We all have heroes and most are aware of the old adage that says, ‘you should never meet your hero because you will end up disappointed.’ The following is not on that exact level but it falls painfully close.
As a fanatical Aston Villa follower ‘heroes’ at Villa Park have been in rare supply of late. But the £7m acquisition of Belgian striker Christian Benteke, from Genk on deadline day, has provided the Villa faithful the belief that they may have found a new idol.
Having scored 4 goals in 8 games, manfully bullying all in his way, the 6ft 4inch forward has hastily established himself as a fans favourite atVilla Park. The 21 year old Belgian international has not only won over the fans, but also his manager Paul Lambert. The Scot regularly refers to Benteke as being “unplayable” and seems to prefer him to £24m record signing Darren Bent at present.
However, recent newspaper reports, regarding an interview with Villa’s butch darling, will have made for hard reading amongst fans of the claret and blue. In fact many may have felt an unnerving rumbling in the stomach region, culminating in a buxom vomit, on discovering an apparent quote from Benteke which read, 'Arsenal are the club I love, I like their philosophy of selecting young players and, besides, they had Thierry Henry.’
'For me he is the best player in the world and was my boyhood idol. I'm not afraid of making enemies at Villa by saying I love Arsenal.'
If that wasn’t enough the bulky Belgian continued to verbally punch Villa in the face by adding, 'When I joined Villa I didn't know where they played. I thought they were a London club!
'One can say worse things. I'm a Villa player for now. They're the right club at the right time.'
On discovering the interview, supposedly taken from Belgian TV, I must admit that I have not felt so disheartened since the last time that I went to a ‘Chicken Cottege’ outlet, only to be confronted by a sign that read ‘CLOSED.’
Ever since reading Benteke’s words I have tried desperately to convince myself that it must be ‘one of those misunderstood interviews where journalists twist words to get a more controversial story.’ After hours of constant repetition it may just be working, and has been further strengthened by Lambert’s reaction to the report, ‘I wouldn’t put too much credence into it, things can be misconstrued. I think it’s naughty what has been done.’
‘The big guy is more than happy here. He’s playing really well and he’s happy the way he is.’
The last time that I was so appalled to read such an article, regarding a Villa player, was when I was a fifteen year old lad wandering around a ‘Haven’ holiday camp somewhere in Wales. I flicked over to the back page of the newspaper and was greeted by the headline, ‘If I’d have had a gun I would have shot him.’
It was then manager John Gregory describing his feelings of disgust at Dwight Yorke’s move to Manchester United. The picture of Yorke, grinning widely, clutching onto that red shirt hurt me. Especially after he had said that if he ever left Villa he would do so “crying.”
That was of course before he returned to Villa Park and nearly swallowed his Man Utd badge whilst celebrating a goal in front of the Holte End.
To this day, the Villa fan’s still boo whenever they see an advert for a ‘Yorkie’ bar come onto the big screen. At least if the Benteke reports are true he is setting his stall out early.
If he does move on to bigger and better things in the future then he cannot be called a hypocrite. If he manages only a fraction of the service and success that Dwight Yorke had at Villa then I shall be a satisfied fan. Now repeat after me, ‘it’s just one of those misunderstood interviews where journalists twist words to get a more controversial story.’ ‘It’s just one of those misunderstood…’
image: © little-pete