Cult Heroes……Part 3

Thursday, 27 September 2007

If you were to compile an all time Worst Players XI, then Francis Benali would probably be one of the first names on the teamsheet, although Kieran Richardson might give him a run for his money on his current form. So what makes Francis a Cult Hero?

Well in today’s money grabbing, mercenary football world where players change teams faster than Callum Best changes his women, Benali had that one thing which most football fans love above anything else. Loyalty

Apart from the odd loan spell, Benali spent his almost whole career at Southampton racking up over 350 appearances for the Saints. Granted, the reason he stayed so long at the Saints is because he was too shit to sign for everyone else, but that would be missing the point as Benali is the sort of player for whom the term “stalwart” fitted perfectly.

Benali couldn’t defend, could barely tackle, had no pace and couldn’t cross to save his life. Added to that his spectacular ability to score own goals and its still a mystery how he managed to become a Saints regular but I am sure he wasn’t complaining.

Benali’s inability to tackle would normally end in disaster and he regularly got on the wrong side of officials, receiving an incredible 11 red cards. His tackling was worse than that of the ginger ninja Paul Scholes. However, seeing as his position was a defender this presented a bit of a concern as it would generally be considered to be an essential part of his role. I suppose it’s a bit like applying to be a porn star and then telling the director you only have a one inch cock. You really should just be doing something else.

Benali was a shrewd man though, and in the days where footballers actually had a job after their career he joined a business venture in helping to run an Indian restaurant. It’s a shame that Benali wasn’t capable of the devastating runs that his curries were producing.

He notched just one goal during his long and not so distinguished career. A truly shocking figure but still more than that other legend, Rob Jones. Benali was also a member of the football’s dodgy moustache club which meant he looked a touch like the bastard child of Tom Selleck and Freddie Mercury. Thankfully, he had the intelligence later in his career to shave it off.

Francis Benali…………WE SALUTE YOU!!!


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