Tales from the Secret FootballerA With the football season underway, all eyes are firmly fixed on the playersa€™ performances on the pitch.
Her Ladyship's Girl by Anwyn MoyleSUFFERING the scowls and grunts of a baboon-like cook, 5am rises and very little food to eat, life as a scullery skivvy between the wars in London is a far cry from 16-year-old Anwyna€™s rural existence in South Wales. There is a theory that playing abroad will open your eyes to the more technical side of the beautiful game. Most, if not all, British clubs are now sensitive to the cultural differences within their squads and the needs that arise for those players with different beliefs to our own, whatever they are. The laws of football are the same the world over but the way different countries approach every aspect of the game can vary hugely. Playing abroad isn’t simply a case of jumping on a plane, signing a deal and getting started. Does anybody really know if having multiple schools by the time they have reached the age of six or seven is a good thing? At the time, I was simply immersed in the football and I was having my first real exposure to players from the continent.
This happened on a training day and so, by the time I rolled in, I just had enough time to shower and attempt to eat some breakfast before rolling into work at 8.30am. But these players didn’t only know when to let their hair down but also when to get their head down.
We had no less than 16 different nationalities in a squad of roughly 30 players and to see people embrace each other’s religion and way of life was, without getting mushy, pretty special in itself. During the season, we hit the inevitable bump in the road and, for a while, results were poor.
But during this meeting we all had our own say in whatever language it was (no Steve McClaren attempt at a foreign accent from me) and most of us managed to get our point across.
It was this back-to-basics grass-roots approach to football that brought about and demanded respect. But any similarities that I may have with a gap-year student ends at my refusal to continue living out of a backpack for any longer than I have to. I was told in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t getting the apartment and that I had to find myself a place at my own expense.
She pulled me on to the top of the table, took off my T-shirt and smothered baby lotion all over my chest, which she accompanied with wildcat noises. The manager would leave no stone unturned and would make sure that we all knew our individual opponents inside out.
It can be hard to settle abroad and I have seen foreign players coming over to England and being shocked at our culture. In my experience, as with any job abroad, it is very important to immerse yourself in the culture and the way of life.
Would be interested in playing abroad, Been a pro footballer at Hartlepool United was released as manager was sacked and new manager didnt see me train but was still released.
Danny Higginbotham played on loan at Royal Antwerp from November 1st 1998 until June 30th 1999. I truly think the secret footballer is the biggest April 1st joke out…come on Guardian, just let us know who the journalist is that is pretending to be this mystery man.
I still think it’s Kitson, if he had played abroad he would have mentioned it in his book, no?
Also not many Englishman have played abroad and therefore his identity could easily be narrowed down. The champions are floating just above the relegation zone, Jose Mourinho’s side having already lost an incredible six games from 11 this term. While there is a clear crisis at the West London club, I take a look at how two of their players sent on loan to Serie A are performing. The Egyptian is on loan at Roma but the Serie A side have opted to purchase him on a permanent basis for approximately ?16 million after this campaign. It’s clear that Chelsea have allowed a top talent to leave the club without giving him a good opportunity to impress.
Well, it’s his second season in Serie A, after spending a successful four months on loan with Fiorentina towards the end of last term, so he’s had time to get to know the league.
At Fiorentina, he scored six goals in his first six games, including one to help knock out Tottenham Hotspur from the Europa League.
Now, at Roma, he is a pivotal component in Rudi Garcia’s side that are challenging for the title.
Salah predominantly plays in his natural wide right position, offering staggering pace and technique. The 23-year-old has already scored five league goals for Roma in nine games but is yet to register an assist. It was to be an eventful game for Salah against his former club, after he received a second yellow card five minutes before the end.
Of course, there are elements in his game that need improving, most notably passing and decision making. It looks like Chelsea have missed out but who’s to say that Salah won’t again feature in the Premier League in the future should he continue his development? After Chelsea purchased Cuadrado from Fiorentina for ?23.3 million just last February, the Colombian was deemed surplus to requirements and sent on loan to Serie A champions Juventus this summer. He had made 15 appearances for Chelsea, the majority from the substitutes’ bench, and failed to make any sort of impact. So a move to Juve was a great one for him and for the Italian club, considering that they paid just ?1.5 million for his services for one season. Cuadrado is a threat to opponents and only one of a small number of Juventus players who can take on opponents in a one-on-one. He has completed 26 successful take-ons [source: Squawka], is dangerous in and around the box and brilliant at dragging the ball from side to side. It is widely reported that Juventus are taking steps to make Cuadrado’s move permanent in the winter transfer window. Many English viewers will have seen him in Juve’s 2-1 victory at Manchester City in the Champions League in September and wonder why Chelsea let him go. Chelsea’s poor start to the season is due to a combination of elements that many pundits have struggled to put their finger on.


For one reason or another, the star players are no longer putting in the performances that they did in last season’s title-winning campaign.
The Brazil winger has probably been the best player at Chelsea this term and he occupies the same position as Salah and Cuadrado. To see our content at its best we recommend upgrading if you wish to continue using IE or using another browser such as Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome. I meet supporters from clubs up and down the country and, for the most part, I leave with something to think about.
Torquay United manager Chris Hargreaves, after the 2-1 home win over Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday, stated that his team for that game earned an average weekly wage of ?375. This was his excuse as to why 15th-placed Torquay are not competitive with some of the bigger clubs in the league.
With only five weeks remaining in the Vanarama Conference, which team will keep their nerve and go on to win the title? For me, though, it looks like Macclesfield Town may have bottled it as they have dropped some valuable points recently. Paul Hurst, their manager, has just celebrated four years at the club and I feel it might just be his season after failing in the play-offs in recent years. Grimsby’s strike partnership of Lenell John-Lewis and Ollie Palmer appears to work well, with both of them in fine form. An old friend has informed me that, next season, the Conference will be renamed the National League.
Why is it so important for the English national team to play all of their home matches at Wembley Stadium? England have a fantastic and emblematic range of stadiums outside the capital city, London, that would perfectly serve the purpose of hosting an international match.
Old Trafford, Anfield, St James’ Park and Villa Park, just to name a few, are good examples of stadiums with enough importance in the history of English football. They would offer supporters from other cities and regions, other than London, the opportunity to watch their national team. England played their home matches at some of these venues while the new Wembley was being built and such a change did not affect the team’s overall performances.
Probably the fact that I’m not English might affect my judgement on the importance of the new Wembley. But I will try to transport you to the reality of my homeland, Portugal, a country that still has a lot learn from the panorama of English football. The Portuguese national team usually play their home matches away from the Estadio Nacional (National Stadium), near Lisbon. It is an obsolete infrastructure built during the right-wing dictatorship period back in 1944 and that had the purpose of hosting Portugal’s home matches and the Portuguese Cup finals.
Nevertheless, and despite the fact that it is still used to host the cup final, the national team don’t play there on a regular basis. Up until the friendly match against Greece in May, the last time Portugal had played an official match at Estadio Nacional was in 1988 during the Euro ’88 qualifiers against Italy.
The emotional link between the Portuguese team and the National Stadium simply does not exist. Currently, Portugal play their home matches across several different venues, cruising the country from north to south, thus allowing supporters from all over this small nation to enjoy the matches.
Again, though Portugal and England live in fairly different realities when it comes to football, I believe that it doesn’t make any sense to have a national team “forced” to play all their home matches at a particular stadium. By allowing England to play outside of Wembley, possibly from 2018 onwards, the FA is taking a step forward on this particular topic. Yet the FPF here in Portugal is taking not one but three steps back by confining the Portugal matches to a stadium on the outskirts of Lisbon. Adrian Bevington, Club England’s managing director, has already admitted that the FA could be eight to nine years away from paying off the horrendous debt incurred when rebuilding the stadium. And make no mistake, it was hardly a cost-efficient job – ?827 million to renovate the stadium. The immediate suggestion has been to set up an NFL (American football) franchise based at Wembley, which is probably a discussion for another day.
And the obvious clash that follows is that of England’s interests and that of the supporters.
Some of those who watched England win 5-0 over San Marino had to pay up to an astonishing ?55.
The costs incurred in opening and maintaining Wembley for home matches are excessive when compared to the income generated.
By moving to a smaller ground, England could temporarily play their matches with cheaper costs; then, reduced prices would, in turn, help to produce capacity crowds. Wembley needs funding and if England cannot do it by drawing in crowds alone, the idea of an NFL franchise must be seriously looked at.
But given the current levels of debt, the decision-makers are rapidly running out of choices. She arrives in London in search of greater financial prospects but, before long, shea€™s dismissed from service following a dalliance with the master of the house.Her fortune changes as she takes up the position of a ladya€™s maid at a house in Belgravia, covering up her mistressa€™ affairs and attending the glamorous events in the high society calendar.
Modern football has given many young people a worldly outlook on life despite spending little time abroad themselves.
But I only really appreciated what some of our finest imports experience when they are plying their trade in foreign climes when I found myself playing abroad. Today, the difference in playing for many of Europe’s elite clubs is negligible but, when I was playing abroad the nuances were that much trickier to navigate.
I always looked at the situation without attaching the emotion to it; my aim was to help secure a bright financial future for my family and so a little time spent playing football in a different country felt like a modest price to pay.
Moving abroad is a lot to ask of a kid and, despite our best efforts, he remained horribly unsettled by the whole experience.
They are settled now and they are very outgoing because they have had to make new friends again. Closing time came as a great relief to me … or so I thought until I was told to sit down by the captain, who through drunken and cracked English informed me that I was going nowhere.
I was still very much the worse for wear when I stepped into his office to offer the obligatory.


I’ve generally found footballers to be fairly good at this balance, despite some high-profile examples to the contrary.
We had Brazilians, Hungarians, Germans, Dutch and Macedonians, to name but a few, and the banter was always flowing and everybody took it in good humour. I had started tentative discussions with the club to see if they could offer my family a more permanent living arrangement than the hotel we were crammed into and, much to my surprise, the club said that they would look into it. My team-mates, the chairman, the chief executive and manager were in uncontrollable fits of laughter. It was all about “football” and training was just to keep things topped up while drilling into us what we could expect from the other team. The natives will certainly appreciate you that bit more for the effort … especially the strippers. My anonymity let’s me tell you how it is, from inside the game without the shackles of pre-conception or fan bias.
So many great experiences (actually just back from playing with my all-Czech six a side team) but equally very tough aspects, especially when so many things look culturally the same as back home on the surface, only to turn out to be completely different in reality! Surely someone can find an Englishman playing for a foreign club with Hungarian and Macedonian players? It was madness and totally over the top but at least I've lived my life in that respect and I have some amazing stories and memories.
It did appear that their wheels had fallen off but they rapidly turned it around and remain at the top of the table. The second largest stadium in Europe definitely does not have the significance that the old Empire Stadium had in its heyday. But, after being expelled from the house for having a young aristocrat in her room, she works in Londona€™s pubs.This charming book is brought to life through the stoic and convivial voice in which Moyle tells her adventure-packed story.
A lot of people who I know subscribe to the theory that different environments are good for children but, in reality, my family were here because of me. It was a great insight for me in terms of how different people from different backgrounds can unite.
Yes, I missed home and so did my family, but the way I was made to feel welcome was something that will remain with me for life.
We went on to win the next eight games and the free Monday night meals, courtesy of the chairman, began. One Monday evening, just before the chairman’s meal (we were on a roll), I was summoned to the end of the table, where the chairman, manager, chief executive and coaches were sat. When it all calmed down, the chief executive stood up and proclaimed that the club would give me an apartment and to “enjoy” the rest of the evening.
We would study them on a daily basis, with video analysis on which foot the player preferred, his strengths and his weaknesses and although this is hardly stimulating for a young footballer, come matchday I was equipped with everything I needed to have a good go at being successful.
I think British football would benefit massively if it became the norm for all young players and young managers to spend a couple of years abroad. Helicopters were the same game, but the approach the Japanese take toward aviation was eyeopening to say the least. Dave Kitson played against him for Portsmouth in that time, as did Kenny Miller in the home nations (he has played abroad). Closest I found was Robbie Keane, who’s obviously Irish but he may have crossed paths with Goran Pandev at Inter about a decade ago. And when you play against West Ham, you also notice the racism that you don't hear at other clubs. Needless to say, I remained at the top of my game for the remainder of my time at the club. I’m sure he felt that his money was safe and, to be honest, at that time, we were fairly certain it was, too. I learnt so much in my time at the club that I would definitely advise a young player, or any player for that matter, to have a go at playing abroad. At every one of my clubs, there have been players who simply could not settle despite being very talented. The odd thing about it, though racism is racism, is that you can sometimes hear it directed at West Ham players by West Ham fans.
We went to a bar that the eastern European element of our team often frequented; not too surprisingly because it was managed by eastern Europeans. This simple gimmick encouraged you to look after the ball, just as you are told to during games. That level of involvement from the top to the bottom of a football club is all but dead in Britain now. I've been on boats and private jets that have blown me away and I've accidentally written off a Ferrari when playing a game of chicken in Barcelona. And, one Christmas, I was propositioned by half of a female flight crew from Alitalia in a hotel hot tub in London. But now Las Vegas has copied that model, with pool parties and crazy nights, so many of us decamp there in the summer. It's great for the fans and a bit of fun but I have to tell you that footballers just don't care about rubbish like that. But I can tell you that they are among the most dedicated group of people on the planet in terms of their diet and supplements.
We thought we were doing OK and then the foreign lads came in and, before you knew it, the skin disappeared from the chicken breasts. And the bottled water was no longer chilled because you had to use body heat to heat it up so that the body could absorb it. F*** off, then!" Some players have to be ultra-serious when they take to the pitch and some, like me, need to feel relaxed. In one squad which I was a part of, we had a player who I used to stand behind in the tunnel before each match.
We don't have salt in this country." Forget the stories about banging models and spraying champagne up the wall.



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