The Best Bits of the Premier League: 16-20
Our top goal celebration, the most memorable of footballer endorsements and Dion Dublin's dong
16 - Best goal celebration
In an age where almost every goal celebration seem to have been tightly choreographed on the training ground, a random outpouring of wild, unhinged emotion often works best. Rewind to 1998 for the finest example, and the day the Georgian Temuri Ketsbaia scored a last-minute winner against Bolton at St James’ Park. There were no clever backflips or robot dancing here - instead he simply went postal, ripping off his shirt and throwing it to the crowd before kicking 17 shades of shite out of the advertising hoardings. “I was just happy to score,” he later reflected, once the tranquilliser had worn off.
17 - Best chairman
Edging Peter Ridsdale and his fish off top spot here, we’re plumping for former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan. Yes, he looks a nonsense with the tikka tan and Afghan hound hair, but his unconcealed contempt for the bullshit and bluster of the modern game felt as refreshing as a peppermint enema. Most memorably, while writing an excellent column for the Observer in 2005, he was asked what he’d do with a player like Craig Bellamy, who at the time was being obnoxious and disrespectful at Newcastle. Jordan’s solution: “I’d fucking strangle him with his own tongue,” he said, because he’s “been allowed to turn into this imbecilic little gobshite over a period of four years.” Rarely for a chairman, he was right, and Bellamy later admitted as much.
18 - Best footballer endorsement
Ask Wayne Rooney to strike a size five football into the top corner of the goal from 30 yards and he’ll do it with his eyes closed. Ask him to read out five words on an autocue to help promote a Spanish wine with a tenuous link to Manchester United and it’s not so simple. Type ‘Rooney’ and ‘Casillero del Diablo’ into YouTube and watch the most memorable advert starring a footballer since Bobby Moore looked in at the local for a nice pint of chauvinism.
“Guys. Wehavea. Problem,” warns Wazza, reviewing his own work with the conviction of a wardrobe.
“The boss says. That. A new Devil is a... rriving” (Uncomfortable pause)
“They say. He is a. Legend.”
Two sobering thoughts hit you by the end of the ad. First, that if that was the best take they got, the mind can only boggle at what was left on the cutting room floor. And second: that he’ll have been paid more for those 20 garbled words than most of us make in 20 years.
19 - Best line from a Premier League footballer’s autobiography
“I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c**t. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.” For our money, Roy Keane’s recollections of attempting to end the career of Alf-Inge Haaland in Keane: The Autobiography (2002) romps home as the most memorable line of any sportsman’s autobiography ever. For a more comical alternative, try the epoch-defining moment, in the risible My Defence (2006), when Ashley Cole learns of Arsenal’s new and improved salary offer: “When I heard my agent repeat the figure of £55,000 [per week], I nearly swerved off the road.’He’s taking the piss, Jonathan!’ I yelled down the phone. I was trembling with anger.” Fair to say, he wasn’t the only one.
20 - Best quote of the Premier League’s lifetime
The most insightful quote came from the lips of that modern pro Pascal Chimbonda in 2008, while on the payroll at Tottenham and ahead of the Carling Cup final. “Kevin Keegan (at Newcastle) has offered me more money,” he said. “I am definitely leaving Spurs. It’s all about the money, I don’t care about the (Carling Cup) final.” His agent was quick to deny the quote, but even if he hadn’t said it, it’s what he will have been thinking. However, the most memorable quote of the last two decades came from Sir Alex Ferguson, when asked if the rumours of Dion Dublin having an unfeasibly big penis were true. “Not just big,” replied, Ferguson, “it’s magnificent”. Magnificent.