Funny old Fabio

I didn’t see this article at the time, and stumbled across it today. Let’s just say that I am still desperately trying to stop my sides from splitting at yet another rather odd outburst from Fabio Capello, England’s favourite – and at times not-so-favourite – po-faced Italian.

“A line needs to be drawn,” Capello said. “Richer clubs are talent-scouting and stealing players by bidding higher and not thinking about the consequences for those countries … These players are acquiring new passports. Germany had five of Turkish origin who opted to represent them and we all know what happened.”

Yes, Fabio – we all know what happened. Your side got a right royal thrashing.

While I would agree that it is not on for countries to be stealing players, if Capello actually did a little research he’d find that in Germany’s case things are actually the other way around. German scouts have not been using their holidays in Bodrum to secretly scout Turkey’s youth academies, but the Turkish federation has been pretty active in looking to lure German-born and trained players to ply their trade for the motherland. The Altıntop brothers. Yıldıray Baştürk. Omer Toprak. Mehmet Ekici. The great young talent Nuri Şahin. I could go on. And on and on and on.

As for the five players of Turkish origin who supposedly opted to represent Germany during the World Cup in 2010, I am still trying to work out who they are. OK, we have Mesut Özil and Serdar Taşçı, born in those wonderfully Turkish metropolises of Gelsenkirchen and Esslingen – but who else? Might Fabio the Fantasist be thinking of Sami Khedira, born in Stuttgart of a Tunisian father and German mother? Or Jérôme Boateng, half-Ghanaian and half-German and born in Berlin? Or the Karlsruhe-born Dennis Aogo? Or the mysterious Bastian “Mustafa” Schweinsteiger?

Of the entire German squad in South Africa, only five were born outside the country. Four of them – Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Piotr Trochowski and Marko Marin – arrived as young children, and the other – Cacau – arrived in Germany from Brazil as a twenty year-old and like most normal people had to fulfil a ten-year residency program to acquire German citizenship. No fast-track passports for him. While Marin’s family arrived in Germany from war-torn Bosnia, the three Polish-born players were born in regions that were once historically German, with their grandparents being born as German citizens.

In trying to understand the reasons for Capello’s curiously comical outburst – apart from the fact that two of the goals in the 4-1 hiding in Bloemfontein were scored by the very Turkish Tümüs Müllah – I can only surmise that he is still reeling at the decision by the German-born, German-educated and DFB-trained Lewis Holtby to fight for a place in the German national team rather than be handed an automatic starting position for the Three Lions.

It is quite clear that Capello is talking out of his arse, and that he should be spending some of his bloated wage packet on employing proper researchers. Alternatively, he could just pop into his local bookshop and buy an atlas, if just to make sure that Berlin is still in Germany and has not been relocated to Burkina Faso. Meanwhile, he is more than happy to “poach” the Ghananian Mancunian Danny Welbeck and happily speak to Michel Platini, an Italian who chose to play for France.

You can’t have your Panettone and eat it, amico.

Funny old Fabio

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