The Pleasure Of Watching Spain v Sweden In An Irish Pub
Earlier this week I wrote an opinion piece about how the experience of watching football matches on TV are oftentimes better than seeing the games in person. Well, I want to take that back. That’s because watching a match on TV in a pub is better than both watching matches at home and in person, but it has to be the right type of pub.I found that pub this afternoon when I met up with my friend Ron from Romford, England — a fellow Miami Fusion fan from the good old days when we had a team in South Florida. We met some unlikely guests at the establishment, which definitely made the whole football watching experience more enjoyable.One of our unlikely guests at the Slainte Irish Pub in Boynton Beach was former professional footballer Ivan McKinley who used to play for New England Revolution, DC United, Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion. Now retired from playing professional football, he and his family live in the area.For those of you who don’t know McKinley, he was pigeonholed as a rough and tough defender who still has the notoriety of receiving the most number of red cards in MLS history. The South African defender was one of the better defenders the Fusion had. Never afraid to throw his body to block a shot or go up for a header against the top strikers, McKinley was definitely a huge hit at the Fusion.We all gathered at the pub to watch the Spain against Sweden match, which was yet another firecracker. This tournament is really turning into an enjoyable experience with so many wonderful matches and exciting football on display. The Sweden against Spain game was no exception. The match had plenty of drama around the two goal areas with Spain starting out very strong but Sweden gaining confidence as the match went on.This was the type of match I watched purely for enjoyment sake. Between knocking back a glass of Magner’s Cider, chatting with McKinley and watching the match in HD on plasma screens, I wasn’t able to concentrate on the tactics or the specifics but had the pleasure instead of just watching the match.All three goals in this match were sublime and examples of why Euro 2008 is more entertaining than Copa America 2007 ever was. The first goal by Fernando Torres for Spain was a perfect example of the Spaniard making something out of nothing and reaching out to redirect the ball into the corner of the net.The second goal was an example of the strength that Zlatan Ibrahimovic possesses. While most strikers would have fallen to the ground or been knocked off their feet by the physical Spanish defender, Ibrahimovic managed to shrug off the physical challenge, twisted and turned to carefully slot the ball into the back of the net.The third goal was a work of art as David Villa stayed calm under pressure in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper and knocked the ball into the corner of the net. The impressively taken goal reminded me a lot of Fernando Torres’s goal for Liverpool against Chelsea earlier last season.With Spain, Portugal, Holland and Croatia already qualified for the next round, those are four teams that play extremely attractive football and it’s quite plausible that one of them will end up being champions of Europe this summer. I can’t wait.After the match ended, the beer kept flowing as the crowd in the pub started singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in full voice (there were a couple of Liverpool supporters there). A little later I had a chance to chat with McKinley a little more and heard him recount his stories of training with both West Ham United and Reading. Unfortunately because he was unable to get a work permit, he couldn’t sign for either club. But he did share a story about turning up at West Ham’s training ground early one morning a couple of hours before the players arrived. Then manager at the time Harry Redknapp asked McKinley what he was doing and proceeded to invite the South African to join him for breakfast!Overall it was a wonderful day. The Greece against Russia match was bearable and I managed to catch the one and only goal for Russia before heading off to run some errands. I have a feeling I’ll be returning to the Slainte Irish Pub a few more times before Euro 2008 concludes.