So one of the most boring and drawn out transfer stories of all time ended late yesterday with Gareth Bale finally completing his move from Spurs to Real Madrid. Given that I don't have Sky TV and rarely watch Match of The Day, I've seen next to nothing of Gareth Bale in action, so to now consider him to be the worlds most expensive footballer is rather odd to me. He may well go on to become one of the world's greats (I assume he's not quite there yet?) but one thing's for certain, if the transfer fee of £85.3m is unjustifiable, then his reported wage of £300,000 per week is *beyond obscene.
I'll confess I'm more than a little envious, though. Not with that sort of pay packet, you understand, as it doesn't do a man any good to concern himself with the wealth or financial circumstances of another. No, my jealousy is that he will get to play football in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (below), which is one of the worlds finest football arenas and one I fell in love with back in 1982 during the World Cup.
It got me thinking on my drive to work about my own fantasy career as a professional footballer (don't laugh, we've all done it!) and those stadiums I'd love to have played in...
Having already mentioned the Bernabéu, my mind instantly drifted to my successful if not turbulent spell in Argentina (well what else would it have been?) playing for Boca Juniors (heavy influences of my idol, Diego Maradona, I'll admit) at the Estadio Alberto J. Armando (below), which is perhaps better known by the wonderful name of 'La Bombonera' or as it translates in English, 'Chocolate Box'. Few stadiums the world over have quite the character and colour of this open air stadium, set in the poorest region of Buenos Aires.
Next up I would head north to Central America and Mexico, where I would turn out for Club America in the mighty Estadio Azteca (below) in Mexico City, the scene of that infamous 'Hand of God' moment by my aforementioned idol back in '86. Second only to the Valley as my favourite football stadium of all time, this lumbering giant now has a capacity of 105,000, but back in the world cup finals in '86, games here would attract attendances closer to 115,000.
I won't include details of the Valley on this childish fantasy adventure, although I would have ended my long and established career with the Addicks, winning the Premiership and the Champions...er...OK, enough now.
Closer to home, and coming back down to earth, I'll be spending the day keeping a very keen eye on activities at the Valley, keeping my fingers crossed that nobody significant leaves and we get pleasantly surprised by a few new faces. Slater and Jimenez have a great chance here to show intent...
*Stating The Obvious Alert!