Stevie G: A Break-Up Letter
Oh, Stevie. That it’s come to this.
No break-up is easy, and this one is no exception. You’ve been…well, amazing, these past few years, ever since I first saw you as a fresh-faced teenager against Blackburn. We were both so young then, so naive… And the good times just kept rolling in. I remember that first goal, which will always be accompanied in my head by slightly tinny-sounding music; and I remember that goal in the UEFA Cup final, when you raced on to that Michael Owen through ball and slid it home. Ah, those were the days, weren’t they?
Don’t think I’ve forgotten the good times, Stevie. I won’t ever forget them. I recall you sharing that goal against Olympiakos with me; it sent shivers down my spine, Stevie, it really did, even if it was a bit awkward that Neil Mellor and Sinama-Pongolle had both tagged along in that amazing Greek restaurant. That was the first time I told you I loved you… do you remember that, Stevie? And I did love you, even when you were doing all that flirting with Chelsea; I loved you when you scored that goal against Milan in Istanbul, and I loved you even more when you scored those volleys against West Ham the year after, or that goal against Marseille, or those goals against Real Madrid and Manchester United and Everton… And I stuck with you through the bad times too, through red cards and own goals and Phil Collins and even through Roy Hodgson and those dark, dark times of flat 4-4-2 and lumping it up to Torres and Ngog. Ours was a love that I thought would never end.
But then… then you got old, Stevie. Your legs started getting tired, your face started looking like a kind of grumpy scrotal sack, and you stopped being able to influence games like you used to. You haven’t scored a proper long-range belter for…so, so long, I can barely remember the last one. And what’s worse, you’ve started becoming a liability for the team. I can only blame Danny Sturridge for so long, but we both know, Stevie, that the fact you can’t run after an hour and have to resort to hopeful long balls that more often than not fly out of the stadium is a big, big problem. I just can’t bear to see that scowl you get whenever a full-back cuts out a pass any longer, Stevie. I can’t bear to see you doing this to your legacy when you used to be so, so good, maybe even the best. But football’s moved on, Stevie, it’s so quick and powerful and technical now and you…well, you need to stop listening to that prick Dylan Thomas, and just go gentle into that good night and the subs’ bench. I think it’s best for the both of us if you just…go now.
Look, I hope we can still be friends. I still care about you, and I know you can still put in a mean free kick or long-distance pass; but I just don’t think I can stay committed to you anymore. Stevie… Look, I’m going to be honest with you. There’s another man who’s replacing you, another man who I’m willing to give my heart and soul to, another man who can play in your position in my heart. I’m talking, of course, about the Welsh Xavi, Joe Allen.
…Wait, Joe Allen?
Stevie, Stevie, please don’t go!