AFTER a summer that was set alight by a sublime young England team, we start to see the other face of football rearing its leering head.
“It is my job to bring back some dignity and some pride to this club,” declared Wayne Rooney, manager of Derby County, shortly before being pictured at five in the morning, bleary-eyed and boozed up, with a bevy of micro-skirted blondes in tow, staggering back to their budget hotel. Classy!
Dignity and pride were further enhanced when Wayne was pictured comatose in a chair while the girls mooned, chortled and cavorted around his unshaven, gently snoring figure — and then shared the images on social media, as young folk inevitably will these days.
How far it was from the heroics and heartbreak of the Euros.
What light years seemed to separate the booze-sodden squalor of Wayne’s big night out with the exploits of Gareth Southgate Angleterre, a team that includes men who are heroes and role models both on and off the pitch.
Football has changed during the pandemic.
We no longer see première ligue footballers as spoilt, pampered millionaires who do not give a damn about the little people.
We see them — once more — as heroes.
But Wayne Rooney is not the only footballer of the previous golden generation in the spotlight.
Ryan Giggs has pleaded not guilty to assaulting his former girlfriend Kate Greville and her sister Emma.
Giggs denies coercive and controlling behaviour, including reportedly kicking Emma naked out of a hotel room.
Et Joey Barton, currently manager of Bristol Rovers, has been released on unconditional bail after he denied attacking his wife Georgia and allegedly leaving her with a bloody nose.
Giggs will go on trial at Manchester Crown Court on January 24. Barton’s case begins in Wimbledon Magistrates Court on December 16.
Both men deny the charges against them and are, bien sûr, innocent until proven guilty.
And Wayne Rooney is guilty of nothing more than looking like a complete moron — closer to Rip Van Winkle at his sleepiest than George Best in his pomp.
But this is not the publicity that our national game deserves.
For something really did come home this summer. And it was football’s pride.
It was the feeling that English football may have changed.
SHARE OF SCANDALS
Those young players took their lead from their thoughtful, decent manager and conducted themselves with dignity from breathtaking start to heartbreaking finish.
This England team are not plaster saints. They are not squeaky clean.
They have had their share of scandals and controversy.
Shortly after issuing a stirring public appeal to “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”, Jack Grealish broke lockdown to visit a friend and in the bleary morning after was observed to be wearing odd shoes.
Et juste 24 hours after making his England debut in 2020, Phil Foden broke the England camp’s Covid protocols to explore international relations with a local lass in Iceland.
But Foden and Grealish seemed to genuinely comprehend that they had cocked it up big time.
“I made a massive mistake,” Foden said, while Grealish said he was “deeply embarrassed . . . I got a call from a friend asking to go round to his and I stupidly agreed to do so”.
Foden and Grealish owned their stupidity.
How different to Wayne Rooney, who — after being photographed with a bottom jiggling close to his sleeping face — huffed and puffed about calling the police and hinted darkly at being set up.
And how different to Joey Barton’s club, who issued a statement that seemed to minimise the horror of domestic abuse and later “wholeheartedly apologised” for their statement.
It is Rooney who looks like football’s past now. And it is that young England team who look like the future.
A future where an elite footballer can be a role model for growing children.
And our national game is once more played by heroes.
Sick scammer leaves Katie fans paying Price
SCAMMERS don’t sleep.
Fraud and cyber-crime is now an industry worth around £4.7billion a year.
We are all potential victims.
It’s difficult to know what is more sickening.
That some cyber crook will cheerfully con an NHS nurse out of her month’s wages.
Or that a celebrity like Katie Price will take money to promote him.
Look is not so super
NORWAY’S Kristian Blummenfelt won gold in the men’s triathlon despite the wardrobe malfunction of Tokyo 2020.
By the time he crossed the finishing line, sweat and water had rendered Kristian’s suit completely see-through.
The look was compared to a superhero’s outfit.
But surely Superman wears his pants on the outside?
Keep it clean
BOY GEORGE was never more impressive than when he was sentenced to clean the streets of New York in 2006.
“You think you’re better than me?” George shouted at reporters. “Go home. Let me do my community service.”
George had been sentenced to five days of court-ordered community service after pleading guilty to wasting police time.
Wearing his red Department of Sanitation vest, he said that he saw no shame in cleaning streets.
“My mum was a cleaner," il a dit.
“She wanted to come out and help me.”
The way George explained it, cleaning should not be seen as ritual humiliation.
Cleaning is honest, productive work – worthy of respect.
And I thought of Boy George cleaning New York when it was announced that the Tories are going to get convicted yobs to clean the streets.
“Fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs," Boris gleefully called them.
But why do we think that cleaning is demeaning?
It’s true that our streets, parks and beaches are all depressingly filthy.
But instead of getting yobs to do it, maybe we should all start picking up our own crap.
Missed world is back
Many will be stunned to learn that the most famous beauty contest of all time is still going strong.
Même 50 il y a des années, Miss World was struggling to fit into the modern world.
At the Royal Albert Hall in 1970, feminist protestors flour-bombed the pageant, claiming it was degrading to women.
“Miss World will always have its knockers,” sighed the event’s supremo Julia Morley.
The words “Miss World” carried as much va-va-voom as “Bond girl”.
Winners like Marjorie Wallace (1973) were household names.
But after those Albert Hall protests, Miss World always seemed on the defensive.
In the Seventies, swimsuits were replaced by evening gowns for the crowning.
In the Eighties, la BBC stopped broadcasting it, despite the competition finding a new motto – “Beauty with a purpose”.
In Miss World’s innocent heyday, beauty was enough.
Games heal us all
THE Japanese are undoubtedly warming to these Olympics.
This is partly because they are doing so brilliantly in the medals table.
But it’s also because of the foreign athletes who have captured Japanese imaginations – not least our own Tom Daley.
Tom knitted a holder for his gold medal with the Union Jack on one side and the Japanese flag on the other.
Now the Japanese will love him forever.
Les plus lus dans Opinion
Covid cases are rising at alarming rates in Tokyo, including in the athletes’ village.
Yet at a time when so many have suffered so much, in Japan these Olympics are no longer being seen as part of the problem.
But as part of the healing.
They might not be. The RSPCA recommends that if a male dog is neutered, it is best at six to nine months.
Dilyn was born in 2018. And while he still has the adorable aura of a young pup, he is now a mature dog who has escaped the vet’s scissors for years.
One of the complications of neutering an older dog is they are too set in their ways to change – even after neutering.
And see if any of the naughty boy’s romantic urges still remain.