x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A tougher sportsman

Many old-timers are unhappy about the introduction of the snood in the macho world of English football which, lest we forget, continues to resist introducing winter breaks that are common elsewhere in Europe's top leagues.

May 5, 1956. It's the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, and Manchester City leads Birmingham City 3-1. With 17 minutes left, Man City's German goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, injures his neck while bravely diving at the feet of Birmingham's Peter Murphy to preserve his team's two-goal lead. The keeper, clearly dazed, goes on to complete the match.

But the true heroics come three days later, when it's discovered the keeper had broken his neck in the collision. Trautmann's story instantly becomes part of football folklore, an example of the golden days when players understood that overcoming adversity was the true path to glory.

No doubt, all of Trautmann's admirers would approve of the recent decision by Manchester United's manager, Alex Ferguson, to ban the snood, the tubular neck warmer more fit for a ski lodge than around the throats of English Premier League footballers. The snood, modelled by the likes of Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri, is the latest accessory, after the ubiquitous gloves, footballers are using to fight off the cold that has gripped parts of Europe.

But many old-timers are unhappy about this development in the macho world of English football which, lest we forget, continues to resist introducing winter breaks that are common elsewhere in Europe's top leagues.

"They're for powder puffs," The 69-year-old Fergie instructed his sniffling players. "Real men don't wear things like that." Here's to real men.