From the men who seemingly can only think with their feet to those who are always ready and willing with a witty one-liner, football is an absolute mine of verbal entertainment.
With well over a century of material to gather, here is our list of the twenty best football quotes of all time in no particular order.
- ‘It’s often said that football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it’s much more important than that.’ Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly in 1981 explaining just what football means to him.
- ‘Please don’t call me arrogant, but I am European champion and I think I am a special one.’ Jose Mourinho makes himself an instant tabloid favourite by bringing out this pearler in his first press conference.
- ‘I wouldn’t say I am the best in the business, but I’m definitely in the top one.’ Ok, we could have done a top twenty best Clough quotes without diluting the quality, but this has to be the best of the bunch.
- ‘No wonder he’s in the f***ing reserves.’ If you haven’t seen this on Youtube, get there now. ‘Arry Redknapp reacts with understandable fury after being hit by a wayward football. If he was leaning out of his car window, it would never have happened.
- ‘Chile have three options. They could win or they could lose.’ Kevin Keegan struggling somewhat with his maths. That could explain why he rarely completed a 38-game season.
- ‘They were lucky to get nil.’ Len Shackleton of Newcastle commenting on sorry Newport’s performance after a 13-0 drubbing.
- ‘Today’s top players only want to play in London or for Manchester United. That’s what happened when I tried to sign Alan Shearer and he went to Blackburn.’ Future Blackburn manager Graeme Souness temporarily relocating his future club 230 miles south-east.
- ‘Sometimes you lose a game, and sometimes the other team wins.’ Otta Rehhagel nearly perfectly summing up the sport of football. If only he didn’t forget about draws. Or penalties. Or abandoned matches. Yeah, he mucked that one right up.
- ‘I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.’ Football’s first playboy star George Best horrifies accountants all over the country with this quote. Aston Martin dealers in the Cheshire area were less concerned.
- ‘I was feeling as sick as the proverbial donkey.’ Sometimes there are just too many cliches to fit into a single press conference, so Mick McCarthy decided to economise and meld two together. Either that or he was just a bit of an idiot, but anyone who heard his Euro 2012 commentary knows that’s not true.
- ‘When seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.’ The poetic thug Eric Cantona at his post-kung-fu kick press conference bemusing and delighting journalists brought up on a diet of ‘At the end of the day I can only apologise to the gaffer, the lads and the fans that I’ve let down.’
- ‘We must have had 99% of that match. It was the other 3% that cost us.’ Ruud Gullit getting his percentages hopelessly wrong. 102% as a whole? What about the other 8% Ruud?
- ‘If the ball had gone in, it would have been a goal.’ Joe Royle clearly failing to predict Pedro Mendes, Frank Lampard or Marco Devic’s attempts. At the time he felt foolish, now even more so.
- ‘I was really surprised when the FA knocked on my doorbell.’ Now I’m not entirely sure whether Michael Owen made a muck-up of this quote or the FA genuinely did knock on his doorbell. Either way, someone’s been a plank.
- ‘Liverpool will be thinking they should have won this 2-2.’ Ok, not the worst thing that anyone has ever heard Ron Atkinson say, but definitely one of the daftest.
- ‘If you can’t stand the heat of the dressing room, get out of the kitchen.’ Maybe if Terry Venables didn’t insist on a food preparation facility in every dressing room, England may have won Euro 96.
- ‘I never predict anything and I never will.’ Paul Gascoigne living up to his word for all of half a second.
- ‘For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are the team in yellow.’ The ever-helpful John Motson differentiating between the team in grey and the team in grey.
- ‘Well we got nine and you can’t get more than that.’ The late, great Bobby Robson forgetting about the existence of the number ten. Oh, and 11. And all numbers above that.
- ‘Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over. It is now.’ The quote guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of any England fan came from the legendary mouth of Kenneth Wolstenholme.
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