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Goosebumps Sunday

Just saw this on Guardian UK’s football section and I had goosebumps tingling all over my arms the minute Prince started singing. Ian McCourt was right. It’d be a good song to dance in my underpants to … would be even better if it was raining out there now. Not that I’m in my underpants getting ready to dance or anything, but maybe you’d be inspired:

‘If there is a better song out there than Purple Rain to dance around the house to in your underpants, then I haven’t heard it. Not that I do that … anymore *awkward pause* Just listen to the song.’ — Ian McCourt

Now you watch it and feel those goosebumps too. A classic song is always a wonderful way to end a lovely Sunday!

But if you really want to get major goosebumps, you should attend a love football match and sit at the home end to soak up the atmosphere and energy IRL! I recently watched a YouTube video of around 60,000 really passionate Napoli football fans chanting their latest hero and it was AMAZING. I felt like I was there with them and I could feel their passion radiating through the screen. I was won over that night and I thought it must really be the best feeling in the whole world if I were a star footballer and had so many adoring fans showing their support. Ooh, I’m re-watching the video and I’m getting goosebumps again!

Also, today is my dog’s birthday. He turns two and I’m off to give him a squishy hug, which really annoys him, because he is usually asleep when I disturb him. Hehe. According to the Internet, my dog is either 13/14 years old in human terms! Wow, Milo is a teenager and yet he still looks like an adorable baby boy (in my eyes). He’s the reason why I am capable of giving unconditional love. I know this to be true, because every time I walk past Milo in his “turkey legs” pose, my heart sings with joy at how cute he is.

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Thank you, Sir Alex Ferguson

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Sir Alex Ferguson applauds the fans. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

There have been plenty of tributes to the great man on the Internet since last Wednesday and many of them have said what I felt in my heart about the best football manager in the world.

Seriously, there’s nothing more I can say, except that I cried really badly last night from the moment Fergie walked out of the tunnel towards the guard of honour his players had formed for him to the moment he began his final speech at Old Trafford. In fact, I welled up every time I read another tribute to Fergie. It’s that bad.

It was 1am and I was a blubbering mess, with tears welling up and sniffles in my nose. It felt equivalent to a heart broken by a failed relationship. I had been grieving a loss since last year, so yes, I am very familiar with the concept of a heartbreak.

I am Manchester United through and through. I have been a fan ever since I watched Eric Cantona with his popped collar volleyed the ball past the throngs of players to score the only goal against Liverpool in the 1996 FA Cup final. United won 1:0 and my football soul was pledged to the team ever since. The mesmerising moment can be found in the video below.

So yes, I have never known a world without Sir Alex as the manager of Manchester United. Because of SAF, I have known and lived the pride and joys (and pains) of being a red.

Standing on the pitch, Ferguson told the crowd: “I have absolutely no script in my mind. I’m just going to ramble on and hope I get to the core of what this football club has meant to me. Thank you to Manchester United, not just the directors, coaching staff, medical staff, the players, the fans, all of you – you have been the most fantastic experience of my life, so thank you. I’ve been very fortunate. I have been able to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United.”

Thank you, SAF, for 27 years of glory, late comebacks, last-minute winners, the wins and even the defeats. You too have given me some of the best experiences and memories of Manchester United. Because of you, the impossible dream was made possible.

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Who’s more than a footballer

Guardian Football’s blog recalls some of football’s finest six volleys of all time and Eric Cantona’s goal in Manchester United’s match against Wimbledon was ranked third. And what a cracker that was.

According to Rob Smyth, a sports writer for the UK paper [and probably a United fan like me]:

The volley is widely perceived as the hardest skill in football, but the flip side of that difficulty is that it is the perfect tool with which to demonstrate your superiority, as Eric Cantona showed at Selhurst Park in 1994.

Early on [in the game], Vinnie Jones piled in with a laughable and predictable reducer; Cantona simply looked Jones up and down with the sort of magisterial contempt that only he could muster, and then, just before half-time, showed how you really hurt someone on a football field.

Gary Elkins made his only contribution to football history by heading Denis Irwin’s long cross to the edge of the box, whereupon Cantona killed the ball with a velvety touch and then leathered it beyond Hans Segers. It was a perfectly unanswerable piece of skill that broke Wimbledon, who had been in the game until then, completely.

He might not have been the greatest overseas player in English football history – the quality of the game in this country has increased so much in the last 15 years – but nobody has been so superior to his peers. And nobody knew how to demonstrate that superiority in such a regal manner. This was not a footballer; this was Cantona.

That’s right. All hail Le King.

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Men who hug for footballing reasons

So I can’t stop watching this peach of a last-gasp winning goal by Manchester United versus Aston Villa. It could also be all those grown-up burly men hugging and jumping with tears in their eyes that’s glueing my eyes to the screen. I suspect they might even kiss each other out of pure joy if the camera weren’t on them.

There’s something exuberant and infectious about their genuine delight when the team we support fervently scores at the closing minutes. This is way too exciting. It’s giving me goosebumps too. Okay, I need to go lie down now.

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Probably the best United midfield ever

So in a glorious tribute to Manchester United 1998-2001’s irrepressible midfield foursome,  here’s a video of their 1998/1999 Treble season* which they won everything in sight. Watching it made me shed a tear of joy. The artistry of quick moving exhilarating football United had then was simply imperious. Guardian Football named the midfield of Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Beckham the second greatest midfield ever to grace the field. I concur.

“No side has meshed the genres of midfield play so successfully: irrepressible, sinuous dribbler; granite-willed captain and metronomic passer; technically outstanding creator and goalscorer; and the greatest crosser of a ball in history. Together they were responsible for some of the most exhilarating, quick-quick-quicker football imaginable, and between them have played a mind-boggling 2,264 games for United. At club level they were the last great British and Irish midfield. And they were surely the best.”

Even though they had only played three full seasons together, I have to say they were the second reason why I fell in love with Manchester United. The first was Le King Eric Cantona. I’m getting a tingly feeling all over just watching it.

As for Brand Beckham*, he is quite all right, once you take away his chipmunk voice. After all, he did give United the best years of his life and how can I ever forget this?

Football on a Friday. Enjoy.

*Beckham lovers, you may proceed to 7:50 minute of the 98/99 Treble season video where you can see him 10 blonde floppy years younger scoring a freekick. Chipmunk voice, however, remains intact in his interview at 8:40 minute.

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Pre-game snack bulletin

Pre-game snack bulletin: Banana+Prune juice = New Year get-down-to-50kg healthy eating regime on track.

Mmm mmm, munching and trying to stay awake for the world’s oldest football competition where Spurs U-12s will attempt to devalue it by squaring up to United’s second XI. Then again, Fergie is not that bothered either if he’s sending loads of reserves on eh. I might have to brace my nerves for this match.

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Why do footballers enjoy spitting?

No, seriously, why do they spit everytime a decision does not go their way? Or is there really a need to spit after getting up after being fouled? An affirmation of their toughsissyness, perhaps? Does the grass prefer spit as fertilisers?

It’s rather bleurgh to see a white glob flying out of these footballers’ mouths on the tv screen. Just saying, you know, they could spare a thought for the one billion global viewers who may or may not join them in spitdom.

P/S: Man United gave Chelsea a good routing all right. A delightful 3:0 which pleases me.

Feel free to leave your spitacular answers in the comments box.