Thursday, 31 December 2009

Chasing Becks through Milan.

I'm ending the year in Italy - catching up with friends. Firstly Venice to see Feda, Bruna and Gianni and now onto Milan to spend some time with Paola, Paolo and their four month year old son Mario.

It's been quite a year for Paolo not only fatherhood, but he also happened to be in the right place at the right time a couple of weeks ago when Berlusconi had a statuette of the Duomo thrown in his face. Paolo's photo whizzed round the world in seconds and for a vital few minutes it was the hottest digital image on the planet, grabbing the attention of Reuters, who ever since have been offering him regular paid assignments.
... And so it was that we set off on a vesper through the frozen cobbled streets to try and catch David Beckham's arrival at his first press conference since his return to the city.

It struck me standing in the cold outside an exclusive hotel in the fashion district, waiting for him that few others have had quite the global impact on the decade that Becks has had. Blair? Obama? One went, one arrived - but Becks seems to have spanned the whole period.

He began the noughties still in disgrace for being sent off against Argentina in Lyon in 1998 - but quickly redeemed himself by marrying a Spice Girl, scoring a last minute free kick against Greece to take us to Japan in 2002 and a life changing penalty against the Argentinians to complete his prodigal return. Then came disappointments against Portugal, a move to Real Madrid and celebrity super stardom and now here he is in the fag end of his football career, trying to find form and enough competitive games to sneak a place on the plane to his fourth World Cup finals in South Africa next year. Is there one more chapter to write, one more iconic miracle?
Suddenly he was with us, dapper in waistcoat and tie, sweeping past without stopping in his black people carrier. The paps - including Paolo panicked and realising he was heading through the backdoor sprinted round the block to try and catch him there.

I didn't run. The decade was drawing to a close and if we're honest we've all lost a little pace; the future is probably Aaron Lennon's.

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