Mitten in Milan: outcasts, communists & best-sellers

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Greetings from the murk of Milan, where I’ve finally seen United get a win in the San Siro.

I’m meeting a Milan season ticket holder shortly who gave us a fascinating interview for the current United We Stand.

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Asked to name his best ever Milan team from players he’d seen, he came up with: Sebastiano Rossi, Mauro Tassotti, Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta, Franco Baresi (captain), Roberto Donadoni, Frankie Rijkaard, Marco van Basten, Kakà, Andriy Shevchenko.

Not a bad side, eh?

Later, I’ll fly to Sao Paulo ahead of an interview with Socrates and the Sao Paulo derby on Sunday.

I went flat out to get things done before the Milan trip.

Finally did the interview with Gerard Pique and received a lovely email from the footballer James Scowcroft. He told me that he’s a United fan and subscribes to UWS.

“I used to play for Ipswich in the 90s,” he wrote modestly. “We once met in Leicester.”

He was at Crystal Palace last season and now plays at Leyton Orient.

Scowcroft is a United fan (his dad is from Gorton, where Nicky Butt grew up) and will write a piece about being a United fan and professional footballer.

“There’s a few of us,” he continued. “Including Nicky Summerbee, but he can’t go to games.”

If Summerbee feels that he’ll get abuse for his City connections, I’ll take him in K Stand myself and make sure the lads look after him.

Imagine being a fan of a club and not being able to go to matches.

Summerbee and his bedroom wallpaper

Summerbee’s dad Mike is great friends with Paddy Crerand, who I met last night in Milan.

When he wasn’t arguing with hacks about communism, he asked me what the badge was on my coat.

“It’s a Glasgow Rangers supporters’ club I’m setting up,” I lied, as his brain clicked into ‘kill’ mode.

“A what?!” he fumed.

The publishers of Glory Glory called on Friday.

It’s done alright and has already made a profit, but the bookshop Borders going bust and problems with Waterstone’s computer system hampered book sales across the board during the key Christmas market.

I guess I should have been pleased, what with the recession and all that, but I put my heart and soul into that book and so did many of the players.

Not one of them needed to tell me as much as they did. I travelled Europe, flew to Stockholm for Blomqvist and drove to Marseille for Cantona.

Then I worked my socks off promoting it. So, I probably hoped for more than the 5,000 copies sold so far in hardback, no matter how many people point out that is a success.

Oh well.

On the book-tour circuit...

Three days later, TalkSport called. “Can we set up an interview about your book? We’d like to do it in a studio and do it in-depth.”

“Fine,” I replied, “but why the interest now? The book’s been out since October.”

“Have you seen Paddy Barclay’s column in today’s Times?”

I hadn’t, but I was delighted when I did.

Emails started to come in. Someone suggested that I look on Amazon, where I found the book was doing rather well. In fact it was number 1 in the football section. Number 1!

I work alone and had nobody to tell.

My fiancée came back from the supermarket to find me singing ‘Viva Ronaldo!’ for reasons I still don’t fully understand. He’s not even in the book.

And I’m not sure what the Catalan neighbours must have thought either, hearing songs about a Real Madrid player at 11am on a Monday morning.

“Times readers buy books,” pointed out one friend.


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