Football: Fame is all in the name
Monday 29 March 1999
You doubt me? Then let's take a little peek back in time, shall we? Alexander the Great. Remember him?
Now, let's say, for argument's sake, he'd been called "Zorba the Crazy Elephant."Do you honestly think such a paltry name-change would have made the slightest difference to the achievements of Alexander and his compat-riots? Olympiakos's 200-year domination of European football? Archimedes's invention of the flat back four? Alex's own historic treble in 333 BC? Get real. Of course it wouldn't.
Okay, admitted, Zorba himself might have encountered the odd sarcastic jibe as he strutted imperiously around Athens in all his bangles and finery. So what, though? Sticks and stones and all that? Besides, what else would you expect when you go round impersonating Ron Atkinson?
In stark contrast, modern day football reveals the presence of altogether different characteristics. Today, names are the be all and end all.
Take just a few of the recent greats: Dixie Dean, Stanley Matthews, Alfredo Di Stefano, Pele, Luis Del Sol, Tommy Smith, Georgie Best, Kenny Dalglish, David Ginola.
What do they all have in common? Sublime footballing skills? Yes. What else, though? What links them all, yet, at the same time, sets them apart from the rest of us minions? Think about it. It's obvious.
Their names. They've all got truly memorable names. Each one literally screams out: "Look at me. Isn't my name amazing? One day I'll be a world- class player."
True, it may not have happened quite so easily as that. Perhaps a modicum of skill and effort was needed, too. Really, though, they did have it on a plate, didn't they? How could they have failed with names like those?
Apply it to your own experience. You're in school. The teacher is about to select the school team and there's one forward spot up for grabs. You're desperate for it. Your name is Jack Smith and you're not a bad player. Neither, too, is the lad in the next desk. Trouble is, his name is Jean- Claude Ginola. Unless the French national coach somehow manages to stick his oar in, it's the sub's bench for you.
You could of course, always change schools. Or try moving back to midfield. Even then there are no guarantees. Who's to say you wouldn't be up against another big name. Perhaps one with two wooden legs. Again, it'd be no contest.
No, your only hope is a name change. Persuade your mother to file for divorce and marry a Frenchman. Preferably one called Cantona. Now Jacques Cantona could well swing it for you. It's got quite a ring to it. Now it's Jean-Claude's turn to sweat.
Don't be too complacent, though. Evidently there's a lad in Form 2C called Joey Anelka. A bit of a speed merchant, they say. Like shit off a stick. Knows where the net is, too. Just shows you, doesn't it? Even these days a big name is no guarantee of selection.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday
Latest in Sport
'Adel Taarabt is about three stone overweight. I can't pick him' - Harry Redknapp
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
QPR vs Liverpool match report: Liverpool snatch victory in seven late minutes of madness
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce calm over lack of new contract
QPR vs Liverpool player ratings: Who was the star man? And did Mario Balotelli emerge with any credit?
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 2 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Lynda Bellingham dead: Loose Women presenter dies after battle with colon cancer
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...