Belfast Telegraph

Diamond duo are on the ball

By Billy Weir

There hasn't been much happening over the past couple of nights so if you will permit me to rewind slightly to earlier in the week where something has been troubling me.

The Beeb's line-up for the France v Ecuador clash was a case of Geordies Reunited as two of the Magpies finest (and I'm not talking Mick Robertson and Jenny Hanley here), Alan Shearer and Chris Waddle (pictured), were joined by Juninho.

Yes, I know Middlesbrough isn't technically part of that nation, but go with me. How nice it was to see someone with a rudimentary grasp of English and a strange north-east tone getting a chance. Good to have the wee Brazilian chap on too ...

I merely jest. Waddle has earned his call-up after some impressive early performances, words not used much recently for an England international, albeit on Radio Five but, needing a like for like replacement for Thierry Henry, he was the natural choice.

But Waddle deserves his place for his excellent ranting about England but despite all the problems plaguing Brazil – the crippling poverty, the drug crimes, rioters on the streets, green pastures stalked by a bloodthirsty header from a nearby country – there is something even more terrifying – Glenn Hoddle is next door.

He and Waddle, as part of England and Tottenham's midfield were a big hit, but it wasn't the only one as the number 10 and 11 raced all the way up to No.12 back in 1987 as part of popular beat duo, Glenn and Chris. Catchy.

The pair are alarmingly close, the BBC and ITV studios, where Hoddle has been seen wearing an increasingly worrying array of billowy pastel-coloured shirts, back onto each other and residents in the Copacabana have reported the strains of Diamond Lights filling the night air around Rio.

Still, no time for all that, the biggest hit – I'm sure he said 'hit' – was England's timely demise, and Lineker poked Waddle with a pointy stick to get him started so we could all hear his rant.

"It's an absolute disaster for me, I don't think we've learned anything for 20 years," he began, apart from mullets weren't a good thing.

And the solution?

"It should be ball, ball and more ball," he concluded. Thank you, but I think there have been quite enough of that from England.

Al's not shy but is retiring

As Alan Hansen embarks on the final throes of his punditry career, it is clear that he is starting to mellow as the carriage clock towards retirement ticks down.

While the rest of the civilized world wanted Luis Suarez to be banned, flayed alive or, at the very least, neutered, the Beeb's eldest statesmen was rather more conciliatory.

"From a Liverpool perspective they've got to draw a line and say 'one more indiscretion and it's all over," he said before the clash between Germany and the United States of Bavaria.

The mind boggles as to what 'one more indiscretion' may entail but such misery won't have been inflicted on Merseyside since The Liver Birds was in full flow.

But Hansen wasn't finished, although he soon will be.

"After the Ivanovic thing he won the hearts and minds of everyone on the United Kingdom by the way he played on the pitch," he added. Everyone? Are you sure about that, Al? I'm sure Patrice Evra is not losing much kip over it.

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