Ask A Silly Question
FourFourTwo interviews football legends about life's endless comedy
Hello Jim. Which fellow sports anchorman would you least like to box: Steve Rider, Ray "Stubbdogg" Stubbs or Jeff Stelling
I wouldn’t fancy facing Stubbs. He’s got pedigree as a sportsman and I think he’d take the ITV-BBC rivalry to heart and batter me. I’d back myself against the other two. Rider I could take down easily. Easy. I’d be way too quick for him. And I have no fears of Stelling. He’s quick-witted on a Saturday afternoon but my footwork would be too quick for him in the ring.
How much can you bench press?
Not very much, I fear. I’m not really a gym person. I’m more of a runner, really. My squash is OK. I could defeat Rider, Stubbs or Stelling at squash.
Who’s the biggest celebrity you’ve vanquished on the squash court?
I gave John Barnes a good game once, and I beat the javelin thrower Steve Backley in Lanzarote once. He’s an Olympian and an enormous fella, like a brick wall, so it was quite a task to beat him. I didn’t keep quiet about the result afterwards, either. It’s a great game squash - used to be very popular - but they’ve turned all the squash courts into gyms now.
Cheese or chocolate?
Chocolate. I love the dark stuff – Cadbury’s Bourneville is delicious. I don’t dislike cheese, but I’m not one of these people who salivates when I see a cheeseboard.
Des Lynam, Dicky Davies, Ron Burgundy, many of the great anchors have grown moustaches. Have you ever been tempted to grow a lip-tickler?
You did say anchors there didn’t you? [chuckles] The only time I’ve let the facial hair go was when I had chicken pox. I caught it in my thirties, and I didn’t look too clever. I’m not bad with a week’s stubble, but then it starts to aggravate me. As for a moustache … I get enough stick without involving a moustache.
Briefs or boxer shorts?
My brief-wearing days are behind me. I’m sure my wife and anyone who’s seen me by the swimming would agree. I’m a boxers man. Stylish Calvin Kleins, mind: me and Calvin have had quite a close relationship for many years, but we’ve kept it quiet.
Have you ever presented Champions League Live without your Calvin Kleins on?
Unless there was a major malfunction in my wardrobe, or I woke up absolutely senseless, it wouldn’t happen. I can’t see many upsides to going commando for me. Below the waist I’ve never been tempted to experiment like that.
Are you jealous of Steve Rider’s incredible gravity-defying hair?
Not in the slightest. I’m comfortable with my own hair. I’m from a family of slapheads, they’re all bald, so I’m just glad that I’ve got some. I admire Steve’s skills as a broadcaster, but I’ve never tossed and turned at night wishing my barnet was as impressive as his.
You look a bit like Adam West, the old Batman. Have you ever donned a Batsuit?
I’m happy with that comparison. Baddiel and Skinner always used to call me Dracula, so Batman is a step up from that. But not even in sexual fantasies have I donned the Batsuit.
How do you think Mrs Rosenthal would react if you did enter the bedroom as Batman?
You can talk to her if you like. It’s not something she’d encourage. But who am I to say – it may be a whole new world.
Who would you chose as Robin: Gary Newbon or David Pleat?
I guess I’d go for Newbon. He’d be a trusty sidekick, although I’m not sure we’d achieve that much.
What special power would you most like to possess?
I’d like to be able to run around as much as I used to be able to, playing football.
That’s not a superpower, Jim. That’s fitness.
Well it seems beyond me at the moment. I’d go for super fitness.
Chris Kamara recently revealed he’s got a steam room at home. You’ve always sporting a fine tan. Do you have a solarium chez Rosenthal?
No, I’m not Ron Atkinson. My tan is pretty natural, I’ve just got back from Australia and I like to get out in the sun. I used to have a sauna in my house, but I haven’t at the moment. It was nice to relax there after running round the hills of Berkshire, but there were no mirrors in there, I can assure you.
What’s your poison, and how much can you drink before you fall over?
It must be 30 years since I’ve fallen over drunk, but I can put a few away. I like lager, red wine, champagne. I’ll give it a go, but my drinking contest days are over, mainly because the hangovers are such a bastard. My son out-drinks me these days.
Could Martin Brundle outdrink Andy Townsend?
The Champions League Live lot are probably bigger boozers than the F1 crowd. My gut feeling is that Townsend would win this one. I’ve never seen either of them wobbling around from the booze.
Have you ever got so drunk at the Uefa gala dinner that Mrs Rosenthal has locked you out the house and made you sleep in the garage?
Mrs Rosenthal would never do that, she’s a lovely woman. There was an ITV commentator that once came home to find his pork chop dinner on the doorstep. I’ve been home late on many occasions, but I’ve never had the “thou shalt not cross the threshold” treatment.
Mrs Rosenthal sounds like a terrific woman.
She is, we’ve done a few years together. She’s either remarkably tolerant, or completely indifferent.
Who had the worst cameo role in Footballer’s Wives – you, Sol Campbell or Jordan?
I was quite happy with mine. I did the cameo in Croydon on my birthday and played myself. They never invited me back, but I still get royalty cheques for £26 or something occasionally.
What are you having for tea tonight?
I’m going to have some fish at a restaurant in Islington with my son.
Your son the drunk?
All I said was he could outdrink me. He’s not a drunk.
Fair enough. What kind of fish are you going to have?
I’m not a seafood man, but I like the white fishes, so maybe a nice bit of plaice or sea bass.
When did you last break the law?
It would have been speeding I guess, although I didn’t get caught.
Was Martin Brundle sitting in the passenger seat goading you to go faster?
No. If you get in a car with these Formula One guys, you have to let them drive, and they don’t go slowly. I was driven by Mark Blundell (F1 driver) once, and he was doing about 150mph around central France in a Nissan Micra. And Fernando Alonso once sped me and my wife through Budapest, which was hair-raising. But you feel fairly safe because they know what they’re doing.
How much money would it take for you to drown a sack of kittens?
I love cats. We’ve got a lovely cat. Sammy, he was a stray. I would not enter into negotiations.
We’re talking big, big money here Jim. How does a million in unmarked bills sound?
No matter the rewards, I would not drown a sack of kittens.
Puppies. I’m no dog lover. But my wife is a big dog lover.
Mrs Rosenthal doesn’t need to be involved.
I’ve never knowingly killed an animal. But that’s big, big money. I don’t think I could put a gun to a dog’s head.
Whoa Jim, firearms were never mentioned…
I don’t think I can do it, anyway. I’m walking away from this negotiation.
You’re a good man, Jim.
Thanks. I’ve enjoyed this.
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