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How Matt Le Tissier went from hero to zero before our very eyes

To what extent does a player’s personality come through in his football? 

With some the synchronization is whole, their talents propelled by their character traits. Think Paul Gascoigne, a magical midfielder who, had he not granted an interview in his entire life, would still have been utterly transparent. It was all there in the childlike innocence in which he played the game, his tricks an extension of his extrovert nature, that horrendous foul in the 1991 FA Cup final an insight into his inner-demons and want for self-destruction. 

With others, there was a Jekyll and Hyde split, their on-field persona contrasting greatly to who they really were. Take Mark Hughes, a combative forward who was quietly spoken and easy-going once the boots were off.

So, what kind of personality – what kind of man – was Matt Le Tissier? For a good many years this intrigued a good many, simply by virtue of the Southampton ace being a bona fide hero, adored and admired even by those who had no clear affiliation with the Saints. His was a brand of football that elicited joy and on occasion, astoundment. He was an artist who made passes and scored goals that deserved to be framed and hung in a portrait gallery. Even the simple things looked beautiful when they left his slippered foot. More so, by staying on the south coast for the duration of his career, despite having the rare ability to fill big stadia, ‘Le Tiss’ – as he became widely known – was evidently loyal, decent.

Naturally, we wanted to know more, more of the man beyond the magic, beyond the clips of impudent long-range efforts that smacked of pure genius. Only alas, in the cold light of day, there was not that much more to know.

Matt Le Tissier didn’t give too many interviews or make too many public appearances above his remit as a Premier League footballer during his playing days. In a world before wall-to-wall sports coverage and social media, players typically didn’t back then. They kept their true personas to themselves.

 

 

He’d pop up in Shoot now and again or he’d chat with Jim Rosenthal by a pool during a major tournament with England but that was about it, and with most of his utterances being forgettable, even banal – very much of the ‘steak and chips’ variety – a conclusion was eventually reached that a master of his craft, who routinely fused Picasso and poetry and rock n roll on a muddy pitch, was actually dull as dishwater off it. 

His subsequent long stint doing punditry for Soccer Saturday on Sky only confirmed our suspicions, that and he was something of a curmudgeon too, but that’s okay and this is really not intended as criticism. Indeed, it could be argued that the Gazzas of this world, who were the living embodiment of their art, were exceptions to the rule because by and large – and this is also true of rock stars and film stars – geniuses are blank canvasses whose enormous talents speak for them. It is their talent that amuses or agitates; entertains and opines. It is their talent that is their personality. And so large it looms there is barely any room for anything else. 

So it was that Matt Le Tissier, a god on the south coast and beloved everywhere else, came to be regarded as a perfectly ordinary man who happened to be blessed with an extraordinary gift. And for that he would forever be our hero. 

“Oh Matt.”

That was Gary Lineker in January of this year, replying to a tweet from his former England team-mate that once again revealed the madness in which he had descended to. 

Lineker had been espousing the virtues of the BBC and a conversation – not involving Le Tissier – had meandered onto the subject of the Beeb supposedly ignoring ‘protests around the world’ against the ‘removal of rights and medical apartheid’. To this, the ex-player who once whipped a ball thirty yards over the grasping reach of his best mate Tim Flowers just for a laugh, replied thusly:

“I’ve been listening to the guy that invented the mRNA technology and who is trying to be silenced by being deplatformed on numerous social media sites but you keep turning a blind eye.” 

Le Tissier’s timeline is full of such conspiratorial nonsense, veering from standard anti-vax tropes to full-on crackpot notions, and it has been for some time. He believes that scientists and the government are ‘interfering’ with his life. That ventilators cause harm and PCR tests are ‘fraudulent’. That the pandemic has been greatly exaggerated and that scientific papers that prove this have been ‘suppressed’. He believes that some of those poor souls filmed dying in their hospital beds in Bergamo, Italy at the start of the covid outbreak were ‘crisis actors’. 

Additionally, he has been an outspoken critic of the Black Lives Matter movement – or, more accurately, how aspects of it have been implemented in Britain – and for repeatedly airing such views, and for being, in his own words, a ‘conspiracy realist’, Le Tissier was let go from his Sky obligations late last year. In April, to the disgust of many, he suggested that Russia’s massacre of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha had been falsified by the media. For this he was asked to ‘step aside’ in his long-standing role of ambassador at Southampton. 

It is a stance that has seen him pushed to the margins. He is roundly mocked these days. To some, he is hated. From a hero, he is now a zero.

When he played, Matt Le Tissier looked so very different to everyone around him. His lolloping, lazy stride looked out of kilter with the frenetic hustle and bustle from team-mates and opponents, only then he’d receive the ball and it all made sense as the football match before our eyes slowed down to become theatre. In this sense, and with the unique ease in which he would control a ball before doing something devilish with it, he appeared to be from another planet. Sadly, we now know in hindsight that, much like Gazza, his personality did indeed come through in his actions on the pitch. Oh Matt.  

Read – Iconic Performances: The ‘Stevie G’ FA Cup final

Read Also – Unforgettable last-minute winners in Premier League history

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gary
gary
10 days ago

sad hit piece.

Abc
Abc
9 days ago

Respect to Matthew Le Tissier for having the strength of character and the integrity to speak out against the heavily flawed Main Stream narrative.

John
John
8 days ago

Nonsense

Matthew
Matthew
7 days ago

Pathetic Article. Has somebody paid you to discredit him?