Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Small-Minded and Faintly Comic Rant about 'Midget' Owen Hides Some Big Praise for Star of the Midfield Lampard

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Small-Minded and Faintly Comic Rant about 'Midget' Owen Hides Some Big Praise for Star of the Midfield Lampard

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

POOR old Michael Owen. After 90 minutes at St James' Park when he looked about as likely to score as Mister Magoo in a blindfold, the most inoffensive and least controversial of fellows could only find insult added to injured pride as football royalty slagged him off right royally for something he never actually said.

Yet almost lost amid Carlos Alberto's faintly hilarious rant about "what's his name, the number 10, the small one who doesn't play in the Real Madrid first team" was the fact that Azerbaijan's favourite Brazilian also noted that his England conquerors didn't just have a misfiring "midget" but a trio of giants as well.

"This midget who thinks he's a king, I refuse to talk about him any more," boomed Carlos, comically having talked about nothing else for the previous five minutes because of his erroneous belief that Owen had spent the week boasting about scoring a nap hand of goals.

Instead, said the Brazilian, he'd be prepared to talk to us about Frank Lampard, "the best midfielder in the world" or David Beckham, the man whose boots "the midget should clean" or Wayne Rooney "who's going to be great". It was this generous praise for the leading trio of contributors to England's heavy weather success which needed to be taken heed of rather more seriously than the comic book business with Owen. Lampard, in particular, seemed genuinely proud to have been singled out by the man who led Brazil's incomparables of 1970.

"You never talk about yourself like that so when somebody of that stature does, then it's the biggest honour you can get," reckoned Chelsea's midfield lynchpin.

"Lampard plays total football," Carlos cooed.

"When he has the ball he knows how to play, he can score goals, he'll try to shoot, and when the opposition has the ball he marks well."

It was a demonstration of all-round excellence now so familiar that we almost take it for granted. While complementing Steven Gerrard, Lampard has actually begun to outshine the equally tireless Liverpudlian who could be his partner at Stamford Bridge next season. …

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