I have just returned from my first holiday in a long time, in fact the last time I was on holiday was in Spain during which my Dad was watching Southampton take on Derby County in the Championship. He enthusiastically texted me to tell me he had seen a young lad called Gareth Bale make his debut and that he was destined for stardom. A day before I went on holiday in 2013 the same skinny left-back with a penchant for free-kicks became the most expensive player in history … that’s how long it has been since I went on a holiday.
This time my destination was Italy, setting up camp in Naples to take in the splendours of Vesuvius, Pompeii, Capri, Procida and the Amalfi Coast.
What can I say, a truly incredible place. Beautiful food, beautiful weather and even more beautiful people - I had an incredible time. Sure it has its down points as well, the graffiti for instance. I saw a few things sprayed on to billboards featuring Mario Balotelli that redefined racism.
But while I was out there, I simply could not switch off my working brain - it’s a sickness I know, but I just couldn’t help it.
In terms of sporting news from the holiday a few things of note. Italy stops when Monza is on, English guys will always wear their football shirts abroad and the love for SSC Napoli far outweighs that of the Azzurri in Campania - oh and Dion Dublin was on the flight back with me. Dion Dublin on easyjet, seriously - but at least he had speedy boarding.
The other thing is that Naples has Higuain fever.
When the club lost Edinson Cavani to Paris Saint-Germain the fans were disappointed, but certainly not surprised.
The club needed a signing that would galvanise the fans, and they nipped in and signed Gonzalo Higuain as Arsenal tip-toed around a deal.
He is literally everywhere you look, on the back of every local paper, on billboards, in the graffiti, in every little pop-up shop… I kid you not; you can buy a Gonzalo Higuain shirt at the top of Mount Vesuvius. That’s right at 4203 feet in the air at the summit of the only active volcano in mainland Europe you can still purchase a Gonzalo Higuain shirt whilst taking in the most breath-taking panoramic view of the Neapolitan metropolis below.
Arsenal missed a trick with the Argentine, we know that. But the signing of a different player from Real Madrid has had a parallel effect in North London.
While Napoli badly needed a marquee signing to quieten their fan protestations, Arsenal needed one more. While Higuain has proven to not be that man, Mesut Ozil has.
Arsenal have gone Ozil mad, with shirts selling like One Direction tickets - Ozil fever has gripped North London.
So while Gunners fans can be disappointed at not having the X Factor player that is Higuain you can be sure that Ozil shirts would sell at the top of Mount Vesuvius, if it was plonked a stone’s throw away from The Emirates.
image: © Jan S0L0