The sun is shining, there is not a cloud in the sky. We’ve got another four days of this – training, lying about, watching DVDs. I’m not sure I can take it much longer. You wait your whole life for a chance to play in the greatest show on earth, then boredom kicks in – or it does if you’re Wayne Rooney.
Two young men in small swimming trunks recline on sun loungers next to a pool. The sun is shining, there is not a cloud in the sky. Impeccably dressed hotel staff hover attentively. Women in bikinis float by.
FOOTBALLER 1: God I’m bored. Who are we playing next?
FOOTBALLER 1: This is what the public don’t understand about being an exorbitantly paid footballer playing for your country at a World Cup – it’s so torturously dull. I bet our nurses don’t have to put up with this.
FOOTBALLER 2: If only they knew that we’re not really living, but merely existing in a gilded prison. How on earth will we fill the rest of our day?
FOOTBALLER 1: Another free round of golf at that exclusive course followed by dinner with the rest of the lads and a film in the hotel cinema.
FOOTBALLER 2: Damn that exclusive golf course, damn the lads, damn that hotel cinema… Anyone fancy a game of Call of Duty?
At the last World Cup, John Terry and Wayne Rooney complained of being cooped up in England’s remote camp in Rustenburg. “Mini darts tournaments, snooker and pool,” was how Terry described the daily routine in South Africa. “A bit of boredom kicks in.”
Rooney lamented: “Lying around in bed at two in the afternoon – that’s quite boring.” To which a parent of a teenager might reply: “Then don’t lie around in bed at two in the afternoon.”
As such, Hodgson has already been asked how he plans to alleviate ennui in Rio de Janeiro, where England will be based for the group stages.
Not surprisingly, Hodgson, a noted bibliophile who might while away any spare time he has at the five-star Royal Tulip Hotel getting stuck into a Brazilian novel or two – Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist perhaps? – was having none of it.
Former England winger John Barnes, who represented England at Mexico ’86 and Italia ’90, looked upon a World Cup as a lads’ break – without the drinking of daft cocktails, all-night clubbing and practical jokes. Unless Paul Gascoigne happened to be your room-mate.
“You’re at a World Cup, staying in a great hotel with loads to do, the weather is good,” said Barnes. “Gazza would get bored pretty much anywhere but he enjoyed the World Cup because it was like going on holiday with his mates.
“This whole idea of boredom is ridiculous. It’s not up to the coach to get across a sense of excitement and adventure, because that should come from when you play. It’s a coach’s job to get you focused on trying to do well in those games.”
Player boredom isn’t a new phenomenon – Jimmy Greaves complained of conditions in 1962 and ’66
All of this might make modern footballers sound horribly spoilt and needy. But player boredom at major tournaments is not a new phenomenon. England legend Jimmy Greaves said he was “miserable” at the 1962 World Cup in Chile and found the build-up to the 1966 World Cup “claustrophobic”.
The 2006 World Cup in Germany, where the players’ other halves transformed the sleepy spa town of Baden-Baden into a month-long episode of TOWIE, cemented the idea that ‘Wags’ and World Cups don’t go.
As such, spouses and partners have not been invited to Rio. Even England midfielder Steven Gerrard, husband of blonde stunner Alex Curran (not my words, the words of Nuts magazine), has admitted that he is better off without her, for a few weeks at least. Via bbc.com