World Cup 2014: Five minutes in and I am done... sweat everywhere

 

The weight on the ball from Gerrard is trademark perfect, slid in behind the Italian centre-halves who can only stare at each other’s hipster beards in blind panic as Peck steams in from the right flank to meet it. He has to score.

But what’s this? He’s collapsed. There’s barely five minutes on the clock at the Arena de Amazona in Manaus, and England’s World Cup dreams are in tatters as the oldest, fattest debutant in the tournament’s history can run no longer.

It took mere moments inside a superheated translucent testicle in south-west London for this reporter to confirm what has been known since long before England’s ball dropped in the worst possible place at the World Cup draw last December.

When they take to the pitch against the Italians in the Amazon rainforest’s jungle capital Manaus two weeks from Saturday, it’s going to be very hot, and it’s going to be very humid. Ladbrokes are offering 6-1 on a 0-0 draw in the match, their tightest odds on such an eventuality in the entire tournament. As if to prove it, they’ve set up a miniature biodome, complete with treadmill to mimic the expected minimum conditions – 30-degree heat and 80 per cent humidity.

It looks like a tiny version of Cornwall’s Eden Project, but inside it’s certainly no paradise. It’s hot. If you happened to be at Glastonbury in 2010, the year it baked and the tents were uninhabitable by half-five in the morning, it’s a little like that, but hotter.

The air is a sheen of warm water which meets the sweat that begins to prickle under the skin in an instant, then pours seemingly from everywhere.

Three minutes or so at 10mph has all but finished me off, but as I push the speed up to simulate a dashing sprint into the box – the type of movement the physiologists predict will be the most difficult in the conditions – I almost instantly push it back down again, genuinely fearful of flying off the back and into the array of tropical pot plants that have been assembled, presumably solely for aesthetic purposes.

Should England win, expect the morning headlines to rhapsodise on a theme of three lions being kings of the jungle, which will of course be entirely false. Nothing as straightforwardly menacing as a lion actually lives in the rainforest.

In the wet furnace of the Amazon, Mother Nature has forged far stranger things. Luminous frogs stuffed with poison so potent it leaks through their skin, bullet ants the size of your little finger, and yes, the candiru fish that swims up your wee, down your urethra and sets up home in your scrotum (although only one widely discredited case of such an occurrence has ever been recorded).

It’s reasonable to imagine Rooney, Gerrard and the rest are closer to their physical peak than I am. But even so, physiologists estimate they will lose five litres of sweat in the course of a 90-minute match, more than twice the two litres shed during a Premier League game in normal conditions of 10 degrees Celsius.

Last year scientists in Turkey were commissioned to do a study on the highest possible temperatures in which it is safe to play a competitive football match. At 40 degrees, “a risk of death” entered their calculations. Manaus could reach 35.

How regularly it’s said of the endless flow of foreign imports into English football: “Let’s see how they cope on a wet January night in Hull” or Grimsby or some other unglamorous northern town. By the same token, let’s see how England do on a June evening in Manaus.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border