I look like Peter Reid at the 1986 World Cup, running in slow motion trying to keep up with Diego Maradona. The left-sided midfielder from Real Stars under 14s has just nutmegged me and absolutely done me for pace. I chase after him in the scorching sun but with every yard I run he seems to sprint two. I can’t remember any player ever making such a clown out of me in the 36 years I have been playing competitive football.
At least I regain some pride by scoring a couple of goals for the under 12s; easily one of the best football teams I have ever played with in those 36 years I mentioned. These boys might only be 11 years old but the way they control the ball on the gravel pitch, turn and spread play is a joy to watch. This is how you play football! Passing and movement; switching play. Aside from the physical limitations of their age, the players of Real Stars under 12s are – dare I say it – a more competent bunch of footballers than my own senior team – Riga United FC – back in Latvia.