What surly brunettes and oversized glasses of Rioja have to do with picking goalscoring machine Jamie Vardy has to be read to be understood, says Jamie Pacheco.

I’m half Portuguese and ever since I can remember, I always felt I had a responsibility, no… a patriotic duty, to dislike Spaniards and all things Spanish. 

Iberian Fantasy rivalries 

Maybe it was the history lessons where we were taught that many a time over the centuries we had gone to battle with them, stood toe-to-toe with those lisp-speaking bas****** and very often come off worse. 

Maybe it was that during the time of the Discoveries, they’d had the audacity to match our maritime expertise with their own ground-breaking sailing tools used aboard beautifully-designed boats, by their own expert sailors. 

I even went as far as thinking that it was us (and not them) who had a God-given right to do such things to natives of the faraway places we discovered as: relieve them of all their gold, force them to follow Christianity, or wipe out whole civilizations after catching Influenza. Years later I can see that the latter view was quite simply wrong and that I guess they had just as much right as we did to do all those atrocities. But that’s not how I saw things at the time. 

“I don’t want to belong to a club that will accept me as a member” (Groucho Marx)   

I remember that I wasn’t alone in this dislike for all things Spanish. I even formed a little club with a couple of mates and at secret meetings, we pretty much spent the whole time finding as many flaws as possible in the country and everything it had ever done.  

We refused to even accept that Christopher Columbus could have been Spanish, we decided that Tortillas were too oily, Barcelona’s style of play was too repetitive and predictable, the beaches of Ibiza were too sandy, those of Mallorca weren’t sandy enough, Picasso went through too many periods, Dali was a jack of all trades but master of none and Rioja was just about good enough to cook with… but we wouldn’t be caught dead drinking it.

Over the years, things have changed slightly in Portugal. These days I hear parents tell their kids ‘The Spanish are our neighbours, our brothers’. I’ve got a good mind to have my own children, just to be able to tell them ‘The Spanish are our noisy neighbours. They are not our brothers. They are cheats and thieves. If a Spanish person tells you that a piece of chalk is white, don’t believe them. Ask for a second opinion. Ask some Swiss guy what he thinks.’ 

“My brain? That’s my second favourite organ.” (Woody Allen)  

Everything I’d ever believed in up to date was then put to the test on a cold winter’s night in London, in the mid-noughties, in a smoky nightclub. 

I saw a beautiful brunette across the dancefloor. Slim, with big dark eyes, slightly sulky-looking, aloof, with an air about her like everyday on this planet was a massive chore and something she could easily do without, like she’d rather be somewhere else. Where else? Anywhere else. 

Just my type. 

Two kindred souls, weary and slightly drunk, fed up of Leicester Square tourists and even more fed up of Leicester Square drinks prices, we got in a cab and made our way to her flat. 

The clues had been there all night.  The dark hair and olive skin, the constant shrugging of one shoulder and then the next, the wax lyrical analysis of Xavi’s range of passing, the way she revered chorizo (which now I thought about it, had always been ‘chorittttho’). As if it hadn’t been obvious enough up till then, it certainly was now, hitting me like a sledgehammer to the head as she poured a great big glass of Rioja in front of me. Yes, dear reader, she was Spanish. 

The betrayal 

I thought about my fellow Spanish-despising friends. ‘Get the hell out of there’, they would have been saying. ‘Piss on the sofa before leaving’ they would have implored. 

The truth is I let them down. In a sense I left myself down.  I put my own wants and needs above a philosophy I’d spent half a lifetime creating and cultivating, only to abandon it at the first opportunity that came my way to sleep with a Penelope Cruz-lookalike.

“But do you regret it?”  one of the club members asked me years later, despair and hurt in his eyes.  

I wasn’t sure if he meant the drinking of the Rioja or the girl herself but the truth is I don’t regret either. 

Is Jamie Vardy a good Fantasy Football punt? 

I thought about all this as I watched Jamie Vardy bag a hat-trick on Sunday. Away at City, no less. 

It’s not that Vardy isn’t a great player in his own right. As Opta Gonz pointed out, he’s just gone past Didier Drogba for scoring Premier League goals, for Christ’s sake. 

It’s just that I find the whole thing a little hard to stomach. This scrawny former Non-League football striker, practically living on the shoulder of the last defender, feeding off scraps like a football parasite, drinking Red Bull, taking that awful snus thing.  I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem right to me and in a perfectly good example of cutting my nose to spite my face, I’ve almost never had in my team over the years.  As someone once said about the great Gerd Muller ‘I don’t want that elephant playing among my thoroughbreds’. 

With Son now injured for a few weeks, the smart move would be to bring in a cheaper midfielder like Zaha or Ashley Barnes for the Korean and then further down the line get Vardy in for Callum Wilson using the extra cash. Am I mature enough to do that? The right move? The logical move? 

Or am I too petty and small-minded, full of little dislikes and arbitrary bias?

I suppose it depends on who you ask.