As a young star-struck kid, like most of my peers, my unswerving ambition was to meet some of my heroes (all footballers needless to say), get an autograph… a photograph even, and become the envy of my football crazy mates.
It never actually happened though! My being in Dublin and my heroes hanging-out in Manchester didn’t help and, in truth, I never actually had a cohesive strategy…just a distant dream.
As you get older of course you get a bit more picky, especially when you find yourself older than many (Oh all right then!…all) of the current crop of heroes. Surely these overpaid kids with attitude would not live-up to the image you have managed to create in your head. Meeting them is less of a priority, in fact something to be avoided! Some older heroes stay on the agenda though, true legends who could still render you speechless.
But for most of our readers, untarnished by cynicism and time, you’ll still be plotting ways to get that treasured memento. So I’m here to help you out…to get a strategy as it were…so you’ll not remain forever a dreamer as I was.
I’ve come-up with the 10 best ways for you to pursue your goal, but I must warn you….none of them are easy,…some demand serious commitment, while money (loads of it) will be useful for others.
Number 1: On the Pitch
Note: Requires extreme nerve; be prepared for bruising, arrest and caution.
Yes, there is nowhere more certain in terms of finding football players than on the pitch (dates and times advertised liberally in the media). But do you have the cojones for such a venture? Well Dutch courage can certainly help here. Get down the pub early and if you’re smart you’ll have some serious currency bet in advance. No point in being called an idiot by Andy Gray without a good return after all!
And most important of all…forget this at your peril… as you can’t depend on mainstream TV coverage… get a mate in the crowd to video your exploits. After all you’ll need evidence to call in those bets! Now this Utd. fan at Bolton remembered the brief and had all the pieces in place…..except he forgot his mate would be as pissed as he was and the video tells its own story. Would you pay-out on this evidence??
This Barca fan manages to get all the way to Ronaldinho. Not a toothy grin in sight from the concerned Brazilian as his suitor is man-handled away.
And Barca again…must be something in the sangria! I take my hat off to this guy though!
But if you’ve got the body and the talent then cojones are not required…you’re a shoe-in to score..even in bare feet!
Number 2: Bars and Clubs
Note: Requires wads of cash and some charisma
Yes, unlike the good old days when you might rub shoulders with players down the local boozer, today’s lot hang out in exclusive places where mere mortals like us, should we dare to present ourselves at the door, are regarded with utter distain by the 300 pound gorilla in a suit blocking our path. But there are ways around this!
Roll-up in a Porsche/Ferrari/Bentley, wearing an Armani suit (or a little black number showing plenty of leg…if you’re a girl…or a cross-dresser) and flash a hundred quid note as you offer your hand to the bouncer. Guaranteed you’ll be good to go!
Once in you’ll have to do your own work of course. If you’re male you can always track your target to the gents…but don’t use the “what a big dick” line as it could be misinterpreted, unless of course it’s Joey Barton and you fancy a rumble.
If you’re female I suggest using all of your assets. I’m not saying get them out but, assuming they’re prominent, don’t hide your light under a bushel (as it were) and if there’s a stage with a poll, request something raunchy from the DJ and get sliding! (If the DJ refuses to co-operate throw three punches but only connect with two…magistrates don’t seem to have a problem with this approach and all charges will be dropped!)
However, if you can’t get your hands on the wheels, the suit or the bribe you can always hang around outside with the paparazzi and freeze your cojones off (yes I’m getting that word in as often as possible here…cause I like it!)
So where are these clubs and bars I hear you ask? Well if you live in the London area here is a guide to some guaranteed hits. If you live elsewhere…do your own research!
Number 3: Go to Jail
Note: Extreme, you’ll need to be a nutter…and, yes, there are a few who come on here!
Well why not? Enough players end up there! Timing will be the issue here. If one of your favourite players gets busted and you’re sure he’s ‘going down’ then you’ll need to act fast.
Firstly, select your crime (if you live in Liverpool, burgling the player’s house could be a real ice breaker when you meet up in the nick!) But make sure you commit the crime it in a jurisdiction that is likely to see you incarcerated in the same place…don’t get this wrong… instead of doing porridge with (say) Stephen Gerrard you could be in with Percy and Pauli, two six foot five tattoo artists who are missing their ‘girlfriends’.
