Multi-skilling's the name of the game
It's very encouraging to see a new approach to young footballers who haven't quite been able to cut it. If a lad can kick a ball, chances are he can tonk a six, serve an ace and chuck a javelin 70 feet.
In fact there's usually one kid who can do all four pretty much simultaneously. There was at our school and it didn't matter that the lad could hardly write a sentence - that wasn't what we aspired to anyway (although one day I hope to achieve it). It didn't seem to harm his chances with the lasses either.
There used to be a few individuals who played footy and cricket - Phil Neale springs to mind (not the Liverpool right-back) and Phil Neville was apparently a very handy cricketer.
I myself was on the slagheap at 16 - I was thrown on it after I 'Bendtnered' one over the bar from five yards out in the last minute. But I was one of them kids who lived and breathed football. In fact, until Debbie Harry came along nothing else mattered.
There's a consensus in the Blue Bell among topers of a certain vintage that a perfect day would end up with you and the Blondie lass (circa 1980) togged up in nowt but a Boro shirt on a hotel bed about the size of Manchester sipping a more than passable real ale from the very recently won FA Cup.
Any road it makes sense that lads who haven't quite cut it get to try summat else sporty. I'm sure I'd have benefitted from some advice at 18 when Hartlepool rejected me. (That's not summat you get over quick - being rejected by Hartlepool - I mean it's the footballing equivalent of Anne Widdecombe telling you she's washing her hair).
It was thought I had a talent for fencing but they couldn't prove that in a court of law, and me mam was always telling us I was for the high jump, but frankly the park kickabout became me only solace. Unfortunately it's a bit late for me now, unless the IOC start giving the game of darts its due. Beer-swilling blokes in buttoned up polyester tents deserve their own sporting recognition too.
You can't help thinking that there are a lot of Premiership footballers in this day and age who could've been diverted into other career paths and we'd all be a lot better off. It hardly needs saying that a lot of them could swap the turf for the springboard at the local baths and there'd be no discernable difference in their behaviour.
If Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't a footballer, I reckon he'd be perfect for dressage. I can just see him kicking up his heels and panting furiously as Zara Phillips tries to get the show pony to criss-cross across a bit of Buckinghamshire.
His namesake Brazil's Ronaldo is a shoo-in for the four-man bobsleigh - although I'm not sure where they're going to put the other three blokes - after all he's been careering downhill at a rapid rate for years now.
I can see Afonso Alves as a hammer thrower. Given his radar, he'd hit the net every time in that sport. (It's sad to hear that MIddlesbrough are losing its sponsorship deal with a sat-nav company just at the time we were thinking of fitting one on to Alves's boots).
Wazza would make a good canoeist given his liking for raging torrents of abuse. Paul Scholes has got to be good at the long jump, I mean he must break the world record every time he's goes in for a tackle.
Shaun Wright-Phillips would make a splendid speedway rider - it's just a case of getting your head down and going round and round in circles; Welsh boy Robbie Savage has always had the look of a bit of a flanker to me; and there's not a centre-back worth his salt who wouldn't be well-qualified for a bit of freestyle wrestling once they hang up the fingernails they used to hang on to slippery striker's shirts.
In fact, why stop at other sports. Footballers are always going to need to plan for life after footy (unless they're Dean Windass who will clearly be trying to intimidate long-throw specialists when he's 97.)
Becks could work for the Post Office cos it's the delivery that's really lacking there. Every time a cross goes in Heurelho Gomes already looks like a frenzied butterfly collector, somehow. Maybe Wenger should be an optician, he'd certainly be a good poster boy - 'I did not see what happened in the tunnel' - non?
Of course, in the old days you had two choices when you retired from football. I mean permanently retire as opposed to retiring every away game a la Robinho. You could become a manager or open a pub. Job security was nil in both cases and continues to be. Me, I think the likes of Lineker, Lawro, Hansen and Dixon have got it right. Take a crash course in media chitchat and you've got yourself the easiest job in the world. (Aye it's not the toughest job for me either.)
No disrespect to them blokes but I watched Clough on ITV this week and there's not a man comes close when it comes to top-notch punditry. And, before the booze got the better of him, what a devilishly handsome fella Cloughie was too. Compared to him, it's like the current crop have had the charisma airbrushed out of them.