In the late 1990s the former footballer Ian Wright hosted a chat-show called “Friday Night’s All Wright”, on ITV. (It was on Friday nights, understandably.) He was a great player, and back then he was Arsenal’s top goal-scorer of all time (Thierry Henry overtook him in 2005). I have positive memories of the show. Wright did a good job as host and had some top guests and performances, including an appearance from Lauryn Hill that I can’t find anywhere on the web
When Wright was interviewing other sports stars there was a predictable amount of banter, but it worked fine. An international football star joking with a world champion boxer, for example, usually makes better TV than a journalist, who has never played sport at the top level, bantering about the perceived failings of a sportsman who has been a world-beater.
I have memories of light-hearted verbals between Ian Wright and Prince Naseem Hamed (world featherweight boxing champion at the time) about their clothing. As I recall (and apologies if I have mixed up the brands involved – there’s no video evidence to check all this) Wright was sponsored by Nike, and Hamed was sponsored by Adidas. During their interview Wright said something along the lines of, “Woah, get the Adidas out my face, man”. I’m pretty sure that the word “of” was missing; he said “out my face”, instead of “out of my face”. He also pronounced Adidas the American way (Add-EE-dass, with the emphasis on the second syllable) rather than the English way (ADD-ee-dass, with the emphasis on the first syllable). In response Hamed said, “Get the Nike out my face, man” and they traded non-threatening remarks about their respective sponsors. As we have known for some time Nike is pronounced “NIGH-key” but it took a few years for us to get there. Was it Nike to rhyme with bike? Or was it nee-kay, to rhyme with BK? No, it’s Nike to rhyme with spiky.
I mentioned, in this Technology piece from last month, that I would “never be clad head-to-toe with clothing manufactured by one sportswear company, and I would rather not have all of my technology dictated by a single supplier”. If I have favoured one company over all others in my adult life it is Adidas, and I have now adopted the American pronunciation of their name. They are the manufacturers of my two most recent pairs of trainers (I still want to call them “running shoes”) and a few other items of clothing, including the recently purchased down-filled waterproof jacket mentioned in this piece. I also have clothing (shorts, socks, caps, replica shirts, track-suit trousers) made by Umbro, Nike, Diadora, Asics, Puma, Lonsdale and Slazenger. We have tennis equipment and footballs made by Dunlop, Wilson, Head, Slazenger, Adidas and Nike. As you can see, we are not committed to any single brand.
My 11-year-old daughter continues to wear sports kit much of the time, something I noted nearly two years ago in this piece about Nargs. She plays football, does parkruns at the weekend and trains with a well-known athletics club. All of her recently acquired Arsenal-related clothing bears the Puma brand. For some time her preferred footwear (trainers and Astros – football boots for playing on Astroturf) was made by Nike. When she needed a new pair of trainers last summer the recommendations to stick with Nike came from people as diverse as a 10-year-old classmate (who has them sent directly from family in Japan) and a local man in his 70s who swears by them (and has worn the Swoosh happily for many years now, even with a suit and tie). She chose another pair of Nikes and is very happy with them.
That same month I bought a pair of Adidas trainers and while we were sporting our new purchases I introduced my daughter to the Ian Wright-Prince Nasem concept, leading us all to an adaptable catchphrase. I will say, “Woah, get the Nike out my face man” and she will respond, “Get the Adidas out my face man”. My wife (in Karrimor footwear, which she is also happy with) and my son (Reebok, also happy with them) join in too. “Woah, get the Reebok out my face, man.” “Get the Karrimor out my face.” And so on.
During the autumn my daughter needed new Astros, and chose a pair of Adidas. I could adapt our catchphrase even further. “Nice Astros. Get the Adidas in my face, man.” I was able to use it earlier this evening when I took her to her Wednesday night football game, which I haven’t been able to do for a while. She decided not to wear one of her Arsenal shirts (which have the Puma logo) but chose her Spain top instead. It’s the design worn by the Spanish national team, and features an Adidas logo. She wore Nike shorts but with her Astros and Spain shirt I was able to congratulate her on her kit. And she was made man of the match. “Get the Adidas in my face, man.”