“Can any professional footballers drive a lorry?” tweets @TheTinBoonie.
We’re assuming you mean former professionals, too, in which case the answer is yes, there are more than a few. We’re only including any vehicle over 3.5 tonnes, as that is the weight (in Britain, at least) that trucks are considered heavy goods vehicles. Thanks then to @ScandinoirIR for pointing us in the direction of the larger-than-life former Uruguay striker Walter Pandiani who, sometime in the early-2000s, bought a big red truck and even used it to drive to Deportivo’s training ground.
“My truck has my nickname, ‘El Rifle’, with a picture on the side,” explained Pandiani, shortly after signing for Birmingham in 2005. “It also has the flag of Uruguay and the No 7, which was my number at Deportivo. I’ve also got a telephone and two beds in the back of it! My father used to work in the lorry business and I was always asking him about them. I learnt to drive in one.” He bade farewell to his beloved HGV in 2017, selling it at auction in Madrid with a staggering 518,000 miles on the clock.
@Oxfraud reminds us that the late, great Liverpool and England striker Roger Hunt had his heavy goods licence and took over his family’s haulage business after his playing career ended. And Jimmy Greaves, who also sadly died recently, set up a materials packing company with his brother-in-law when he was still only 23 and playing for Tottenham. He would often finish training and jump into his five-tonne truck to pick up cardboard in Market Harborough.
“Stockport County’s Ben Hinchliffe was a HGV driver, alongside being our No 1 up until the start of the 2020-21 season when County went full-time,” tweets @countyshorts. “He even won the 2018-19 National League North title with us while still balancing the two jobs.”
The former Australia and Club Brugge striker Frank Farina drove a four-tonne truck when he started off his own delivery business while playing for Marconi Stallions, acquiring the vehicle off his former manager Eddie Thomson. “It’s a good mover for me,” he said. “It means I no longer have to go cap in hand to the boss.”
The former England and Nottingham Forest defender Des Walker recently revealed that he worked as a lorry driver after his career ended having grown up being amazed by the reversing skills of HGV drivers at the Coca-Cola factory near where he grew up. He told the Telegraph: “It’s a challenge, you never get bored. They’re long hours and you’ve got to respect lorry drivers because it’s hard work and a lot of concentration.”
And Kevin Williams directs us to Alan Warboys, who took the articulated route towards earning a living when his playing career ended. The former striker told the Observer in 2006: “When I finished playing, I was badly let down by Doncaster. I had started my career there and wanted to stay in football. They said there would always be a job for me but, when the time came, there was nothing. I was so disillusioned that I left football and, after a year out, I ran a pub. Then I became a lorry driver. It suits me: I never do long distances and I’m home every night.”
One-match managerial wonders
“Recently, Louis van Gaal went to manage Telstar, a second division side in the Netherlands, for one match to raise money for charity purposes. Did any other manager ever manage a side for one match only, apart from assistant managers temporarily taking over the job? Or even better: did any other manager ever have such a bizarre double-function?” wonders Fausto van Bronkhorst.
“The glaringly obvious answer is Sam Allardyce,” writes Colin Owens, “whose 100% England record was maintained by an Adam Lallana injury-time strike and a pint of wine.”
Disappointing unbeaten starts
“After eight matchdays of La Liga’s season, Villarreal, the only unbeaten team left, sit in 11th. They have played one game less than most teams, but even so, can any other side claim a more disappointing unbeaten start to the season?” asks Eugene Francis.
“I guess a lot depends on your definition of ‘disappointing’ and, arguably, ‘start,’” writes Chris Charlton-Mathews. “I would contend that the winner must be the Galatasaray side of 1985-86, whose unbeaten start to the season lasted 36 games – the entire length of the season – but who finished second, on goal difference, to Besiktas. I’d argue that going a whole season unbeaten and not winning the league must be the pinnacle of disappointment.” For more examples of teams going a season unbeaten unbeaten but failing to win the league, read this Knowledge from 2009.
Old football anthems (2)
Last week, we learned that Norwich’s anthem “‘On The Ball, City” has been sung since the club’s foundation in 1902 and as early as the 1890s by other Norfolk-based clubs. Our assumption was that no other club could boast an anthem as old as this. But Mark Ord chimed in with this offering: “In reference to long-standing chants the Pompey Chimes has apparently been sung since 1890,” he writes. “It was originally adopted by Portsmouth-based Royal Artillery fans although when that team folded in the 1898-1899 season most supporters transferred their allegiance – and anthem – to neighbouring Portsmouth.” Let’s call that Portsmouth 1-1 Norwich.
“Googling away another dull day at work, I noticed that Internazionale have no less than eight Argentina internationals in their squad (Burdisso, Samuel, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Kily Gonzalez, Solari, Veron and Julio Cruz),” wrote Tom Fowler in April 2006. “Are there any other clubs which have such a concentration of non-domestic international players?”
“Under Louis van Gaal in 1999, Barcelona boasted a squad packed with eight of his Dutch countrymen,” noted Stephen Douglas correctly: “Ruud Hesp, the De Boer brothers, Winston Bogarde, Michael Reiziger, Phillip Cocu, Patrick Kluivert and Boudewijn Zenden.” Not bad, but as we’d mentioned before in the Knowledge, the players of Belgian side Beveren were drawn almost entirely from Ivory Coast, and the team had been known to start with 10 Ivorians in its starting XI alone. Peter Kargaard reckoned Portuguese side Maritimo could beat that, though. “They have had 18 Brazilian players in their squad,” he claimed. “When they had a Brazilian manager, he had a liking for his fellow countrymen and Danish player Sammy Youssouf therefore found it a tad hard to get in to the team.”
Can you help?
“In the feisty derby against Saint-Étienne, Lyon side had four VAR decisions go against them including the dubious equalising penalty by Saint-Étienne in the 96th minute,” writes Ted Keene. “Has any team had more than four adverse VAR decisions in one game?”
“Which outfield player has been named on the bench the most times without getting a single Premier League minute of football to their name?” asks James Hamilton.
“José Fonte, 37, scored his first goal for Portugal in the friendly against Qatar, becoming the oldest player ever to score for the Portuguese national team,” reports Rui Pereira. “When was the last time that a player got such an age record with his first goal for a national side?”