A blast from the past : Why England will win Euro 2008

Back in 2003, my hatred for the England football team was at its height. Nigeria and England had been drawn in the same group in the World Cup in 2002, and the English press said all sorts of terrible things about my Nigeria, and how the English would tear us apart. I was forced to listen to this babble from The more they talked up their team, the more they talked down mine. Sadly, we lost our two previous matches to Argentina and Sweden, and England needed to beat us 2-0 to guarantee top spot in the group. I was so happy when they couldn't break us down, and the match ended 0-0. We had only our pride at stake, and we stood firm and resolute, with what was a reserve team at the time.

But what turned me, and why I will never forgive the English press was a quote in the newspapers the next day. It was from a Coca-Cola advert. "Goodbye Nigeria. At least, you dazzled the world with your luminous shirts". Still smarting from our first world cup exit from the group stages, this incensed me. And from that day, I have hated the England football team, and have quietly rejoiced whenever a result doesn't go their way.

OK, so back to the title of this post. Back then, the press were all waxing lyrical, in the way only English journalists can, about how England's 'golden generation' was coming off age, and how they were going to win the world cup in 2006. A lot of stuff was written, but I remember one article very distinctly. A chap called 'Dan Warren' felt that maybe 2006 was too soon, but that England would definitely win Euro 2008. At the time, he would have been labelled a 'pessimist' such was the height of belief at the time. He felt that Alan Shearer would be England Manager, and he would have a wealth of talent at his arsenal. Looking back at the article now, I can only laugh at his 'foresight', but it's interesting how time has changed what was actually a very realistic outlook. I mean today, all you hear is how English talent is not coming through because of all the foreign players, and how it is affecting the national team, back then is it was:
The recent steady flow of talented young stars has turned into an veritable torrent, with a new teenage hero seemingly unearthed every week.

A brace by 19-year-old Michael Tonge against Liverpool on Wednesday, while 20-year-old Neil Mellor was scoring at the other end, added two more names to this term's astounding production line of promise.

So let's look at Shearer's team of 2008, shall we? Remember, this was written way back in 2003. It is surprisingly accurate, and a lot of these players made it through to the big time, while a few faded into relative obscurity.

And where are they now?

Goalkeepers: Kirkland, so much promise, but an injury ravaged career meant he has never really had his chance at international level. Robinson however, is England's number one, and not on the bench as projected, although a few recent gaffes means that he may not be there for much longer. And who would have imagined that David James would still be contesting for the keeper's spot ??

Defenders: Rio Ferdinand is still going strong. His younger brother Anton Ferdinand is still a rising star though, and not quite international standard. Martin Taylor is now with Birmingham city, and now 27, he had a lot of promise back then, but never made it to the top. Ashley Cole has made the left back position his own, and Shaun Wright-Phillips eventually moved forward and is now regularly playing as a right midfielder for England. John Terry, far from being on the bench is now England captain, and one of the world's top defenders. Wayne Bridge is slowly fading from international reckoning, with the emergence of Joleon Lescott and Nicky Shorey.

Midfielders: Liverpool's Gerrard is now is his prime and is doing very well for England, although his form has dipped in recent weeks. Joe Cole plays on the left now, and is doing ok in what was England's problem position for years. David Dunn is now back with Blackburn Rovers after a spell with Birmingham. Once tagged "the new Gazza", today, he has just one England cap to his name, and his time has come....and gone. And from the bench, Carrick still makes the squad, but Micheal Tonge had his best season in 2002/2003, and never really reached the dizzying heights that were expected of him.

Strikers: Owen and Rooney are still what many regard to be England's best strike partnership. However, a certain Emile Heskey is trying to change that reality, although at 29, he can't really do that for long. Defoe, Defoe. So much talent. Eriksson left him behind for the 2006 world cup, opting to take an untested Theo Walcott, that was the day I confirmed that the man was insane. And as for Neil Mellor, he now plys his trade with Preston North End, never made it to the top, he was king of the reserves at Liverpool then, but injury and bad luck have meant his career never really took off, which is a shame really.

