There are few Bible stories that do not have a resonance in football, and none more so than the tale of Samson. But while avoiding the attentions of a barber was the secret of the son of Manoah's strength, Cristiano Ronaldo is the exact opposite.
The Manchester United FC winger has scored 22 goals this season, and at the weekend claimed his first hat-trick for the club in a 6-0 defeat of Newcastle United FC. But in fact the secret is what he keeps underneath his hat, or at least he would do if gentlemen wore them any more, not like in the old days when there were standards, and we don't mean these so-called baseball caps, there is no more distressing sight than that, and another thing why do the kids today feel the need to parade around in these garish plimsolls or 'training shoes' as they insist on calling them, what is wrong with a nice pair of brogues, or loafers for afternoon wear? Anyway, Ronaldo's hair. Apparently he always visits the same coiffeur artist in Wilmslow, near Manchester, to keep his elaborate thatch manicured lest any change to his routine plays havoc with his footballing form. A source told the Sun newspaper: "He keeps going back because he doesn't want to jinx his goal run."
Lord of the dance
Anyway, back to the maintenance of proper standards. We are aware that the young folk like to describe the vague rhythmic swaying to mindless noise as "dancing", but they have a lot to learn. Possibly off Heart of Midlothian FC owner Vladimir Romanov. As previously reported in Off the Ball, he has been competing in a televised celebrity ballroom dancing competition in his native Lithuania, and last week he foxtrotted off with first prize. The 60-year-old topped the phone vote on Sok zu Zvaigzde (Dancing with the Stars), partnered by professional Sandra Kniazeviciute. A politician and a singer were among his rivals, but he drew on his new-found Scottish links to dazzle the amazed public by donning a kilt and performing a traditional Highland dance. Kniazeviciute said: "I was surprised with Vladimir's eagerness and ability to dedicate so much time and physical effort so he could learn how to dance well." Romanov's spokesman added: "He never thought he would win. I'm sure he will continue dancing but I don't think it will take up much of his time."
At least Steve McClaren stayed true to some fine English traditions in his final game as national-team manager, holding an umbrella just as all bowler-hatted businessmen once carried along with their briefcase on their way to the City of London. However the British media, who at least keep up their most sacred rites by vilifying any England manager after a defeat, were less than impressed and the day after the UEFA EURO 2008™ exit at the hands of Croatia dubbed the soon-to-be sacked McClaren as the "wally with a brolly". The former Middlesbrough FC boss can laugh about it now, though at the time it was terrible. "I've got hundreds of brollies in my house now," McClaren said. "You know what? I could start an umbrella company I've had so many for presents. I got texts the day after from mates saying things like 'Where's the brolly wally?' And when I was offered an umbrella in a restaurant, I wouldn't take it because I'd heard there was a price on my head for a photo of me with one."
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