Former Reading, Newcastle, West Ham and Portsmouth goalkeeper – and one-time NASA intern – Shaka 'Neil' Hislop answers silly questions for FourFourTwo in March 2010.
Hi Shaka. You've got a Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and once trained with NASA. Given this, do you think Petr Cech should wear a different hat in goal now and again?
Hi. I think he definitely should! That black hat is getting a bit boring. Let's start colour co-ordinating, Petr, make a bit of a fashion statement.
Yeah! What about a knight's helmet?
I wouldn't go that far. Let's stick to new colours for now.
You're probably right. Now: some actual science. Is the moon pointless?
The moon doesn't really have a purpose. I'm sure we could happily do away with it. Although it's quite nice for entertaining the kids when you're driving at night. It keeps them quiet. They stare, you tell them stories.
Which is the worst planet?
Uranus. It's got a bad name, and it lives up to it. And Pluto has been downgraded to a dwarf planet. It's tough when you're small. Poor old Pluto.
What did you do as a NASA intern? Brew up for the boffins?
They didn't drink much tea. Basically I attended meetings, and – excuse the pun – it all went over my head. They didn't let me go on the machines.
Were you ever tempted to push random buttons and levers?
Always! They'd say to me: "Shaka! Don't press that big red button, whatever you do!" It was no fun.
Humbug. Now, according to the 'urban dictionary', a 'Shaka' is a Hawaiian hand gesture where you extend thumb and pinky and wave them foolishly in the air. Ever indulged?
I only became aware of this about a year ago. My brother Kali went to Hawaii, and told me that everyone was doing the Shaka over there. It was exciting. But I've never done a Shaka myself.
Are you a handshake man?
In the Caribbean we touch fists. We were doing that long before Barack Obama.
What's worse: a limp handshake or a death grip?
They're equally wrong. There's something terrible about a limp shake – it says a little bit too much. At the other end of the scale, the crusher is trying a too hard to prove his manliness.
How would you rate your handshake?
It's between the two: just enough handshake to know I'm there, not enough to overpower you. It's a fine balance.
As a stargazer, is it true that Pisces – your sign – is a kind soul, but quite gullible?
I've never really paid star signs any mind, but that is actually spot-on.
Could we dupe you into buying a Spanish timeshare?
You certainly could. I'm a sucker. I once went to get my car radio fixed, and by the time I got out the showroom I'd put a down payment on a convertible Maserati and a Mercedes. Luckily I didn't buy either in the end.
A narrow escape! Now, your first name is Neil. Why did you adopt your middle name Shaka?
You'll have to ask my mum. She wanted to name her first boy Neil, but I've always been known by my middle African name, Shaka. My brothers are the same: Terrance Kona and a Brian Kali.
Would you be different if you'd gone through life with the name Neil?
Very probably. Neil and Shaka Hislop would be very different people. But I've got nothing against the Neils of this world. I'm not an enemy of the Neils.
Do you like the funky grooves of Chaka Khan?
I do, although when I was about 15 that song Rock Me Chaka Khan came out, and I couldn't go 10 minutes without someone singing it in my face. Too much.
Oven gloves or teatowel?
A teatowel. The oven glove belongs alongside the limp handshake.
Finally: which species of animal would be most useless helping in the kitchen?
I guess dogs would be pretty pointless. With a bird or a chicken or something, they may not be much help, but at least you could cook them if they weren't pulling their weight.
Wise, wise words. Thanks, Shaka. We'll be in touch about that timeshare.
Interview: Nick Moore. From the March 2010 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!