And of course, manager Alan Shearer is now a football pundit with the BBC !!

And as for the 'all conquering England team' they are all hoping that Israel does them a favour against Russia on November 17th, otherwise the match with Croatia a few days later will be largely an academic affair. And all the players listed in this post will have one thing in common, they'll all be home watching someone else win the tournament.

And my hatred of the England team? It's still there, but now that this place is my adopted home, I have to admit that I have come to admire the sense of national pride be it Rugby, football or even curling !! I have to admit, it's infectious, and I only wish Nigerians had the same sense of patriotism and national identity. And sometimes, I get carried away along with them. I'm still not an England fan, but I can see myself rooting for them one day in the near future.


Made in Nigeria

Saw this story yesterday, but it's really gone round today.

A Nigerian undergraduate has reportedly been making helicopters out of old car and bike parts. Imagine my surprise when this story appeared on Slashdot, the tech news Mecca.

With all the bad news about Nigeria that normally goes round, and some so called smart person claiming that black people are not as intelligent as whites, this makes me really proud.

Let's just hope that the exposure this boy has gotten will help him out, although sadly, it would almost definitely mean him leaving the country.

The Diet: Week 1

OK, so the diet has well and truly begun. I've been on the diet for a week now, and I don't feel like I've lost any weight, but I'm not giving up yet. It hasn't all gone smoothly, but one step at a time, eh?

So, I'm cutting my calorie intake to between 1300-1600 per day. I'm using the slimfast plan as a template, but I'm using slimfast meals as well as normal food. So it's basically:

1. A 300 calorie breakfast

2. A 300 calorie lunch or dinner

3. A 600 hundred calorie lunch or dinner

4. 3 100 calorie snacks

And the total intake is 1500 calories.......Slimfast meals are about 200 calories each, so that would reduce it to about 1300. The recommended intake for a man is 2500, so this is a significant cut, and should make the weight drop off. The first week is meant to be when you lose the most weight, so I'm not happy I haven't dropped anything significant, but I'll keep on keeping on.

With Baby O taking ill on Wednesday, I was unable to do any exercise this week, working from home and looking after a baby at the same time is essentially doing two full time jobs at the same time, and is remarkably difficult/impossible. At the end of each day, I was mentally exhausted. This week though, I intend to take at least 3 30 minute walks.

Anyway, the week went pretty well, Monday and Tuesday were great, I worked from home for the rest of the week, and that was tough, but I pulled through. Saturday was a bad day though, it was a friend's engagement party, and we'd chosen what we wanted to eat about 2 weeks ago. Let's just say I choose my pre diet normal, and the portions ended up being larger than normal, basically what you would expect from a Nigerian restaurant. So one off day. Today, back on track, and spot on.

So next week, the battle continues. The important thing is to make sure I get my 30 minutes exercise 3 times this week. Luckily, my office is in a massive park, so I'll be able to do this without going to far, as long as I wrap up warm, I should be fine.

Wish me luck !!!


The post that could have been COME ON ENGLAND but is now called "Bad things happen in threes……."

This weekend looked like it was going to be a hat-trick of sporting glory....

1. England would beat Russia in the football and qualify for the Euro 2008 championship with a game to spare. I'll do a post later this week about the England team and all that....called 'Why England will win Euro 2008'

2. The England Rugby Team would win in the World Cup final, against the favourites South Africa.

3. Lewis Hamilton would cap off a fine season by clinching the Formula 1 championship. All he needed to do was come 1st or second.

Well, what happened?

1. England was 1-0 ahead, and after four minutes of madness, Russia were in the lead, and won the match. Now England's qualifying hopes are hanging by a thread, basically hoping that results go their way, if Russia fail to win in Israel or Croatia fail to beat Macedonia (probably never going to happen), then England will need to beat Croatia to qualify. But it is very possible that by then, England would be out, and everyone will be asking for the manager to be sacked. Tsk Tsk.

