about. Here’s a quote from his auto-boiography:
“There’s definitely too many foreigners in the game. What’s the point of spending all this money on the academies if we’re not pushing local kids through? Liverpool FC is our club. It’s a big part of our city and you’ve got to give young Scousers with aspirations the chance to succeed.”
Right wing? Not really sure, to be honest. But he was certainly a great right back at times!
Zvonimir Boban Linking midfield and attack will be masterpasser, Boban. A very classy player and one whose place in the history books is assured thanks to one timely kick. Of course, it was not a
kick to the ball for which Boban is most famous but a kick to a policeman. In May 1990 as Yugoslavia were just beginning to crumble, Boban lined up for Dynamo Zagreb in a crucial game against Red Star Belgrade.
The struggle on the pitch soon moved to the stands as scuffles began to erupt between Croat and Serbian Ultras. A Dynamo fan slipped and was set upon by a policeman. Boban spotted it and ran over, delivering a flying kick to the cop. It was a small victory on a day when Red Star fans came out on top thanks to the complicity of the predominantly Serbian police force. Boban’s kick became a rallying cry for his beloved Croatia, the embryonic nation about which he had this to say:
“Croatia is the reason I live. I love my country as I love myself. I would die for Croatia.”
Boban did not have to witness the killing and dying that continued long after the match as he moved to AC Milan.
Another incisive passer and playmaker in midfield. Aquilani is yet to fulfill his potential and seems to have difficulty cementing his place in any of the big sides that he has played for. Not much is known about Alberto’s home decor but he has confirmed that he has a marble statue of Mussolini in his home. Here’s what Alberto
told La Gazzeta dello
Sport: “There are too many foreigners in the country and most of the violence and trouble you see
Aquilani is caused by them.”
In case you’re wondering he was referring to Italy not Liverpool.
With a lack of width up until here an exciting, capable player is needed for the wing. There was little that Stoihkov could not do with the ball at his feet. He was fast, skillful, unpredictable and aggressive. Stoichkov was always confident of his own abilities and it came as no surprise that he was not worried about facing Milan’s excellent Marcel Desailly but was it really necessary to point out that he “always excel(s) against blacks”.
Paolo Di Canio
One of the finest players I have been lucky enough to see in the flesh. Each time he collected the ball a wave of excitement moved through the stands. Funnily enough he claimed to be waving to his family in the stands at the Stadio D’Ollimpico when he performed this particular salute.
Boban attacks the police