Football is a funny old game and, at my level it is full of funny old players. So it is with my team mates at San Fatucchio. They are a typical mix of men from various walks of life and the game is all the better for that; some with a love of the game because of their skills, some with a love of the game despite their skills, some who feign injury week after week, some who don’t mind being so much better than everyone else. Some who shoot rather than pass, some who spend most of the game rearranging their hair and jewellery.
There is always argument and plenty of shouting, always a pizza afterwards and plenty of laughing.
But no-one had prepared me for the arrival of Jesus.
His real name is Simone. He has long hair and a beard which I assumed was the reason for his ‘sopranome’, but the other players also wanted to impress on me that he also plays as well as Jesus.
(Italians seem to enjoy the assumption that, had he lived in Italy, Jesus would have played football like Totti.)
Simone holds the ball, never loses it, always has time to look, never speaks, is calm, assured and a pleasure to play with, unless of course he’s not on your team.
That was when I made my big mistake. I have one talent in football, and only one. It’s not much to speak of but it tends to upset the opposition and so I use it whenever possible. The ‘nutmeg’ or, as Italians call it, the ‘tunnel’. You simply pass the ball between the opposition players legs and he is left rooted to the ground, humiliated and unable to turn and chase you.
At school you use to have to shout out ‘NUTS!’ or ‘MEGS!’ just before you did it, to add to the humiliation.
So, to cut a long story short, I managed to nutmeg Jesus, and he didn’t like it. Not one bit.
But then, you see, there is an unwritten law in football that you won’t find in the Rule book. If you can nutmeg the person who nutmegged you, then you, by definition ‘un-nutmeg’ yourself and can stand proud once more. That was all Jesus wanted to do. He had the skill, and the motivation to spend the next hour and a half humiliating me, nutmegging me, not once but 5 times.
He didn’t need to score, although he did, the game was all about revenge.
The stupidest thing I did today;
Can’t really believe I was suckered into this one. Their names are ‘Maybe-Melven’ and ‘Mitzy-Mittens’.
Yes, two kittens who have leapt off their chocolate box and into the arms of our speechless children.
But, perhaps, not as speechless as the vet will be when I try to explain those names...