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‘Even his cat is called Thierry’

OPINION: Richard Osley urges football supporters to take care in avoiding Super Fan-Itis in later life

12 September, 2019 — By Richard Osley

A kitten, briefly called Thierry

“CAN we have kittens?”

“No, this house is noisy enough as it is.”

“Mummy, can we have kittens?”

And, as easy as that, two kittens arrived on Saturday morning. The victorious children shoved me a smug smile.

The negotiations had actually been a little more extended. I insisted the final written contract would have the clause: “You can only get kittens if you call one of them Thierry.”

But this desperate last throw of the dice at clawing back some authority in my own front room was soon undermined.

When the little cat climbed out of the carry case, sniffed the sofa and promptly disappeared to defecate behind the TV, naming stinky whiskers after Arsenal’s leading goalscorer suddenly seemed an inadequate, inappropriate tribute.

All those goals, all those memories – no, the real Thierry Henry would never poop his guts out on the carpet before saying a proper hello.

I bowed my head at the thought of how I had disrespected the great man with the idea of naming this cat after him, and kept it bowed until somebody agreed to clean up the mess.

It turns out I had fallen sick with the same Super Soccer Fan-itis which lots of grown men suffer from, the symptoms of which can be seen in increasingly inane ways to prove they are the world’s most devoted follower of their chosen club.

It’s the same ailment which presumably guides people to wear an itchy replica shirt on a long flight just so they can arrive on foreign soil safe in the knowledge that everybody at the baggage carousel will know Aston Villa have landed.

It’s a virus which will have led somebody, somewhere to presumably own a Nottingham Forest mouse mat, and feel comfortable enough using it at work; an illness which could fool a sufferer to propose in the centre circle of their team’s stadium just in case you didn’t know – of course we knew – that they had Sheffield United running through their veins.

Another patient will report with a story that he chose buying a blue car over a red one because Ipswich Town are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.

And so on… to the stage where when we think of Richard Osley, we think only of his clearly stated love of Arsenal. Did you hear? He’s so Arsenal-mad, even his cat is named Thierry.

I can’t be that boy. We’ve chosen a different name.

Just for context, a recent survey found that 95 per cent of Ginger tomcats currently living in Manchester are called Scholes or Scholesy, and every single one of their owners thought it was an original choice.

The other 5 per cent of ginger cats there are called ‘Mick Hucknall’, because people from Manchester also all love Simply Red without exception.

The truth is Thierry Henry’s golden service at Arsenal deserves better than having a poo-bum cat named after him, a point underlined by an unusual source this week.

Marketing Vincent Kompany’s testimonial, in which Henry was booked to play up front for an All Stars team, Manchester City – the club who can afford anybody in the world – said in a promotional statement: “The Arsenal legend – arguably the greatest player the Premier League has ever seen.”

You said it, City, you said it. A player too great to be a cat.

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