I only recommend this option to the seriously desperate/deluded. However, here are some of the autographs you could have collected in the past if you followed this strategy.
Number 4: At Home.
Their homes that is!
Note: Requires patience, deception and charisma.
Another obvious option! There are various ways to approach this. It’s easy enough to find out where they live (just get yourself a date with Rosie Lambert and push her buttons…..guaranteed she’ll spill). Tap-up the Real Estate Agent
Once you get there though you’ll need a plan. Hanging around outside won’t do as that puts you in my stalker category and anyway you’ll only get a glimpse of your hero as a Mercedes speeds through the gates and down a driveway so long that the house is probably in a different county. You might get lucky if they stop to collect the mail but are hardly likely to engage them before a panic button has you rugby tackled by security. No, this strategy needs more analysis.
How about, having found the address, you apply for a job as a nanny, cook, security guard, gardener, chauffeur etc. etc.? Bit of a long shot but imagine the exposure if you succeed! But then there’s the risk the player is transferred. Nah! Too much trouble. Only an option for the seriously besotted (read dangerous).
But if you want a closer look at some footballers pads here you go.
Number 5: On Holdiay.
Note: Good sources and planning essential. Luck and cash a bonus.
In the good old days you could roll-up at a beach in Majorca on a sunny June afternoon and expect a kick about with several pro footballers, adjourn to the pub for a night of fun and even feed off the scraps of their female entourage…if you had good lines or were just plain lucky. But wait… weren’t they the days when none of us could afford to holiday in Majorca?
These days it’s usually the elite locations, which most of us still can’t afford. An exclusive villa in the Seychelles is the Beckhams’ latest choice….imagine the security… no way will Becks be photographed ever again wearing a sarong!
But, surprisingly, many footballers still frequent locations we can all access. It’s a game of chance though. Unless your sources are first class you won’t hear anything about it until you read the News of the World and find that your hero had a mishap…always involving sex, drugs or Rock and Roll violence.
Yes, you can meet them on holidays and they may not be coherent but it could be one hell of a night. Worst case scenario you’ll make a packet from the British tabloids for selling the story!
Number 6: Restaurants.
Note: only requires minor research and luck.
OK, I accept…bloody boring. So let’s get this one over with quickly. It’s easy to get a list of the best restaurants in town. The tabloids or your ‘sources’ will let you know who eats where…and then it’s down to chance …..unless you can afford to eat there every night of the week until your hero turns up.
Once spotted you can sidle up to him politely and ask for an autograph while his date/wife subtly adjusts her top to stop you getting an eyeful.
However, for a bit of excitement ignore the fine dining joints and head to McDonalds in the early hours. Burger and biffs are the favourite order! Yes, it’s good old Joey again…I think he’s had a mention in my last 4 articles…remarkable!
Number 7: Driving
Note: Requires a set of wheels….or maybe not…?
These days footballers’ cars are not that hard to spot. If it doesn’t cost over 100k it’s not worth getting behind the wheel! You could do a whole article on footballers’ cars alone!
Anyway, a couple of trips down the training grounds will get you familiar with who has what and you can even write down registration numbers just to be sure. Then it’s just a case of lying in wait down the road and as your target cruises by taking-off in hot pursuit.
At this point you’ll need to decide between the benign and the bad! The benign approach is to wait until you hit a red light, jump from your vehicle and tap on your hero’s window. He’ll either: speed-off in terror, risking life and limb; produce a can of Mace and leave you gasping on the highway or, possibly, roll-down the window and obligingly give you an autograph. It’s a crap shoot but you can probably read the guys who’ll oblige.
The ‘bad’ on the other hand involves bumping your target from behind (make sure this is done at low revs). He’ll be out of his car with a speed you’ll not recognize from his performances on the pitch, demanding your insurance details. This is where you go all ‘hero-worship’ (dropping to the ground and bowing is recommended). If he’s a decent bloke he’ll shrug, tell you it’s only a scratch which 5 minutes wages will cover, offer you an autograph and a handshake and, if you’ve excelled at the groveling, he may even throw in a couple of match tickets.
