Ian Plenderleith looks at players who reveal a small insight into their lives on the web
I’ve always had a bit of a thing about Bixente Lizarazu, and not just because of his qualities as an attacking full-back. There’s something boyish and innocent about his face, as if he would never, ever stamp on an opponent or sign for a new club because they were offering him an extra ten grand a week. Even when he moved to the hated Bayern Munich, I couldn’t help but want him to do well.
With some trepidation I approached his website, ready to have all my illusions glassed. But no, Bixente can stay my hero. On nicely designed pages he says he cares about the pollution of the seas (though he cites as his No 1 reason that it’s very dangerous for the health of surfers, among whose number we can count the diminutive defender), and he names Françoise Hardy and Mano Negra among his fave pop acts.
Even his dislikes – impolite people and cats, for example – merely serve to confirm the impression of football’s most mild and malleable good guy. Now, if only he would leave Bayern. The thought of him sharing a pint with Stefan Effenberg, one of the impolitest people in Europe, just doesn’t seem right.
Bixente’s international team-mate Zinedine Zidane broke the news of his transfer to Real Madrid on his own website, and was wonderfully evasive when it came to discussing the financial aspect of the deal. “A while back, I had said that the amount of money was enormous and that I was not worth that much,” he wrote on the day of the transfer. “It is indeed a lot of money. I am fully aware of that and my thoughts on the matter have not changed. But, on the other hand, Real Madrid did it.” Poor lad, just a helpless pawn in the international footballer slave trade.
That’s about as controversial as Zizou’s site gets, unless you count his view that Formula 1 motor racing is a bit less interesting than it used to be. The poll on what visitors thought of the Juve move left little option for dissent (“It won’t be easy,” was the nearest), so I decided to abstain on the grounds that there was no box marked: “Obscene waste of cash motivated by excess of greed on the part of all concerned.”
The charming Ronald De Boer uses his personal diary to attack Patrick Vieira for describing former team-mate Giovanni van Bronckhorst as merely a “hopeful”, although the tone of his own earlier column entitled “Bronckhorst Is Better Than Lampard” is scarcely more polite.
More intriguingly, he casts a peculiar slant on the Scottish and Dutch psyches. “I didn’t know what Scottish people were like before I came to Rangers, but I like them,” he opines. “They seem a bit like Dutch people in that they seem well brought-up, friendly and are very respectful towards their fellow human beings. I like that a lot.” Yes, you’d never catch a Scotsman or a Dutchman going so low as to describe someone as merely a hopeful.
From WSC 175 September 2001. What was happening this month