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'Seaman comes through the mixed zone crying...and one of the journalists starts booing him'

Miguel Delaney is this week’s guest on Behind the Lines.

David Seaman after England lost to Brazil at the 2002 World Cup.
David Seaman after England lost to Brazil at the 2002 World Cup.
Image: EMPICS Sport

THIS WEEK’S GUEST ON Behind the Lines is Miguel Delaney, once of the Sunday Tribune and now the chief football writer with the London Independent.

If you’re unaware, each episode of Behind the Lines features a lengthy chat with a sportswriter about their career along with their favourite pieces of writing.

The show is exclusive to members of The42, and to subscribe and gain access to a 23-episode back catalogue, go to members.the42.ie. 

Among Miguel’s pieces was one written by Barney Ronay for the Guardian in 2010, which ran beneath the truly excellent headline, “Will somebody tell David Beckham that it’s time to go away?” 

The piece was written after England limped out of the World Cup with a defeat to Germany, a competition which Beckham spent sitting on the bench in an expensive three-piece suit, looking like, in Ronay’s words, “a sprightly Victorian cartoon badger who works at the Bank of England.”

Discussion of that piece led to a chat about the celebrity culture that attached itself to England’s so-called generation and their relationship with the press, at which point Miguel plucked a remarkable story from tournaments gone by, after England were knocked out by Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup. 

“One of the things I remember from when I first started going to tournaments, my first was Euro 2008, [was learning of] one of the great joys for Irish journalists, particularly in the 1990s – following the drama around the English press pack.

“The drama around it would almost reflect the team. I am part of that press pack now and it does feel very much removed from that era.

“There’s one story that sticks in my head, I remember Paul [Howard] telling me this, when [David] Seaman came out in 2002 after getting lobbed by Ronaldinho.

“There had been a bit of a testy relationship between Seaman and the press to that point.

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“So he comes out and through the mixed zone he’s crying, and apparently one journalist from that era – now retired – starts just booing him!

“As he comes through the mixed zone, booing him…which I assure you is something none of my colleagues in the pack would do today!”

Source: ClassicEngland/YouTube

Things aren’t quite as bad between players and press today, and Gareth Southgate has consciously worked on fostering those relations. Hence journalists were invited to play darts with players ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“It is still the case that the press will set the agenda, ultimately, it’s where 70 to 80% of news breaks and it still dictates things”, says Miguel.

“Players are still concerned by how they appear. Take a minor example from that World Cup, when [England assistant coach] Steve Holland accidentally – or maybe intentionally – was photographed with the team line-up written on a piece of paper.

“It still massively conditions what everyone talks about, and I think the press has a huge power in that way.” 

Listen to the full interview with Miguel by subscribing here. 

To listen for free to some highlights from the first 12 episodes of this series, follow this link. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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