Ginola and Rob
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Rob flanked by Mark (left) and Scott (right)
There are few people more inspirational than my friend Rob. He’s been an inner-city school teacher for over ten years and had a tremendous impact on numerous young student’s lives. But as they – and Rob’s colleagues are all acutely aware – much of Rob’s own inspiration comes from watching Spurs play at White Hart Lane.
Rob and Scott in December 1991. Delighted to hear Ginola will be signing for Spurs in six years time
Rob and Scott in December 2008, still celebrating Ginola’s wonder-goal against Barnsley in March 1999
And there have been few more inspiring Spurs players in recent years, than David Ginola. All football fans remember the Frenchman’s touch of genius, while most will recall a light-hearted stadium-chant suggesting that Ginola might be on Posh Spice’s mind during a certain ‘domestic’ activity with her husband.
Anyway, no suprise that Tottenham Hotspur inducted Ginola into the Spurs Hall of Fame, and Rob, Scott and I attended the event on December 11th as part of Rob’s 40th birthday celebrations.
‘When Ledley, goes up, to get the Carling Cup, we’ll be there…’
As we arrived at the ground, we were greeted by a security guard, well known for previously ejecting one of us from the ground during a match for ‘over-exuberence.’ But after brandishing our tickets and giving him a Ginola-like shimmy, we were soon safely within the hallowed confines of the stadium.
‘This is suite…’
Rob, with a reputation for talking ten-to-the-dozen was temporarily quiet… …and took in the surroundings with a reverence usually exhibited by pilgrims to religous shrines.
‘Non! Non, David! We’re not worthy!’
Soon, we were in the club marquee, and watching Ginola make his modest entrance. Rob picked his moment and went and said a few private words to his hero.
Later, some of Ginola’s old team-mates made warm introductions. Midfield hard-men Tim Sherwood and Allan Nielsen recalled their exhertions to win the ball before Ginola could begin his mazy runs. Gary Mabbutt and David Pleat reminisced appropriately. There’s always a danger that awards ceremonies will turn into one big love-in, but the right note of appreciation and gentle ribbing was struck.
Ginola was invited onto the stage and similarly hit the right note of gratitude and appreciation. A moment of quality mirth involved an anecdote about Tim Sherwood. Before playing together at Spurs, their prior encounters for different clubs usually left Ginola on the ground being told by Sherwood to, ‘get up you French twat.’
‘Who is that over there? Sacre bleu! Its George Graham! I am so pleased to see you!’
Gary Mabbutt giving David Ginola his award
‘Because he’s worth it…’
Ginola seemed really, really delighted to be given his award, and I was glad to see someone so talented – and so often misunderstood by the managers he played for – being given some well-deserved kudos.
Its impossible to know someone from an occasion like this, but I was left with the impression of a man whose dazzling confidence on the pitch was matched by a genuine modesty away from it. Ginola seemed like the sort of bloke that would be very welcome on one of our nights out – although its fair to say he might find it a difficult experience, because of course all the girls would be looking at us handsome hunks and not David…
David Ginola and Turkish
One of the worlds most infamous heart-throbs and ladies man. And David Ginola…
As the evening wore on, Ginola and the other Spurs legends – Pat Jennings, Gary Mabbut et al – were all tremendous good sports signing autographs and having their photos taken. Rob, true to form, greeted each one as if he’d just bumped into them at the pub and was clearly having the time of his life.
Rob, Pat Jennings and Scott. Incidentally, Pat Jennings and I have two similarities: we’re both goalkeepers, and niether of us has changed our hair-styles since the 1970’s
A genuine, old fashioned gent. Pat Jennings was photographed on numeous occasions and was charming and accomodating throughout the evening.
“I think I’m going to win the raffle,” said Mary who was sat next to Scott. A couple of hours later, she did!
Gary Mabbutt. Sixteen years playing for Spurs. When he ran round the pitch at White Hart Lane after his final game, many grown men (including Rob) shed a few tears.
A bonus to the whole evening was watching Scott snoozing at our table. Our charming waitress had cleared everything around him, and as Rob and I returned from our numerous photo-calls she asked, looking at Scott, ‘I don’t know what to do… what should I do?’ At this point, Rob and I realised that this evening of inspiration was now at an end. It was time to wrap Scott up, and escort him home like a sleepy toddler.