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1
Entertainment & Culture Discussion / Re: Panorama 2019
« on: Today at 11:28:30 AM »
Silliness by Pan Trinbago. There should have been a rule addressed to the issue of changing one's tune during competition.

2
Football / Re: Cyrus eyes battle with Bale in Wales friendly
« on: February 19, 2019, 01:48:22 PM »
Cyrus eyes battle with Bale in Wales friendly
TTFA Media


Trinidad and Tobago’s Saudi Arabia-based defender Daneil Cyrus is taking up the challenge from teammate Sheldon Bateau and has pledged to be in tiptop shape for the upcoming international friendly against Wales on March 20th at the Racecourse in Wrexham.

...

“Football is on the day and we are working towards going out and giving a good show. It’s just for us to enjoy the game and enjoy the moment knowing that we will be coming up against world class players. I’m really excited for the match especially knowing we will be playing at a venue where former players like Carlos Edwards, the current coach (Dennis) Lawrence and others have graced during their careers,” Cyrus said.

Meantime, Wales head coach Ryan Giggs revealed on the weekend that he had a debrief with some players in London ahead of their preparations for the Euro qualifier in March which includes the warm up against T&T.

Last September, in his first home game, Wales produced a vibrant display of the attacking football Giggs epitomised as a player. They swaggered past the Republic of Ireland, winning 4-1 in an exhilarating and clinical performance. Yet, in their most recent match, Wales lost to Albania, 42 places below them in the world rankings. Unlike a club manager Giggs has had to reflect on that loss for nearly three months.

“It is difficult having such a long break. That’s the tough part about international football. But I keep in contact with the players and yesterday I got the lads together for a little debrief in London and to make sure we’re looking forward to the [Euro 2020]qualifiers in March,” Giggs told the Irish Times on Monday. “When it’s September, October, November, you’re on a roll. But this gap between games is big. You can see why some managers miss that day-to-day contact. The difference is that I was never a [permanent]club manager. I’ve gone straight into international football.
...

Giggs was speaking to The Guardian, but the article was carried in The Irish Times also. Note the acknowledgment by The Irish Times' use of the words "Guardian service" at the bottom of their web publication.

The original article was posted on this thread a few days ago and the writer himself makes the original source clear.

3
Football / Re: Alvin "Hurricane" Jones Thread
« on: February 18, 2019, 06:37:50 AM »
It go be Al Jazeera, Guatemala City Perros or Bhagwansingh United out of Bangalore.

Off chance he moving to La Horquetta Rangers.  ;D






j/k. Wishing him all the best on the potential moves

Or Finland? :)

4
Football / Re: Alvin "Hurricane" Jones Thread
« on: February 18, 2019, 06:36:03 AM »

5
Football / Re: Thread for the T&T vs Wales Game (20-Mar-2019)
« on: February 17, 2019, 07:18:39 PM »
Quote
Statistics can be misleading but, under Giggs, Wales have lost five of nine games. “If we’d have beaten Albania, I would have called it a successful year,” Giggs says. “But we played Spain, Uruguay, Mexico. Denmark twice. Almost all in the world’s top 10. We used experimental squads, experimental systems. So we’ve used this first year to see what we’ve got while looking forward to the Euros. Against Albania we actually played really well first half. We should have won 3-0 but missed easy chances. Then they get a penalty which may not have been one. But sometimes you learn a lot more from defeats.”

A crunch period is looming. On 24 March Wales face Slovakia in Cardiff. It is their opening match in a qualifying group that includes the World Cup finalists Croatia as well as Hungary, Belarus and Azerbaijan. “We need a good start against our main rivals because, after Croatia, I would say it could be between us and Slovakia. They have a new manager but they’ve got talented players. Marek Hamsik stands out. He just broke the goalscoring record for Napoli, overtaking Diego Maradona. So this first game against Slovakia is a big one.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/feb/17/ryan-giggs-wales-manchester-united-van-gaal-interview

6
Football / Re: TTFA News Thread.
« on: February 17, 2019, 08:02:39 AM »
Correction: Phillips, TTFA case not over.
By Stephon Nicholas (Newsday).


ON Saturday, February 16, Newsday erroneously published a story stating ex-TT Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips won his case for wrongful dismissal against the TTFA and has been asked to quantify his claim for damages.

The case, however, is still ongoing. On Friday, local football president David-John Williams – the TTFA's witness – was unable to testify as he was abroad. A request for adjournment was requested by the TTFA lawyers but was denied. Both sides have been invited to give their closing submissions which will allow the court to make a judgment.

The contradiction was evident in the initial article. It was the duty of the writer and editor to ask that question before going to press.

