England's New National Hero


He's 6' 7". He will probably not become a poster boy for the fashion industry. He's not even that great a footballer at international level (though yesterday's hat trick in the 6-0 thrashing of Jamaica and some extremely well-taken goals of late show that international experience is improving him beyond expectations). But when Peter Crouch unveiled his robot dance to celebrate the goal against Hungary last week--and did it again yesterday, for at least two of his three goals (I missed the third so I don't know)--he danced his way into the hearts of every football lover and every World Cup-fearing observer in the nation. At last! A footballer who's less cool than you or me! A footballer who's so true to his own quirky nature he doesn't mind looking an idiot in front of the entire nation! Until Crouch we didn't realise how fed up we were of the Beckham model of ultra-glamorous sportsmen destined for the billboards of the world. They are yesterday's heroes. The heroes of today don't reinforce our fear and self-consciousness, they release us to be ourselves without apology. It's like Nobby Stiles all over again--only much, much bigger...

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