I like football a lot, but I don't have the time to concentrate on following a particular team week by week. So as a compromise I follow England with no-holds-barred emotional intensity, and that'll break your heart. Because they play so rarely each game matters a great deal to me, and when they get kicked out of a tournament it has real repercussions for me - they stop playing and that's that.
I like goalies, though this is the first time in my life that England hasn't had a really outstanding goalie. Where is the next one? I had a bit of a crush on Peter Bonetti of Chelsea when I was twelve (I never noticed those ears!) mainly because he was nicknamed 'the cat' and I thought that was cool. Later on Peter Shilton was an awesome goalie, who played for England until he was about the age I am now. Incredible. And finally David Seaman, although he had a silly pony tail and a moustache, was literally as graceful as a dancer or a toreador. Just watching him pick up the ball and fling it up the pitch was like poetry.
I thought I'd also give you an idea of why I like football, by describing three of my favourite players, and what it means to me to watch them.
Alan Shearer playing is like chess at the speed of light. There's a flurry of arms and legs, Shearer somehow, somehow, sees a trajectory through those limbs, that threads through every obstacle, and somehow he implements the trajectory, in a milisecond, and scores. Afterwards you watch the slow replay bemused. How did he see that? How did he think that quickly? Awesome. Like Paul Merton, I think the fact that Shearer left school without qualifications, and yet is self evidently one of the most intelligent people one might meet, is a terrible indictment of our education system.
Stuart Pearce aka Psycho for some reason is big, tough, emotional, courageous. Fantastic. What emotional force!
Paul Gascoigne a profoundly stupid man and yet his football gains something that even Shearer and Pearce lack - creativity. Improvisational creative play like nothing you've ever seen before. How? How does a man who beats his wife and thinks that comedy breasts are a neat idea, play like Van Gogh at speed? I don't know. I just hope Wayne Rooney has got it, without the wife and tequila things.