Digsy ponders what kind of career Stan Collymore could have had if he hadn’t been a mentalist.
Poor Stanley Victor Collymore is a bit of a laughing stock right now. His recent claim that heâ€™s planning a Premiership comeback at 35 has not been well received. Would a Premiership team really want him? This anagram based rumour of a place on the Coventry City bench seems more likely.
But what if Collymore had really applied himself? He played so poorly in the 1996 FA Cup Final that Roy Evans gave up and subbed him out in the 75th minute. It was pretty much downhill all the way from there (Aston Villa, domestic abuse, depression, Leicester, Ovideo, dogging, Basic Instinct).
But what if Evans had given Stan a stirring motivational talk at half time? Imagine an alternate reality where Stanley takes a big sip of half-time Lucozade, looks Evans square in the eye and says â€œI can do it gafferâ€…
Cue wavy-screened dream sequence…
1996 FA Cup Final against Manchester United, second half: Collymore terrorises the United defence for the entire second half but canâ€™t quite make the breakthrough. With two minutes remaining he strips Roy Keane of the ball in the centre circle, and runs at an exposed Gary Pallister. On the edge of the 18 he fakes to shoot, but nutmegs the lanky defender before deftly chipping the ball over an onrushing Peter Schmeichel. Collymore wins his first major honour, and also takes the man of the match award, but refuses the champagne because â€œthatâ€™s not what Iâ€™m about anymore.â€ White suits become THE fashion.
Euro â€˜96: Collymore doesnâ€™t make the squad, despite late calls for his inclusion. He vows to try even harder next year. Gareth Southgate still misses that penalty.
1996/97: Liverpool open up a gigantic lead over Man Utd at the top of the table, with Collymore and Fowler providing the goals. In a famous magazine interview, Collymore praises Evanâ€™s managerial style and the general winning attitude at Anfield. Unfortunately he tears his ACL in February and Liverpoolâ€™s lead slowly erodes, handing Manchester United the title.
1997/98: After six months of rehabilitation, Collymore and Liverpool make a slow start to the Premiership campaign. Theyâ€™re 7th at Christmas, Stan has just 2 goal and thereâ€™s talk of Roy Evans being sacked. Collymore tells the press heâ€™ll do it for Roy. He begins January with a hat-trick and doesnâ€™t stop, scoring 30 goals as Liverpool slowly climb the table, winning the Premiership on the final day of the season. A young lad named Michael Owen canâ€™t break into the Liverpool first team, and moves to Sheffield Wednesday for Â£250,000.
France â€˜98: â€œCollymaniaâ€ sweeps the nation as Stan lights up the World Cup. England still lose to Argentina on penalties in the second round, but Collymore finishes the tournament as top scorer with seven goals in just four games. A paparazzi gets pictures of Stan and girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson secretly marrying in Paris on World Cup Final day. â€œStan and Ulâ€ become the celebrity couple du jour.
1998/99: Liverpool complete a historic treble, winning the Premiership, the FA Cup and the Champions League, with Collymore scoring in both the finals. The team is broken up soon after with Roy Evans replacing a confused Kevin Keegan as England manager, and Collymore making a Â£35 million move to…1999/00: ..Real Madrid, where heâ€™s at the forefront of the new Galactico policy, which Madrid Chairman Florentino Perez explains as â€œthe S-Stans and the Pavonsâ€ (he has a stutter.) In Collymoreâ€™s first season, he not only wins La Liga but repeats his Champions League success with Real. He also becomes famous for â€œthe fire extinguisher incidentâ€ when a Madrid hotel catches fire and Collymore singlehandedly put out the blaze, saving the lives of 500 loyal Madrid fans. â€œEl Stanâ€ is a Bernabeu legend.
Euro 2000: Stanâ€™s finest hour. Wearing the captains armband he leads Roy Evansâ€™ England team to Euro 2008 glory, beating France in the final with a magnificent solo run followed by one of his now legendary long range bombs. Fabien Barthez never recovers. After lifting the trophy, the 30 year old Stanley Victor Collymore announces his immediate retirement from international football to concentrate on â€œa special project.â€
2000 – 2005: Collymore shocks the world by buying out his Madrid contract and joining the Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS. The presence of the â€œ21st century Peleâ€ is just what soccer in America needs and by 2002 itâ€™s the nationâ€™s number one sport. â€œStan and Ulâ€ star in a series of critically acclaimed and commercially successful romantic comedies together, Cannock becomes a Mecca for American tourists, and John Kerry wins the 2004 election by a landslide.after Collymore denounces George Bush on â€œLate Night With Conan Oâ€™Brien.â€
2005/6: Collymore returns for one final season at Liverpool as player/manager, on condition that his entire salary be donated to charitable causes. He leads his old club to one final Premiership title, and leads the Kop in a rousing chorus of â€œYouâ€™ll Never Walk Aloneâ€ like a much cooler version of Cliff Richards at Wimbledon before retiring gracefully at the grand old age of 35.