Because Steve Nash Likes It
An insider’s look at the comings and goings of the World Cup.
JUNE 17, 2010: Dead-fished by Jurgen Klinsmann and Middle East Peace-Making
Back in Cape Town, there was a noticeable dampening of the city’s still irrepressible cheer following Bafana’s disheartening loss to Uruguay. The friendliness and hospitality of the locals was undiminished, but there was a certain sadness floating about with their hopes for a miracle run now all but vanished. It will be interesting to see who the locals really get behind if the home team does indeed fall out in the group stage as is expected.
Last I was in CT, we were finishing up some last minute preparations at the stadium the afternoon before the tournament’s launch when a group of four sharp-dressed middle-aged men emerged from the north-western tunnel. At their lead was a wiry blond fella with a mischievous grin on his face, standing somewhere around 6-2 and fully credentialed by FIFA. He had a quiet swag to him and clear command of his small entourage.
There was a ball lying idly off the pitch, and he immediately made a bee-line for it with the kind of tunnel vision privileged solely to those under twelve years old. It was an amusing and interesting sight. Sports are one of the only forces that can inspire a regression in to youthful innocence amongst even hardest of men. Anyway, upon fetching it, he ran on to the pitch with a skillfulness and grace that started the gears turning in my brain…that dude moves like an athlete. I had a similar feeling when I unknowingly had a kick-around with Korea’s all-time leading scorer inside the International Broadcast Center at the 2006 World Cup. For both guys, I could see an essential comfort with the ball. Anyway, as the staff reacted in horror to this invasion of the perfectly manicured grounds, I approached a little closer to see that it was none other than resident Californian/German legend Jurgen Klinsmann.
Now, most the guys managing the pitches are somewhat new to soccer, major rugby supporters in the grand majority. Soccer has always been something of a black sport in South Africa, while rugby and Springbok National Team continue to represent one of the firmest and most persistent bastions of white culture in the country. As is such, the crew on hand neither recognized the infiltrator nor cared about his immense stature within the history of the sport. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as they quickly chased Klinsmann down and unceremoniously tossed him from the field without any of the typical deference and ceremony I am sure the German is accustomed to. With a look of bemusement and disdain they explained the sanctity of the pitch, no doubt a little ticked off at the foolhardy behavior.
Alas, Klinsmann was a good sport and merely giggled and obeyed, commenting with a playful grin and accent somewhat reminiscent of the brilliant Christoph Waltz from Inglorious Basterds, ‘OK guys, pitch is good to go. Feel free to start the matches.’
Walking passed me as he exited, I reached out a hand and said, ‘Hey, how are you Mr. Klinsmann?’ All I got was a dead fish and avoidance of eye contact. Dick. I later informed the folks at the stadium of the wonderful anecdote they would now be able to tell people, that they had chucked a World Cup champion off their field without batting an eye. They weren’t all that enthused at the possibility.
I’ll need to have a word with the Governator about revoking Klinsmann’s residency privileges after he big-timed me as he did.