Ronaldinho, Kate Moss and The Stone Roses

IâÂÂd just left home for the 12-day trip to South Africa. Literally walked down the street, past BarcelonaâÂÂs Botafumeiro seafood restaurant, where a day earlier Adriano Galliani, Silvio BerlusconiâÂÂs right-hand man at Milan, had concluded the deal to take Ronaldinho to Italy with BarçaâÂÂs under fire President Joan Laporta and the buck-toothed Brazilian himself.

Manchester CityâÂÂs influence in European football has been so limited for over three decades that when Continental fans talk about âÂÂManchesterâ they mean United, but CityâÂÂs bid for Ronaldinho was more substantial than MilanâÂÂs and the Italians had to raise their offer by â¬5m to â¬21m.

IâÂÂve interviewed Ronaldinho over a dozen times and always got on well with him so IâÂÂm sad to see him go. He was unquestionably worthy of the many individual honours bestowed upon him, but Ronnie and the side he played for are a shadow of their 2006 world beating best. And we shouldnâÂÂt be surprised heâÂÂs left given BarçaâÂÂs history of losing their best players from Maradona to Ronaldo.

Ronnie ties up Milan move, accompanied by his minders 

Kate Moss spent a lot of time in Barcelona when things came on top for her in Britain a few years ago and she used to lunch daily in Botafumeiro. I never did catch up with the Croydon waif to discuss the uneasy juxtaposition of stands at Selhurst Park, but I did eat there once.

Yet with prawns costing about ã9 each (cue original âÂÂprawn sandwichâ comments from weapons whoâÂÂve got no idea about Manchester UnitedâÂÂs match-going culture) and that being before the pound became weaker than LiverpoolâÂÂs title challenges in the last 18 years, IâÂÂve swerved it since.

The text came a minute after IâÂÂd walked past the fabled restaurant. âÂÂIts Mani mate,â it said. âÂÂIm in barca and thought you might want the scoop of the w3k. Im playing 4 roses tunes with him for the 1st time in yonks. Could be a good interview opportunity geeza. Hope u r well. X. Mani.âÂÂ

My acquaintance with popular music stars is limited, though I did once sit behind Bonnie Langford on a flight back from the Faroe Islands. And play for Paul HeatonâÂÂs football team in December. But the Mani, of Stones Roses and Primal Scream fame, is a United fan and IâÂÂve known him for years. And the âÂÂhimâ in the text is Ian Brown. The pair are playing in Barcelona this weekend. âÂÂI would love to,â I replied. âÂÂBut IâÂÂm on the way to the airport to see United in South Africa.âÂÂ

âÂÂHave a good one. Champions of Europe,â he replied. So IâÂÂll miss out on the interview, but any Stone Roses fans reading may be interested.

When I started this blog, the editor said: âÂÂIf you have an hour in an airport then I want you to write a blog.â Six months on and this is my first blog written in an airport, terminal 2E of Charles De Gaulle (the Frenchman who once played a support striker role in Billy the Fish in Viz).

My flight to Johannesburg leaves in 30 minutes and from there I'll take another to Cape Town. IâÂÂll go straight from the airport to Manchester UnitedâÂÂs first training session, watch Louis Saha get injured if heâÂÂs made the trip, pick up my accreditation, meet the photographer and then finally go to the hotel, 25 hours after walking past Botafumeiroâ¦

"Crap, which one's going to South Africa..."


Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1