Tuesday, 16 March 2010

If my parents weren’t Nazis

Picture the scene, summer holidays, 1986, sun on my back, enjoying the beautiful Welsh coast, virtually in the sea I was that close, with mountains nearby to explore, I am nine, surrounded by family and friends, frolicking about in a pre-teen hedonistic state, which probably involved cricket, throwing stones into cow pats, bloggy off and, most definitely, football.

1986 was a World Cup year, the first I have vivid memories of. Apparently we holidayed in Spain during their hosting of the 1982 World Cup, but I must have been pissed or something, as I don’t remember it at all

But Mexico 86, I can even remember the red ball overlapping logo.

However as a tournament I got totally engrossed in it, and not just my own country’s progress, in fact, probably more so, with other countries, and with certain players, and one in particular.

This was at a time when my own football career reached its very early, and decidedly unimpressive peak, being considered one of the best in my school side, enough so to be one of the three regular outfield players in their successful four-a-side team.

Yeah, I was that good.

But there were players on display in that tournament that were truly wondrous, some I probably fell a little bit in love with. Our very own Gary Lineker, hat-trick hero as we faced exit. The Danish pair Elkjaer and Laudrup, and French midfielders Platini and Tigana.

I had the official video of the tournament, ‘Hero‘, that I played so much afterwards I wore it out.

But it was during one of the games, when we were popping in and out of caravans as one of the tournaments epic games stopped and flowed through extra time and penalties, that my hero worship really began.

Sócrates, pronounced sock-ra-teas, was quickly to become my hero. And he did so despite failure.

This is the moment that, while others probably cursed him, I started to love him.

A missed penalty, and everyone else was laying into him, teasing me that I had decided to side with Brazil, and not France, who went on to win the penalty shoot out.

However I was sold, this guy was brilliant, seemingly effortlessly so. No monumental ego evident, just a laid-back style, and acceptance that he wanted to play a certain way.

Such was my defiance, and instant man love, I insisted that my name was to change, and that everyone should now refer to me as Sócrates Newbold.

My mother refused to ratify the change legally, I bet she never even discussed my very serious request with my dad, such was their level of control, so I was stuck with my original moniker.

However I did often call myself that name, and there are a good few of my friends, that while have never called it me, know of my love of the medicine man from Brazil.

Now, I am actually going to change it, at least as far as the internet is concerned.

So don’t be surprised if you see this little fellow popping up in your blog comments, or via Twitter.