The real-life tales of a football writer
I met Jordi Cruyff yesterday in Barcelona. The city is not a good place to be for a Manchester United fan and flags celebrating Barça’s treble fluttered outside the bar as we did the second part of a big interview for my next book.
Jordi has a great life story and he’s bright too, though he admits that he was frequently an “a**hole” when he warmed the bench at Manchester United.
Ryan Giggs describes Jordi as the most talented he ever saw in training, but Jordi only realised that talent after leaving United.
"Man, you're good"
Now 35, Jordi will leave for Malta on Friday, where he’s signed a contract to be player/assistant manager for Valletta.
He was telling me about his best friend Roberto Martinez, the next Wigan Athletic manager. Both are Catalan and Roberto was playing at Wigan when Jordi was at Old Trafford.
Roberto helped lift Jordi out of the fog of depression and the pair did university degrees in Manchester to kill those dull afternoons after training.
I received an email from North Carolina, from someone with a theory about Cruyff’s former Dutch team-mate Edwin van der Sar.
The person – or should that be wild conspiracy theorist? - was convinced that United’s goalkeeper had taken a bribe from the Italian mafia not to save Leo Messi’s goal in the European Cup final.
He was deadly serious and his colour-by-numbers detective work referenced the fact that Van der Sar once played for Juventus, who are from Italy - the same country as the Mafia.
He wants me to put it to Van der Sar. Not a chance.
I was incredulous, but he wasn’t alone. We had an email last month from someone who claimed to have inside information that the Premier League were shifting fixtures around to stop Manchester United from winning the title.
The man copied me in on correspondence between him and Richard Scudamore, with one email beginning ‘Dear Scudamore’.
"This correspondent is bonkers"
I’ve been writing a lot about Kaka’s move to Madrid.
Last week, the brilliant Brazilian said the following: “I’ll say it for the last time, the last time, I don’t want to leave Milan. In this period I prefer to remain silent because I don’t want to be misunderstood. To the millions of Milan supporters, I say that I have made my choice. I have said what I want to stay. Leave me in peace, please.”
This week he moved to Madrid.
We’ve also sent the final United We Stand of the season to the printers. Or we were going to, until the printers went bust. We found new printers quickly and everyone grafted to get the edition finished.
To celebrate we’re all going to see Looking For Eric when it opens this week in Manchester at the Cornerhouse, a charitable independent cinema where Cantona escaped from the media hounding him following his Selhurst Park altercation with Mathew Simmonds.
Eric would have escaped from Manchester a lot earlier if what his close mate Jordi Cruyff told me is true…
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looks like Kaka may have a new team mate !!
I hear looking for eric is quite good
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