Posted: 12/1/2009


        Woke up early, about 5.00 am by a Hadida bird in in a tree outside my bedroom window in Faerie Glen a suburb of Pretoria. I am staying with friends Malcolm and Paola, who is expecting their first child in March. They refer to him at the moment as Spagetti !!

         Anyway, the Hadida birds nest in trees and strut about house roofs. About the size of a chicken and grey with a long, taperd curved beak.They make a racket like a kazoo !!.  Mal leaves for work with Vodacom in Sandton, where I am headed. He leaves about 5.40 to avoid the grid lock on N 1 which runs from Polokwane in the north to Cape Town down south. We cruise along at 130 kph until we crawl the last 10km. Gautrain is a couple of years away from completion which would speed travellers there in 12 minutes by rail.

       It's a great day at the second day of SOCCEREX SHOW, which will move to Rio de Janeiro for the next three years. The world of soccer meets here with bidding countries, host cities, broadcasters, product manufactirers, famous club officials and more.  FIFA President Sepp Blatter opened the show on Monday and we had lots of presentations, including 2010 CEO Dr, Danny Jordaan with Bafana, Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, discussing stadiums, transport, crime, fan fests, accommodation and ticketing. 

      South Africa failed to qualify for the African Nations Cup in Angola in January 2010. The ASBA PSL is rushing ahead to finish early so that the coach can have 3 months of pre World Cup preparation in Brazil and Germany.  Only one players is a regular starter on a top European club, with most sitting on the bench. "We have the home fans and the vuvezelas. I think that we will compete " claims Parreira.  He also thinks that Brazil will do well, because its a mass factory-and the factory works. Over 1,500 Brazilian players come to Europe each year.

      It is of course the first winter World Cup since Argentina '78, but most Brazilians are used to such weather with their European clubs. A European nation has never won the trophy away from that continent.  Will one of the five African countries reach the final or semi-final for the first time?

      A fascinating afternoon talk by Franz Beckenbauer was presented by Royal Bafeking. If you are not aware, The Kingdom is about a 2 hour drive north of Johannesburg, and the 300,000 natives happen to sit on some rich platinum rocks. 10,000 local children play sports whereas a decade ago non did. The great wealth is invested to ensure that even after it's all mined, that the 'nation' will succeed. I have met some of the people who are very gentle and kind.  Platinum Stars  play in the PSL and a 65 hecter site with  9 state of the art fields, a hotel, gyms, medical facilities almost finished. Due to its elevation it is rumoured that England will use it as their base camp-with WAGS kept away by coach Capello.

      I saw The Kaizer play his very first World Cup match in June 1966 for West Germany v Switzerland at Hillsborough, Sheffield. He scored twice in a 5-0 win.  It was rumoured that he was a little wild and had to room with assistant coach Dettmar Cramer. He married early and had three boys.  " I was not a great father. I married too early in life."  When asked whether he wanted to stand for FIFA Preident, now that he has resigned as Bayern Munich President, he gave a quck answer. "Definately not interested. I now have a 9 year old boy and a 6 year old girl. I want to be there for them. I have plenty of media and commercial work, and am on the FIFA Executive committee so I am busy." He left shortly to fly to Cape Town for such meetings Wednesday and Thursday, He did find time to meet with Sheffield FC chairman Richard Tims, who had brought along the original 1857 Sheffield Rules to be exhibited at the FIFA booth.

      I was sitting in the auditorium for his talk with some VERY distinguished people in the row in front of me. Carlos Alberto captain of World champions Brazil in 1970 and team mate of Franz with the New York Cosmos. Also Eusebio, Portuguese legend, Figueroa, captain of Chile. Also in the audience was John Barnes of England, Ossie Ardiles of Argentina.

    You will probably read all about his fascinating chat in the worlds press, but to me I was there on many of his triumphant days.  I  was at Wembley for the 1966 World Cup Final, and at Olympiastadion, Munich when he led his nation to victory over favourites Holland in 1974, 20 years after their first visctory against Hungary in 1954 which I saw on a black and white TV.  I was also in Rome's Stadio Olympico in 1990 witnessing the 1-0 win over Argentina, In 2006 I spent 5 weeks in Germany, now reunited when he was the organizer of the event. I almost forgot, but I was in Portland,OR when he led the Cosmos to the NASL title over the Seattle Sounders.

    "After failures in 1982 and 1984, coach  Durwall resigned.  " I got the job despite not having a DFB license and we reached the World Cup final in 1986, losing to Argentina, and did well in 1988,  We almost failed to reach ITALIA '90. WE had to beat Wales in Koln, and were losing 1-0. We went ahead 2-1 then missed a penalty and the Welsh almost equalized in the last minute and we would have been out'" 

    Read more in your newspaper or watch on TV. I could go on but wo' take more time. More great legends tomorrow,