Belfast Telegraph

The A to Z of the World Cup is here at your fingertips

By Billy Weir

And as we all go off to our separate clinics to dry out from a month of football like no other, it is time to have a cursory look back over four weeks of madness, mayhem and Martin O'Neill from the past four weeks in Brazil.

In a mere 1450-odd days you will once again hear grown men talking knowledgeably about the best formation for Honduras to field against those Indomitable Lions from Cameroon, a country so bad at this World Cup that not only did they lose 4-1 to Brazil, they also allowed Fred to score. And I promise that at no stage will I be making any cheap jibes at the expense of England. They're far funnier than I'll ever be. So here we go then, the usual stuff and nonsense in the A to Z, only with no need to make up anything for X or Z.

A is for Adrian. Yes, who else but Mr Chiles, ITV's chubby-cheeked frontman who came to Brazil armed with a smile, a suitcase full of dreams and only one dark blue shirt by the look of it. No doubt, he was given an aisle of his own on the flight home.

B is for Brazil. It simmered before the start, threatened to boil over and then ended in a whimper with everyone going home quietly. Enough about Ardoyne, it was the same in Brazil. The perfect hosts, they gave us all a ball, unfortunately they forgot to tell David Luiz and Fred what to do with it.

C is for Copacabana. Now more defriended than Fred's Facebook page, Rio's best known beach is returning to some degree of abnormality now the world's media has departed. Can't wait until the Beeb and ITV broadcast from a disused tractor factory in Vladivostok at Russia 2018.

D is for Dutch. There was some consolation for the Dutch, whose two teams, Holland and Netherlands, shared third place with Dirk Kuyt going as a forward and moving further and further back as the tournament progressed. Would have played in goal for the final, with Tim Krul up front.

E is for England. Who sniggered? Stop it, stop it right now. Roy Hodgson couldn't understand why his team has bowed out at the first stage despite being very proud of them all. I'll give you two reasons – Danny and Welbeck.

F is for Fred. By the end you were willing him to score but there's more chance of Ann Widdecombe scoring in Magaluf than that happening. Please tell me that no-one films that and puts it on Youtube.

G is for Deutschland. To paraphrase an old Gary Lineker classic, the World Cup is a tournament you play for 40 days and then the Germans win it, even helping subeditors across the world with an easy Super Mario headline for the final. What a shame it wasn't Bastian Schwiensteiger.

H is for Hoddle. There were many daft things uttered by commentators and pundits alike, notably Jonathan Pearce and his goal-line technology gaffe but old Diamond Light Glenn will have to go some way to beat his Al Jazeera/Algeria confusion.

I is for Italian. Great player, World Cup winner, good-looking chap and a laugh as camp as a row of pink tents in Brighton. Yes, it can only be Fabio Cannavaro. Announced his engagement to Lee Dixon at half-time in the final.

J is for Hames. The winner of the Golden Boot, Snr Rodriguez caused unnecessary linguistic problems by insisting his name was spelt James but pronounced Hames. Fred had the same problem in that it is spelt but pronounced what the hell is that big puddin' Fred doing on?

K is for Kids. Some great moments with the mascots, especially when Brazil were playing and they sang their hearts out, but spare a thought for the wee lad with the Leo Sayer barnet who was forced to stand with Marouane Fellaini. Hopefully in the confusion the wee lad is now in Manchester.

L is for Lineker. As non-contests go he was Germany to Chiles' Brazil. The trip to Brazil seemed to revitalise the normally grumpy-baked one even though he was a bit giggly when Thierry Henry was around. Then again when his replacement was Robbie Savage, is it any wonder he was laughing.

M is for Messi. How in the name of all that is Pele did wee Lionel win the Golden Ball award when he only played well for about five minutes? To be honest, he hasn't been the same since he was Danny in Grange Hill...

N is for Neymar. What do you mean you've never heard of him? So many column inches haven't been devoted to a banjaxed Brazilian since someone brought a Qualcast strimmer into the TOWIE dressing room.

O is for O'Neill. He really is a waste as a football manager. ITV were in despair when his Republic assistant Roy Keane preferred Birmingham to Brazil but were whooping with delight as the main man showed he's still the boss in the land of punditry.

P is for not Gary. Only one thing was pilloried as much as England's performance in the World Cup opener – the Beeb's bright new thing, Phil 'not Gary' Neville. His major crime was that of 'being boring' but that was hardly breaking news, was it? Chris Waddle suffered the same for not being Glenn Hoddle, but he did work in a sausage factory.

Q is for quitting. There were fond farewells to many stars, several managers and above all, Alan Hansen, who is hanging his Farahs up so that the bright, young, stars can sit and be bored to tears listening to Alan Shearer and wondering just who hired Robbie Savage and what level of medication are they now on.

R is for Ron. There were many candidates for R, with Roy Hodgson, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo all worthy contenders but who knew that Ron Vlaar was the best defender in the world? Certainly no-one at Aston Villa.

S is for Suarez. Shame on you, Luis Suarez, shame on you. Not your third Gnasher impression, not your heartache at wanting to leave the best fans in the world (I'm sceptical) or even refusing to acknowledge you had nibbled an Italian, no, your crime is allowing Alan Shearer to make 'a three bites and you're out' joke live on TV.

T is for timing. Having watched every game of the finals for an entire month, off I went on hols and almost missed the big one – the final. I caught it on French channel TF1 where Arsene Wenger was the pundit in the commentary box. I didn't understand everything he said but rest assured, he saw nothing.

U is for Uruguay. Everyone loves Uruguay. What's not to love, they start with a U and have two more in the middle, thus being a godsend for those of us doing an A to Z with an ugly U-shaped gap to fill.

V is for Va va voom. More smooth than an ironing convention, Thierry Henry made an early departure from the Beeb's punditry team because he had to go back for pre-season training at New York Red Bulls. Yeah right, there's more chance of Costa Rica topping England's group than that happening...

W is for Ian Wright Wright Wright. So bad they named him three times. You can't have Hoddle without having ITV's other blinkered buffoon who refused to call him anything other than 'the gaffer' throughout the whole tournament.

X is for Xherdan. A big thank-you to Xherdan Shaqiri for meaning I can finally write one of these without making up something to do with X-rated, xylophone or X-ray. Also, he's tremendous in his other job as a saucy Colombian songstress. X-rated stuff at times.

Y is for Yanks. Can you imagine how annoying they would be if they ever win the World Cup? More hyped than a Cheryl Cole wedding, the love affair with soccer is likely to last about as long. Hey guys, where's next year's series being held?

Z is for Zuniga. The man who killed a country's dreams. No, not Roy Hodgson, but Colombia's Juan who clattered Neymar beyond repair. Threats and recriminations followed but if he'd flattened Fred, he'd be President of Brazil by now.

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