Football: Fan's Eye View no 239 - Georgi Kinkladze: Georgian genius wit h an empathy for bitter rivalry

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The Independent Online
People often ask why I think Gio has remained a Blue. Their voices betray both disbelief, which I understand but do not share, and covetousness, which I relish for its rarity value in relation to my team. One can only speculate as to why, but the old-fashioned promise-keeping which enabled City to sign him explains a lot.

The Tbilisi president, Merad Jordania, had met Francis Lee in a hotel to discuss the transfer. Representatives of some of Europe's biggest clubs were lurking in the lobby, wishing in vain for that meeting. Jordania, virtually a hostage in the suite, gave his word that Kinkladze would sign for - wait for it - pounds 2m. He kept his word. Georgian honour, Jordania confirmed, is a serious matter.

City fans were sceptical about the newcomer after Ingebrightsen, Groenendijk and other Silenzi-esque imports had failed to produce much footballing arousal. Did they dare believe that multiple orgasm was round the corner? No.

It was stressed that he was Georgian, not Russian. Dining with fellow newcomer, Kit Symons, in the hotel that was then their home Symons heard some businessmen speaking what he thought was Gio's mother tongue. "Fucking Russian," Kinkladze hissed, leaving the defender perfectly clued up. In other words, try calling Gordon Strachan an Englishman.

His left-footed tours of opposition halves stunned the support. This style began to draw straight-faced comparisons to Maradona. Few pundits were prepared to accept this but, then again, Gio didn't play for United, did he? He was predictably nicknamed Kinky, and T-shirts bearing the legend "Kinky 69" appeared. That is, until the Kink found a dictionary.

Then there was utter disgust that his run and finish against Southampton only came second in Goal of the Season to Yeboah's volley against Liverpool. How many volleys are scored compared with goals of that standard?

No one knew what to believe about the enigma. There was an apparently dubious, but true, story about Robizon Kinkladze returning from war to urge his son to play football and quit a career with the Georgian National Dance company which Khatuna Kinkladze preferred her son to pursue. The staggering strength and balance required for dancing had not harmed Gio as a player, but the Barmy Blue Army definitely owes Robizon a pint. Not half.

It is argued that he would be in better company at Newcastle or Liverpool. I admit expecting him to eventually take the playmaker role at one of those clubs. Even Maradona, Gio's hero, urging him to find a "better" club did not succeed. Unhappy spells at Saarbrucken in Austria and Boca Juniors suggested that Georgi preferred Manchester to Buenos Aires, which he was adored for.

Gio perhaps feels the frustrations of fans who, when abroad, have to explain their team is nothing to do with Bobby Charlton. After years of "I'm not Russian, I'm Georgian!", he must sympathise, even if one situation is a bitter rivalry stretching back over many decades and the other led to a war of independence.

And as we know you won't yet use it to desert Manchester, have another Ferrari on us, KingKladze.