Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Billy on the Box: The A to Z of the Euros

In this photo released by the Italian Presidency Press Office, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano congratulates Andrea Pirlo, midfielder of the Italian soccer team that placed second at the Euro 2012 European Championship, as he received the Italian team at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome upon their return from Krakow, Poland, Monday, July 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Paolo Giandotti, Italian Presidency)

After almost a month, the Euros have been and gone and as the BBC decamp back to Salford and ITV desperately try to sell that balcony they annexed in Poland, the trophy has gone back home with the Spanish.

Last seen it was being melted down to help boost their ailing economy on the advice of a recently appointed Roberto Diamondio but while the Spanish got the gold, spare a thought for the Ulster Bank customers left with nothing but broken promises and the hope of everything being okay in four years?

A is for Alan: From the ancient Anglo-Saxon word ‘Shearer’ meaning ‘over-hyped shiny-shirted pundit getting paid far too much for saying far too little and getting away with it for years’. See also Gallic derivative ‘Hansen.’

B is for Buffon: The revelation from Gary Lineker ahead of the penalty shoot-out with England that the Italian keeper ‘watched naughty videos in his room’ rather than studying previous penalties. No doubt at 4-0 down on Sunday night he was telling his back four ‘hang on lads, I’ve got a great ideadefend.’

C is for Chiles: When will ITV learn that childlike enthusiasm and owning a football shirt do not make you a football presenter. I have a pair of Nike trainers, do not expect me to come haring past Usain Bolt at the Olympics.

D is for Del: Yes he may have a badger-like moustache that you’d expect Brian Black to be trying to protect in the wild but Vicente Del Bosque is a legend. Three tournaments on the bounce prove that, but his new system is far from revolutionary. BB teams have been playing the 1-10 formation for years.

E is for Euros: The joke that kept on giving, the tournament being the same as the currency provided endless references to skint countries giving their country hope. The next tournament is in Brazil, so expect Chiles to open up with a monologue involving nuts, corned beef, beach volleyball and a nod and wink in the direction of haircuts in a southerly region.

F is for Foreigners: A missed opportunity in the final as ITV and BBC got a Spaniard and Italian respectively for their panels in the shape of Roberto Martinez and Gianluca Vialli. A quick call to Carlos from Duty Free and Captain Bertorelli from ‘Allo ‘Allo! would have evened things up nicely.

G is for Gary: Mr Lineker, when he stops making jokes, is growing on me as a presenter (that’s football, nothing else) but his reading of the final in store was a little bit off. “It will come to a moment, a split second” Or in this case, four of them.

H is for highlights: With the prospect of Matt Smith and Robbie Savage late at night, it was best to stay clear, although that meant you risked missing Gordon Strachan and such gems as ‘Mario Balotelli played like half the player he thinks he is.’

I is for Ice cream: One of the more bizarre revelations from Chiles that Roy Keane had bought ice cream for Chiles, Gareth Southgate and Patrick Vieira, or as Gareth called it ‘a 99 without a flake.’ Or an ice cream as everyone else calls it. Just a shame he hadn’t asked Roy for a poke.

J is for Jamie: I remember the day when the only Jamie on television was a wee lad with a squeaky voice and a big torch who disappeared down a big hole every night for adventures with his dog. Fast forward 30 years and there’s loads of them — Redknapp, Foxx, Oliver et al but Mr Carragher is the best. The squeaky voice is still there — only with a piercing Scouse accent and the mutt has been replaced by Southgate.

K is for Keane: The tournament ended just too soon as you got the impression that one more remark from Chiles about Roy being mean and moody would have finally tipped him over the edge and then he’d have tipped Chiles over that ledge they were perched on.

L is for Lawro: Just when you thought Mark Lawrenson couldn’t go down any further in your estimation, the news that Fernando Torres’ assist meant his bet had come up for the Golden Boot. Perhaps he will put the money to good use and retire or at least buy a new joke book.

M is for Magnifico: It’s amazing how things change as Spain went from the most boring side in the world to the best that has ever kicked a ball in the space of 90 minutes. Are they mad? Do these people not remember that England won the World Cup in 1966?

N is for Norn Irn: What were the odds on Northern Ireland getting a mention in the final? But we did, although Lineker refused to name us as the last side to beat Spain after they’d taken the lead. At least commentator Mr Mowbray rectified that — what a Guy.

O is for Oirish: And lest we forget our cross-border cousins, or great-granny in the case of Andy Townsend, who lost the run of himself after Jordi Alba’s opener. “That is just so good [followed by deep, satisfied sigh] I can’t tell you how good that is”. Last seen lighting up a cigarette with Clive Tyldesley.

P is for Prandelli: Or Signor Prandelli to you and me but he’s fooling no-one as he is quite clearly Kenneth Connor from Carry On fame. People were amazed that the Italians got to the final and it’s no wonder when their manager died in 1993.

Q is for Quidditch: I’m not saying Tyldesley was running out of things to say after the final but when he started comparing Pirlo to Snape from Harry Potter it was time to leave. “The maker of magic potions and we’ve seen one or two of those from Andrea Pirlo,” said Clive. You’re not joking, his disappearing act in the final was amazing.

R is for Regrets: Chiles’ revelation that ‘buskers were coming from far and wide just to be paid by us to shut up.’ If only we’d thought of that.

S is for Sat-Nav: Just how Martin Keown kept getting the gig to go to the ground was a mystery until the final when he started waffling on about the Spanish players having ‘on board navigation systems.’ Let’s hope Uefa clamp down on this blatant cheating.

T is for Terry: Wasn’t it a touching moment after the final when Fernando Torres and the rest of the Spanish players brought their families out onto the pitch? Spare a thought for the wee girl who was left tied up in the changing room as John Terry in a size 3-4 shirt appeared to share in the glory that he hadn’t contributed to.

U is for THE Ukraine: Newly christened by Jonathan Pearce, the much anticipated blood on the streets and racist riots in the stands never materialised in the Ukraine or in Poland but that may have been linked to the England returning home early. And the fans too. Allegedly.

V is for Vialli: So many wise words to choose from as Gianluca came onto the scene in the latter stages of the tournament. “Who said trying to score goals is like trying to get ketchup out of the bottle?” No-one, but I like your thinking.

W is for Watchers: Despite a promising start by getting there early, it wasn’t a good ending for ITV as they didn’t cover either semi-final live and in the final were trounced by nine million viewers by the Beeb.

X is for Xenophobia: “I wonder if playing outside your own country helps your football education a little bit,” pondered Tyldesley about Alvaro Arbeloa. Yes, I’m sure he looks back and thinks that time I spent at Liverpool educated me so much.

Y is for Yeooooooh: Shearer still trying to claim that Mario Balotelli has achieved little as a player but now saying as an international. Remind us, Alan, just how many finals of international tournaments did you get to with England? I apologise, I forgot about Le Tournoi.

Z is for Boniek: Okay, hands up, I was struggling for this one so it was most refreshing to see that Michel Platini’s old mate from Juventus, Zbigniew or Zibi to his chums, popped up in Poland during the early stages.

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