It’s a wet and dreary Sunday afternoon in London. Centre Point, a towering office building on New Oxford Street, has turned into a bloody battleground. It’s urban warfare, but there are no guns, only control pads.
The UK’s top 64 Pro Evolution Soccer players have converged upon the skyscraper to decide who will be travelling to Rome to conquer Europe.
Tucked away in a room away from the action is West Ham’s pocket dynamo and self confessed PES buff Mark Noble. FourFourTwo.com has tracked him down to talk football – Pro Evo and the real deal.
FourFourTwo.com understands that you used to get a lot of stick off your mates for your character not being on PES?
Yeah that’s true. I had played a few games for the West Ham first team and my mates said: “You might be on this one,” but I wasn’t so they gave me loads of stick and I was determined to get on the game. I’ve been on it the last few years so they haven’t got any more ammo, especially when I play against them as myself and score a couple of goals. It’s nice to rub it in.
Is PES popular on West Ham away trips?
Everyone loves it. I took my PlayStation away for pre-season and I said to George McCartney that we’d play all the way up until we left and whoever won the most games won £100. I think it was 30 games to me 25 to him, so I took his money off him, which is always pleasing.
I was Inter Milan and he was Barcelona. I had Adriano and you could shoot from anywhere with him and it went in. His powerful shots bailed me out a few times.”
Who's the best player you’ve played with?
Carlos Tevez or Teddy Sheringham. Their touch, movement off the ball and vision set them apart from the rest. Both players are pure class. They’ve got that ‘football brain’. Craig Bellamy has also shown me he is a great player when he’s fully fit. Scotty Parker has also really impressed me since joining West Ham.
And the best player you’ve played against?
Paul Scholes or Tugay. Everything Scholes did was class – he’s just a great footballer and I couldn’t get near him. It seems like he’s just got so much time on the ball. Every time I’ve played against Tugay he’s dropped deep to collect the ball. He seemed to be in possession all the time and never gave it away.
Old Trafford or The Emirates. They’re both great places to play and I’ve won at them both.
And the worst ground?
Ewood Park. Not because it’s a horrible ground, but every time I’ve played there I’ve been rubbish.
Most embarrassing moment?
When we won promotion from the Championship to the Premier League (2004/05) we had an open-top bus take us from Newham Town Hall to Upton Park. During the celebrations I was holding up the Play-Off Winners’ trophy and Don Hutchinson pulled down my trousers in front of 25,000 people. That will always stick in my mind.
Who gives you banter during the game?
No one really, but when I played against James Harper (Reading) last season he commentated on the game while we were playing. At first I thought he was bantering, and to this day I don’t know if he was or he wasn’t, but he talked through the game and you’d get near him you’d be thinking “Who’s he talking to?” It was quite off putting. That has to be one of my strangest moments in football.
Most skilful player you've played with?
It’s going to surprise you, but I’d say Javier Mascherano. He used to nutmeg people for fun in training.
Who's got the best taste in music?
Scott Parker plays some good stuff in the dressing room. He’s into Elton John and Prince and I like that kind of stuff. I’m not in to rap or hip-hop.
Worst taste in music?
It has to be Robert Green because he’s always moaning about what’s being played. I think he’s into all that indie music.
Who's the most intelligent in the dressing room?
It’s got to be Jonathan Spector. He’s always reading the Financial Times and seems to know his stuff. He’s only a year older than me but he acts like he’s 35.
And the least intelligent?
Carlton Cole without a doubt. Some of the stuff he comes out with is unbelievable.
John Pantsil (who's since moved to Fulham). He’s an absolute nutter and loved tackling. I swear he’s made of mental – nothing seemed to hurt him. He’d be so clumsy in the tackle in training, but never get hurt.
Who's the worst dressed?
It’s got to be Specs (Jonathan Spector) again. He dresses like an old man – I swear he gets his clothes knitted for him.
Joker in the pack?
We’ve had a lot of funny people leave the club – Bobby Zamora was hilarious, John Pantsil was crazy and Anton Ferdinand was funny too. Lee Bowyer has got some good banter, but at the moment I’d say Jimmy Walker.
Who's the flashiest?
Julien Faubert wears some really flash gear – right lairy. He thinks it looks good but I’m not so sure.
Coley (Carlton Cole) again. Whenver we play away he gets the programme and looks at pictures of himself. Funny thing is he thinks he’s really good looking. Not sure where he got that idea from.
If you were stranded on a desert island which one of your team-mates would you take with you?
Lee Bowyer because he likes fishing and he could catch us food to eat. Plus, he’s pretty funny so he’d keep me entertained.