This year’s annual Roses competition will be officially opened by someone of surprisingly illustrious stature, ensuring that the tournament commences with far greater drama than the man’s pragmatic tendencies would prefer. Roy Hodgson will be the man of the hour, the talk of York. After a playing career in which he graced the field in the colours of Gravesend and Northfleet an astounding 59 times, and a managerial career where he has taken the helm everywhere from Oddevold to Orebro, the average York student will probably be most familiar with Hodgson in his current guise as manager of the England football team. Greg Dyke, Chancellor of University of York, has utilised his connections as chairman of the Football Association to lure Hodgson into fair Yorkshire, proving once again that it helps to be connected.
So in a celebratory spirit, here are 9 Things About Roy Hodgson. Some things you will already know, and other things will prove to be barely worth knowing. But nevertheless, who is Roy Hodgson? What can we expect him to bring to the Roses? Or should we say ‘Roy-ses’? (Editor’s note: no, we should not).
1. Guten Tag Roy
Roy Hodgson is a man of the world. The England international manager can converse fluently in six whole languages; German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, and, least impressively, English. Not only is this a two-fingered salute to those who reduce the sport of football to be the pursuit of Neanderthals, it also makes Hodgson much more likely to be able to interact with any international students.
2. Roy’s Corner
In tribute to his successful tenure as manager of Malmo, the fans have unofficially titled one section of their ground ‘Roy’s Corner’. He did win five consecutive league titles with the Swedish team though; forget Roy’s Corner, for the whole ground should have been named after him. Nevertheless, it is a fitting sign of the adulation Hodgson receives overseas. Who wouldn’t want to sit in Roy’s Corner?
3. Roy For Life
Malmo loved having Hodgson around so much that they were even willing to offer him a lifetime contract. Talk about job security. Suddenly the 8-year contract that Newcastle afforded to Alan Pardew seems slightly less ridiculous; the emphasis is on ‘slightly’. Hodgson declined politely in order to take the reins at Neuchatel Xamax in Switzerland instead, as you do.
4. Hodgson Globetrotter
Here is a list of countries that Roy has managed club teams in: Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, England. And here are the international teams that have at some point weighed up their options, and decided that Roy Hodgson was the man to call: Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Finland, England. Hodgson is not your average Englishman in football, in that he is evidently not afraid to try his hand in foreign climes. This refreshing outlook makes Roy Hodgson such a rare specimen in the modern English game.
5. He Paid How Much For Andy Johnson?!
£10.5 million, that’s how much. In 2008, Roy clearly saw something he liked in Johnson and brought him to Fulham, where the striker tried to repay him with all his might. Alas, his injury-blighted efforts only yielded 13 goals in 86 league games. Nobody said this list was going to be 9 Positive Things About Roy Hodgson.
6. UEFA Cup Fun
Back when Europe’s secondary club tournament was still known as the UEFA Cup, Roy Hodgson guided an unfancied Fulham outfit all the way to the final where they fell just four minutes short of taking Atletico Madrid to a penalty shoot-out. The most memorable scalp was taken at Craven Cottage, where Juventus arrived with a 3-1 aggregate lead followed by a goal two minutes into the second leg. Hodgson rallied his troops and Bobby Zamora, Zoltan Gera and Clint Dempsey inspired Fulham to a 5-4 victory overall. Here’s Clint Dempsey’s sublime chip that sealed Fulham’s passage. This run arguably implanted Hodgson’s name into the discussions about who should replace Fabio Capello as England manager; as Steve McClaren will testify, a run in Europe with a mid-table side can do wonders for your prestige.
7. Hugh Grant Fancies Him
Hodgson’s unprecedented success at Fulham clearly aroused certain feelings among fans previously wearied by mediocrity. Perhaps Fulham’s most famous fan who isn’t Michael Jackson, Hugh Grant apparently declared his romantic intentions to a presumably unsuspecting Hodgson. Hugh Grant is predominantly remembered for playing Hugh Grant-esque characters on the big screen, but one would suspect if he ever followed through on his proclaimed desire to sleep with Roy Hodgson that the ensuing infamy would overshadow even Four Weddings and a Funeral.
8. He Plays The Harmonica
That is pretty much it. He plays the harmonica. Would there be a better way to kick off the Roses than by England manager Roy Hodgson treating the crowd to a jaunty little tune on the harmonica? Probably.
9. Man of the People
This is hardly a ground-breaking revelation, but Roy Hodgson is a credit to his profession. Quietly charming and dignified in his interactions with the press, his varied CV depicts a man who has longed to savour different cultures. This is something that many burgeoning players and coaches in England could seek to learn from today. Hodgson enjoys opera, classical literature, and will no doubt enjoy the vociferous and warm welcome that he will receive when he comes to York.
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