Football Banter: Who Is The Greatest?

Yes,  I love football! I have done since I saw Liam Brady score a goal some players can only dream about firing in the back of the net and Alan Sunderlands’ hat-trick defeating the old enemy Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 in 1978. I was 7 years old and watching that match ignited my passion for the beautiful game and Arsenal Football Club. Did I look at other teams and wonder if I should switch? I had one wobble, Ricky Villa got me very confused with skills that blew me sideways and his compadre Ozzy Ardiles was just as amazing to watch. It was the Argentinian invasion I didn’t see coming but I remained a loyal ‘Gooner’ and just learned to appreciate how talented players from rival teams were.

One of the things I like most about football is the banter and opinions between fathers, females’ and football widows. Amongst the rolling of the eyes when their men are having a loud debate about who is the greatest, these women know a thing or two just by listening. Occasionally, one of them will throw a spanner in the works and silence the testosterone filled room. Just that very thing happened whilst the fathers’ at my nephews football club were discussing Brazil’s Pele and Argentina’s Maradona. One was adamant that Maradona was nothing short of ‘phenomenal’ and the other 8 strong were having none of it for them Pele was and still is the man.

So the proverbial spanner had touched down with a thud and it was me that threw it into the arena, well why not? I was busting a gut to say something so I thought what’s the worst that could happen. They might laugh, they might put me down or say “What do you know?” Then I thought, hang on for as many men that there are in the room there are women…back up!!!  So my moment came when they decided to draw breath for a second all I needed was the space to say one word, ‘Zidane’. Silence, you could have heard a pin drop. I felt quite empowered but then I thought, “Oh gawd, someone say something please”. Sometimes, it takes a lot to gain the respect of others and for a woman football is a tough stage to stand on and be heard. But they did hear me and I got the acceptance nod from all of them and the “Oh yeh, she has a point,” collective remark.

Our opinion on most subjects holds more weight if we have the knowledge to back it up. There is a chance that your peers will listen and will sometimes be surprised by the sense you make. If you are passionate about something learning more about it will be a pleasure and what’s more, your mind will soak it up like a sponge. The greatest is still a matter for continued debate for the fathers’ at the Arsenal Academy and I will be throwing in another name the next time when we discuss defenders. I’ll be doing what any good footballer does…forget that I might lose the ball or fall flat on my behind and just get stuck in!

© Michelle Sotiriou 2013

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