7
Football / Re: TTFA News Thread.
« on: February 17, 2019, 07:53:52 AM »
At least DJW was spared the embarrassment of being put in the stand

Embarassing David John-Williams is a thing? Doubt that!

8
Football / Re: Sheldon Bateau Thread
« on: February 14, 2019, 07:35:43 PM »
Like Bateau brace from ah Saudi Arabia.

9
General Discussion / Re: Venezuelans get food supply from T&T
« on: February 10, 2019, 11:49:29 AM »
Jumbie, dahis you contributing as "Jumbie" on Wired868 or someone else?

10
Football / Re: 2019 T&T Pro League Thread
« on: February 07, 2019, 03:16:20 PM »
I invite everyone to predict the possible scenarios that could hit the headlines two years from now (and conceivably before).

I appreciate optimism more than the next guy, but ... this reads like someone in Moscow or Washington contemplating yet another attempt to subdue the Taliban and conquer Afghanistan and to achieve it within 100 days, in spite of the weight of history.

$1 million each year over two years divided by even more constituents than has been the norm? OK.

Cosmetics. And not even lipstick on a pig quality.

11
General Discussion / Re: Venezuelans get food supply from T&T
« on: February 07, 2019, 07:16:21 AM »


(Photo courtesy The New York Times)

There is nothing more emblematic of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago's failed foreign policy posture concerning Venezuela than Nicolás Maduro's move to block the delivery of humanitarian assistance to his fellow citizens.

12
Football / Re: Luke Singh Thread
« on: February 06, 2019, 09:16:02 PM »
So he recovered from the back injury?

It was described as minor in the translation. Perhaps the intervening days of rest/managed rest and care have been enough. Certainly gave him time to go back to Canada, see friends and family and recharge for Europe.

14
Football / Re: TTFA News Thread.
« on: February 06, 2019, 07:04:24 AM »
While "they" were removing Camara David's name, did "they" bother to remove the other names to properly reflect that those persons are no longer part of the hierarchy?

Although I like the chess and poker that's being played here by Latapy-George and his collaborators, may it not long continue. This farce needs to come to a screeching halt.

Also, it is absolutely ... shall we say ... "intriguing" that Joanne Salazar is setting a record for reticence since her official departure from the TTFA. Usually the departing are a loquacious and disgruntled bunch of grapes. I guess DJW has his house in order.

The only thing missing is somebody hacking de site to put Jack Warner on the executive. But perhaps even that would escape FIFA's attention, engaged as it is with repetitive rubber-stamping.


15
Football / Re: 2019 T&T Super League Thread
« on: February 06, 2019, 06:35:39 AM »
When will the embarrassment end...

I think it's fair to say it won't end. Not even in the "fullness of time".

You is ah ass eh?  :rotfl:

 :)

16
Football / Re: 2019 T&T Super League Thread
« on: February 05, 2019, 02:24:47 PM »
When will the embarrassment end...

I think it's fair to say it won't end. Not even in the "fullness of time".

17
Football / Re: Lester Peltier Thread.
« on: February 04, 2019, 07:41:15 PM »
Dropping down in the table. They must want him to come to the rescue.

18
Football / Re: 2019 T&T Super League Thread
« on: January 31, 2019, 12:41:41 PM »
Papayo

:thinking: Mischief afoot. If we follow the crumbs, the road will lead to Couva.

19
Football / Re: The In Memory Of Thread
« on: January 31, 2019, 12:34:29 PM »
One of the things that comes to mind is that Sigi would have been on the sidelines during one of the most heralded matches in US soccer history ... during a match played in Seattle that involved Trinbagonians on the opposing team.

Name the match and name the players.

UCLA vs American University in the 1985 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship Final on December 14th 1985. David Nakhid, Troy Regis, Barry Henderson, and Duane Gonzalez were the Trinbagonians on American's roster.

Correct! At 166 minutes and 5 seconds, it is the longest match played in NCAA history.

20
Football / Re: The In Memory Of Thread
« on: January 30, 2019, 11:06:38 PM »
Yuh pulling de handbrakes on de homestretch after yuh pass de hairpin bend?

21
Football / Re: The In Memory Of Thread
« on: January 29, 2019, 08:24:54 AM »
One of the things that comes to mind is that Sigi would have been on the sidelines during one of the most heralded matches in US soccer history ... during a match played in Seattle that involved Trinbagonians on the opposing team.

Name the match and name the players.

Hint: Not in the strictest of senses. Lower case 's'.
Was it a MLS game? Or were both teams in the MLS?

:-X Good question. Seattle is both a hint and a distractor.

