I’m a fan of average people – confusing start I know. I consider myself pretty average and I think most people are – we’re fleshbags, air breathers, worm food. We’re statistics and numbers; a family of four killed in a car crash and the winner of a local beauty contest. We are not destined to make history but we’re entitled to live a good life if we wish. Shining examples of this are Dave from Albert Road Tesco, that bloke who runs Mr Kebab opposite The Festing and ‘The Creepy Smoking Guy’ who used to watch Monty defecate in our back garden; a myriad of Hogarthian caricatures who make my day better through their wonderfully average looking lives. Similarly, I loved Hermann Hreiðarsson for being a passionate yet decidedly average footballer who is most famous for being relegated from the Premiership many many times. My car is named after him.
And now he’s been replaced. I’m sorry Herman but since you left the England I need a new player to focus my bizarre attention on. That man has been found and his name is Shinji Okazaki.
Okazaki is not, really, an average footballer but neither is he going to win any awards for being the greatest player. Instead what I love is his unbridled energy and the way he literally runs himself to the ground every single week. For me he is the personification of the Leicester City story – an Asian man who came in and helped save Leicester (like that other one), guiding them to the holy grail of the footballing world – winning the Premier League.
Arguably many people in Japan would say that Okazaki is a great footballer deserving of much praise. But, and in the voice of Alan Hansen – he’s no Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s no Messi or Beckham. Christ he’s not even John Terry. Okazaki is not a household name in the UK and Europe and I love him for it.
And in a few years, when Leicester City (sadly) crumble like an ancient empire, Okazaki will disappear from my radar. But I will not forget the brief impact that this man has had on my life. Watching Okazaki charge up and down the pitch helping Leicester win the league has been a pleasure. His bicycle kick against Newcastle a thing of outlandish beauty. He will join the ranks of the man who gave us a few lollypop every time we grabbed a late night burger. The singing toilet attendant in Walkabout (now a Sainsburys). And the random bloke from 8 years ago who, after overhearing our conversation in a pub, said Lucy and I had perfect auras and would be very happy together.
To all of you, thank you for making my life better through your example. It’s a shame that many will never know of my thanks but you never know, one of them could be a stalker and literally waiting outside my house. How flattering is that! Please don’t stab me.