I don’t know who the BBC or ITV have lined up for their World Cup pundits and the wifi isn’t good enough here to google it, but I think they should sack whoever they’ve got and hire Geoff Hurst, Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and Alan Smith. In fact, the BBC could do a lot worse than giving Ossie his own football/stand up gig. There was a lot – and I mean a LOT of love for Geoff in the room, from more-than-middled aged men responding in the way that a teenage girl might respond to Harry Styles, right down to mobbing the exit for a glimpse of their hero – but Ossie was far and away the star of the show: articulate, thoughtful and above all, funny.
The Telegraph made an unexpected choice in asking their arts editor, Sarah Crompton, to referee the event, which meant questions stayed very broad and general – the impact of money in the game, whether players from humble backgrounds are more likely to succeed, the problem of match fixing, whether foreign players are affecting the national game – and answers were practiced and polished. Geoff Hurst has a collection of anecdotes to match his tally of goals – he was once asked what he was doing when the fourth goal went in during the ’66 final…(at which his fans swooned).
The Argentinians came to life when Maradona came up: asked what it was like to play with him, Ardiles said ‘it wasn’t bad’. Both believed he was better than Messi is – apparently because Maradona is also quite good with his hand….
Inevitably the main question was who is going to win this summer’s tournament and equally unsurprisingly, the Argentinians tipped themselves. Germany, Brazil and Spain were also mentioned. The only surprise was Villa tipping Belgium. Might be worth a fiver.