Making me think if this was a UCLA game in Seattle or something :thinking:

No half-stepping.

22
Football / Re: TTFA News Thread.
« on: January 29, 2019, 08:16:02 AM »
The dollar figures stated in those articles do not suggest conviction by UEFA or FIFA that the objectives will be met or can be met or are going to be met. Those are paltry sums to accomplish the task at hand. Apparently the plan is to creep to the finish line and to stop in the middle of the creeping to assess the conditions (including distance to go).

Development programs by themselves demand a huge budget allocation. And, a comprehensive "development program" requires a centralized budget, not reactionary decision-making to what a decentralized process offers (of which there is reliance in the present operating model that UEFA/FIFA/CONCACAF have recognized is not viable).

Each junior national team across both genders requires separate budget allocations that should not be subsumed within the broader development program allocation(s).

And I haven't mentioned the Pro League yet.

In short, this wicket is stickier than sticky fingers.

23
Football / Re: The In Memory Of Thread
« on: January 28, 2019, 03:47:09 PM »
One of the things that comes to mind is that Sigi would have been on the sidelines during one of the most heralded matches in US soccer history ... during a match played in Seattle that involved Trinbagonians on the opposing team.

Name the match and name the players.

Hint: Not in the strictest of senses. Lower case 's'.
Was it a MLS game? Or were both teams in the MLS?

:-X Good question. Seattle is both a hint and a distractor.

24
Football / Re: The In Memory Of Thread
« on: January 27, 2019, 05:35:16 PM »
One of the things that comes to mind is that Sigi would have been on the sidelines during one of the most heralded matches in US soccer history ... during a match played in Seattle that involved Trinbagonians on the opposing team.

Name the match and name the players.

Hint: Not in the strictest of senses. Lower case 's'.

25
Football / Re: Luke Singh Thread
« on: January 27, 2019, 05:18:18 PM »
There is merit to the idea of him playing as a DM, based on what we saw during that tournament. Concur also regarding his pure passing range and what he sought to do with those balls played forward.

As he is in the shop window, I will not touch the other side of the ledger. I suppose the good news is Brøndby hasn't dismissed him outright, but one would imagine they already have a sense of where they are leaning.

26
Football / Luke Singh Thread
« on: January 26, 2019, 02:18:07 PM »
Luke Singh has been on trial at the Danish Superliga club, Brøndby IF. However, his stint with the club has been interrupted because he sustained a minor back injury. 

Although Luke has returned to Toronto, Brøndby has stated that an announcement about Luke's future with the club will be made at a later date.
 

27
Football / Re: 2019 T&T Pro League Thread
« on: January 25, 2019, 07:57:16 PM »
I new of Superstar, but did not know of sponsorship arrangements. Court case on the horizon.

On the face of it, nothing for Fakoory to lose sleep over.

28
Football / Re: The Sharks: Central FC Thread
« on: January 22, 2019, 07:58:32 PM »
If this comes off, some people might have to make good on selling bridges.

29
Football / Re: Each One Teach Many: Life Lessons from Players for Players
« on: January 22, 2019, 07:52:28 PM »
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been through many scrapes … my chaotic career will help me as a manager’
By Donald G. McRae, The Guardian


A day with Joey Barton at Fleetwood Town, in the week of his first competitive match as a manager, is like no other in English football. It starts just after breakfast at the League One club’s gleaming training centre, Poolfoot Farm. Seven miles from Blackpool and modelled on facilities at Bayern Munich and Ajax, Fleetwood’s base is calm and good humoured.

“You’ve got to talk to Frog because he’s a reader and we’re having incredible conversations about JFK conspiracy theories,” Barton says as he introduces me to Tony Barlow, Fleetwood’s burly head of security. A former paratrooper who learned how to read and write only when he was 21, the erudite Frog offers detailed views on what might have happened on the grassy knoll before assessing Gavin Menzies’ theory that Chinese explorers discovered America decades before Christopher Columbus.

Fleetwood have also been on an incredible journey. The current incarnation of the club began in 1997, in the 10th tier of the English league system. Wwith the financial support and vision of their chairman, Andy Pilley, they achieved six promotions in 10 years to reach League One. Pilley has now turned to the 35-year-old Barton in the hope his maverick intelligence will help gain promotion to the Championship.

On Saturday they play Wimbledon at home and Barton smiles when asked if he is nervous. “It comes in fits and starts,” he says. “I’ll soon go into my Bill Walsh zone. You know the great American football coach who said: ‘The score takes care of itself?’ Of course you can make tweaks psychologically and tactically – but the main body of pre-season work is done. In the end you feel powerless as you hand it over.”

That body of work looks impressive. After a chaotic and controversial playing career, Barton is meticulous and warm with his players during a video review of last Saturday’s victory over Morecambe. Fleetwood have won all seven pre-season games but Barton is a sharp analyst when it comes to improvement. He also highlights The Shit People Don’t See [a phrase he lifted from a visit to Saracens] as he shows how a training-ground routine resulted in a simple goal. Barton ensures the session ends in riotous laughter.

Training is short and sharp, with a game to follow against Chorley that evening, and Barton allows his backroom staff, including his former QPR and Rangers teammate Clint Hill, to run some drills. He observes quietly beneath a baseball cap.

Barton’s early years as a player were blighted by anger and violence. He was imprisoned for six months in 2008 and his playing career came to a shuddering halt when the FA banned him for 13 months last year after he was found guilty of placing 1,260 bets on football matches.

Amid the acrimony Barton reinvented himself as a renaissance man. Who could forget the mockery that greeted some of Barton’s most memorable tweets: “Sitting eating sushi in the city, incredibly chilled out reading Nietzsche #stereotypicalfootballer.” Barton also appeared on Question Time, studied philosophy and discussed politics, culture and football.

“I’ve had enough contrast in my career,” Barton says, “so if a player comes to me with a problem I’ve probably been through it myself. I’ve been through many scrapes and rather than somebody who has never been in trouble or had to delve into the reason why things happen, my chaotic career will help me as a manager.”

At lunch, the players join the coaching staff. I sit with Hill and Barton, who says: “The key for us is human connections. At lunch it’s important you converse with your teammates. No phones. It’s common sense but not common practice at all football clubs.”

Barton offers a striking mix of conviction and vulnerability. “As a player I had more belief in me than anyone,” he stresses. “If I’d have listened to everybody I would’ve been on a building site. There’s a bit of cognitive dissonance on my part but I was taught by my grandmother to believe in myself. So I have extreme confidence in my abilities and that also comes from being fantastically well-prepared and having great people around me.”

I joke with Barton that it sounds as if he will soon be ready to manage in the Champions League. He shakes his head. “Frank de Boer was sacked after four games last season [by Crystal Palace]. I could be on the scrapheap in four games’ time. You have to be careful, knowing how fragile the ecosystem is. Isn’t Mourinho up for the sack today?”

At his first press conference as Fleetwood’s manager, Barton quipped that 30 million people want him to fail. “It was tongue-in-cheek. Thirty million people probably don’t give a shit what I’m doing. This is not life or death. It’s just football management. I’m not saying Fleetwood are going to shock the world. Fleetwood is 25,000 people and it’s not affluent. But I believe we can empower the area.

“We’ve seen it on a much larger scale with [Jürgen] Klopp at Liverpool. He’s energised the red half of the city. The feelgood factor carries over into people’s lives, into the workplace and home life. If we can have 10% of that impact at Fleetwood we’re doing our jobs.”

Barton is so eminently sensible today I remind him of our last interview when he was at war with Rangers and barred from training. “At Burnley, both before and after Rangers, I’d built enough social credit with the group that whenever I spoke it carried weight because they knew I cared about the team. When I went to Rangers they had just played Motherwell in the cup. I was asked my opinion and it wasn’t pretty. I then said: ‘We’re in a maze and I know the f**king way out. Follow me.’ People were like: ‘Who the f**k is he?’ You have to earn the stripes, and their trust, to lead.

How does Barton expect Steven Gerrard to do at Rangers? “Really well. He’s a good man and he was a phenomenal player. If he carries those attributes across there’s a good chance he’ll be a phenomenal coach. I know Scotty Arfield and Jon Flanagan and their feedback is really positive. Stevie’s also taken my second cousin Tom Culshaw [as a coach].

“We always go on about hiring foreign managers. Well, there are not enough British candidates so we’ve got to put our balls on the chopping block. Frank Lampard has had a good start at Derby. Kevin Nolan will do well [at Notts County]. I was the youngest manager until the guy at Bradford [32-year-old Michael Collins] got appointed. Frank going to Derby and Stevie going to Rangers? Phenomenal clubs. But if you asked me would I swap them for this club, I genuinely wouldn’t. Fleetwood is the absolute sweet spot for me right now.”

Manchester United do not seem to occupy the same sweet spot for Mourinho. “There will be a method in his madness,” Barton says. “I’ve got incredible respect for him and everything he says is calculated. But how can anybody compare to Alex Ferguson? He’s also got Pep Guardiola on the other side of the city doing brilliantly. Now Klopp, and Liverpool, are going places. I think Mourinho does best with an underdog team. Even when he went to Real Madrid, Barcelona were the best team in the world. At United the expectation is to win all the time but maybe he’s tapering expectations.

“To be a top manager you’ve got to be a psychologist. Shankly. Ferguson. Jock Stein. Mourinho. Pep. I’ve seen the trailer for this City documentary and the stuff in the dressing room goes way beyond tactics. He says: ‘If you want to hate me, hate me. We play better when you hate me.’ He’s probing them – because sport is psychological warfare.”

Barton jokes that he studied philosophy rather than psychology. But he also insists that, “psychology was a massive part of my playing career because I wasn’t as good as many other players. I had to find other ways.

“One of the greatest things, even as a youngster who made many high-profile errors, was meeting Peter Kay from Sporting Chance when I was 22. It was meant to be for anger management but we just discussed male psychology. We spent hours talking war strategies, from Churchill to Genghis Khan. We’d go through Jungian archetypes: king, warrior, joker, lover, magician. Doing the philosophy degree was delving back into that intellectual space which helps me as a manager.”

Barton has often brought trouble on himself – in management, he will need to be smarter than he was as a player. When he was announced as Fleetwood’s manager in June he suggested he would temper his use of social media. But after the World Cup he was criticised for suggesting Gareth Southgate . It was actually a measured series of tweets in which Barton praised Southgate for restoring a broken link between the England team and their supporters. He then pointed out that England had lost three matches.

“Sometimes it’s important to give a contra opinion because we are as near to being sheep as we’ve ever been. There was a real public take from the start of the tournament to be enthusiastic and positive come what may. But the Epicurean position is ‘Don’t get too high or too low. There are many things I would have done differently as the England manager but who the f**k am I to comment? A novice manager starting out in League One. People can’t wait to put you in your place.

“It was a great tournament from a PR standpoint. The nation is now engaged, they love Southgate because he’s a decent man and he’s got the passion back. The players look happy and they reached the semi-final. But we’ve got so caught up with naming tube stations after Gareth Southgate that we forget how to be stronger next time.”

Barton also needs to cope with his personal demons. His gambling addiction and subsequent feelings of depression tested him after the . “I was faced with the reality that football had gone. I had three or four days where I couldn’t get out of bed. I’ve never suffered from depression but I imagine it was the early onset. I was fortunate my friends and family were quick to get me out of that slump.”

Barton says the reason for him becoming a compulsive gambler was simple. “I did it out of boredom because I have a very inquisitive mind that needs to be active. Management is the perfect job because when my mind is focused it’s incredibly productive. When it gets unfocused or I have lots of free time we hit problems. I now feel incredibly motivated and lucky to be in this job.”

In the last few hours before Saturday’s kick-off, Barton will be examined in a new way. It will be fascinating to see if the lessons he has tried to impart have been absorbed and how he deals with the intense pressure of management. “That feeling of being powerless, apart from making some tactical changes, is tough for somebody like me. You have to hand yourself over to a higher power and in my case, that’s the team.

League One 2018-19 preview| Ben Fisher

“I am influenced hugely by American sport. So I’ll be thinking of all those great American football coaches – Vince Lombardi, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Bill Walsh. They all handed themselves over to teams they had prepared well. Walsh’s mantra of the score takes care of itself will be in my head.

“Of course we could lose the first four games and then you’re like, ‘f**king hell, I’m shit.’ But I think we’ll do well. I believe in the process so I want to say this on record: ‘I hold myself to the same standard. The score takes care of itself. Believe in the process. Confidence comes from good preparation.’ We will be the best prepared team we can be which gives us an incredible opportunity to get a positive result.”

The new manager looks up from his desk. His notes, books and plans are spread around him. “So I’m really looking forward to the first game on Saturday,” Barton says intently, before laughing softly. “We’ll see then if I genuinely do believe that the score takes care of itself.”

30
Football / Each One Teach Many: Life Lessons from Players for Players
« on: January 22, 2019, 06:31:19 PM »
Kevin-Prince Boateng speaking with Sid Lowe of The Guardian

‘If you don’t die, I die’

Boateng was raised in Wedding, a “rough” neighbourhood of high unemployment and high immigration where he says “people were shot and police didn’t even enter”, where he recalls Koloniestrasse, the street next to his, being in the “top 10” most dangerous, and where the “rules” were “if you don’t die, I die”. It was the kind of place that shaped you, he says. “We didn’t have much money but that was my life. I didn’t know better so it was OK – and the things you learn and see on the street make you who you are.”

