The Guardian’s Barney Ronay infiltrated an Austrian soccer chat room, hoping to gauge sentiment in advance of England’s crucial World Cup Qualifier with Austria later today. The response he received was somewhat underwhelming.
“Hello Austria. Hope you’re looking forward to Saturday. Tell us something about your team and what you think of us in England. Regards, Jurgen01.”
For a while the boards were silent. A certain Teutonic wariness seemed to be abroad. Pressed for time, I decided to take a simultaneous path straight to the top. There is, after all, only one Austrian celebrity – Arnold Schwarzenegger. “From the day he first picked up a barbell to his unprecedented seventh Mr Olympia title, Arnold sculpted his body into a physical work of art,” boasts the athlete section of the governor of California’s personal website. But would he have a moment to ponder the machinations of Group Six? “ASK ARNOLD: Send your message and he’ll answer it right here on the site.” Well, OK then.
Meanwhile in the Zoccer Forum something was finally stirring.
“It’s Zeuge Yeboah! Hello Jurgen01. Austria isn’t good, but your team coached by a Swedish guy is much more powerless. But I wish you all the best and hope your ladies David B and her fiends will qualify.”
Time to dig deeper. “So what do you think of the Sol Campbell/Rio Ferdinand debate? Who are the best Austrian players? Regards Jurgen01”
An instant reply from Franz: “I hope Austria will win, although they are really bad in football. You haven’t to be scared of them. Love you Jurgen01. Man bin ich gut in English. Franz. Destroy the krauts!”
I could get to like this Franz. But what news of the hulking Toni Polster (above, stalwart Austrian target man, a Eurotrash Alan Shearer)? Was he still knocking around? Robert DLX seemed suspicious: “Your English is spectacular for a wannabee Britain.” Now I get teary-eyed. What a feeling.
In what can only be considered denial or total naivety, England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson claims a brick thrown through a window in his Regent’s Park home “has nothing to do with England fans, absolutely not.” Perhaps a girl who wouldn’t take no for an answer, then.