Charlton connections at the World Cup
I love the World Cup, and like Hungry Ted
it was this festival of football that made a life-lasting impression on me. My first football memories were West Germany 1974, although I do have vague recollections of the fatal England v Poland game the autumn before.
The orange-shirted Haan, Neeskens, Krol, Jansen, Rensenbrink, Rep, the Van Der Kerkhof brothers and my idol Johan Cruyff were in fact responsible for my falling in love with Charlton. It wasn't as complicated as it sounds. For a whole year after the 1974 World Cup I nagged my Dad to take me to football, to see close up this game that had enthralled me. Total football, the Cruyff Turn, the Arie Haan thunderbolt. My Dad took me to The Valley and the rest as they say, is history.
The times of the games work out pretty well here (Bermuda is four hours behind the UK), and I plan to watch as much of the action as possible. Unlike four years ago when I was in Chicago, at least one can have conversations with strangers about football here. There was nothing more to bring on a bout of homesickness in America than the World stopping for a World Cup, while the majority of Americans concern themselves with baseball.
Mind you ESPN have gone to extraordinary lengths
this time to bring the beautiful game into the living rooms of Americans, which will please my collection of soccer-mad friends in Chicago. It pleases me also as it will ESPN's pictures that we will watch on television screens in Bermuda.
You may think that little 'ol Charlton has no interest in this summer's extravaganza, well think again. If I stretch the imagination a little there are no fewer than 7 ex-Addicks appearing in South Africa, and that doesn't include Shaun Bartlett, Mark Fish and Robbie Mustoe, who are there in a media capacity. These are the seven:Danny Shittu (Nigeria)
Well the man who once while on loan at QPR had to help the interviewer with the prounounciation of his name never made a first team appearance for us, but he has made over 250 appearances for Blackpool, QPR, Watford and now Bolton. He is now out of contract and is available on a free transfer and turned a move to Turkey last week. Big Dan has 24 Nigerian caps and is expected to start alongside Joseph Yobo.Madjid Bougherra (Algeria)
Signed and sold by Alan Pardew, Magic has gone on to be quite a star at Rangers. Despite being born in France he decided to play for the country where his grandfather was born and has collected 40 caps. Algeria are of course in our group and he only made the final squad after declaring himself fit following a calf injury. Blackpool's Hameur Bouazza did not make the final 23.Jermain Defoe (England)
Judasssss!! Never liked the bloke personally and would slag him off at will to anyone who would listen when we regularly finished higher than Spurs. Defoe was always a shoe-in but despite him appearing to score at will (he got 3 hat-tricks this season) for the 5th season out of six the former Addicks academy player finished with less goals than a certain Darren Bent. Capello is likely to use Defoe as an impact player who has scored 11 goals in 40 appearances for England.Jonathan Spector (USA)
Yep, possibly one of the worst players I saw in a Premier League patented Charlton shirt, the boy from the suburbs of Chicago is expected to start for the USA on Saturday week against England. I had forgotten that Spector was originally at Man Utd after being spotted while playing for the American Under-17's. A regular last season for both the USA and West Ham, he has played over 100 games for the Hammers and was on loan to us in the 2005/6 season starting just 16 games.Alexandre Song (Cameroon)
One of our more popular loan signings. Many of us could see his talent during the 12 games the then 19-year old played for us at the end of our relegation season. Song went back to Highbury and was on the fringes until this season when he was a midfield regular playing almost 40 games. Song has 22 caps and is expected to start for Cameroon alongside his mentor and older cousin Rigobert.Stephan Andersen (Denmark)
After playing just 17 games in three seasons for Charlton, Stephan went back to his homeland in 2007 and signed for Brøndby where he has been their first team goalkeeper ever since and is the club's reigning player of the season. Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen is first choice but he is still recovering after dislocating his elbow in a game at Chelsea in April, so Anderson may play in the Danes opening match against Holland.Dennis Rommedahl (Denmark)
Loved him or loathed him, watching Rommedahl take his place against Holland on June 14th for his 96th cap will remind us all of times past. Sold for £680,000 three years ago, the lightning quick Dane played 90 games for Charlton and never scored at The Valley but did score a little peach at Selhurst Park! This season Rommedahl started 16 games for Ajax and scored 6 goals.