The star who hated football

Stoke City Striker Peter Crouch says his former Spurs team-mate and Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto was not only not interested in football, he genuinely didn't like it.

At 1.30pm on a Saturday he'd have no idea which team you were playing, reckons Crouch. 

'But Benoit, we've been talking about them in training all week...' And so to his pre-match meal. Now none of us are adventurous. It's pasta, chicken, no sauce, and has been for the past 20 years. Benoit would turn up with a Tesco's bag containing the same four items every time: a croissant, a hot chocolate, a full-fat Coke and a packet of crisps.

The croissant I understood. He is French-Cameroonian. The hot chocolate: same cultural backstory. He used to dip the first into the second. But the crisps, and the Coke — it was like two discrete lunches, one belonging to a middle-aged Parisian and the other a 12-year-old on the Seven Sisters Road.

And it worked. He was always in great shape and rarely injured. We accepted it, along with all the other weirdness: the random cars he would turn up to training in, sometimes a Smart car, then a Lamborghini; the way he would refuse to take ice baths for recovery, on the rather basic premise that they were 'too cold'.


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