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One's a world beater one's a girl beater; Coward Colly doesn't compare.

IT WAS not that long ago that every TV expert with the benefit of electronic hindsight and three minutes to fill would show us the skills of Stanley Victor Collymore.

As the tape of that afternoon's game was re-run the pundit would remark on his gazelle-like pace, two-footed assurance, and the terrifying gift of being able to run directly at goal, ignoring the phalanx of defenders that littered his path.

But with increasing inevitability, the run would end with a shot that skewiffed of his gaudy Diadora boots, into the stands, a slumped head, a face wracked with pain and the pundit announcing over the freeze-frame: "It's so frustrating because Stan's got the lot. A little more consistency and he would be our answer to Ronaldo."

It certainly was frustrating for the fans who paid his vast wages. Almost as frustrating as the illogical plaudits that kept getting heaped on him, and which enabled his agent to extract vast sums of money out of mugs who believed the hype.

Mugs like Brian Little, who prior to signing Stan a year ago was tipped as a future England manager, and who now fills the hot-seat at Nationwide League Division Two side Stoke City thanks to Stan's devoted, selfless nature.

The fans who watched him week in and week out quickly realised the pundits were selling them a lazy lie. He didn't have the lot. He didn't have a brain for a start.

Sure he had the shaved head, similar colouring and features to the great Brazilian, but that's where it ended. And anybody who still felt this romantic Ronaldo analogy held any water has just seen it vanish down the drain in the most romantic city on earth.

As Britons stared at the images beamed back from Paris over Thursday morning's corn-flakes, this is what they saw...

The beautiful sight of Ronaldo, perfectly balanced, working a God-given artistry which left a tall blond in a Scotland shirt called Colin Hendry feeling bewitched and bewildered. And the ugly sight of Collymore leaving a bar where his God-given egotism had left another blonde in a Scotland shirt laying battered and bewildered on the floor. And the Ronaldo-Collymore myth was buried for good.

It had been a long time coming but the master of deceit had finally run out of alibis.

He has his apologists. He always has. On a GMTV phone-in yesterday an Ulrika backlash had started.

She was drinking pints, flirting with the lads. She had it coming, they said. Which is an obscene defence of an obscene act of cowardice. And Collymore is a coward.

A mentally inadequate bag of insecurities, fired by manic depressive mood swings and raging jealousy, who has believed every word that has ever been written about his dubious skills, and ignored every word of criticism.

He is a classic example of what happens when you keep telling a fairly talented young man with little education that he is a genius.

The use of the phrase "flawed genius" in football has become a sick joke. It used to mean Best or Maradona. Now it means anyone who can go past three defenders with a ball on a Wednesday night who refuses to turn up for training the next day because he has a hangover.

Even more sickening are their hollow apologies, penned by an agent, and read out through gritted teeth.

Collymore's went like this: "I could hide behind a facade of excuses, but petulance, jealousy and possibly too much drink are the real reasons behind this regrettable and avoidable incident."

In other words, "please Diadora give my client one more chance to hang on to his pounds 2.5million deal. We've both got a family of BMWs to support."

Ignore 90 per cent of that statement and instead concentrate on the words "petulance" and "jealousy". Words that sum up the Collymore enigma.

Jealousy? Remember his stony face as the Liverpool bench went delirious over Robbie Fowler's last second winner in that 4-3 Anfield classic against Newcastle?

Petulance? The refusal to move from his Cannock home, after Liverpool had paid pounds 8.5m for his services and the spiteful Spice Boys outburst against McManaman, Redknapp and Co after he had gone to Aston Villa.

Excuses

How he alleged they had led him astray. Remember the accusation of racism against Steve Harkness that he could not back-up?

And always the excuses of the misunderstood genius. He can't understand why the world is against him.

Well for an answer he should go back to the scene of his ultimate disgrace. France. Because there lies the biggest indictment on Collymore the footballer.

How, at age 27, when players are supposed to peak, he is nowhere near the thoughts in Glenn Hoddle's mind at La Baule.

Collymore has played for three of the four English clubs who have lifted the European Cup. Huge clubs who have lavished money, praise, care, advice, patience, love and expertise on his raw talent.

And all he has done to those clubs and their fans, is precisely what he did to Ulrika Jonsson the other night. Kicked them in the face. It is time football returned the compliment.

It's all a bit of a hoot, mon!

DATELINE: Glasgow, Wednesday, 6.30pm. After a gut-wrenching hour- and-a-half, the packed pub comes down off the ceiling and minds return to life's banalities.

The inquest starts, and the more pints go down, the more it sways towards a scathing condemnation of Scotland's inadequacies. And a pearl of wisdom emerges from an old man's mouth that makes me smile into my beer and remember why I love this game so much.

"Yez are never satisfied are yez, ya eejits. Look, as it stands now, two Scotsmen are sharing The Golden Boot with a Brazilian. Who'd have dreamt that, ey?"
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Reade, Brian
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 13, 1998
Words:969
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