Welcome to a series where you will find out more about your favourite writers and learn about who is behind the words.
Dan Tracey is the Real Football Man.
You know Dan as the mastermind behind the funny, witty, nonsense Tales column ‘The Real Football Man Review of the Week’, but, who is the man behind the words?
I spoke with Dan to find out more about him, his love of the beautiful game and his writing.
What is your name, age and which team do you support?
“My name is Dan Tracey, I’m 33 and I support Tottenham Hotspur.
What is your first footballing memory?
“Football first came into my consciousness around the age of five or six.
“A lot of it would have been the likes of John Barnes as ITV used to always show Liverpool on Sunday afternoons. This was before football was invented by Sky you see.
“I guess the thing that really hooked me around that time would have obviously been Italia ‘90. Add Gascoigne and Lineker to the mix and from then on there was simply no looking back, it’s been football all the way.”
What is your favourite footballing memory?
“Euro ‘96 has to be right at the top. Not only was the football something special but even as a 12-year-old you had a feeling that the game was finally becoming, for loss of a better word, ‘cool’ again. The shackles of the 80s had finally been removed and the game has gone from strength to strength since.
“In fairness, any international tournament before the 2002 World Cup has a special place because the game still had an air of mystery about it. Now everything is known about every single player, although guess I shouldn’t moan because it gives people like myself an opportunity to write about what I love. But at the same time you never really go into a World Cup or a European Championship with a hint of the unknown.
“On a club basis, although Tottenham are playing much better of the past couple of seasons it’s relatively slim pickings, so I’ll have to go with the 2008 League Cup win over Chelsea…or anytime we beat the Arsenal.”
Who is your favourite player of all time?
“It has to be the Barcelona era Ronaldo.
“He was simply incredible in that one season he was at the club. He frankly had it all. Brute force, pace and the ability to score with both feet. When he burst onto the world stage in 1997 he looked a class apart and destined for absolute greatness.
“It’s a shame he suffered so many serious injuries as it was a case of what might have been but, if anything, it just adds to the legacy of the player. Not only that, to then come back and win the 2002 World Cup with Brazil, I don’t think any football fan would have begrudged him that success.”
What is the greatest goal you have ever seen?
“As much as it pains me to say it as a Tottenham fan, it’s a goal from Dennis Bergkamp. The caveat being it is one that he scored for Holland against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.
“The way he controls the ball dead from Frank De Boer’s long pass is exquisite, not to mention the touch to tee himself up for the shot that leads to the goal. Add to the fact that it was in the last minute of the game and it takes on even more of a majestic quality. A goal that I never tire of watching.
“An honourable mention must go to Tony Yeboah’s goal against Wimbledon in 1995, an absolute bullet of a shot. It’s just raw power creating something quite wonderful.”
Apart from Messi or Ronaldo, which player would you sign for your team?
“If it was pure fantasy football and there was no need to worry about tactics or formations then for me it would have to be Neymar.
“I think he is the heir apparent to Lionel Messi at Barcelona and I think he would certainly be a useful addition to Tottenham’s attack line. Although whether he could dislodge Heung-Min Son from the starting eleven is another question!”
You can invite four people from footballing history to dinner at your house. Who and why?
“David Ginola because he was just a different class in the season that I first started watching Tottenham on a regular basis.
“Bobby Moore because who wouldn’t want England’s only World Cup winning captain round for dinner?
“The original Ronaldo because he was my favourite player growing up, and finally Brian Clough because it would not be a dull dinner party with him there.”
Why did you get into writing about football?
“I only started writing two years ago. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get into so I thought it was time to finally get my ideas on to a computer screen. It’s probably the best decision I’ve made.
“To anyone reading this who is deciding whether or not to do the same, my advice is to definitely do so. If you have a talent and put the effort in then doors will open for you.”
If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?
“I’d interview Martin Tyler for the simple reason that he has been the voice of the Premier League since its inception in 1992. He’s been there and seen just about all that matters when it comes to the English top flight.
“What he has not commentated on is not worth talking about and because of that he would have many a story to share I’m sure.
“Not only that but I think I would have to thank him afterwards for being part of my life for the last 25 years. The best commentator in the business in my opinion and I hope he does not hang up his microphone anytime soon.”