Top 10 Tips To Avoiding International Embarrassment


After a disappointing meeting between England and Poland during the recent international break, today on the blog Ryan O'Donovan gives us 10 tips to avoiding international footballing embarrassment.


A lot of you reading this may not be England fans (luckily for you). Nor may you have ever seen an England match before because our international matches have no interest to you (and I don’t blame you). However, you may have recently seen “the Farce”, as the right honorary and great Adrian Chiles referred to it as, against Poland on the 16th October.

Although it wasn’t played on the 16th, because the Polish FA refused to close the roof in order for them to have somewhere to park their nuclear sub for the night. As a result, the Polish FA made fools of themselves and their country in front of the entire world after what was a great Euros.

But how does this affect you? I know for a fact that there is no way you want to embarrass yourself when you finally pull on your nation’s colours in the 2014 World Cup, so how do you avoid it?

Just stick to these ten simple tips.

10. Don’t do a Diana Ross

Okay, so the younger readers amongst us may be wondering why I’ve mentioned a pop superstar’s name in a football article. There are good reasons my friends.

Unfortunately I am too young to remember the World Cup in 1994, but I sure do know about how the Americans like to turn everything into a big, bold, no-cost-too-big production and they sure did that with the opening game.

Let me paint the picture for you.

The lady herself is on the pitch, dancing away while surrounded by what seems like a million Stormtroopers. The ball is placed what can only be yards from the goal and she steps up, as confident as Ronaldo, Rivaldo or Pele.

And she hits it.

Not only does she hit it worse than a toddler can kick a ball, she misses the target completely in front of the world’s television cameras.

But, this being the US of A, the goal still explodes like there was a geyser underneath it to cause even more embarrassment to her.

All in all, if you want to save yourself from this type of embarrassment, it’s best not to let Lady GaGa take a penalty at the next World Cup, or in fact let her anywhere near it. If you can get it up on YouTube then do, it will make you giggle like a schoolgirl for hours.

9. Don't do a Kevin Keegan Rant

Another one of those fabled footballing moments that will be told from father to son is the Kevin Keegan rant.

After Sir Alex Ferguson suggested that teams tried harder against Manchester United than they did against Newcastle, Keegan went as berserk as a monkey trapped in a telephone box live on TV. Obviously, this attack did him no favours and Newcastle lost a 12 point lead in the second half of the season and eventually finished second, so in fact it was Sir Alex and the rest of the footballing world who you could say “loved it”.

Kevin Keegan will always be remembered for his moment of madness in front of Andy Gray and Martin Keys and will most certainly always appear as part of any embarrassing list.

What do we, the pundits, learn from this? Simple. Don’t go live on Sky ranting and raving about how “you will love it if you beat them” because really, you’re just acting like a spoilt teenager from My Super Sweet 16. Not to mention you’ll be ridiculed internationally on Facebook and Twitter for the next 4,284 years.

8. Don’t Urinate on the Field of Play

Believe it or not, this has happened before. And it's even worse when its not just the people in the crowd that spot you being a dirty person, but a photographer's camera lens does too and its then on the internet for the world to see.

One of these incidents occurred in the Egypt - Ivory Coast Africa Cup of Nations final back in 2006 where one of the Ivorian players was caught having a wee out of the bottom of his shorts.

Now, I don't know if shorts were invented for this reason but it seemed to work for him.

I suppose.

But now, in the aftermath, his dirty little escapade is spread on social networking sites like a rash spreads on your arm and it's there for everyone to see for all of eternity.

So, if you don't wish to be embarrassed by every footballing nation then do your business in the dressing rooms and not on the pitch for the world to see.

7. Don't put Over 100 Goals into Your Own Net

Yep, you did read that right. I suppose I should give you the score of this game, which was played in Madagascar on October 31st 2002.

It was 149-0.

No, that's not a cricket game score put in there by mistake. That really was the score line.

The match was between Stade Olympique L’Emyrne and AS Adema and after L’Emyrne got a tiny bit annoyed at a refereeing decision they decided to open up the plastic casing on their big red self-destruct button and press it.

And boy, did they press it.

They constantly put the ball into their own net whilst the Adema players stood there, watching on as spectators.

All I can say is what idiots!

This really is one of the best ways to embarrass yourself across the globe, so if you don't want to be remembered for all time as the bloke who was part of a team that scored over 100 own goals, then don't take after this team.

6. Don't have Affairs

Yeah, we all know full well who had an affair. Ashley Cole, Ryan Giggs and John Terry. The three biggest fools on the planet.

The biggest one of these has got to be Ashley Cole. Regardless of how good he is at football, you just do not cheat on Cheryl.

Have you seen her?!

What makes this worse is that the woman that Ashley cheated on her with wasn't even good looking. I've seen snails, tortoises and slugs that are better to be honest.

