Grace Dent: My Top 10 World Cup People

From wonder boy James Rodriguez to the rhapsody in chinos that is Glenn Hoddle

Share

10. Brazil’s crying goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who coped exactly how I would if informed that the climax of 120 minutes of physical and emotional punishment would consist of a penalty shoot-out.The concept of penalties really sorts out the true football fan from the johnny-come-lately World Cup fans who are just here for beer. Penalties are a bilious mixture of the life-changingly cruel and the conceptually daft. A sort of Russian Roulette using career-long reputations instead of bullets. Obviously, I have no cleverer idea of how to settle matches other than “keep playing until someone collapses”, which now I’ve written it, looks remarkably like something Kim Jong Un would petulantly scream. Nevertheless, crying Cesar then went on to save two penalties during the shootout, helping take Brazil to victory. Big boys do cry.

9. Lila Piriz Da Rosa, grandmother of 22, including one little troubled adventurer Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz. What a misunderstood little mite Luis is. Always in trouble but never, not ever, his of his own making. No, it’s other bigger boys tricking him, or plain clumsiness, or in last week’s “chomping Giorgini Chiellini’s shoulder like a delicious empanada” moment, it was the authorities ganging up on him. They had “their eyes on him” from the start of the World Cup, wept Granny Lila, “Everyone knows what they’ve done to Luis, she said. “They wanted him out of the World Cup. They chucked him out like a dog!” Suarez’s excuse for the biting incident may have had the plausibility of when my niece Lola drew a large Scooby Doo on the living room wall in Crayola and blamed “a naughty ghost” but it’s good to know his gran still loves him, not to mention the hundreds of fans who crowded the airport wearing novelty dracula fangs, and the Uruguayan president Jose Mujica, who said Fifa were a bunch of old sons of bitches for giving little Luis a four-month suspension.

8. Colombia’s James Rodríguez, for his 25-yard goal against Uruguay, for inspiring the Colombia rump-reverberating shaking dance, for inspiring Colombian radio commentators to lose their marbles and make noises like the Carr’s biscuit factory siren, for being named by his parents after James Bond, for being married to goalkeeper’s David Ospina’s sister, for playing football that convinces people who don’t love football, suddenly, to love football.

7. Glenn Hoddle. Chief ticket inspector on ITV1’s football banter bus, taking everyone on a nailbiting ride to Banter-namo Bay. “Gaffer”, as Wrighty calls him, has had a wonderful World Cup. He is a rhapsody of snug chinos, unabashed mullet action, ray-bans and rock solid advice on, among other subjects, how to win penalty shoot-outs. “You miss a penalty on the walk up,” he informed us sagely. Also, “You never see a goalie dive for the top left corner”. Hoddle unfettered is a great thing, up there with Boris Johnson and the Duke of Edinburgh, more power to his meanderings. “He got a fair share of the lion of the ball there,” he told us this weekend.  Exactly.

Diego Maradona and his Luis Suarez T-shirt Diego Maradona and his Luis Suarez T-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Diego Maradona, for or inviting Gary Lineker on to his World Cup round-up TV show and laughing heartily when asked by Lineker, “How’s your hand?”; for sporting a Luis Suarez support-group tee-shirt; for accusing Fifa of acting like a “mafia”, and for general World Cup mischief. Maradona: ageing but not planning to stop hell-raising any day soon.

5. Greg Dyke, the FA Chairman, for turning up at the England training ground carrying a paperback – let’s face it, the actual football is quite boring – entitled A Death in Brazil, and for being pretty much the only living human being who went along to Manchester Airport to see the team return after being eliminated at the group stage for the first time since 1958, shaking everyone’s hand frantically with a rictus grin and assuring Roy Hodgson’s future until 2016. You have to admire his schtick.

4. Robert Farquharson, who had half his ear bitten off while watching a match in what papers described as a “vile racially motivated attack”, allowing the reader to sigh and be quietly relieved about our country’s comparatively civilised approach to racial harmony as opposed to those lot in…hang on, which fans attacked him? Oh it was another England fan. Let’s look on the bright side. We may not make manufacture much as a country any more but we’re still exporting football hooliganism.

Pitbull in Sau Paulo, Brazil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Pitbull. Of all the pop stars in all of the universe, Fifa were totally right to choose Pitbull to be their main attraction at their opening ceremony. Not only is he barely a household name, so viewers could be distracted from the spit and sawdust hoopla by taking to their phones to Google, “Who the hell is Pitbull?”, they could also read up on his lyrics which contain lines like, “Shake that shit bitch/And be off in the club with a hard-ass dick.” Yes, viewers would think, here is a man who represents the considered, focused dignity of the international football player and subtle approach to women’s emancipation.

2. Very, very sensitive Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who earned a game-winning penalty for the Netherlands during their 2-1 victory over Mexico, suffering a horrifying calamity in the second minute of injury time. Mexico’s captain Rafael Marquez’s big toe ever so slightly touched Robben’s foot, leading Robben to face-plant himself on to the pitch, arms outstretched, beating Neymar, Drogba and Marcelo in the “Oh stand up you bloody big ’nana” league.

Read more: Robben apologises for dive (but not that one)
Herrera furious after Robben 'dive'
Netherlands 2 Mexico 1 match report

1. Gary Lineker, whether he’s in the studio looking dapper, or giving interviews in Spanish, or on Ipenema beach looking buff with his top off, Lineker has made the BBC’s World Cup coverage a cut above the rest. Not just a crisp salesman, edging towards national treasure status. If you don’t believe me, go and look at Adrian Chiles with sweaty knee-backs talking to Gordon Strachan.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Unified - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Sales Consultant - Furniture

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a besp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police are called to Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place, a busy plaza in the heart of the city  

After the Sydney Siege, would Australia be safer with American-style gun laws? The answer is simple

Neil Brennan
 

My cancer diagnosis cost me my home

Deanne Wilson
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum