Time for a Sport Is A TV Show first - a guest post. Superman - yep, that Superman - takes time from his busy schedule to reveal the inspiration behind his glittering career as a superheroing do-gooder-about-town.
Hey, Supe here. You no doubt know me as the Man of Steel, using his superpowers to rescue chihuahuas trapped in abandoned industrial buildings and foil evil plots designed to kill many innocent people and that sort of thing. What you may not know about me is that in my spare time, while I'm not single-handedly maintaining the delicate balance between Good and Evil on Planet Earth or generally using my special abilities in an array of non-perverted ways, I love to watch soccer - something which the chroniclers of my story have failed to pick up on.
Not many people in Metropolis are really into it, and anyway, it would be difficult for me to 'come out' as a soccer fan at this juncture - it would kind of ring false with this whole Clark Kent image I've had to portray for so long. I was an ace quarterback in high school, and I used to go around with that stupid jacket with the letter on it all the time back then. There were college scouts swarming all over me back then, but I actually hated football; soccer was my true love. I don't know why I kept up the pretense; I guess it would have been seen as kind of weird to admit to loving soccer in the rural Midwest back then. Whatever, it's too late to change my persona now.
I have so many issues I would like to discuss about the 'Beautiful Game', such as the MLS' single entity structure, the forthcoming purchase of Tottenham by Lex Luthor and the time that lovable scamp Stephen Ireland asked for a pair of my underpants in the mail. But I'd like to take this opportunity to get a couple of things off my extraordinarily sculpted chest. In order to do this yet maintain a degree of secrecy and keep this whole soccer-loving thing quiet, I wanted a sports blog with as pitifully low a hit-rate as I could find. So here I am.
First of all: Shay Given is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. There's no disputing this. To be honest, it's been a bit embarrassing to see so many relative no-marks being elevated to this status in recent years. I mean, COME ON!: Cudicini, Friedel, Niemi, Robinson...Then Petr "Peter" Cech comes along and everyone decides that he must the greatest, because JOSÉ SAYS SO. Listen, you could have put a scarecrow in a scrum cap behind that Chelsea defense between 2004 and 2006 and they would still only have conceded the odd goal every twenty games or so. It makes me sick the way he has to do nothing for an hour, then when a shot somehow finds its way on target and he tips it over the bar, the commentator gushes: "What a save! That's why he's the best goalkeeper in the world!" And when he makes a mistake it's treated as some huge shock, even though he does it all the goddamn time these days.
Shay Given, meanwhile, has been stood behind various attempts at a back line at Newcastle for over a decade. He actually has to do things like MAKE SAVES and CATCH CROSSES, constantly for ninety minutes. What's more, he does it, and without the aid of being so freakishly tall. What's more than more, he's had to contend with playing at a club with a seemingly institutionalized aversion to defensive organisation. And he's being doing it consistently, even finding the time to recover from almost literally being gutted. Even I would have had trouble trying to do that. That's not true, actually.
Oh, hold on: there's another frickin' hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico for me to divert. I'll be a couple of minutes. Acquaint yourselves with genius:
Okay, I'm back. So we've established something: Shay Given is fabulous. But what I really wanted to talk about is something far more shocking - something very personal, and the main reason why I chose this darkest and dottiest of virtual corners for this piece. It is a revelation so unbelievable that you'll probably have a hard time believing it, for all sorts of reasons. Here goes:
My whole life is an effort to emulate Shay Given.
Now, I quite literally know what you're thinking: "This is highly improbable and, on the briefest of investigations, a chronological impossibility - in fact, I'm beginning to doubt whether you are the real S-Man at all." Just hear me out. It's the least you could do, considering that you would all be speaking Apokolipsian if it wasn't for me.
Part of my superhuman powers is the ability to see into the future in my dreams. (For example, I can exclusively reveal that Liverpool will never win the league again, and that the biggest Broadway show of 2017 will be a musical revival of the oeuvre of Captain Beefheart called Attack of the Trout Mask Replicants.) In one such instance, I dreamt of something called a 'goalkeeper' in something called 'soccer', with a name beginning with 'S', flying through air saving something or other. (For reasons I didn't understand at the time, the dream was set in Nicosia, Cyprus.)
I didn't quite grasp my extraordinary capabilities at that age; I figured I was was just prone to some pretty funky nocturnal brain activity. In any case, I became obsessed with this mysterious figure. It touched me deeply how he used his incredible physical attributes to ward off what I assumed was a metaphorical representation of the bombardment of the world by the forces of Evil.
I took to insisting that everyone call me 'Shay', which really confused people and even led Mom and Dad to take me to a shrink (don't tell me - that's not in the comics either?). When I became a superhero, I got my Mom to put a big 'S' on the front of my costume. She thought a thunderbolt or a nice kitten would be better, but I stuck to my magnificent guns. Actually, my costume inadvertently led to the adoption of my nom de superhéro. In one of my first acts of selfless charity, I rescued a woman from a burning barn in the middle of Wyoming. As I flew her to safety, she asked me what the 'S' on my chest stood for. I couldn't exactly tell her it was a tribute to a soccer player who hadn't been born yet, so I had to think quickly: "It stands for...uh...Super...uh...Superman?" She thought it was a great name, so I stuck with it. Bottom line: if it wasn't for Shay Given, I wouldn't be a superhero, and you would probably be dead.
It's been a real pleasure to have lived long enough, through the exposures to Kryptonite and the bipolar episodes, to see this vision fulfilled. The inside of the Fortress of Solitude is covered with Shay Given posters, and I even made a life-sized bobblehead figure of the great man. I hope to be able to pluck up the courage to meet him some day. He is a symbol of security in a fraught universe. I just long for him to wrap me up in those big arms and whisper to me in that soft Donegal accent: "There there, Supe, everything's going to be alright. Everything's going to be aaaaalright..."
God, I'm so lonely. Oh Krypton, why did you have to die? WHYYYYY?
Anyway, my Supey-sense is tingling again. That's right - Supey-sense. That arachnid bastard stole my catchy little phrase. If you hear differently, don't believe it. Oh yeah - I called up Ol' Fly-breath before I started on this and asked him who his favorite keeper was: "Uh, does that Zenga guy still play?" Idiot.
So, I'm off. Stay safe, yadda yadda.