We Can Sleep Soundly Now Teddy’s In Town
Dispatch from Matt Calmus, in attendance at yesterday`s press unveiling, Layer Road
When Teddy Sheringham, who yesterday became Colchester United`s third signing inside 24 hours, spoke of his “burning ambition” to do well for his new club – and at the rare age of 41 – the gathered press could not help but smile. If ever there were a fitting riposte to claims that the U`s lacked drive or guile, then this was it.
Then again, this conference was all about expelling myths. Sheringham, a stalwart of several World Cup final tournaments with England and European campaigns at Manchester United, proved he still has a hunger to play what he still obviously sees as the beautiful game.
“Who said anything about big money?” he joked, as his new manager, Geraint Williams, whom Sheringham will serve as, in his own words, “just a player” was asked whether he thought the addition of a new star as number 8 would upset the balance of the squad.
Williams, too, bore a contented look as the press volleyed inevitable queries about how exactly the deal had come about; it would not have been a stretch of the imagination to say he appeared to enjoy facing the media. Those pinging the questions at a rate faster than Wimbledon serves on SW19 were not to be left disappointed.
“Teddy will bring a bit of quality and class to the side. And not only that; goals,” said Williams, “He`s an excellent professional.”
Bang goes an idea that the Welshman lacks the street credibility, as still a relative rookie after spending only one season in the managerial tracksuit, to attract a transfer target.
In fact, Williams has stated that he no longer wants people to think of Colchester as primarily a selling club, which sees Sheringham`s landmark arrival celebrate a change of ethos. Teddy rightly assumes the mantel as United`s biggest-ever signing.
Even Colchester`s owner Robbie Cowling, presumably conscious recently of some very bad press, sought the opinion of those who where about to write this morning`s eulogies, asking journalists: “You’re pleased, aren`t you?” Cue the nods of approval.
Clearly, Sheringham is supposed to be a signing for the people, the everyman. His one-year contract, on an unconfirmed £6,000 per-week, will virtually guarantee sell-outs during home matches at a ground which has already seen a 25% rise in season-ticket applications this summer.
Just weeks after receiving an MBE for services to football, yesterday saw Sheringham, widely regarded as the best deep-lying English forward of his generation, sign, seal and deliver his commitment to add more goals to the impressive 273 he has already bagged with seven clubs.
“A couple of weeks ago I spoke to Geraint and I was very impressed with what he had to say,” Sheringham explained, his delivery coming from what was probably one of the smallest conference rooms he has ever seen throughout a lavish 23-year career.
With nonchalance, though, he was able to cuff away suggestions that playing for Colchester represents a step down from the caviar and champagne lifestyle we assume comes with the Premiership: “I`ve been there before, I know exactly what it is going to take; I want to do the best that I can.”
It was interesting to observe a man who is, at least in sporting terms, so physically fit for his age. He was definitely the most relaxed in the room, yet unable to offer the secret behind his prolonged thirst, enthusiasm, and ability for football: “My bones and joints still feel alright,” was all he need say.
His comments, even indicating that he had “this year and next” in his thoughts , were reminiscent of what tennis ace ‘Pistol Pete` Sampras told Tim Henman to do in order to stave off retirement; keep setting short-term targets.
There was certainly not a shortage of metaphors for Teddy as he posed for his inaugural Colchester photo shoot.
Amid the flashbulb ceremony to confirm his ritual inheritance of Jamie Cureton`s squad number was the poignancy that Dave Simmons, who filled the same shirt when Colchester defeated Leeds their famous 1971 FA Cup triumph, had passed away the previous day.
Teddy`s humility seemed emblematic of the fact that he has not forgotten his working-class roots behind the modern-day iron curtain of celebrity hype; he practically scolded the one reporter who asked about the model of his car.
“It doesn`t matter what I drive,” he exclaimed, prompting the idea that life, in this case, might even begin afresh at 41.
Sheringham`s eyes, as always it seems, are only on the road ahead.
Sheringham: Press Conference View
We Can Sleep Soundly Now Teddy’s In Town