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Tottenham Hotspur Steve Norman

It's because I am a member of Spandau Ballet that for the past 30 odd years I've been invited to play in numerous charity matches. I'm under no illusion that I get invited because of my footballing skills, it's that the organisers hope that my presence will somehow encourage the odd Spandau fan to pop along, watch me make a fool of myself and in doing so support the charity. As a footy fan I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to play alongside some of the best footballers in the world. I know I'm a lucky bugger and I totally appreciate it.
I've played alongside Gazza twice, Rushie too. The list is impressive and it's still growing as I continue to get away with it.

I will never forget watching Gazza and Paulo Di Canio, kicking a ball around and having fun with their passion as the sun went down over a Florence training ground prior to a major charity match, The Italian Cantanti (singers) against Rod Stewart's UK Cup Stars (assorted slebs).
No one was watching except me, Jason Orange from Take That, Chris Evans and Rick Wakeman who incidentally had earlier made it clear that he hadn't played football since he got a groin strain...back in 1977!. Watching Paul and Paolo pass the ball to each other as they skipped and spun across their stage was a beauty to behold, their sublime skills graceful to say the least. It was like they were dancing on ice.

After some pomp and ceremony, the game, held at the Firenze stadium went ahead in front of a crowd of over 40 thousand passionate and patriotic Italians plus half a dozen English girlfriends or wives egging us on for all their worth behind our goal. The match was also being broadcast live over RAI UNO, Italy's premier TV channel.
We were getting a right bashing until Joe Jordan on coach duties re-arranged the defence. I was brought on to replace a struggling Paul "footy is not my game" Young. I switched to right back and I held that back line as if my life depended on it, obeying the odd barked orders from both Claudio and Joe. "Steve, push up!"
I felt so proud. Eros Ramazoti was not getting past me!

Thanks to a few more changes, a large collective dose of British Bulldog spirit and Mick Hucknell whistling the theme tune to The Great Escape in the tunnel at half time, we went on to draw the game 6-6.
It would go down to the wire. Penalties!
After both sides had scored four pens each, I was asked, nay, confronted by Claudio Ranieri (manager) and Joe Jordan if I was up to taking the deciding penalty.
"Are you up for this Steve?... We want you to take it!"
"Of course I am"...I lied.

As I placed the ball on the penalty spot I sensed the 40 odd thousand Italians breathing down my neck; their love for Spandau Ballet (we were big in Italy) long dissipated.
No pressure then.
I stepped backwards from the ball, my feet absurdly heavy and I eyed up the goalposts. I swear they moved a foot or two nearer to each other as the keeper took on giant-like proportions. Where will I put the it….left?.. right?..up?..down?..down the middle?..place it or smash it?...

But I didn't have to decide. To my great relief and joy the referee scooped up the ball and declared the game a draw. Or did we win on away goals? It didn't matter, it felt like a victory ...of the very sweetest kind.

In my football 'career' I also had the honour of playing alongside the great Bobby Moore at Wembley. We even warmed up together on the pitch just before kick off.
And I can even say with hand on heart that I've scored a goal at Wembley. It doesn't get much better than that.
Mind you, I haven't scored in a cup final yet….
But there's always time.

Steve Norman

To visit Steve's management website please click here

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveNormanReal

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