South Africa 2010: Probably the best quotes in the world

Tongue-twisters, memorable muck-ups and a few more Colemanballs (that's Chris, not David). Phil Shaw picks his favourites

"The BBC is considering a red-button version of the World Cup without the constant annoying drone – or just stop employing Mick McCarthy."

Look Away Now, Radio 4 comedy

There was a surreal moment during the BBC coverage of Spain's semi-final triumph over Germany. Mark Lawrenson, with the air of someone suddenly finding an acquaintance looking poorly or perplexed, asked commentator Guy Mowbray: "You all right?" "Fine," came the terse reply, followed by a pregnant pause. "Thanks for asking."

Viewers have grown accustomed to the duo's peculiar chemistry. Lawrenson responded to Mowbray's remark about Joan Capdevila being the only Spain player not from Barcelona or Real Madrid by suggesting the full-back was not good enough to play for either. "You can say that," Mowbray retorted. "Just did," snapped Lawrenson.

The contrast with ITV's semi-final was stark, Holland's defeat of Uruguay proving a throwback in more ways than one. It not only produced a first World Cup final appearance in 32 years for the Oranje. It was also a return to the days when Messrs Coleman and Wolstenholme flew solo without a pundit.

Illness had confined Jim Beglin to his bed, leaving Clive Tyldesley to soldier on alone. The absence of a second opinion found Tyldesley struggling to answer his own questions and highlighted the extent to which, for the armchair audience, the tournament has developed a narrative driven largely by the "expert" ex-players.

Tonight, after a month of widespread stereotyping – South Americans are "temperamental", Africans "naive" – we await a final brimming with European discipline, resilience and tactical awareness. And the most articulate and perceptive critics, unless the BBC has flown Roy Hodgson back for the occasion, will be foreign guests such as Clarence Seedorf and Jürgen Klinsmann.

Alan Shearer has hardly progressed beyond the "he'll be disappointed with that" verdicts and knee-jerk typecasting. His apparent reluctance to do the basic research which such a journalistic brief (and handsome remuneration) requires is inexcusable. "Our knowledge of these teams is limited," Shearer declared before Slovenia versus Algeria. He was not alone in parading his ignorance.

The outstanding pundits were two lucid Scots, Craig Burley and Pat Nevin, with John Murray, Simon Brotherton, Steve Wilson and Jon Champion the pick of the commentators. They did not strain for lame humour, unlike "Lawro" and Mowbray. Two bizarre examples. Mowbray: "Stuart Pearce is up and down a lot." Lawrenson: "He's got worms." Mowbray: "It was a tap on the ankle." Lawrenson: "Shoulda bin a plumber."

Here are our top 25 memorable quotes from the past month:

'Pele said an African team would win the World Cup before 2000 – I think it's going to be longer'

Alan Shearer on Ghana's quarter-final exit

'Sven Goran Eriksson tinkers with the Ivories'

Peter Drury as Eriksson made a substitution

'The England players didn't like him (Eriksson). He started to pull their birds'

Eamon Dunphy



'You can literally see what the players are thinking'

Ally McCoist



'If England do get through it looks like they will play Germany or Siberia'

Mike Parry on TalkSport



'When Diaby opens his legs he's quite a handful'

Craig Burley

'There's a real lack of inexperience in the South African team'

Steve McManaman



'Vidic got raped by – sorry, got taken apart by – Torres in that one game at Old Trafford'

Graeme Souness



'If Gerrard plays on the left we may as well pack up and go home'

Lee Dixon after "sources" assured him (incorrectly) England's captain would play in the centre



'The Eyeties don't have it'

Paul Ince, formerly of Internazionale, assesses Italy



'Too much too late'

Gareth Southgate after late Italian pressure failed against Slovakia.



'And so we say au revoir to Italy'

David Pleat



'One-nil is never a lead'

Efan Ekoku

'He hasn't had a kick, except for two headers'

Robbie Savage



'I wish somebody would elbow someone. It'd give us something to talk about'

Mick McCarthy on Brazil v Portugal, which ended 0-0



'Cometh the man, cometh the hour, as they say'

Chris Coleman



'It was a toughicult match for Upson to come into'

Alan Shearer



'It could be a problem for Germany if Schwarzsteiner isn't fit'

Denis Irwin on Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger



'The South Koreans threw the kitchen sink at them, or whatever the Korean equivalent of the kitchen sink is'

Adrian Chiles

'He is not the flavour of a lot of people's eye'

Craig Burley on Franck Ribéry



'You cannot have Guatemalan referees at a World Cup. Name me a club in Guatemala'

Robbie Savage again



'Ghana would love a goal to put the icing on the cake they already seem to be eating'

Martin Tyler



'The altitude must have dropped or something'

Ronnie Whelan after Europe saw off the South American challenge



'This match is like reading a book. You know what's going to happen'

Edgar Davids casts a fashionably bespectacled eye over Denmark against Holland



'Today it's the big one – Holland against The Netherlands'

Paddy McKenna, RTE 2fm presenter

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game