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

Copywriter - Corporate clients - Wimbledon

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Business Studies Tutor / Assessor / Lecturer - Tollerton

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tiger skin seized from a smuggler by customs officers in Lhasa, Tibet  

Save the tiger: Poaching facts

Harvey Day
 

Save the tiger: 7 saddening facts about the extinction of Javan tigers

Harvey Day
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried