To what extent does a player’s personality shine through in his football?
With some the timing is complete, their talents driven by their character traits. To think Paul Gascoign, a magical midfielder who, if he had never given an interview in his life, would have been equally transparent. It was all there in the childlike innocence he played with, his tricks an extension of his outgoing nature, that horrendous foul in the 1991 FA Cup final an insight into his inner demons and his desire to self destruction.
With others, there was a separation of Jackyl and Hyde, their on-field personality was in stark contrast to who they really were. Take for example Mark Hughes, a combative forward who spoke softly and was easy to get along with once his boots were off.
So what kind of personality, what kind of man, was he Matt LeTissier? For many years this intrigued many, simply by virtue of the fact that the Southampton ace was a bona fide hero, adored and admired even by those with no clear affiliation with the Saints. His was a football that caused joy and, sometimes, amazement. He was an artist who made passes and scored goals that deserved to be framed and hung in a portrait gallery. Even simple things looked beautiful when they left her foot encased in slippers. Moreover, staying on the south coast for his entire career, despite having the rare ability to sell out large stadiums, ‘Le Tiss’, as he was widely known, was evidently loyal, decent.
Naturally, we wanted to know more, more of the man beyond magic, beyond clips of brazen far-reaching efforts that smacked of sheer awesomeness. Only, unfortunately, in the cold light of day, there wasn’t much else to know.
Matt Le Tissier didn’t give too many interviews or make too many public appearances above his competition as first league footballer during his playing days. In a world before wall-to-wall sports coverage and social media, gamers typically didn’t back then. They kept their true personalities to themselves.
He would appear on Shoot from time to time or chat with Jim Rosenthal by a pool during a major tournament with England, but that was about it, and most of his remarks were forgettable, even banal, much of the ‘steak and chips variety. : it was finally concluded that he was a master of his craft, routinely conflating Picasso, poetry, and rock and roll in a muddy field, which was actually as dull as washing-up water.
His subsequent long stint as a pundit on Soccer Saturday on Sky only confirmed our suspicions, that and he was also somewhat of a curmudgeon, but that’s okay and this isn’t really meant as a criticism. In fact, it could be argued that the Gazzas of this world, who were the living embodiment of their art, were exceptions to the rule because, in general, and this is also true of rock stars and movie stars, geniuses they are blank canvases whose enormous talents speak for them. It is his talent that amuses or agitates; entertains and thinks. It is his talent that is his personality. And it’s so big that there’s barely room for anything else.
So it was that Matt Le Tissier, a god on the south coast and loved everywhere, came to be regarded as a perfectly ordinary man who happened to be blessed with an extraordinary gift. And for that he would forever be our hero.
So was Gary Lineker in January this year, responding to a tweet from his former England team-mate that once again revealed the madness into which he had descended.
Lineker had been defending the virtues of the BBC and one conversation, not involving Le Tissier, had veered to the subject of Beeb allegedly ignoring the ‘worldwide protests’ against the ‘elimination of rights and medical apartheid’. ‘. To this, the former player who once threw a ball thirty yards over the reach of his best teammate Tim Flower just for a laugh responded like this:
“I’ve been listening to the guy who invented mRNA technology and who is trying to be silenced by being removed from the platform on numerous social media sites, but you keep turning a blind eye.”
Le Tissier’s timeline is littered with conspiracy nonsense, veering from standard anti-vaccine tropes to completely wacko notions, and has been for some time. He believes that scientists and the government are ‘interfering’ in his life. That the fans are harmful and the PCR tests are ‘fraudulent’. That the pandemic has been greatly exaggerated and that the scientific papers that prove it have been ‘suppressed’. He believes that some of those poor souls filmed dying in their hospital beds in Bergamo, Italy, at the start of the covid outbreak were ‘crisis actors’.
— Matt Le Tissier🌸 (@mattletiss7) May 12, 2022
Furthermore, he has been an outspoken critic of the Black Lives Matter movement – or, more accurately, how aspects of it have been implemented in Britain – and for repeatedly expressing such views and for being, in his own words, a ‘realist conspiracy’. ‘ Le Tissier was sacked from his Sky duties at the end of last year. In April, to the chagrin of many, he suggested that the Russian massacre of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha had been fabricated by the media. For this, he was asked to “step aside” in his former role as ambassador to Southampton.
It’s a stance that has pushed him to the margins. They make fun of him more or less these days. For some, he is hated. From a hero, he is now a zero.
When he played, Matt Le Tissier looked very different from everyone around him. His slow, lazy pace seemed unbalanced by the frenzied hustle and bustle of his teammates and opponents, only then would he receive the ball and it all make sense as the football game before our eyes slowed to theater. In that sense, and with the unique ease with which he would control a ball before doing something fiendish with it, he seemed from another planet. Sadly, we now know in hindsight that, like Gazza, his personality did come through in his actions on the pitch. Oh mate.