Saturday, November 26, 2011
Snood awakening, transgender defender Dominic Raynor
Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.
This week, Ashley Cole lands a role in a Danny Dyer film, a transgender defender leads American Samoa to their first win in 17 years, AWOL Carlos Tevez wins a golf tournament in Argentina, there's a snood awakening at Manchester City and Darren Bent takes on rock stars Kasabian in a real-life football video game.
A snood awakening
As somebody who gets too warm wearing a jacket after a short jog to catch the train in the morning, it's mind-bogglingly difficult to understand why the modern-day footballer appears to require a sack full of unnecessary winter-training apparel as soon as Christmas looms large on the horizon.
Off the Ball would suggest the players just put a bit more effort in on the pitch to generate warmth, but not at Manchester City, who despite announcing record £197.5 million losses this week, still had enough in the coffers to furnish their players with sickeningly abhorrent customised snoods - complete with their country's flag and personalised initials.
Even the blundering FIFA-saurus and its pea-sized brain saw enough sense to ban snoods being warn during matches last season, but that won't stop players flouncing around in this season's 'must-have accessory' on the training pitch.
Sadly, the personalised neck-scarves weren't the only piece of questionable kit on show at City this week, as substitute Samir Nasri dazzled the Stadio San Paolo crowd with an impromptu flash of his multi-coloured underpants during their costly 2-1 Champions League defeat in Naples.
Transgender defender leads Samoa to first win
There was bizarre double celebration in American Samoa this week as the tiny nation, who are ranked as the joint-worst international team in the world in FIFA's standings, not only won their first match for 17-years but did so by fielding the first ever transgender player in an official match.
Defender Johnny "Jayieh" Saelua helped the Samoans, ranked 204th, beat the mighty Tonga, ranked 202nd, 2-1 in an Oceania 2014 World Cup qualifier to end a run of 30 consecutive defeats. And, during the jubilant scenes that greeted the final whistle, head coach Thomas Rongen declared: "I've really got a female starting at centre back. Can you imagine that in England or Spain?"
Although that's not strictly true as Saelua is part of the fa'afafine - biological males who have a strong feminine gender orientation and identify as a third sex that is widely accepted in Polynesian culture. However, the defender was raised as a woman and said after the match: "The team accept me and we have that mutual respect. Which is great. It's all part of the culture."
Brilliantly, Saelua was also named 'Man of the Match' after providing an assist and making a goal-line clearance in the dying seconds of the game.
Ashley Cole lands role in Danny Dyer film
Pele's done it, Toto Schillachi's done it, Cuauhtemoc Blanco's done it with Larissa Riquelme, and now Ashley Cole's set to do it with Sam Allardyce. It's acting of course!
Having already used his massive wads of cash to help back British gangster movie 'Dead Man Running', starring 50 Cent and Danny Dyer, in 2009, Cole is eager to taste the thespian lifestyle for himself and will hit screens next year in a football-based documentary drama called 'Played'.
Having spent a number of years doing exactly that to ex-wife Cheryl, 30-year-old Cole is rather well placed for his cameo role alongside a number of 'Hollyoaks beauties' who have already auditioned for parts as wannabe WAGs.
"The plot follows a football agent and how he goes about his business while living the Premier League lifestyle. It features a few dodgy scenarios including underhand transfers and sleeping around with different women," a source told The Sun. "They want it to be as authentic as possible, so that's why they were keen to include player and manager cameos."
The film, in which British actor and 'Football Foul Ups' orator Dyer will star, also features some famous football stadiums from around London, including Stamford Bridge and Upton Park.
£250k-per-week AWOL Tevez wins golf tournament
Presumably with a doctor's note stuffed into the back pocket of his green-tartan pantaloons just in case anyone at Manchester City should raise an objection, AWOL striker Carlos Tevez took the golf course this week to win a Buenos Aires Grand Prix.
Tevez, who fled to Argentina after being charged with misconduct following his refusal to warm-up against Bayern Munich in September, partnered golfers Sebastian Fernandez and Andres Romero to win a professionals and amateurs tournament while the furore surrounding his unsanctioned departure rumbled on back in Manchester.
City's attempts to fine Tevez four weeks' wages prior to his escape to Argentina were thwarted by the PFA and reduced to a two-week fine. Now the club have to look on as their £250,000-per-week striker smiles his way around the fairways of his homeland.
Still, at least Tevez is looking much happier. Fernandez, one of the 27-year-old's partners in this week's Grand Prix said: "He did not say anything about his problems with his club, but I was struck by the peace he had... He plays golf very well."
Video of the week
This one has got to be seen to be believed as Aston Villa striker Darren Bent takes on Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan in a real-life football computer game type thingy. Each man is given a five-a-side team of human players - which have all been fitted with headgear to instruct them when to shoot, tackle and sprint, etc - and a controller to direct the action. To see the Kasabian v Darren Bent real-life video game, click here .
More than words...