Monday, July 10, 2006

Genius is still genius

Photo by choudoudou

When I opened my eyes this morning, my first thought was of how Zinedine Zidane must be feeling, opening his eyes this morning.

I listened to French radio after the world cup final last night. I was impressed by the loyalty to Zidane of all those who reported or were interviewed. In the whole hour that I listened not person blamed him for the defeat, not one person used any words like shame or disgrace. Some expressed their thanks to Zidane for what he had done for France in this world cup and over the years.

One correspondent described the moment Zidane got sent off as like moving from 'le chaleur' of a Rio de Janeiro beach to ‘la froideur’ of a cold bath in the space of a split second.

Another correspondent described an empty café, with a lone man in a Zidane top clearing up the clutter left by the fans who had gone home. The correspondent imagined that some of the fans who had left the café were parents who had gone home to kids wearing Zidane tops too.

A convincing case could still be made for Zidane being the player of that tournament. He was pulling the strings again last night, throughout the second half and extra time. As a 34 year old, to be still bombing into the penalty area half way through extra time is a phenomenal achievement: compare with his fellow 34 year old Luis Figo who never seemed to last past the seventy-fifth minute of matches.

Does one lapse in self control wipe out fifteen marvellous years? it depends what you want to remember people for, and what you want to see in people.

I’m reminded of the Nottingham Forest fans on at the end of the 1992/93 season, defiantly singing ‘Brian Clough is a football genius’ as they watched their team get relegated. They will have suspected that Clough was by then an alcoholic, and that his drinking had contributed to the relegation, but they also knew that he had preformed football miracles for them.

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