Belfast Telegraph

Italian football is just the job for James

By Billy Weir

I'm not sure if it was on over the festive break or not, but The Italian Job is and always will be one of my favourite films, featuring as it does three of my favourite things – Michael Caine, totty and a bit of football thrown in.

BT Sport were able to offer up two of the above, which, in the words of Mr Loaf, ain't bad, with coverage of the clash of Juventus and Roma, featuring a Mr Totti but the part of Michael Caine played by James Richardson.

This is always good. We go back a long way, back in the halcyon years when no Saturday morning would be complete without a bit Gazzetta Football Italia.

This, of course, after the time when Saturday mornings wouldn't be complete without The Hair Bear Bunch or Champion: The Wonder Horse but for Richardson the hair, at least on top of his head, has long since galloped out the stable door.

No matter, he still remains one of the best, full of mischief brought about by years of espresso abuse as he greeted us on Sunday evening: "Dramatic music and an opera choir – it must be a big game."

And it was. BT Sport has wasted no lira in their studio guests with Richardson joined by Richard Hughes and that man who walks about Britain terrifying people with his long hair and Scottish accent.

This was confusing as I wasn't altogether sure who Richard Hughes was but helpfully the caption told us he was a former Atalanta player, while the other man wasn't the bloke off Coast at all, or Costa in this case, but a journalist with flowing locks although that would have explained all the coffee Richardson had purloined down the years.

"As usual with Sunday night drama, before the latest installment, here's what happened previously with Juventus and Roma ... " said Richardson in a booming voice and then we were off to the game.

At the break, Juve had weathered Mr Totti's Roma, who featured a man called Pjanic, attempting to bring terror to the streets of Turin, although no mention of London, or indeed Birmingham, Carlisle, Dublin, Dundee or Humberside.

Pat yourself on the back if you get that joke.

The only goal came from a man called Vidal (pictured), or as Richardson pointed out 'as the great Jim Proudfoot once said, it's Vidal so soon' but there's no need anymore for one bottle, never mind two, in the shower.

Two more goals followed though as the shower doors were well and truly blown off Roma's Serie A bid, with talk turning to ligaments and agonising problems not just for Theo Walcott, but Italian striker Giuseppe Rossi.

"Well, if it is a ligament, it'll be six months, unless you're Roberto Baggio when you come back in three through the power of Buddhist prayer," concluded Dr. Richardson, as we left with Walcott and Rossi's World Cup hopes in the team coach dangling off Sugarloaf Mountain.

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