Alan Hansen has used his final column for The Telegraph newspaper to express his overriding memories of the World Cup.
Hansen, who has also quit his role as a BBC pundit, can recall the magical Brazil team of the 1970 Mexico World Cup. He was hoping Brazil would make the final this year. But, as we all know, they went out in memorable fashion.
Hansen says: “Despite missing out on my dream send-off of Brazil contesting the final, I cannot complain at the outcome. Germany have been thoroughly deserving champions, but the abiding memory for me will be a negative one because of the way Brazil capitulated in the semi-final.
“I grew up with memories of the 1970 Brazilian team which won the World Cup in Mexico, watching Pele score a stunning header in the final against the Italians and then Carlos Alberto’s incredible fourth goal in the same game.
“For more than 40 years, Brazil have been my benchmark, but to see them humiliated against Germany in Belo Horizonte left me distraught. It was historic, but not the kind of history that you ever imagined witnessing. We all knew that Brazil went into the tournament lacking the blend of talent required to win it, but nobody ever expected what happened.
“It has been a tournament in which the superstars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar only performed in fits and starts. Even the Germans, the best team in the competition, struggled to impress in some games against the likes of Ghana, Algeria and the United States. But the overall quality of games and goals has made this World Cup memorable.”
Hansen said he is happy to be leaving the future of television punditry to younger men, such as Rio Ferdinand.
He said: “Rio, and Twitter, are two of the factors which prove to me that the time is right to move on after more than two decades. Rio and I have both played the game at the back at the top level for the biggest clubs and we see and say many of the same things, but Rio brings a freshness to it and ensures that what he says sounds different to what I say, even if we are saying the same thing.
“Twitter has changed everything, to the point whereby you not only have to make sure that what you say is right, but also that you say nothing wrong. There has never been a hiding place in the media, but nowadays, you can find yourself being judged within 10 seconds of publication or broadcast. It is a different world.”
It is easy to forget that, before the production standards at ‘Match of the Day’ became so cosy, the likes of Hansen did offer illuminating analysis. Sadly, it has for years now been a show made up of three golfing mates chuntering on. Speaking plenty but saying very little of note. Like any television programme that has had the same contributors for years, ‘Match of the Day’ and its on screen panellists grew complacent.
Alan Hansen was paid a small fortune to offer his opinion on football. He demanded and received lots of perks. That was a decision made by the BBC.
A few years ago his contribution was greater than his salary. But that’s not been the case for some considerable time.
The moment his salary was cut, and some of his perks done away with, he decided to spend more time with his family. And even more time on the golf course.
He has not quit in order to give Ferdinand and the likes of Danny Murphy (the success story of BBC coverage at the World Cup) more airtime. Frankly, that’s bollocks.
He has grown tired and weary of the commitment which is now not as well remunerated as it was a couple of years ago. At his best, Hansen educated and entertained viewers with his informative and sometimes outspoken analysis of football. But I can’t recall the last year he did so.
His passionate on air dismay at how Brazil performed in that 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany was refreshing. It was like stepping back in time to when Hansen spoke from the heart, rather than the ‘Match of the Day’ book of platitudes.
He went out on a high. He has chosen this time to quit. As a viewer, and as a television producer, I think that to be a wise decision.