It was also the kind of place you leave, he admits. He says his “brain” and his football talent, his ability to channel that “anger and aggression”, were his way out. Growing up, he knew he had a gift, an ability to see what was next, and he first joined Hertha Berlin at seven. In 2007 Tottenham Hotspur signed him for £5.4m: the “big move”, he says, but the wrong move. Left out, he wasn’t ready for London, and it could have ruined him. One morning, about a year later, he woke up, stood before the mirror, and the realisation hit him.

“I looked old,” Boateng says. He was 20.

“Every night I was out until six. I was like 95 kilos, swollen from the drinking and bad food. I said: ‘This can’t be me, I don’t want to be that guy. I have something inside: I’m a football player.’ I called my friends, two real friends, and they came. Together, we cleaned out my fridge and the house. That day, I said: ‘No, stop it.’ I didn’t drink. I didn’t go out. I started cooking; I wanted to eat healthily. From one day to the next.” Boateng clicks his fingers. “If I did it slowly, maybe I wouldn’t do it. I needed a clean break.”

How had it come to that? “Martin Jol told me he didn’t want me after a month. So, it became me against the world. You know when you shut off? That was me. ‘You don’t want me? I’ll enjoy life.’ I realise now how bad it was: six days a week nightclubbing, drinking for almost a year. But I was only 20. You don’t think things are going wrong. You see money coming in. ‘OK, I get my fun somewhere else.’ Girls, nightclubs, friends … Fake friends.”

The correction jars. There was an emptiness to life. “I left my home, family, all my friends, then my ex-wife left me and I was totally alone. I had friends but not real friends who’ll tell you: ‘What are you doing? Go and train.’ No. It’s: ‘Let’s go out.’” And at the time, [I thought] I needed that. The release, someone to talk to.

“Fans don’t care what’s in your private life, what happened in your past, where you come from. If you don’t perform they judge. I was the same, a fan judging Hertha Berlin players. That will never change. You’re a number in this system. You cost money, if you don’t work, they change the number. I had to learn to understand that; when I was 20 I didn’t.”

It is not just the fans. “In the team, everyone does their own thing; in the end, they don’t really care how you feel, why you’re sad or not training well,” he says.

Spurs’ former sporting director Damien Comolli once said Boateng was the one player he regretted signing, admitting he failed to spot a kid unprepared for the change or do enough to help. “It was probably our failure more than his,” he said. Boateng appreciates the sentiment now, saying it lifts a weight off; back then, he missed it. “No one came to ask: ‘How are you?’ No one. ‘How are you?’ Just one simple question: ‘How are you?’ No one, no one.”

Had they done, he might just have replied: “Fine,” not really aware of the damage being done, that things were even going wrong. “I was spending serious amounts: nightclubs, clothes, cars.” Three in one day, the story goes. “True,” he says. “Because you try to buy happiness. I couldn’t play football so I buy a Lamborghini. Wow, you’re happy for a week. After that you don’t even use it. Who drives around Loughton in a Lamborghini? I still have a picture: three cars, big house, I’m standing there like I’m 50 Cent. I look at it sometimes and say: ‘Look how stupid you were.’ But that made me who I am and I can look back and see it. I’ve learned. I grew up.”

“I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and thought: ‘No, that’s not me, I don’t want to be that. I’m a footballer.’”

‘Klopp is the best coach in the world’

But footballers have to play and opportunities remained limited until Dortmund took Boateng on loan for six months in January 2009, the eve of their explosion. The manager was Jürgen Klopp and the mention of his name excites. “Yes!” Boateng says. “I could see it immediately. He’s the best coach in the whole world. He knows when to push you and when to comfort you. He knows when you need a drink, when you need water. He has this …” His voice trails off. “He has everything. Ask the players and they’ll say: ‘He’s the best, I’d die for him.’

“He knows exactly what every player needs and gives them time. There were players at Dortmund who played five minutes in six months but they were happy: happy to come to training, happy to work, because he made you feel important. Not necessarily as a player – maybe he doesn’t need you – but as a person. That’s why he’s successful everywhere. And Liverpool’s perfect; just watching his presentation you see it. ‘The normal one’: people there love that. If he’d gone to Paris, it would have been best suit, [different message]. He knows how to grab people.”

Moments, chance, decisions; they can change a career, a life. There must be times when Boateng thinks: “If I’d stayed at Dortmund with Klopp …” The response is immediate. “I’d have played a Champions League final, won the league, the cup. But: ‘if’, ‘when’ … I don’t know. I’ve had a career many dream of. I’m happy, but I know I could have done better; if I’d focused more, worked harder earlier. I’m happy to have met Klopp, to have worked with him, even if it was only six months.”