2. Hey, it was always a long shot, wasn't it? Well, England gave it their best shot, and went down gallanty......6-15 to the mighty Springbok.

3. Now this one was painful. A pretty bad start, and a careless mistake, and he found himself in 8th place. Then, even worse, a dodgy gearbox dropped him into 18th place !! The dream was over. But he battled on, and ended up in a remarkable 7th place, sadly outside the points. If he had come 6th, he would be world champion right now. Fortunately, that IDIOT a.k.a Fernando Alonso, who has been acting like a real spoilt brat didn't win it, the outsider Kimi Raikkonen won the race, and with it the world champsionship. Lewis Hamilton will be bitterly dissapointed, but he should not despair, he's had a REMARKABLE season, he will be champion one day, I'm sure of it. And Alonso will end up driving a lorry across the continent................................

So, England failed to win on all three fronts. So, so sad........

STOP PRESS : Edit at 23:22 (21-10-07)

Hamilton may yet be crowned World Champion.The cars of BMW Sauber and Williams are being investigated for alleged irregularites with the cars' fuel. Williams's Nico Rosberg was fourth in the race, followed by BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld.

If they are disqualified, Lewis Hamilton would be promoted to fourth, giving him enough points to displace Raikkonen as world champion. So we might be waking up to good news tomorrow morning. YAY !!

 EDIT :  09:15 (22-10-07)

They met for six hours and then decided to do nothing. Spineless. Mclaren is going to appeal, but I doubt it will make a difference. The next race is in 22 weeks. GAME ON !!


My near death experience…….

Last week, I came face to face with my mortality in a very strange way. I suddenly felt very mortal, very vulnerable, very hopeless as my life flashed before my eyes. I haven't spoken about this to anyone, not even my wife. It's been running round my mind for days now, so I've decided to bare my old here.

No, I wasn't hit by a car, or something like that. I was denied life insurance on 'health grounds'.

You see, in two weeks time I'll be 30 years old. And for the last few months, I've been starting to feel old, starting to realize that I wasn't going to be a millionaire before my 30th birthday after all (There's still a few days though!), I won't rule the world when I'm 40....and so on and so forth. With all this weighing on my mind, the life insurance thing hit me right in the gut.

The insurance company didn't give any information other that it was on health grounds. Now just think about it. They are so sure I'm going to die, that they have decided that I'm not worth the risk of a few quid a month to insure.

I'm going to die..........yes, I know I will one day. But these guys must of thought I will die pretty soon. So I decided to look at the possible reasons. This is the information the insurance company had.

  1. I'm very overweight

  2. My dad had a stroke before he was 50

  3. My grandad (father's side) died of a stroke at 52

  4. My grandad (mother's side) has diabetes

The stuff they didn't know was :

  1. My uncle (Dad's brother) has high cholesterol

  2. My grandmother (Mum's mum) has high blood pressure (hypertension)

All of a sudden, the fragility of my DNA was staring at me in the face. My genes are all messed up. I'm a walking time bomb. I remembered last year, when I tried to join the gym at work last year, I was turned down because my blood pressure was too high. They said I should get a note from my doctor before I can join. I brushed it off, never went to see the doctor.

I thought about my wife and daughter. What would happen to them if anything happens to me? What about all the plans we've made, all our hopes and dreams? Our little family? My heart was breaking into tiny little pieces.

I felt so hopeless, even became ill towards the end of the week with worry.

Over the weekend, I suddenly realized that out of all the stuff on my list, I can't do anything about any of them, except the very first one.

I can loose weight.

So I've started a diet this week. I've slowly come up with a plan.

Use the stairs at work instead of the lift. Take a 30 minute walk 3 times a week. And in a month, go to the gym to try and join again. If my blood pressure is still high, go and see the doctor. It's time I started to look after myself. change my eating habits for good, not just a short term diet.

