Thursday, May 03, 2012

Tim Vickery in South America

Gus Poyet was recently remembering the advice he received when he joined Chelsea 15 years ago.

"I had a team-mate at Zaragoza who had spent four or five years in England and he told me all the things that I shouldn't do," he said to the Uruguayan press.

"'Don't dive in the area, trying to get a penalty, don't score a goal with your hand, don't try to cheat the ref, don't try to pressure him to give a yellow card to an opponent'. At that moment I wondered where I was going. I thought I was on my way to another planet! But I adapted."

Football might be a universal language, but we speak it with different accents - one of the reasons that bringing in a player from a different culture always contains elements of a gamble. Not only is he a human being who has to adapt to life in a new country, he may also have to change some aspects of his behaviour on the field - or face the consequences.

All of this has since been discovered by one of Poyet's compatriots. When Luis Suarez joined Liverpool I imagined that his attacking thrust and the range of his talent would make him a firm favourite with the club's fans.

I also suspected that his competitive nature and temperamental streak would mark him out as the type of player whom opposing supporters love to hate. I did not bargain on an international incident.

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