Oh dear. A display of utter incompetence from England tonight. Insipid, uninspiring, lifeless, boring, flat, dull and more. Unfortunately Fabio Capello doesn’t believe that Joe Cole – without contest our most technically gifted and creative players – is worth even sending on as a second-half sub. Emile Heskey? ‘Brings Rooney into the game doesn’t he?’ Frank Lampard? ‘Great player for Chelsea, needs to start doesn’t he?’ Shaun Wright-Phillips? ‘Pacy little lad, gets past players doesn’t he?’ No, no and no.
I’ll sidestep any in-depth, immediate analysis (we’ll leave that to ITVs ‘pundits’) and instead I’ll point you towards the only inspiring moment in 90 hopeless minutes, because after 73 of them the young BEARDED Djamel Abdoun made an appearance…
He wasn’t quite sporting the amazing effort he’s got strapped to his face up there, but it was damn close. It certainly made up for a few of the woeful designer stubble efforts made by his teammates (see; Belhadj etc.). But yeah. Djamel plays for French team FC Nantes – a team famous for their youth academy,yet recently a team that’s fallen on hard times. Having won Ligue 1 as recently as 2001, they finished the 2009/10 season lingering two points above the relegation zone in Ligue 2.
Abdoun himself then is a tricky little character. A winger by trade, he’s got the pace and skill to get past most full-backs, and his early promise saw his secure a move to Manchester City in 2007. Alas, he never quite got an opportunity to shine, and headed back to his country of birth (France) to play for Ajacco. Only this year has he broken into the full Algerian squad after playing for France at U18/19/20 level (ah, the joys of colonialism!) and was picked in their World Cup 2010 squad ahead of the Hameur Bouzza (another fellow French-born/Algerian-lineage footballer).
His late second-half appearance against England must surely be the highlight of his career. Yet Les Canaris (Nantes play in yellow and green) have long had a superb youth system, producing many of France’s (Ghana’s? Zaire’s? New Caledonia’s?) most illustrious players, including; Marcel Desailly, Claude Makélélé, Christian Karembeu, Didier Deschamps, Mickaël Landreau and present World Cup participant; Jérémy Toulalan! Djamel, although not quite up alongside the greats, is surely another player in a long line of Nantes lads to play in such a big tournament.
But it seems as if we’ve hit new World Cup FwB heights here, for Djamel Abdoun hasn’t just grown his beard especially for the occasion, he’s always had some sort of facial hair. there’s no LADS!WAHAY!BANTER! here, just good and honest beard growing. I could even imagine a foreign news journalist asking him “so, Djamel, what’s with the beard? keeping it ’til Algeria get knocked out? growing it ’til you go home?”, and him calmly answering, ‘err…no, of course not, I’ve always had a beard, looks good in my opinion, what’s the fuss?”.
And for that Djamel, you deserve some respect…
why not throw another cheeky bonus picture in too eh (below)