Top 5 most memorable football quotes of the 1990s
1. German maths
"Football is a simple game: 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and, at the end, the Germans win” – Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker is as adept at turning a phrase as he was at turning the ball in from six yards, and this adage now gets wheeled out every time England face Germany in any sport. The most traumatic memory for Lineker was Bobby Robson’s Three Lions being eliminated by the Germans on penalties in Turin at the 1990 World Cup.
2. Eric goes fishing
“When seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea” – Eric Cantona, 1995
This is one of the most analysed quotes in football history, and has gone some way to cementing Eric Cantona’s status as an enigmatic, misunderstood genius rather than a combustible hot-head. However if you watch it now, you’ll see Eric Cantona trying not to laugh. The Frenchman was playing a role and loving it – he even pauses halfway through his statement in an attempt to compose himself.
3. Child's Play
“You can’t win anything with kids” – Alan Hansen, 1995
Manchester United missed Cantona badly during his nine-month ban, losing out in both the league and the FA Cup. Alex Ferguson’s response was to tear up the squad that had broken the club’s long title drought. Andrei Kanchelskis, Paul Ince and Mark Hughes were out, and on the opening day of the 1995-96 season, a cast of youngsters lost 3-1 to Aston Villa.
Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen was quick to stick the knife in – but he was far from alone. The general consensus was that Ferguson would need to drastically strengthen his squad if he wanted to mount a title challenge. A team with six players under the age of 20 was not going to cut it.
Of course, everyone was wrong. David Beckham, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Phil Neville – plus the already blooded Ryan Giggs – would go on to form one of the dominant sides of the decade. Hansen was made to look rather foolish in hindsight.
4. 'Arry nails it
“I’m telling you now, and I didn’t want to say this in front of him, but he will go right to the very top” – Harry Redknapp on Frank Lampard, 1996
The former manager of West Ham, Portsmouth, and every other club within a two-hour drive of Sandbanks might not know how to operate his mobile phone, but he can certainly spot a player. Or at least he could in the 1990s.
At a Hammers fan forum, Redknapp stepped in to passionately defend his teenage son-in-law from criticism. He was proved spectacularly right.
5. Born winner
“That lad must have been born offside” – Alex Ferguson on Filippo Inzaghi
The Manchester United manager did have a gift for turning a phrase (see 2003’s “squeaky bum time”) and sometimes handed down judgements about players that would stick with them for the rest of their career.
There was his bizarre pronouncements about Jordan Henderson’s (admittedly bizarre) running style, labelling Paul Ince a big-time Charlie and also this famous quote about Filippo Inzhagi – the striker who was so often the thorn in United’s side during some epic encounters with Italian giants Milan and Juventus in the 1990s.