How to survive the FIFA World Cup if you don’t really like football

As you may have noticed, England are just about to win the FIFA World Cup.

Like the entire population of England, I’m very excited. Rooney, Beckham, Shearer and all the other footballer lads have been playing very well. I think it’s the best football I’ve ever seen them play. They’ve been scoring lots of goals, which is really important. If you score the most goals then you win, which is nice. I think it’s safe to say, we are the best team out of all of the teams in all of the world.

It’s coming home. Apparently. The FIFA World Cup is coming home.

I never really understood football.

I can’t play it, which puts me off straight away. I don’t like things I’m not good at.

First off, I’m not a very good kicker. I never have been. Kicking is a really important part of football. It’s a fundamental aspect of the game.

When I turned up at primary school on the first day, it seemed like all the other boys had already learned how to kick. As if their parents had been giving them secret kicking lessons at home. I didn’t realise how important it would be to know how to do this. I was completely unprepared for the relentless kick-abouts in the playground.

At primary school, you have to play football every day. Every day is a lot when you can’t play.

However, don’t feel too sorry for me. I was often forced to be the goalkeeper.

If you think I’m bad at kicking, you should see me trying to protect myself from things being kicked at me. It’s, if anything, worse than my kicking.

I found a way to escape this brutality by opting to stand at the sidelines and commentating on the football match. I enjoyed doing this a lot. I didn’t know much about the game but it didn’t stop me from enthusiastically commenting on all of the action. And, if I do say so myself, my post-match interviews on my imaginary microphone where often highly entertaining.

When it was time for me to go to high school, I was hoping that football wouldn’t be as popular. Maybe we’d only have to play every other day or once a week. I was wrong.

Before the first day, we received a list of essentials that we’d need. On that list were football boots. My heart sunk as I realised my football career was about to step up a gear. Like all scared 11 year old boys, I made my parents buy me some Adidas football boots. I was worried that if I didn’t have Adidas football boots, I would get my head flushed down the toilet.

(It’s the same reason that when I asked my Mum for a plastic bag and she gave me a bright yellow Netto bag, I would look at her and say “Mum, are you trying to get me killed?”)

I tried the football boots on and walked around the living room carpet, struggling to walk. My movements were shakey as I tried to adapt to walking in these strange boots. A bit like when they put shoes on dogs.

The best part is that I never even wore the football boots. Me and my family were put through all that anxiety and stress for nothing. I also couldn’t bring myself to tell my Mum I made her buy expensive boots for nothing. I hid the boots in a drawer for years.

As an adult male, it’s assumed that you just know about football. When you meet people for the first time, It’s easier to pretend to like football than to explain the whole “I never learned how to kick” story.

When I tell people I’m from Leeds, they instantly start talking to me about Leeds United.

I know nothing about Leeds United. I don’t know a single thing about Leeds United.

I’ve developed a good way of shutting down these conversations. I say this:

“Don’t get me started on Leeds United.”

This a great thing to say. It sounds like you have some football knowledge and that you could easily talk about football for a long time but that you’re so angry with the recent performance of the team that you don’t want to talk about it. I just then let the other person speak and throw in a few of these: “Shocking”, “Tell me about it”, “Unbelievable” and “It’s not easy being a Leeds fan”.

What I really want to say is that it’s not easy pretending to be Leeds fan, please stop asking me questions.

So this is my shout out to the non-football fans out there. Here’s to the people who never even really understood the game. Who got picked last. Who always ended up in goal. Who interviewed their classmates on imaginary microphones. (Ok maybe that was just me.)

You’re not alone. I know it feels like all they are showing on TV is football at the moment. But there’s always Love Island.

Or Wimbledon. If you get really desperate.