It's going to be a long hard road, but maybe this is the kick up the backside I need. I'm not getting any younger. I owe it to those who love, and who I would never want to leave behind.


The long walk…….

I woke up this morning with a knot in my stomach. I've been dreading today since that letter dropped on the doormat a few weeks ago. Well, the day had finally come, when I would have to betray the trust of someone I loved.

I managed to start the day as normally as possible. We spoke to each other, although I couldn't make a word of what she was saying, my mind was somewhere else. And then I looked up. 10 o'clock. Time to go.

We went downstairs together, and got in the car. It was a short journey, and we were there is almost no time. I went into the waiting room, and was told to wait for our name to be called. All the while, she had no idea what was about to happen, and was darting about the room.

There were several of us, all there for the same reason. Some of us were there for the first time, the look of guilt on our faces gave us away. Some were veterans, hardened by experience. We all sat together waiting, trying to make decent conversation, and looking up every time the board lit up.

It didn't help that they were running late. 1 hour after my scheduled appointment. I finally saw our name on the board.

I got up, picked up my darling daughter, who had no idea what was going on, she was enjoying playing with the other babies. It was a long walk, but we finally got into the nurses room.

After a short talk, I held her down, and the nurse dug the injection into my little girl's leg. She had a look of horror, fortunately, it was the nurse she was looking at, not me, I couldn't take it. And soon it was over. She held on to me for comfort, and started to cry. If only she knew, that all along, I was part of the plan..........

While we completed the paperwork, my little girl was back to her cheerful self. In less than a minute, her wonderful smile was back. She got on the floor, and continued trying to walk, stumbling, and eventually, giving up, and crawling away as fast as I could chase her. My little girl was back !!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I took my little girl for her immunization today for the first time. My wife has done all the previous ones, but I had to do it today. She was pretty good about it though, cried for less than a minute. I think it affected me a lot more than her.......

By the way, her birthday party went really well. She actually had four parties, my mum had a little party at her place, and my dad had one at the family home, both at the same time while we were entertaining guests here. And then she had one in school the next day.

SO much love to spread around !!!!!!


The most inspiring thing I’ve read this year……..

I got this from here, it's an AWESOME read, very touching and inspiring.

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.

They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O'Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

He began by showing his CT scans, revealing 10 tumors on his liver. But after that, he talked about living. If anyone expected him to be morose, he said, "I'm sorry to disappoint you." He then dropped to the floor and did one-handed pushups.

Clicking through photos of himself as a boy, he talked about his childhood dreams: to win giant stuffed animals at carnivals, to walk in zero gravity, to design Disney rides, to write a World Book entry. By adulthood, he had achieved each goal. As proof, he had students carry out all the huge stuffed animals he'd won in his life, which he gave to audience members. After all, he doesn't need them anymore.

He paid tribute to his techie background. "I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh." Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he'd drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."

While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He talked of requiring his students to create videogames without sex and violence. "You'd be surprised how many 19-year-old boys run out of ideas when you take those possibilities away," he said, but they all rose to the challenge.

He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home's resale value. He knew his mom was proud of him when he got his Ph.D, he said, despite how she'd introduce him: "This is my son. He's a doctor, but not the kind who helps people."

He then spoke about his legacy. Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. It had one million downloads in the past year, and usage is expected to soar.

"Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice."

Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place." He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though "I may not get there with you."

Dr. Pausch's lecture, in the same way, became a call to his colleagues and students to go on without him and do great things. But he was also addressing those closer to his heart.

Near the end of his talk, he had a cake brought out for his wife, whose birthday was the day before. As she cried and they embraced on stage, the audience sang "Happy Birthday," many wiping away their own tears.

Dr. Pausch's speech was taped so his children, ages 5, 2 and 1, can watch it when they're older. His last words in his last lecture were simple: "This was for my kids." Then those of us in the audience rose for one last standing ovation.