MARC ILES' WORLD CUP SIDESHOW: I am paying the penalty for my World Cup obsession
IT’S 11pm, and Joe Speight’s commentary on the Greece v Costa Rica game weaves itself lazily into my semi-dreamlike state. I am fighting a battle against sleep and losing.
I promised myself I would not miss a minute of this World Cup. Up to now, I had gone to great lengths to record anything – including half-time punditry – and had even gone back to watch the games played concurrently in the final round of the group stages.
But as midnight ticked ever closer, my obsession was in serious peril. The remote control was on the other setee, at least 10 yards away, its red Sky Plus record button winking at me like Cristiano Ronaldo from across the room. It might as well have been in Brazil.
I blamed two things for my comatose state. The first was a 20-ounce steak I consumed for lunch. It was now effectively a lead weight, dragging me down.
The second reason was that I had decided to stave off sleep by propping my right arm behind my head in the hope that the regular bursts of pain would supply enough adrenaline to see me through.
Instead, the entire right side of my body had gone numb, sinking an extra few inches into my sofa as if to emphasise my predicament.
When Greece scored at the end of normal time I knew I was in trouble.
Instead of watching the replay I convinced myself I had seen the goal the first time, and would be able to shut my eyes to grab a few vital of micro-nap.
Thankfully I caught myself just as I plunged into the unconscious abyss, waking just as Costa Rica kicked off again.
There were occasions in extra time when I couldn’t tell whether I was asleep or awake. I remember the commentator mention the fact that Costa Rica had only five million inhabitants at least 15 times and that Lee Dixon was trying to convince commentator Speight to start calling Sokratis Papastathopolous “Sokratis” because it was easier to say.
But the moment the referee blew for penalties my whole body found another gear. It was like that scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman suddenly lurches into life, only without the gross needle bit.
And what a shootout. Nine superb penalties and one magnificent save.
At last it was bed time. But with my veins still coursing with excitement, my pedantic psyche decided to replay every penalty shootout I’d ever seen, or been involved in, for the next few hours.
I saw David Batty against Argentina, Roberto Baggio against Brazil, Asamoah Gyan against Uruguay, even Diana Ross in the opening ceremony in 1994.
My own personal favourite was the 13-year-old me missing a penalty for Beechfield United, then miss the re-taken penalty after the keeper had moved.
By 4am I gave up the ghost and went back downstairs to the sofa to await being jumped on by my two young sons at 6am.
World Cup – the stuff dreams are made of. Yeah right.
Ilesy's TV heaven
Lee Dixon, caught on a penalty loop whilst watching Costa Rica. “You don’t save those,” he said, five times, as if there was no other possible comment to make.
Ilesy's TV hell
Gordon Strachan has developed an unhealthy obsession of working Australia or South Korea into every single point he makes at this World Cup.
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