Mon, Jul

Real Madrid star midfielder and ex-France football captain, Zinedine Zidane, was fast asleep and happily retired, three weeks ago, when he claimed to have been roused in the still of the night by a mysterious voice that convinced him to return to international duty.

Express sport writer, Lasana Liburd, pondered over what might have prompted the return of enigmatic Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Russell Latapy and received a vision of Dwight Yorke punching away at a laptop in a United States hotel room after another World Cup qualifying loss. Any reference in this imaginary letter to real characters is intentional-any perceived slight is not.

Dear Russell,

How are you? How are things at Glasgow Rangers... I mean, Falkirk? Did you ever buy me that kilt? I won't be needing it anymore, mate. In case you were not searching for the Serie A standings and got mistakenly re-directed to the Australian A'League site... Well, ahmm, I am in Australia now and they aren't crazy about cross-dressers "Down Under". Not many David Beckham fans on this side of the globe, I tell ya.

Sledging, spitting and excessive appealing are fine enough, though. The beaches are really lovely too. You always have to be on guard for those pesky Great White sharks though. It is sorta like negotiating a new contract in Britain.

Anyway, you are probably wondering why I am writing after such a long lay-off. And you know I am one for getting in the box as quickly as possible. So let me get straight to the point.

It has been so long since we went out together for an international and, well, I want you back. It's not been the same without you, mate. I sit next to Shaka for long flights now but he is so tall that I can't see out the bloody window! These youngsters on the team now can't hold their drinks either (I forgot to mention that Arnold and Ansil aren't here anymore) and Marvin is nowhere as sharp as you with the ladies.

Worse of all, I have a better shot at a diplomatic passport than a proper pass from these blokes. I even asked Beenie-man if I could drop back in the kitchen and fix my own meal or at least whip up something for Stern (God alone knows how he looks so healthy considering the tiny servings we have been living on upfront) but Leo turned so pale that I almost called Dr Blah Blah to give him some CPR.

Leo is a nice bloke and very well travelled, which makes him very handy for tips on good vacation spots. But I hate how he clutches his heart and rolls his eyes whenever I try to correct his tactics. It is like watching a Sanford and Sons re-run.

These Dutchmen are so strict and obsessive too. Remember when we used to have to sign a consent form for Porters to pick his team? Hahaha. None of that with Leo, though. He even makes us keep our 4-4-1-1 shape on the flight and, the other day, Atiba wanted to use the bathroom and he made the other three defenders go too so no-one could break our offside trap!

Don't get me wrong, it is really nice to have a boss who knows words with more than four letters, unlike those British gaffers, and can boff in five different languages. I prefer Italian myself. He is not too fussy about hairdos either. Hell, he would even pick a Wolfe if you let him.

Anyway, I really hope your gaffer would let you come play with us on Saturday. Can you tell him it is a really, really, REALLY important game? I asked Jack and he said it was okay if you came along and I know the supporters could do with the extra entertainment. Lata-pee? Is more like Latas-save-we these days. I even hear that the TTFF was thinking about letting Machel and Doug E Fresh play a half each on the left flank since no-one else has delivered a decent Cross Over in months. But Doug E could not get a passport. Sometimes I wish we were like America who give out green cards to anyone with a little ability who could point out the US on a globe.

Anyway, I have to go. Stern is crying again. This lean spell upfront has been really hard for him. Can you bring him one of those nice no-look passes? I know that will cheer him up but be sure to save some for me too!

Your old friend,


PS-Can I keep the armband? People, even reporters, have been so nice to me since I put it on. Shaka is even calling me "skipper" now, which is so a nice change from those damn nicknames he loves dishing out.

Maybe I can ask Leo if we could both wear armbands but I better wait til he gets some colour in his cheeks first! Then I will know he is in a good mood. Write back soon. Bye.