If that wasn't embarrassing enough for him, it got slapped across the front pages of all the national newspapers in the UK so he will always be remembered as that little love rat that also played a bit of football.

As for the other two, don't even get me started!

The best way to avoid embarrassment on this scale is to simply avoid cheating. It isn't difficult. If you stick to that tip, you will certainly be adored by hundreds of millions of screaming girls.

Kind of like a paradox, isn't it?

5. Don't Star in Your Own Rap Video

This really will embarrass you. If you are a footballer, then, more often than not, you are only good at football. Not singing, not dancing and definitely not rapping.

Only, Clint Dempsey and Andy Cole seem to think differently.

Dempsey, AKA Deuce (snigger), teams up with Big Hawk and XO in his rap video (thanks Nike!) while Andy Cole is in a nightclub with a woman singing “outstanding”.

I'm guessing she's not talking about either of their songs.

If you can bring yourself to torment your ears for a couple of minutes then have a watch of the videos, I guarantee that you will never look at either of them in quite the same way again. Whatever you do, if you cant rap then don't star in a rap video. You will have to do the Gareth Southgate paper bag do when you leave your house if you do.

4. Don’t Score a Sublime Own Goal

We all know that it’s inevitable that people will score own goals. It happens all the time, from simple deflections to heading past your own keeper.

Only, sometimes it gets worse than that.

Take that poor Man City lad, Jamie Pollock. Not only did his own goal take some serious technique to loft it over the oncoming striker and then, as cool headed as you like, head it over the on-rushing keeper, but it also got his team relegated. (Yes, younger fans, I did say Man City got relegated).

The most recent own goal that could rank up there amongst the best is Jordi Alba’s recent mess up against Deportivo. He showed outstanding skill to chest it down to his feet and then lob Victor Valdes.

Unfortunately, both own goals will be remembered in infamy and will be laughed at in pubs forever, so it really isn’t worth your while scoring an amazing own goal.

It’s not worth the embarrassment.

3. Avoid Goalkeeping Howlers

How many goalkeeping howlers can we mention in 30 seconds? Tons I bet. There really is an endless list of goalkeepers messing up worse than Gordon Brown did with the economy.

Being an England fan, it pains me when I mention Paul Robinson and THAT night in Croatia. A complete air kick from a back pass from Gary Neville resulted in England going 2-0 down, and with Borat smiling at Robinson from the advertising screen it couldn’t have been much worse.

But what about the Irish and their keepers? I don’t think Shay Given will ever fail to look behind him when he has the ball in his hands after Dion Dublin passed the ball into an empty net once Given had place it on the floor.

The pantomime call of “he’s behind you” springs to mind here. Poor Shay. I know we give keepers a hard time, but we have to be thankful for them. They sure do give us more laughs than a lot of the comedy shows on TV nowadays.

2. Don’t Miss an Open Goal

These have to be the worst of the worst of embarrassing footballing moments. There are two extremely embarrassing open goal misses that will live in infamy for all time. These really are things not to do if you wish to avoid international embarrassment.

The first comes to us from the Asian Games in 2010 in a game between Qatar and Uzbekistan. The poor guy’s name is Fahad Khalfan and in all honesty I’m not quite sure how he has managed to miss this.

He is charging towards the goalkeeper who misses the ball, leaving Khalfan with an open goal. He runs to the centre of the goal and is even closer than Diana Ross was in her miss and he somehow cuts across the ball and hits the post.

Yes, the post. I could score, you could score, you’re pet cat could score. It is truly the worst miss ever.

The second one is a team performance and comes to us courtesy of Veria FC. Five players attempt to score and not a single one of them can hit the back of the net. It somehow seems the opposing team have developed a force field between the sticks of their goal to stop Veria scoring.

I really don’t know how it hasn’t gone in!

1. Score Your Penalties

Penalty misses are always the most horrible, yet funniest of international embarrassment. Thankfully, it doesn’t just happen to the English.

Obviously, we had David Beckham’s miss against Portugal in Euro 2004 where he sent the ball into orbit (I believe Felix Baumgartner narrowly missed it on his space jump).

But we also have Sergio Ramos’ diabolical penalty miss against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champion’s League Semi Final that was just as bad as Beckham’s.

The Earth now has two smaller moons orbiting it.

Let me ask a quick question. Does everyone remember Andrea Pirlo’s slick lobbed penalty against England at Euro 2012?

Yes? Good. Neymar, the lad who is supposedly going to be the best in the world and who already reckons he’s better than Ronaldo and Messi tried the same.

The outcome: not so good.

Have a watch, you’ll know what I mean.



Follow Ryan on Twitter: @R_O_Donovan

Read more of Ryan's work on his blog LifeOnTheBeeRoads Blogspot

Blogger who likes to take a light-hearted approach to football. Writes about Brentford and all things football on my blog:, as well as contributing to ProstateCancer UK and various other websites.