On screen the figures can run, shoot, slide tackle, head, pass, in short considerably more than the average Premiership player

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The Independent Online
As a summons it was difficult to turn down. Trevor Sinclair, the QPR winger this summer destined to be the most sought-after property in British football, a player of pace, power and skill, a real star at present marooned in a team with all the glittering future of the Titanic, was available for an exclusive interview. What an opportunity to ask those important questions such as: do Ray Wilkins' half-time team talks always contain the words "absolutely, Trevor"? Or has the player yet investigated the property market in the South Manchester stockbroker belt? Or, since we were promised an hour together, could he list the ways he missed having Les Ferdinand as a colleague?

Unfortunately word also came from his personal manager that Trevor was available for interview on one condition: he was asked questions about the Virtua Soccer computer game he is promoting and nothing else. No QPR, no relegation, no transfer speculation. But 3-D computer football games with surround-sound and built-in commentary by Barry Davies, be our guest.

Sinclair arrived bang on time for his appearance at the HMV superstore on London's Oxford Street, ready to take on all-comers at the microchip generation's update of Subbuteo. Dressed head to toe in Reebok (he has a modelling deal with Top Man, but it does not include the supply of clothing, something which, oddly, did not seem to distress him) he came accompanied by his girlfriend (also clad entirely in Reebok, save for virulent green nail varnish). Slipping into HMV's hospitality room, he revealed a life-long liking for record stores.

"I do a lot of mixing of records at home, mainly US Garage stuff," he said. "Danny Dichio [his QPR team-mate] he's a class DJ. He does it a lot, but being a footballer holds him back." Particularly as he's at QPR?

"No comment." Sinclair, smiling at the approach, said he liked computer games, too.

"I love Mortal Kombat III," he said. "There's some mad moves on that, fatalities, decapitations, mayhem." A bit like the Loftus Road dressing- room, then, after that defeat against Leeds on Wednesday night?

"No comment."After the introductions were made, the star was led out on to the shop floor, where a crowd of cheery well-wishers (mainly girls) lined up with their autograph books. A bigger crowd, it could be said, than QPR will get in the Endsleigh League?

"Ho, ho," Trevor smiled wearily. "Funny guy." In one corner of the shop's computer games' section, the main attraction stood in front of a giant television screen on which the astonishingly realistic 3-D patterns of Virtua Soccer were projected. Around the screen, to make him feel at home, were a dozen televisions, each showing the video "QPR's Greatest Moments". Thus as Trevor took the controls of the game he could be comforted by watching Les Ferdinand scoring against Spurs, followed by Les Ferdinand scoring against West Ham, followed by QPR Goal of the Season 1994-95: scored against Manchester United by Les Ferdinand. A nostalgic sight, seeing a QPR goal, then?

"No comment."

One of the features of Virtua Soccer, HMV's public relations man told us, is that it allows you to pick which team you want to be. Thus Trevor could choose to play with any club he fancied. Which would it be? "They're all international teams," the PR man said. "Top 39 countries on Fifa ratings, plus Wales."

But which colour strip would Trevor like to play in? Red and white, perhaps? Black and white stripes? Blue and white quarters? "I'll be Brazil." The player controls his team via a hand-set with a mind-boggling array of buttons and arrows, requiring a typist's dexterity to manipulate. On screen the figures (computer-generated versions of Andy Sinton, Graham Hyde and Chris Woods) can run, shoot, jump, slide tackle, head, pass, dispatch 40-yard chips to the feet of a colleague, in short considerably more than the average Premiership player. Although nothing like as alert with his thumbs as with his feet, Sinclair's Brazil were soon encamped in my Republic of Ireland's half. Problem was, their controller had yet to work out how to shoot on target. Eighteen times in the first half Brazilian strikers were clean through, only to miss by yards. Better, though, than Ireland's sole attack in which Niall Quinn, finding himself alone on the penalty spot, contrived to kick the ball out for a throw- in (a very realistic game this). Midway through the second half, it was all Brazil, but still no goals. A familiar feeling, that Trevor?

"Yeah, man," he sighed. "You're not wrong there."

With seconds to go, however, with the crowd assuming a goalless bore- draw, the Brazilian manager suddenly mastered his controls and dispatched a stunning solo winner. Could be a sign, that. Humiliation can be avoided, even if the pundits have all but given up hope.

"No comment."

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