Wednesday, June 25, 2008
An Ode to Arshavin
Ha! So there, naysayers. The semi-final is always the canary in the mine for these international gatherings, and you know that when UEFA or whomever on the web with a rudimentary knowledge of iMovie eulogizes this glorious tournament in the form of second rate, poorly edited remembrance vids to be downloaded, stolen, and uploaded in grainy, Japanese-subtitled representations on Youtube and the rest, they will include Turkey over the course of their group, quarter and semi-final games in a quick-edited package featuring the dulcet tones of Orff, or at least, half-insultingly, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Turkey lost but should have won or at least dragged the thing to pens, and now the icing on the cake will hopefully be a rampant Arshavin proving himself the real deal, or at least the Rocky of the tourney by honourably losing to Germany in the final. Sorry Spain, but Villa lost me when he insulted us by fearing the sorriest Italian side in recent memory.
Some words on the forward-pushing Bare-Behind of the Russian squad: I posed the question to a certain Manchester-based newspaper podcast featuring a tall teetotaling Irish bloke and his balding, Italianate sidekick on whether Arshavin should be considered a genius after only two amazing performances and a well-won Cup against a coma-inducing Glaswegian ensemble earlier this year.
They answered, 'probably', and I'm inclined to agree. I like the kid (I'm 27 too, and I really am a kid, it's sad), and while we tend to think that major European clubs have a CIA like grip on the goings on in every school ground and backyard from Manitoba through to Mongolia, chances are the scouts simply saw him for yet another interesting, hard-playing but anonymous foreigner with a degree in fashion design.
Why? Perhaps because of the Russian emphasis on the team effort, Zenit St. Petersburg's Favourite Son took backstage to his glorious comrades in, er, feet. But this is only a poor stereotype, like most of what I throw up on this electronic dartboard.
Let's face it: this is football. I've seen Pele after Pele dance their way through a summer afternoon on parks and pitches across this country, unrecognized and un-in love with ambition and the infamous fame that tricks even 'the best' starting eleven into thinking their chance to play for pay had to do with fate and not folly.
Arshavin may be twenty-seven, he may be playing in a less than stellar league in a less than stellar footballing nation, but he is a kid in the sense that he plays to win, yet untouched by wags, whingeing, and wages. A stint at Tottenham will change all that to be sure, but we can be safe in the knowledge that his exploits, now freshly-witnessed, will still be out there for years to come, grainy and poorly edited, to be replayed and favourited by his undiscovered brethren still playing only for the good of the game.