Hop across the Channel to watch top-flight football

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O'Sullivan
Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

VERITY LUSH: Leave me to browse the make-up counter in peace

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Have you ever watched a game of football on the continent? Maybe you’ve followed an English team in a European competition, or you’ve watched Barcelona or Real Madrid in Spain.

Chris Waddle still has legendary status at Marseille - Zidane said he was his favourite player as a child

What about in France? It’s our closest neighbour and there is a team within easy reach of us who are having a great season.

At the moment, Paris Saint-Germain are running away with the league. They’re 24 points clear and boast players such as Angel Di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, all thanks to ownership by an investment arm of the Qatar government.

But if you catch the Brittany Ferries ship from Portsmouth to Caen, you can watch Caen play in a new 21,000, all-seater stadium.

They’re in the top 10 and going well. Just up the coast are Le Havre, who are yo-yoing between Ligue 1 and 2. They’ve not been helped by having to sell their best players – Riyad Mahrez is lighting up the Premier League with Leicester City.

Many great French players have graced the Premier League. Thierry Henry started his career at Monaco when Arsene Wenger was manager and Glenn Hoddle was a player there.

Sadly my all-time favourite player, Zinedine Zidane, never played in England. He started his career at Bordeaux, but Newcastle United turned him down and Blackburn Rovers said ‘why would we want him when we have Tim Sherwood?’

Real Madrid later signed Zidane for £48m.

Three of England’s more gifted players have also played in the French league. They appreciated the skills of Glenn Hoddle at Monaco, Joe Cole at Lille and Chris Waddle, who still has legendary status at Marseille.

Zidane said he was his favourite player as a child.

This is why I love the French league. We also have quite a few other top-flight teams within our reach.

As well as Caen, there is Rennes which can be easily reached from Saint Malo, as are Guincamp and Angers.

Why not try a weekend enjoying some football in the land of the Gaul?

Who knows, you might well be watching a future Premier League star or two...

SPORT NEEDS CHARACTERS - JUST LET ROCKET RONNIE ENTERTAIN

Ronnie O’Sullivan has caused controversy again, deliberately making 146 instead of 147 as he felt the £10,000 prize for a televised maximum break wasn’t enough.

He has been lambasted by the media, who say he’s let his and other sports down by making it all about the money.

I disagree. O’Sullivan is a character, a maverick and in the world of snooker he is Lionel Messi.

Back in 1986, a 147 break would have won you £100,000. Why shouldn’t Ronnie make a stand?

Snooker no longer has the characters of the 1980s, except for O’Sullivan.

Thanks to him, we are all talking about his sport once again. Sport needs characters, not robots. Just let them entertain.

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL - WILL YOU STILL BE UP NEXT WEEK?

I love our house. It was built in the 1930s and is as solid as a nuclear bunker.

My only issue comes when my wife asks me to hang something from a wall.

We have picture rails, but the Hollywood-style vanity mirror which I bought her for Christmas needed hanging.

It weighs a tonne, so holes had to be drilled.

As the bit went in, plaster and brick dust blew everywhere.

Then, as the brick crumbled away, it left a hole twice the size of the one that I needed.

I considered getting out the No More Nails, but persevered.

With rawlplugs and screws strong enough to hold a car, the mirror is now up and looking good.

But will it still be up this time next week?