Welcome to the first of many posts from Tezini’s football (soccer! football! soccer!) correspondent in London. As an American fan of the game, I occupy a special place in English society usually reserved for lepers and Fabio Capello. I am an oddity and people keep their distance.
You might think that a level of conversational fluency — say, the ability to argue the relative merits of the 4-3-3 vs. the 4-2-3-1, or Chelsea’s new high line, or Rooney’s new hair line — would grant a red-blooded American a measure of respect among his English peers.
It does not.
Saying that football in England is about the matches alone is like saying that the gladiator battles in ancient Rome were about swordplay. It’s bread and circus for the plebes, and the near-constant stream of triviality and frivolity surrounding the game is often more entertaining than a 0-0 draw between Wigan and Sunderland. Sometimes, observing from my Tottenham Hotspur Resistance Movement (T.H.R.M.) underground bunker, deep within the bowels of Arsenal territory in North London, it seems like the actual matches serve only as a way to mark time between the managerial crises, drunken incidents, WAGs gossip, emaciated dance-move celebrations and the general poppycock that constitutes much of this fine country’s pub and office discourse.
So then, there’s surely no better way to make my introduction to the Tezini family than with this bit of complete and utter nonsense: according to Indian health officials, smoking will turn you into John Terry, noted racist, philanderer, and England captain.
It’s a new year, folks. Your family loves you. Your friends love you. There’s no better time to quit. Don’t become John Terry.