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It made me equally sad and angry that a handful of people showed contempt during the minute of silence at a few games this week.
It turns out that someone has died. A family is in mourning. It just happens to be our queen. My queen. A woman who has done selfless service for 70 years. The ultimate example of what it is to be a civil servant.
I’m not claiming to be a historian, but I’m saying without a doubt that we’re talking about the greatest woman to have lived on our shores and arguably the greatest Briton ever. You’re talking about people like Winston Churchill, who has served this country so well. But this woman has served her country for 70 years. Flawless in everything she did.
Rangers played the national anthem for their Europa League game against Napoli on Thursday
For some mindless fools it was an embarrassment to themselves, a disgrace to their football clubs and an act of utter classlessness to protest the way they did.
The word “respect” isn’t even in the vocabulary of these people. Thank goodness they were a small minority and the sport we love has shown the appreciation many millions feel for a monarch who was also a patron of the English FA.
If you’re talking about the other side of the scale – and much further – look at the way my old club, Glasgow Rangers, paid their own tribute on Wednesday night. The coordination and detail required to create the Queen’s silhouette against a Union flag, which covered the broom stand, was magnificent.
There was also the playing of the national anthem, despite UEFA’s utterly ridiculous order that they shouldn’t.
UEFA told British clubs they couldn’t play the national anthem after the Queen’s death
Rangers – and other clubs across the country – also held a minute of silence for Her Majesty
Ibrox’s home supporters would always sing the national anthem and never obey a faceless bureaucrat sitting in Nyon. Dream on if you think that order would be fulfilled. Some jumped-up UEFA director thinks they can tell us we can’t sing our national anthem after our 70-year-old queen dies. It would never happen.
Don’t you play the national anthem? Wait a second. This is just football we’re talking about. Our monarch dies and a minion at UEFA tells us what we can and cannot do. I don’t know who the hell came up with that decision.
The need for proper respect and sense of perspective also made it 100 percent justified that football matches were canceled at all levels last weekend. I saw cricket being praised for continuing barely 24 hours after the death of our Queen, but no sport should have taken place.
The fact that they had started the Test series against South Africa doesn’t matter. This is sports. A game of cricket. A game of football. It means nothing, just nothing in the vast scope of our national history. At this point, no sign of respect can be too great.
England’s decisive test against South Africa took place at the Oval last weekend
This will be a weekend of reflection for me. Tomorrow I’ll be doing the charity Kiltwalk in Edinburgh, my home city, where the Queen said goodbye in such an unforgettable way this week. My son James and I will be running 21 miles for the DEBRA charity, which mainly helps children. The charity, of which I am vice president, is doing such a great job.
And once I’m done there, I’ll travel to the airport for a flight south and back home to Dorset, before traveling to London for the funeral.
If I can get 100 yards away, 200 yards away, I’ll be there. I was born a month before her coronation. This feels like such an important moment to me.
Football is back on track. The controversies, dramas and skills that we all love are already a part of our lives.
A few days without it, remembering that there’s a bigger picture and a world beyond our sport, hasn’t hurt anyone – even if some couldn’t find the common decency to show basic respect.
Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully last week at age 96 in Balmoral
WHY I’M ON THE RADIO
My debate about Chelsea owner Todd Boehly — and whether Thomas Tuchel should have been fired — with Simon Jordan on our talkSPORT show this week was my most fun yet.
Simon and I agree surprisingly, although we will have our moments on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, co-host Jim White sits there with a fairly large jerry can of gasoline to refill the fire every now and then.
When you’re a manager in a press conference after the game has just ended, you’re vulnerable because your emotions aren’t quite where they should be and you know journalists are trying to get a head start on you.
It’s kind of like that with Jim. He has an endless supply of jerry cans under his table. I really enjoy it.
SPARE OUR ‘FOOTBALL’ READING, BOEHLY
Here comes Todd Boehly, marching into the Premier League – the most successful, most watched and most envied league in ‘football’ history – immediately informing us that we need a North-South game and relegation play-offs .
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has proposed a ‘North vs South’ match in the Premier League
Aside from the obvious congestion, there’s a very good reason why there shouldn’t be an appetite for an American-style North-South game.
North America is a continent, while we are a small island. Culturally and geographically, our nations are vastly different. I wouldn’t say we can’t make improvements in several areas, but don’t tell us what we should be doing after five minutes into our game.
ERLING IS A GOAL SCORER BUT ALSO A TEAM PLAYER
It’s the less obvious things that tell me that Erling Haaland is a very special player. His goal festivities, for example.
For many players these days it’s a ‘me, me, me’ celebration, running up to the crowd and kissing the badge. This is not Haaland’s way. He celebrates with his teammates and also compliments them. That shows me a maturity well beyond his 22 years.
Erling Haaland always makes sure to celebrate with his teammates after scoring a goal
COSTA IS A WIND-UP TRADER BUT WORTH THE PROBLEM
I’ve always thought Diego Costa looks like someone who belongs in a spaghetti western. He is a bandit and I must say I would have loved to have played with and against him. He is a player who would have been right at home here in the 1980s.
What appeals to me when I see him play is that he seems to enjoy every duel that comes his way. He wants to be the instigator. He wants you to focus not on your game, but on him. You know he’s going to turn you on. He will stand on you. He will bump into you if the ball is not near you. He leaves one foot here, one elbow there.
He’s just Mr. Aggro and yes, I certainly would have liked to compete against such a competitor.
Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa has signed a contract with Wolves until the end of the season
He’s just arrived at Wolves at the age of 33 – an age when there should still be plenty of life in him, although it’s less certain what’s going on in his head.
He’s been a tough guy wherever he went and as his manager you have to be willing to look the other way every now and then.
It’s a trade-off. As a manager, you decide it’s worth giving him the special attention you need because of what he brings.
The 33-year-old has built a reputation as an aggressive and fiery-tempered player
But he also arrives at Molineux with a lot of experience in a prized career
I look at Wolves and feel that goals are the last piece of the puzzle. They have some nice players who create chances every game. But Raul Jimenez is not getting the goals he had before the serious head injury he sustained nearly two years ago.
Fabio Silva, who had a hard time in the Premier League, has been loaned to Anderlecht. Sasa Kalajdzic was injured on his debut earlier this month.
Costa has been back in Brazil with Atletico Mineiro since August last year and hasn’t played since January, but he will be fine. He’ll stand in the tunnel, looking defenders straight in the eye, thinking, ‘I’m going to let a little on you at the first opportunity and see what reaction I get.’ He still likes that a lot. I’m not sure if you’ll ever lose it.
Raul Jimenez has struggled to rediscover his prolific form since returning from head injury
Costa pretended to cough at reporters while at Atletico as Covid-19 pandemic began
It’s personal with him. If he doesn’t go out every time to argue and take on someone, he feels like he’s not in the game. And that will backfire on teammates who aren’t quite ready for battle. If they see someone who wants to fight against everyone and everyone, they will react to it.
Some aspects of his behavior were unacceptable. Pretending to cough at reporters when he played for Atletico Madrid at the start of the Covid pandemic at Anfield was not something we should ever see in our football. He’s better than that and doesn’t want to be remembered for it.
But nothing beats experience in life. Costa brings a lot of it from the top of football, with Chelsea and Atletico. A striker from the wrong side of 30 will have to be very special if he is going to score goals in our league. I think Costa will.