Graeme Le Saux: Left Field
Graeme Le Saux
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A former Southampton, Blackburn, Chelsea and England full-back, the erudite and engaging Graeme Le Saux is far removed from the archetypal British footballer. His distinctive commentary on all the major issues in football, on the pitch and beyond, promises to challenge everyone's perception of the game in this country.
Graeme Le Saux made an outstanding international debut for Terry Venables' new-look England side in a 1-0 win over Denmark at Wembley in March 1994, becoming the first Channel Islander ever to be capped for England.
After joining Chelsea direct from Jersey, where he used to spend his Saturdays on his father’s fruit and vegetable stall, his career flourished under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn Rovers where they won the Premiership title in 1994-95. Graeme transferred back to Chelsea in 1997 for a record fee of £5.5 million before joining Southampton in 2003. He retired as a player in 2005.
In his book, Le Saux addresses the gay slurs that dogged his career – including the infamous Robbie Fowler exposure – how he was vilified by a minority that labelled him a Guardian reader and too smart for football, and life at Stamford Bridge before Roman Abramovich millions changed the club and the game. His thoughtful manner and views on the modern game (he is now consulted for comment regularly by BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel Five) are expanded upon here, with particular focus on the huge amounts of money in top-flight football, players’ agents and the spiralling debts of countless football clubs.
As a player, Le Saux was always seen as different – someone who broke the mold, an individual with his own agenda who sought more to life than playing 90 minutes of football. His insight into the game is informed by those experiences.
the Queen. That was in the summer of 1998 after the World Cup in France when we had been knocked out in the second round. The squads from the Commonwealth countries involved in the tournament – England, Scotland and Jamaica – were invited to the palace and being driven into the courtyard behind the railings felt to me as if the gates of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory were swinging open and I was being ushered into a secret world that I had long imagined but never glimpsed. Once we were inside,
represented Roberts and moved it up into midfield. ‘At least that way, we know where he is,’ Erland said. We lost 3–1 the next day at Ashton Gate. We finished fifth in our first season back in the top flight. That didn’t bring European qualification in those days, just after the ban on English clubs in European football had been lifted, but we won the Full Members Cup again with a 1–0 victory over Middlesbrough at Wembley. Campbell resigned the following season and Ian Porterfield, who had been
Before the match, Terry told me that when we had a corner, he didn’t want me to stay on the halfway line, which was my normal position, but to move to the edge of the box. ‘If the ball comes out to you, just smash it in the goal,’ he said. Seven minutes before half-time, we got a free-kick that might as well have been a corner so I moved up to the edge of the box as instructed. Stuart Pearce was playing in that game as part of a three-man back line and he took the kick which was headed out to me.
The pressure I was under when the taunts about being homosexual took hold was immense. I would go out onto the pitch knowing that I was going to get a torrent of abuse before I had even kicked a ball. Normally, as a player, you want to stand out but you want to stand out for the right reasons. If you get stick from the away supporters because you have done something well, you can live with that. It’s actually quite satisfying. But what started happening to me was that if there was some sort of
that he might be in danger if he stayed in the country. So in 1974, he took his family to England. When the Falklands War broke out, Mariana’s father was often on British television as a commentator and analyst. Mrs Thatcher objected to him because she felt that Argentines should not be portrayed as intelligent, reasonable men like Eduardo, even though he had fled the country before General Galtieri even took power. Thatcher was particularly incensed by an interview Eduardo gave to the BBC’s