A short but sweet video of subbed right-back Rafael going mental and celebrating like a true fan when Nani scored in Manchester United's game against Spurs yesterday, making it 2-1.
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You have probably heard the rumour. Shocking, isn’t it? Shocking that so many people are happy to lap up a series of malevolent lies about one of England’s leading footballers and to spread them like wildfire in the belief — and, far worse, the hope — that they must be true.
It seems that the English public is more than happy to believe anything about footballers these days. Perhaps that is the consequence of the John Terry affair, in which the kind of improbable scandal dreamt up by the scriptwriters of Footballers’ Wives turned out to be true, but the most sickening thing about this latest sadistic rumour about another player is the unbelievable number of people on internet message boards writing things such as: "Please let this be true! LOL!"
Please let this be true? Please let this decent man see his family life ripped apart because he happens to be a footballer playing for a club other than your own? Is that how far we have sunk? As a football-loving nation, have we actually reached the stage where we hate footballers?
Not every footballer is a walking, talking egotist with regard only for himself, his libido and his bank balance. That breed represents a very small minority. The player at the centre of this rumour is renowned as a family man — or at least he was until some loser with a vivid imagination and nothing better to do with his time decided to dream up a scenario, post it on a message board and wait for it to spread like wildfire across the internet.
The internet has become a dangerous place for those in the public eye, particularly those in football. Rumours — Player A is gay, Player B is having an affair with Player C’s wife, Player D is a cocaine addict, Manager A was caught in bed with the chairman’s daughter — are peddled gleefully and without restriction. This latest rumour could even be found yesterday morning on the message board of a rival club’s official website. It has been removed.
Next time you hear that the newspapers are intent on undermining England’s players in a World Cup year, though, cast your mind back to the scandal-mongering of the internet gossips and pub bores over the past week or so.
Certain newspapers do very well out of publishing unpleasant truths about the private lives of footballers, stating that they are doing so in the "public interest", whatever that might be. What they do not do is make up or spread malicious gossip of the type presented as truth on the internet. If they did, they would be closed down.
As for the player in question, he has no choice but to ignore the rumours and hope they go away. A World Cup is looming. England expects. And what a hypocrisy that is becoming.
Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney named 2010 PFA Player of the Year
Wayne Rooney is the new Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year after he was announced as the walk-away winner.
The Manchester United striker has enjoyed an outstanding season, even though he is fighting to be fit for the World Cup 2010.
But the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, to Real Madrid, has allowed Wayne Rooney to burgeon this season.
Rooney, who helped United win the Carling Cup, has scored 34 goals for United this season. And the striker could still win the Premier League title after United beat Spurs 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Rooney is still only 24, but already he has received a litany of awards both personally and with United.
In 2002 he won the BBC Sports Young Personality of the Year. And in 2005 and 2006, he was named the PFA Young Player of the Year. And he is favourite to win the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year award, to make it a magnificent double.
At club level, he has won already three league titles and enjoyed two League Cup successes, along with the European Cup.
The announcement that the former Everton forward has won the award means that it is the fourth successive season that an Old Trafford player has received the accolade.
Ryan Giggs won the award last year, following on from Ronaldo, who was player of the year in the two seasons before that.
Rooney beat off competition from three other players who have enjoyed outstanding campaigns. The short-list, reduced from the usual six to just four players, also included Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Manchester City forward Carlos Tévez.
Fabregas was hugely influential for Arsenal before a broken leg cut short his season while both Drogba and Tévez have enjoyed their best ever season for goals.
PFA details in full
Player of the Year: Wayne Rooney (Man Utd).
Young Player: James Milner (A Villa).
PFA Merit Award: Lucas Radebe.
Premier League Team of the Year: Hart; Ivanovic, Vermaelen, Dunne, Evra; Fabregas, Milner, Fletcher, Valencia; Rooney, Drogba.
Championship: Camp; Gunter, Coloccini, Williams, Diaz; Dorrans, Whittingham, Nolan, Adam; Carroll, Chopra.
League One: Davies; Richardson, Kisnorbo, Doherty, Harte; Hoolahan, Puncheon, Snodgrass, Bailey; Lambert, Holt.
League Two: Schmeichel; Brayford, C Dawson, Sharps, Kennedy; Davies, S Dawson, Jones, Law; Hughes, Le Fondre.