David Preece: The lifting of the World Cup has become a bit of a shambles

There can't be many people who watched France's World Cup celebrations and immediately thought of George Michael.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 17:37
France celebrate with the trophy after winning the World Cup.

It’s probably the same number of people who, in their post World Cup misery, were scrolling through pictures of sad monkeys, chimps and apes just to cement the feeling of despair you get when the fun is finally over. When the fun stops, it really does stop with a depressing bang to earth.

Yes, I know the new season has already started for those unlucky enough not to play in a league deemed good enough for automatic entry to the Champions League or unluckier still to find themselves in the Europa League, and the actual league season is a mere 15 days away, but a fortnight is a long time without meaningful football. And it’s even longer if, like me, you’re too old to fill that two-week gap by playing Fortnite.

SAFC coverage in association with John Hogg Fwd: Hogg

For the record, Antoine Greizmann is too old to still be using a dance from a game played by teenage boys who haven’t yet discovered they have a new, much better “hobby” to while away the last of their adolescent years.

I’d only just come around to his original celebration and now he changes it up again with the “Take the L”. I know what he’s taking and it’s not “the L”.

You’ll have to excuse me. The dad in me comes out like this from time to time.

Although I’m much less “Yer da” than I used to be. I’ve relaxed my opinions on handshakes and dabbing. Heung-Min Son and Paul Pogba proving that as long as you are producing the goods on the pitch, you can get away with anything.

If anything, I’m only jealous. I only wish I was having as much fun during my career as they seem to be with theirs, so fair play to them.

In fact, in an effort to be more like the modern day footballer, I’ve started spending my days playing Donkey Kong and videoing myself doing the Macarena. If only I’d been born 20 years later, I could have nailed this football lark properly.

On Sunday night though, it wasn’t any of those things that irritated me. Not even Griezmann’s dance. If anything, I felt a tinge of disappointed that Pogba HADN’T died his hair, if only for the inevitable post-match fallout if he hadn’t produced the goods. No, as the Wham! superstar once wrote, “Something’s bugging me, something ain’t right.” and it was something that took the shine off France’s celebrations for me.

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It wasn’t the torrential rain that quite literally put a dampener on the occasion. If anything, the rain had brought a little comedy to proceeding’s as both the French and Croatian Presidents were drenched by the downpour.

Maybe I’m being a little pedantic but the lifting of the trophy has become a bit of a shambles in recent years, don’t you think? What should be an iconic moment in the game has turned in for a free-for-all. Honestly, what should be the pinnacle of any season or tournament is now indistinguishable from Wrestlemania.

Perhaps that’s it. I don’t particularly like wrestling and the fact I’m reminded of it grates on me even more. Bt it’s not just that. I want the moment to be memorable, as I’m sure every captain that is handed the trophy would want it to be. Football is a team game but the role of captain elevates you just slightly above the rest of the side.

When things go wrong, when you lose or perform badly, as captain it’s your direction which most of the first fingers of blame are pointed at. When things aren’t going well, you are the one on the pitch that your teammates look to for guidance. It’s in the contract when your agree to take the armband and it’s the reason why some players feel they can’t take the burden that comes with responsibility. It weighs heavy, like carrying a dumbbell on to the pitch and that’s why, when this moment arrives, you deserve the space to lift that trophy aloft alone.

Poor Hugo Lloris didn’t get his iconic moment. You aren’t world champions until that trophy has been help in the air and kissed but who will, remember this one? It isn’t Maradona cherishing his chance too freeze time and kiss that golden globe with more love than his own kids and with more passion than his own wife and everyone else’s wife he has kissed.

There was a brief moment when it looked as if he would be left alone, to allow the cameras to catch the splendour of a solitary figure holding the most stunning trophy in world sport but he was crowded out and slipped backwards into near irrelevance amongst the crowd as players moved forward to ensure they didn’t miss out on their piece of the limelight. As if that would ever happen, given the coverage they provide themselves on social media.

When you think of the greats, Bobby Moore, Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer, you see them holding the trophy aloft. It’s one of the ultimate images of sporting glory.

Personally I blame Solamon Kalou and Florent Malouda for starting this particular fire inside of me. I remember watching the handing over of the 2009/10 Premier League trophy to John Terry and Frank Lampard and as it was held up to celebrate they both tried to grab the trophy. One of the few times in Terry’s career he didn’t get his elbows up to protect himself.

So, yes I admit it shouldn’t rile me and it will make no difference to the players themselves, but I want my memories to be as special as those of Maradona at Mexico 86. I might not be able to remember the scoreline or the goalscorers, but I can picture El Diego with a look in his eyes of complete and utter life accomplishment and I just wanted to see it in Hugo’s.

Because that’s how I pictured it when I dreamt about lifting it myself too.