I spoke to Jordi Cruyff yesterday, a star of the 1996 European Championships. His performances for Holland - mainly a scooped goal against Switzerland - and a low transfer fee as he was effectively pushed out of Barcelona, were enough to earn him a move to Manchester United, although things could have worked out better for a player Ryan Giggs described as the best heÃ¢ÂÂs ever seen technically. On the training ground.
Jordi joined United from his hometown club of Barcelona. IÃ¢ÂÂve long since forgiven him for setting up Hristo Stoichkov for BarcaÃ¢ÂÂs first goal in their 4-0 rout of United in November 1994 and we keep in touch. He spent two years injured between 2004-06 and weÃ¢ÂÂd meet for a coffee as his private hospital was near my house.
Like his old man, Jordi is outspoken, bright, articulate and interesting. He once told me: Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm like a bear. I sleep in the winter and IÃ¢ÂÂm wide awake and hungry in the summer - ready to play. I always got injured in November. Some said I wasnÃ¢ÂÂt strong enough to play in the Premiership. Rubbish. My strong point was not playing with my back to the goal, but dribbling towards goal.Ã¢ÂÂ
Jordi in his Euro 96 pomp
HeÃ¢ÂÂs just finished a two-year contract playing in the Ukrainian first division for Metalurh Donetsk and heÃ¢ÂÂs looking for a Mediterranean club to play out the final year of his career.
I was not in any way trying to coax him into playing for one such club, Manchester La Fianna. No, honestly. The sight of him playing for us would finish off some of the less enlightened minds in our league whose noses were put seriously out of joint when a newspaper did a big, soft, feature on us (and not them?) ahead of the Barcelona vs Man United game. TheyÃ¢ÂÂd have a seizure if Jordi did sign and his dad came to watch him play.
Jordi was laughing about how all the media have started to highlight Andrei Arshavin, when heÃ¢ÂÂs known about his talents for five years. He was convinced that Real Madrid had already done a deal with Ronaldo and are now trying to drive the transfer fee down Ã¢ÂÂlike they always doÃ¢ÂÂ by saying that Ronaldo wants to leave. Ã¢ÂÂUnited should hold out for Ã¢ÂÂ¬100 million,Ã¢ÂÂ Cruyff added.
He considers himself Catalan, Spanish and Dutch and wanted Spain to beat Russia. Which they did, displaying great confidence. Arshavin had an off day, as did the cameraman whose job it is to pick out pretty girls in the crowd.
Maybe someoneÃ¢ÂÂs had a word, because until last night every game has been accompanied by gratuitous shots of gorgeous girls. Last night we had Princess Leitizia of Spain. The Princess is lovely in the same way that Natasha Kaplinsky is nice. Or Fiona Bruce. Or that French anchor Melissa Theuriau, the Zidane of newsreaders.
Theuriau: Better looking than Huw Edwards. Probably...
Before becoming a princess Leitizia actually read the news in Spain so youÃ¢ÂÂd always trust her. It would be good to go out with a newsreader. They are bright, pretty and there would be no problem introducing them to your friends and family. A bit high maintenance maybe and they would probably be appalled seeing your mates singing anti-Liverpool songs, but you could live with that.
IÃ¢ÂÂve seen some of the Brazilian ones and itÃ¢ÂÂs actually impossible to concentrate on the news. Though thatÃ¢ÂÂs partly because I canÃ¢ÂÂt speak Portuguese. My mind is wanderingÃ¢ÂÂ¦ anyone want to help me organise a newsreader World Cup?
Given that no team from the British Isles would reach the finals, we could start with a home nations (plus Ireland to include Sharon NÃÂ BheolÃÂ¡in). I can visualise it now: Kirsty Young (Scotland) vs Katie Derham (England); Sharon NÃÂ BheolÃÂ¡in (Ireland) vs Sara Edwards (Wales). We could stage it at somewhere central like the Pirelli Stadium in Burton or, or my house.
(10 minutes later)
Where was I?