Does any manager hug his players as much as Jürgen Klopp? (Whose middle name is ‘Norbert’ by the way, I didn’t know that......‘Nobby’, then – ‘Nobby Klopp’. Doesn’t really have the same gravitas does it? Bet he wouldn’t get so many hugs if he called himself ‘Nobby’). Every match he’s out there, on the pitch embracing, sharing the love, and you go on my son - it’s a beautiful thing to see.
But would you want to do it? I mean, some of those guys have been out there for an hour and a half in all that underfloor heating they wear and they’re pretty sweaty – I don’t care what they’d just won, I wouldn’t want them anywhere near me. Especially if I was wearing a suit and tie – newly cleaned and pressed for the worlds cameras and then you have to get up close and physical with a dozen sweaty men – I don’t think so.
I think even if I was a player – and I was de facto, ‘glowing’ somewhat myself, I wouldn’t be too keen. I mean you score a goal and all these sweaty men come running over to embrace you? No way - they’d have to chase me all over the pitch Benny Hill style. Whatever happened to the days of Shearer and Channon when they’d knock a goal in, produce a wry smile, wave one arm lazily in the air and everyone got on with the game?
Goal celebrations these days look like they’ve been directed by bloody Spielberg. OK – the guy scores and it kicks off a series of events that Danny Boyle would have been proud of. First off, the scorer sprints away from his team mates so that they can’t cramp his creative style, and it’s pretty much de rigueur these days to go straight into the knee slide. Why physios haven’t banned these I don’t know. Run at full speed, throw all of your weight onto the general area of your cruciate ligaments and slide for as long as possible. They probably haven’t banned it because it’s perfectly safe unless you’re doing it across an airport runway, and just reinforces the fact that I really don’t know what I’m talking about, which most of you will have gathered by now anyway.
So, knee slides – good in the wet. Sprint from the six yard box to the edge of the penalty area, boom, into the slide, if it’s been raining all day you can put on a show like the old hydrofoil coming into Dover Harbour and end up with the corner flag protruding from your crotch as if you’re having sex with the 18th hole at St Andrews.
Then, the creative part, the rocking the baby, the funny dance with selected colleagues, the vivid reconstruction of the lifting of the seige of Stalingrad, after which then, and only then, you are ready to be mobbed by the sweaty team mates in a writhing mass of humanity which is the closest mankind has ever come to demonstrating how frogs have sex.
But. What if it’s not wet? What if the grass is.......dry? Knee slide hell. You start off with the run, then down into the slide, and you can feel something is not how it should be, the friction coefficient on the knees is all wrong, they're getting too warm, they’re too dry and just as the crowd are rising to their feet to welcome your triumphal arrival – blam. Flat on your face. It’s the celebratory equivalent of premature ejaculation and there’s no way back, no way to regain the momentum, to recover the glory. There’s no creative stage with this scenario – you gambled and lost bonny lad, the only course of action is to turn over onto your back and await your team mates. Cue frogs.
Then of course, there’s the dangerous celebrations, the ones that have been banned, the one’s that the authorities keep trying to suppress, but they never will, because footballers are free spirits, they have a message they must share with the people, and they are by and large, remarkably dim. These are the celebrations that involve – taking your shirt off.
It’s generally acknowledged that in the world of football today, there are two types of shirt removal celebrations. The first involves athletes with toned and tanned bodies ripping off their shirts in an apparently spontaneous act, so overcome with raw emotion that semi-nudity is the only way they can express the landslide of feelings that have suddenly engulfed them. The second is Ross Wallace.
The first type also have rules. First off – don’t do it if you’ve already had a yellow card, bit of an obvious one, but refer back to the ‘remarkably dim’ comment above. Secondly, there’s no point in ripping off your shirt if you’ve got a vest on underneath. What’s the point – all you’re doing is telling the world that you’re a bit chilly, so unless you want people to knit you a scarf, don’t do it.
Thirdly, you have to have tattoos that can’t already be seen by wearing a short sleeved shirt. You have tattoos covering both arms and you start to rip your shirt off and there are no more – instant deflation. Viagra’s not going to rescue this one.
The masses are going to want more tats - and not just ordinary tats. Ancient Sanskrit runes depicting the love you have for your first wife that you’ve just divorced; your childrens’ names depicted in ancient Mayan symbols that actually mean nothing of the sort but you paid three grand for each one so you believe what the guy told you; the political sigil of a global movement that pledges something or other to the starving or the homeless - you forget, but it’s a nice picture - and lastly, the crest of the House that you would want to be in if you ever really went to Hogwarts.
Finally, once the shirt is removed there are two final acts, which can be done in either order. First you have to run up to the camera by the corner flag and kiss the lens, and then jump over the advertising hoarding into the crowd, because it’s not enough to be hugged by a team of sweaty men without your shirt on – you want it all baby because you’re the man, you’re the one, the crowd are idolising you, they are in adulation, every camera is on you, every face calling your name - this is your moment! And you’re going to get booked, at which point you realise you don’t remember where your shirt went.
And Ross Wallace, hell, the man would take his shirt off if he won the toss. He wrote the book about dangerous goal celebrations – bang, back of the net and he was off like a proton in The Large Hadron Collider. I saw him score the winner at Ninian Park against Cardiff once and his shirt was off and he was into the crowd before you could catch your breath. The wrong end of course, the Welsh didn’t know what’d hit them. The man had more bookings for taking his clothes off than Pamela Anderson. Legend.
I’m going to go and lie down in a darkened room now, and wish that there was a successful Premier League footballer called ‘Willy Nilly’ to brighten up Match Of The Day. Is that so wrong?