However, if you’re one of our younger readers and don’t drive there’s no need to despair. Follow the above procedure but lie in wait behind a parked vehicle as your hero approaches. Timing is critical here as potential death or serious injury come into the equation. Leap out in front of the car and hope he brakes in time. After that he’ll be so relieved he’ll offer you a season ticket for life (mumble something about the tabloids to speed-up this process.)
But I must warn you, this strategy is risky. This kid not only got a double leg fracture but he also got the car wrong. How gutted was he, as a Man Utd. fan, when Stephen Gerrard alighted from the vehicle?
Number 8: Stalking.
Note: Only for the mentally disturbed….yes, plenty of them on here!
No need to actually meet your hero when you can build-up a complete fantasy relationship in your head…now is there? Find out the players movements and follow him around. Make lewd accusations to get yourself noticed…getting his mobile number will be a huge step forward…better still his home number so you can upset the WAG!
Before you know it you’ll be in the tabloids, have a restraining order against you and maybe even end up in court with the full attention of your chosen victim. Ah yes, an excellent strategy for the crazies out there!
But don’t end up like this poor woman whatever you do.
Sad Stalker Story
I wonder who that player was?
Number 9: Become a WAG
Note: requires extreme dedication and great looks…personality optional.
The rules that go with this one are legion and I’m seriously under-qualified to offer advice…but I know where you can find it.
Follow all or any of my other tips to get noticed (ensuring you are looking your most ravishing at all times…..goes without saying really) and once in do as the video says…you can’t go wrong!
A little warning though, once you’re in you’ll need a thick skin to cope. Here’s a sample of what to expect!
What to Expect from the Press (Yes, I know you’ve had a lot of reading to do but this is a quality article!)
Number 10: By Chance
Note: Need to be lucky.
My own personal favourite, and not just because I’ve been dying to tell you my treasured little anecdote! Well OK, it IS because of that, but once you hear it you’ll want to tell all of your friends…guaranteed!
Now my all time hero in football is, always was, and always will be the legend that was Bestie! Old enough to have seen him play, having read every book written by or about the man and having had his picture poster in pride of place on my bedroom wall throughout my childhood years….he’s my undisputed Number 1 hero in football!
So there I was in 2001 on the Kings Road in Chelsea. I had been over for a business thing on Friday and my darling wife joined me for the weekend. We did the usual stuff and with a couple of hours to kill before our flight home we wandered into Henry J Beans pub/restaurant on the Kings Road for some light refreshment before our trip. The bar end (at the front) was deserted and we perched ourselves on a couple of high stools facing the 3m high frosted glass doors. As I pondered the lack of a creamy head on my beer the doors opened and a track-suited figure appeared (yes it was literally an apparition…I thought!)
Said figure stood and perused the surroundings. With us being the only living creatures in sight his glance fell our way and I nodded, receiving a smile and a friendly nod in return. Th..tha…that….that’s Bestie! I squeaked as my wife stooped to lift my jaw from the floor.
Bestie was quickly followed into the premises by his wife and father (I knew the whole family naturally!) and they took refuge in an alcove to our left. I played it cool (if you can ever be cool while shaking like a leaf) and waited for the great man to take a trip to the lavatory (reconnaissance had already established that it was just behind us.)
As Bestie returned I said “George…any chance?” as I proffered a sheet of hotel paper and a pen. He obliged smilingly, and, as I knew from reading about him, didn’t engage in conversation (leads to trouble too many times.)
Afterwards my wife caught the flight back to Dublin while I flew home unaided! I rang all my mates the next day to gloat.
Finally a childhood dream realized, 30 years on! May he rest in peace!
Right, dry your eyes and get over it!
So there you have it! There’s absolutely no excuse for you not meeting your goal and if you succeed I want to hear about it (in some cases I’ll want a percentage!)
So who have you met and how? Bet you can’t top my Bestie story!
Editor:Sometimes meeting a footballer can turn into a whole different story.