Park Ji Sungs effort ridden face grimaced at me from the large Singha Beer advertisement on Bangla Road, Phuket, Thailand. Squeezed down in the corner where they’d usually, pardon the pun, park Park or Darren Fletcher not doing keepy ups, was roaring Scouse lad, Wayne Rooney, and Portugese ballerina, Nani.
As I stood gaping back at Park, resplendant in his rare moment of centre stage, a creaky old man trundled by with a possible Thai popstar for an escort. If the smell of stale cigar smoke encrusted on caviar that went to Oxford on Daddys money could be personified in a smug expression, then this geezer was wearing it across his whole face, and possibly some of the side of his head. He noticed the beer advert and acknowledged Park in a way that said ‘let’s enjoy it while we can buddy’.
The view most accessible of Thailand from the Western world is this type of opportunism. A dirty old fella being allowed dabble in the carnal activities of a fabulous young woman and Park Ji Sung given centre stage over Wayne Rooney in advertisements. It hit something home. A realisation blossomed inside me. It had been ready to bloom for sometime but being a Liverpool fan I had maybe (definitely) ignored it. Gazing at Waynes wee face, squashed down in the corner of that advertisement made me realise how much people comment on his looks. Maybe, just maybe, thats why he feels the need to scream fuck off into a television camera when he scores a goal?
Recognition of his prodigious talent is so widespread it may have left people feeling they can freely admonish his face. I feel it may be time for football fans to embrace the beauty of Wayne Rooney. He may not float everyones boat and is quite possibly an avatar sent by the gods of excess and arrogance to show us the way to ruin, but he still has feelings and while he is fair game for his many and horrendous sexual adventures that are needlessly played out in the public domain, his looks are not his choice. Judge people on their choices, not on what they are born with.
Of course we the public need to identify a negative trait in our idols to grossly exaggerate and it’s interesting to cast an eye back over what we chose for each player. David Beckhams trendsetting and model good looks led to the notion he wasn’t in ownership of more than one functioning brain cell. He seemed to do alright for himself capitalising on his marketable image. Cristiano Ronaldos name is synonymous with vanity, (or another old reliable; he looks like a ladyboy). Steven Gerrard is known to be paranoid. Roy Keane was a thug. Gary Neville a much hyped parody of himself.
But where do we find this trait for Leo Messi? What aspect of his personality gives us the reassurance that he is infact human? Can a streak in him be found that tarnishes some of the pure unadultered joy of watching him so wholly implement his vision of what he wants to do with a football upon game after game after game?
I for one hope not.