Dortmund wanted to keep him but not enough to match Spurs’ £4.5m asking price. Portsmouth came, with their invisible owner and impending crisis: a backwards step but a necessary one. “For almost three years, I hardly played; that was all I wanted. They said the stadium is small: ‘I don’t care.’ The pitch is bad: ‘I don’t care.’ They have no money: ‘I don’t care.’ The contract is this: ‘OK, I sign it. Just give me the ball, let me play.’ Portsmouth was small but real. It was crazy, beautiful. I loved playing there.”

His last season in England ended, perhaps inevitably, with relegation, and also an FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea, but he played and even got a semi-final goal at Wembley against Spurs – “a little payback to show them that I made mistakes but they made mistakes too,” he says. It is said without bitterness; that is just how it is. “You didn’t work, they send you away. But when you score against your old team after they didn’t treat you how you wanted, it’s an amazing feeling.”

“I played well at Portsmouth so knew I couldn’t stay,” he continues. What he did not know was where he was going but the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where he faced his brother Jérôme against Germany, the country he represented at under-21 level, and reached the quarter-final with Ghana, whose passport he had acquired in May, meant he had a market. He was in demand again, a star. Even Mandela wanted him, he discovered.

“There were three people I always wanted to meet: Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela,” he says. “I only met one, and it’s hard to describe. It’s just joy. Mandela was in prison for 27 years just because he stood up for his rights and he sits there and has no anger inside. He should be angry with the whole world, but he wasn’t. He’s calm, just there in his little seat saying hello to everybody. He makes you feel calm. He was shining. It’s like a movie. It’s like an angel sitting there.”

And what did you say to him? Did you know what to say?

“Nooo! Luckily he broke the ice, because you just stand there. It was the World Cup, people were calling me ‘David Black-ham’, going crazy for me. I was kind of like a star. We go into the room: ‘Hello … hello … hello.’ He shook my hand, pulled me towards him and said: ‘My daughter wants to marry you.’ I said: ‘Sorry I already have a girlfriend.’ He said: ‘No, no but I have others, more beautiful.’ Everyone was laughing. The pity is we couldn’t take pictures because the flash hurt his eyes so I only have one.”

Prince stops for a second then laughs. “And it doesn’t even look like me…”

‘They were all there: Ibrahimovic, Seedorf, Pirlo, Ronaldinho …’

Soon after the World Cup, Boateng was on holiday when his agent phoned. He thought a deal had been done with Genoa – it had – but his agent asked if he fancied Milan. “I said: ‘Come on, are you kidding? Seriously? I’d love to,’” he recalls. “I went out partying. Next morning, he calls at eight. I was still tired. He said: ‘Get in the car, we have to meet.’ ‘Where?’ ‘Milan.’ He said: ‘You have trained, right?’ I said: ‘Of course,’ but it was a lie: I wasn’t training; I was enjoying my holiday. ‘Perfect, because I told them you’re an animal.’ ‘Yeah, yeah.’ Oh my God.”

“They were all there. I signed the day after Ibrahimovic; Robinho signed too. There was Seedorf, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Gattuso, Ronaldinho, Thiago Silva, Jankulovski, name it. My first day, I was there early doing the tests and saw the names. ‘This is a dream, this is a joke.’ I called my older brother: ‘I’m sitting next to Pirlo.’ ‘Take a picture, take a picture!’ ‘I’ve got David Beckham’s old locker.’ He’s like: ‘You’re lying’. I said: ‘I’ll send a picture.’”

Zlatan was the most imposing. “You think he’s this arrogant, big f**ker and completely not a nice guy but he’s the opposite: laughing all the time, cracking jokes. On the pitch, he’s very serious, very professional. But off it, the funniest guy ever.” So his persona is a facade? “Yeah of course because he doesn’t want to talk to you,” Boateng laughs. “So he puts that face on so you don’t even ask him a question.”

Do you see yourself in him?

“Not any more.”

Did you?

“Yeah, yeah. Because I was the same; I didn’t want to talk to people. I didn’t want to show them I had emotions. I [built] this big wall. But you grow up, you’re happier with life, you think: ‘Why not?’ Why not let people talk to you? Help them? Give them a smile?”

Speaking of smiles, Boateng rates Ronaldinho highest of all, his tone hushed. No facade here. “It’s genuine: he’s exactly how he looks. Laughing, smiling, all the time. Never, never, never serious. Impossible. He’s always happy. You win, he’s happy. You lose, he’s happy. He scores three own goals, he’s happy. He just wants the ball. Give him it. That’s why he was the best; he feels no pressure. And by then he had nothing to prove.”

