Belfast Telegraph

A Champion finale for Robben and co

By Billy Weir

For someone who was brought up in an era where most of my knowledge of all things Germanic was moulded by The Victor, Basil Fawlty, Stan Boardman and latterly, 'Allo, Allo, the presence of two German teams in the Champions' League final in London made me slightly nervous.

I'm sure Jeff Stelling and Adrian Chiles shared similar concerns, especially the latter who has some pretty recent previous when it comes to saying the wrong thing in the wrong place as his labelling of Peter Odemwingie as an arschloch, as they say down Dortmund way, at a West Brom club do last week, shows.

Chiles' legacy clearly lives on at the One Show where Wednesday opened with towels being left on the sofa and an oompah band, but thankfully they stopped short of Alex Jones coming on dressed as Helga.

But we've all moved on, football certainly has and where once it was the Italians, then the English and then the Spanish, it is now the Germans. And the Croats, Serbs, Dutch, Brazilians...

There weren't many Scots on show, just the two, with Paul Lambert never as popular with both ITV and Sky wheeling out the Aston Villa manager to recall his days with Dortmund.

Sky, with a good hour's extra build-up, won that particular battle, but it all threatened to go wrong when a German, and a really famous one at that, Franz Beckenbauer, was brought on to join Graeme Souness (the other Scot), Michael Ballack (token German) and Jamie Redknapp (clothes horse). Spot the odd one out in that list...

"I have a question," began Franz, not shining a spotlight in any way, shape or form in anyone's face. "There are three English gentlemen ... " he continued as Souness visibly stiffened and shook his head violently wondering would it be bad form to hurl a living football legend through the studio window.

"Not gentleman?" asked a shaken Franz.

"Scottish. Gentlemen, yes, but not English," said Graeme with a grin that was more than a tad menacing.

Soon Franz was gone, replaced by Gary Neville and his big TV, and some footage of Arjen Robben's dazzling footwork left Jamie mesmerised.

"I love the way he moves, he looks like he could run through a puddle without making a splash – he's got that lovely fluid movement," he said. Which is it, Jamie, does he move fluid or not?

Interviews followed with Boris Becker, Jurgen Klinsmann and Herr Flick (ok, that last one didn't happen) while over on ITV we were welcomed by Chiles saying guten abend (good evening).

Back on Sky, Souness was talking about walking out on the biggest of occasions, as Ballack nodded and Jamie fondly remembered the GQ Best Dressed awards, and reminisced how Liverpool had put the fear of bejaesus into Roma by singing a Chris Rea song in the tunnel in 1984. He certainly put them on the road to hell as manager.

Martin Tyler began by telling us 'it could have been El Clasico, now it's the latest episode of Der Klassiker," as the Big Boys' Book of Elementary German was passed around.

At the end, Clive Tyldesley borrowed it as he told us 'one of the European superpowers is a power in the game again – jawohl,' although stopped short of yelling 'schnell, schnell' and other words he learned from The Victor.

He just about got away with it but Gareth Southgate put his foot right in it when discussing Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes' imminent departure saying 'it was slightly night of the long knives the way he was got rid of," as ITV chiefs began to panic. Souness was at it too, saying 'German football is bombing at the moment," before having a go about how 'Johnny Foreigner' was ruining the English game as Michael Foreigner looked on nervously.

"Small teams in the Premiership can pay big, big salaries and that is an attraction for players from other countries and that's why we have such an influx of foreign players," said the man who, of course, brought Govan born and bred players like Terry Butcher, Ray Wilkins and Mark Hateley into the Rangers team. Still, it didn't harm them in the long run ...

And as all the Germans celebrated safe in the knowledge that their game is in good hands with a Croat and Dutchman (pictured) scoring the goals for a team about to be managed by a Spaniard, we made our final farewell, and not one mention of Geoff Hurst. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.

Belfast Telegraph


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