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Day 292 – Sacre Bleu!

January 16, 2015

Song of the Day: Je t’Aime Moi Non Plus – Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg

It’s my sister’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Sis!

Today’s revelation comes in the form of Gallic hair god David Ginola, who’s the latest hopeful to throw his chapeau into the ring for presidency of that putrifying brontosaurus of an outfit that is FIFA. I’m excited about this and I’ll tell you why.

Back in the mists of time when I was a football journalist, I interviewed Ginola for Match of the Day magazine. In five years as editor of that esteemed organ, and indeed several years either side, I have interviewed a lot of footballers. Ginola was far and away the best.

I turned up with the Gilster, our snapper, at Tottenham’s training ground in the leafy suburbs of north London as the players were meandering off the pitch and dispersing in their array of expensive cars. This was nearly always an unpleasant moment. The usual form was that the player you were due to meet would hide for as long as he could, then, when he finally showed himself, claim to know nothing of your arrangement and tell you he had to dash. I suspect it’s even worse now.

Ginola came over to us, shook hands, explained that he had to go and buy some Champagne (a dressing room forfeit, it turned out), apologised, gave us the name and address of a restaurant where all the players were going and said he’d see us there in half an hour.

Portrait of David Ginola

David Ginola– well worth it

Most interviews with Premiership footballers were organised through their sponsors: you’d travel the length of the country to be granted a five minute audience in which to get words and pictures, while a PR flunky sat in, recording everything and interrupting whenever you asked anything that might warrant an opinion. A stand-up row with Peter Schmeichel’s agent in the Trafford Centre after one such wild goose chase springs to mind, during which security guards came and asked us to take our quarrel outside among the shoppers. It was far more interesting than anything Schmeichel had to say that day.

Anyway, true to his word, Ginola turned up at the restaurant, arranged a table for the three of us away from his teammates and proceeded to give us an hour of pure interview gold as we tucked into pasta, drank wine and gazed longingly into his eyes. Well, Gilster did anyway. He was articulate, passionate, relaxed, funny, forthright… in short, he was worth listening to. And reading about. And all this in his second language. Alan Shearer, eat your heart out.

And at the end of the interview, he picked up the tab for lunch. Class act.

He was also a better footballer than any of the other candidates by a country mile. Ever seen Prince Ali bin Hussain do this? So I’m throwing my weight behind David Ginola for President of FIFA and I hope you do too. For what it’s worth. I’m not sure we get a vote, do we?

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