It was no surprise to Boateng that Milan won the league; the surprise was that he was in the team that did it. “They had a superstar in every position but the crazy thing was I was playing. I started on the bench but fought my way in. Talent, technique – everybody there has that. Maybe the only one with less technique was Gattuso, but he ran 120 minutes like a psycho. I had to bring something different so I brought fighting spirit. Running, kicking, to the point where people said: ‘He’s the new Gattuso, the new Gladiator.’”

Title secured, all round to Silvio’s to celebrate. “No, no, no,” Boateng grins. “We knew it would come out, so we never went.” He continues: “[Berlusconi] was fantastic. We had a special relationship, a bond. He saw me as the little star he’d brought and encouraged me to draw out what I had inside. My best seasons were at Milan – and he was the one who pushed me. And he knows football; he won 30 titles. You read stories about him: he did this, he did that. OK. But when you meet him, he shines. He makes you feel you’re special, not him. That was his gift; that’s why they wanted him for president, why people voted for him.”

‘If you’re 18 you don’t know anything’

Six years from that Scudetto, his only major title, Boateng headed for Spain on a free. Las Palmas may seem a curious choice – this is only their second top flight season in 15 years – but, asked why, the answer is swift: “Why not?” Options were not limitless, he had seen them on television, and Mubarak Wakaso told him they were different – an attractive team whose idealistic manager Quique Setien emphasises expression and enjoyment. It’s also tempting to adapt the old joke: so, Prince, what was it that first attracted you to the holiday island of Gran Canaria?

It’s a grey morning at Barranco Seco, the training ground where flowers border a single pitch, and the cloud has not lifted when he arrives at the stadium in the afternoon, but he’s in shorts and wakes most days to sunshine. That matters. It seems he has mellowed – seeking sporting opportunity, sure, but life too. There’s a contentedness about him, comfort and acceptance, little impatience to move. No plans to return to England, either. He’s scored there and in Italy, Germany and Spain – the only current player to have done that – so he suggests: “Maybe I’ll go to France one day, add another.”

“England was good and you never know,” he continues. “But I feel really good here. It’s exactly what I need. I love the way football’s played. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético dominate but we drew 2-2 at home against Madrid and won at Atlético. In Germany or England that’s impossible, not here. We have an incredible team, so much talent.” Given his reputation, Setien feared Boateng’s arrival but he’s been impressed and the Ghanaian fits in. That was best expressed at Villarreal when Pedro Tana completed a wonderful team move with a backheeled assist for Boateng to volley a goal worthy of Fifa’s Puskas award.

He thought so, certainly. In fact, he was counting on it. “I thought I was going to the Fifa gala. It was going to be the best day of my life after my kids’ birth. I always said I wanted to go, even if was just for the fair play award for owning up that it wasn’t a penalty. I felt if you go there, you’ve made it. You’re one of the best, even if it’s for a stupid thing, or for one goal one year. I thought they’d call me because I got so many messages and tweets …”

The call never came. “Someone explained that it’s not the best team goal, it’s the best individual goal. But football’s a team sport. Otherwise, I’ll play tennis. So, I saw all the messages and got excited.” Boateng is giggling now. “I even told my wife: ‘We’re going to Zurich.’ She asked me a week afterwards: ‘What happened to Zurich?’ I said: ‘Oh, forget about it.’ I’ll have to score another.”

He’s 29; there’s still time, but it’s also an age when retirement plans take shape. “My world’s football, my vision’s helping young players: where to put their money, which physio to see, getting them on the right path. Players need help and too many agents think about the quick money and they’re gone.”

“We didn’t study much, we’re not the best at maths or whatever, because we loved football. If you’re 18 you don’t know anything – and today at 18 you get five million net a year. You buy the world. That’s exactly what you think: ‘I. Can. Buy. The. World.’ I buy friends, I buy girls, I buy cars, I buy everything. I buy love, I buy happiness. That’s what you think. When you’re 18 you don’t care what your parents say, so you need this figure guiding you. I didn’t have that. So many players don’t.”

It’s role he’s already growing into. “There are young players here with so much talent. It can be difficult to live here: beautiful place, beautiful weather, you train two hours a day, you can go to the beach. To be focused on this island is difficult but I’m experienced, so I help, advise. If they listen, that’s up to them, but at least I can say I tried.

“I don’t want them to waste their talent. I’ve given them examples of things I did really wrong. I made mistakes in my life. I’m OK with that now, but I don’t want them to do the same stupid things that leave a mark forever: ‘Bad boy’, ‘drinker’, ‘party guy’. Some newspapers still have that image of me. Whatever. Come on, I spoke in front of the UN. Tell me another player who’s done that.”

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