By Paul McCabe
I’ve been freezing cold in Aberdeen, soaking wet in Greenock, boiling hot in Glasgow, bursting for the toilet for literally hours, drunk, hungover, lost, sleep deprived and ill - vomiting my way to the turnstiles (see also hungover).
I’ve travelled thousands upon thousands of miles by car, bus, train, ferry and taxi, sometimes getting up ridiculously early, sometimes returning home ridiculously late. I’ve been spat at, punched, kicked, threatened with arrest, hit by coins and other assorted missiles including a firework and a pie (separate incidents) and been in a car crash.
In over-the-top goal celebrations I’ve suffered cuts and bruises, torn ligaments in my knee and had my hair set on fire.
And I don’t regret a single second - getting punched aside. Quite simply I love football. Always have, always will, and can’t imagine my life without it.
So, it was with a sense of utter despair this week that I read one of the world’s best players is in dispute with his club because he feels “disrespected” that he didn’t get a birthday cake to his liking.
That’s right, Yaya Toure (which almost rhymes with Mariah Carey quite fittingly) of Manchester City, a truly magnificent footballer - his goal against Aston Villa earlier this month was nothing short of a thing of true beauty - and who up until now seemed in the main to be one with his head screwed on properly, has thrown a nuclear bomb of a hissy fit and in the process has made himself a world-wide laughing stock.
My first thought when I heard the word “disrespect” was one of those numpties who would turn up on Jerry Springer; screeching, sneering and fighting because someone had shown “disrespect” to them or their man/lady/mama or ‘hood. I then realised this adds an ocean of fuel to the fire of those who say football has long since sold its soul purely for money. It’s impossible to disagree.
Incidentally it was Yaya’s 31st birthday- not his 16th, he currently earns £220,000 per week, and it later transpired that he actually did get a cake, but apparently he didn’t think the club’s owners made enough of a fuss of him. Diddums. Paying someone £11,440,000 per year, PLUS bonuses etc, isn’t making a fuss apparently.
Much of this initially came from Toure’s agent, a Mussolini look-alike called Dimitri Seluk. As this is a family paper I’m forbidden to say what I think of agents, ALL agents, but let’s use the word parasite and leave it at that.
Seluk’s nonsensical ramblings were initially laughed off as an agent stirring things to try to get more money, but a tweet from Toure himself said: “Everything Dimitri said is true. He speaks for me. I will explain after the World Cup.” The world holds it breath, I don’t think. Seluk went on to add that poor, wee, hard done by Yaya wants “only attention”. That’s easily done. Won’t mind if they insist he plays for free then?
Literally as I write, it’s emerged that Yaya has now said it would be an “honour” to play for Paris St Germain. Perhaps he’s been promised as many of Laduree’s famous macaroons as he would like on his 32nd? With Jay-Z singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him live atop the Eiffel Tower. Oh, and some ice cream, jelly and a bib.
I’ll finish with a futile plea to Manchester City - ditch this whinging joker and tell his agent that you’ll never work with him again. Drive him to Paris then throw a birthday cake in his mewling face. Yes, your Champions League hopes will suffer a dent, yes, you’ll be losing a world class footballer but in the process you can do so in the knowledge that you’re acting in an attempt to regain some pride and dignity and to send out a message that your club is not to be bullied or seen as a plaything for some petulant manchild. Some things are worth more than money.