One day in 1991, a 17 year old footballer started his career with a rather famous team.
At the same time, there was a little girl in Hull who was 8 years old. She had an older brother, whom she adored and he was into football and supported Liverpool. So in that perverse way that little sisters have, the little girl decided she would support Liverpool’s biggest rival instead.
It seems obvious that an 8 year old would develop her first ever crush on a footballer and this little girl fell head over heels in love with this 17 year old footballer.
And so, for as long as she can remember, she’s been a little bit in love with him.
Her bedroom was covered in posters of him that Just17 and Sugar had published. There were stickers on her files at school. She didn’t care that other people didn’t understand why she fancied him – saying that he was all hairy and had little piggy eyes. She thought he was wonderful.
Other footballers came on the scene. Probably better looking but the little girl remained faithful to her footballer. As time went on, it just became engrained and one of those things that was central to life – the sun rises in the morning, politicians are crooked, the little girl loves this footballer.
Eventually the little girl wasn’t really a little girl anymore. She was a grown up and she could have left the mindless crush behind with her school days but she chose not to because now she liked him for other reasons. She liked him because he wasn’t like all the other footballers, he wasn’t in the public eye, he didn’t court the newspapers, he did his job and that was it. It was an admirable quality – in an age where footballers were revered as demi-gods who could do whatever (and whoever) they liked, this footballer was different. He didn’t go in for all that nonsense (not much at least, the little girl remembers a time when he went out with someone pretty famous and it didn’t end well) for the main part and got on. He didn’t deliberately seek fame, choosing not to play for a bigger National team when he could have because he felt loyal to the country of his birth.
In short, the no-longer-little girl loved him because he wasn’t like all the other footballers.
So you can imagine that someone who has had a crush for 20 years on someone (my god I can't believe it's been that long. How am I so old?!), would be more than a little bit upset to find out that the object of her crush is (allegedly) exactly like all those other footballers.
The no-longer-little girl isn’t a total idiot. She’s actually a pretty cynical individual who had experience from a young age that some men can’t keep it in their pants. But at the same time she doesn’t like believing that everyone’s the same, she wanted to believe that some people are different and can be trusted. She doesn’t want to become that cynical. Maybe that’s the little girl inside her still wanting to believe in fairy castles and handsome footballer princes.
Either way, the little girl’s heart has been broken a little bit this weekend. And that makes the no-longer-little girl sad for her.
Obviously all of this might not be true and the little girl’s crush might still be the person she wants him to be. She’ll always remain hopeful.
(I've had this as draft because I wasn't sure if I was going to have police bashing through my door in the middle of the night, but seeing as the News at Ten just named him, I reckon I'm safe.)