Rebecca Tyrrel: Omar Sharif is an atypical Hull City fan. Few regulars at the KC Stadium speak seven languages

 

Share

Who knew that Omar Sharif is a "crazy fan" of Hull City football club? Two years ago, the University of Hull recognised his devotion to the Tigers (the Championship plays in black-and-orange striped shirts) by awarding him an honorary degree. And what a day it was for the Oscar nominee.

"Waggy! Waggy!" cried the famously suave Egyptian on learning of the presence of Ken Wagstaff, whom his fellow Hull fans voted their player of the 20th century. "He's here! He's here!!" Here was later, after the University event at the KC Stadium. The gap-toothed filmic legend hadn't been so close to a heart attack since the fictional one he suffered while chasing Julie Christie at the end of Doctor Zhivago. If he hadn't already rid himself of his mortar-board, his levity might well have dislodged it. "I can't believe it! For 40 years Tom has talked to me about you…" gushed Omar.

Tom is Sharif's fellow Academy Award nominee, Tom Courtenay, who joined him for the Waggy meeting. When they shared a London flat in the early 1960s, the Hull-born and bred Courtenay turned Omar into a Tigers fan and, oh how they worshipped Waggy.

By and large, Sharif cuts an atypical football fan. Few regulars at the KC Stadium speak seven languages, however useful it must be to have a choice when chanting, "The referee's a wanker".

Fewer still have starred with Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) and Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia). The closest Sharif has come to capturing the ethos of the terraces was last year at a Qatari film festival, when he apparently slapped a pushy female fan – and even then he had the good grace to apologise. "I have a small remembrance of this," he said later.

Luckily, the 80-year-old's remembrances of playing football are more detailed. "I was a fat little boy," he recalls, "and my mother said: 'The only thing is to put him in an English boarding school. The food will be so horrible that he'll lose his weight'. Yes! Yes! I liked football very much. I played it quite well. I was a back, a slave. We didn't move a lot."

He moves about a bit more these days. He is off to Saigon soon to watch his racehorse run, and while Sharif has not been back to Hull since collecting his degree, it can only be a matter of time before he gives in to the lure of his beloved Waggy.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: A royal serving the nation

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko prior to the start of the European Council Summit in Brussels last month  

David Cameron talks big but is waving a small stick at the Russian bear

Kim Sengupta
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn