the soccer poet

image by Ashelia via flickr

I should not be surprised. Some of the greatest poets and writers have found their passion there… cue Camus and Orwell, Galeano. Franklin Foer in his book on “How Soccer Explains the World,” says…

Soccer isn’t the same as Bach or Buddhism. But it is often more deeply felt than religion, and just as much a part of the community’s fabric, a repository of traditions.

In Nick Hornby’s book, Fever Pitch, he puts it this way….

… and I love the way that small men can destroy big men … in a way that they can’t in other contact sports, and the way that the best team does not necessarily win. And there’s the athleticism …, and the way that strength and intelligence have to combine. It allows players to look beautiful and balletic in a way that some sports do not…

I get that, I think, at least intellectually. I’ve witnessed that glimmer in the eye, that cry of joy or despair, in so many friends and family members over the years.  I enjoy soccer, well kinda, but what truly delights me often more than the game is the commentary of it. And not just any commentary… I’ve yet to find an American commentator who expresses the passion that the Spaniards, the Italians, the Brits do for their beautiful game, and the best of them all is Ray Hudson.

Ray Hudson’s voice is so familiar in my household that I often feel that he’s a member of the family, albeit an irreverent one. He’s sort of like that uncle who you couldn’t imagine not at your Thanksgiving table, but the one you warn your friends about, telling them he’s a bit loopy, but has a really good heart. Indeed at times his comments (which are the running soundtrack of many a weekend afternoon) make me blush or groan, but they always make me happy in the way that anything that is real can. This is a man for whom soccer is life itself. His passion is contagious, his words forming an oddly beautiful beat poetry that is unmatched.

On his favorite player of all time, Riquelme:

That is a gift from the gods, he always has been, I’ve said it for a long time, for me, I said it at the start of this game the greatest footballer in the world. I’ll go to my grave defending that man. He splits his country down the middle, some people love him, some people hate him. Who couldn’t love this? This is a Bernini sculpture of a goal, Pablo. It’s perfection. If it had missed the target you could have hardly blamed him, but he takes all of the responsibility on his own shoulders, he guides it heavenly, it’s a magisterial hit by an artist, a poet of the game. You cannot say enough, he backs it up, he hasn’t played for what? Five, six months? He comes in here and he has been the best footballer on this park. Brilliant genius of Riquelme, yet again, defying his critics.

And on Lionel Messi, his new golden boy (not to mention “avatar eyes,” the thyroidish Mesut Ozil).

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? How magnificent is Messi? There is no answer. It’s like counting the bubbles in a bottle of Champagne

Not surprisingly, his quotes are gathered on twitter,

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 3.08.11 PM

…and my naive comment “Someone should do a blog of his quotes” was answered via a quick google search that there are indeed dozens of them, like hereherehere, here, and here, which compile some of his more memorable riffs, like this one:

“A dazzling goal from Adrian. He’s go no left foot and it doesn’t matter, cause the right foot turns into a Strat. It’s beautiful, but he doesn’t trust his left foot — it’s made of chocolate. He’s all right foot man, but it plays sweet music.”

But I’d like to leave you with a bit of his voice.

and

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