Football: Le Tissier's phone call embarrasses Hoddle

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The Independent Online
Matthew Le Tissier is in a tizz. A headline writer's dream certainly, but the Southampton striker's loose lips were feared to have sunk Glenn Hoddle's England ship before last night's World Cup qualifier at Wembley had begun.

Le Tissier may face the wrath of the Football Association - not least his national coach - after revealing England's plans to the Italians via an unwise phone call to his brother, Karl.

Le Tissier was among the starting XI last night, but there was speculation that Hoddle had contemplated dropping the Channel Islander before the critical Group Two qualifier as punishment. After a week of tactical hide- and-seek with his Italian counterpart, Cesare Maldini, Le Tissier's phone call home appeared to have spoilt Hoddle's Wembley surprise.

Hoddle's master plan featured a recall for Le Tissier and Liverpool's Steve McManaman in a free-roving role behind Alan Shearer, but were wrecked when the player made a call to family in Guernsey on Tuesday night.

The news leaked out when the words of his brother, Karl, were broadcast on national radio, outlining England's tactics.

"What an idiot!" was one FA official's reaction to the news.

Hoddle must have been left wondering if there was any way of repairing the damage; perhaps by changing his plans, which were revealed to include Gary Neville in defence alongside Sol Campbell and Stuart Pearce, with no places for Gareth Southgate or Tony Adams.

The news took the edge off Le Tissier's recall to the starting line-up for the first time since the ill-fated game under Terry Venables in Dublin.

"He had no intimation whatsoever when the team was announced," his brother told BBC Radio Guernsey whose interview was then replayed by Radio Five Live. "He was very surprised. We were very surprised too, because he has played a lot better than he is at the moment and never got on."

Karl further embarrassed his brother, adding: "He's got a free role just behind Shearer. Matt and McManaman both have the freedom to roam around."