Lisbie 'Lastic Has Landed
Four Goals In As Many Games In 2008 For Super Kev:
Strike-Rate Boost & Teddy`s Example Show Why Lisbie Could Begin Enjoying Life In The Round-Ball Game, Even At Nearly 30
If Kevin Lisbie doubles his current Colchester haul of ten goals between now and Layer Road`s May curtain call, the 29-year-old striker will have netted more times in one season than he managed in twelve years of toil with Charlton Athletic. Eight months after his Bosman arrival, United fans are finally starting to appreciate the truth behind that saying about the best things in life being free.
With four goals in four games for the U`s since the turn of the year, a resurgent Lisbie is at last showing the type of form and fluency in front of the sting bag on sticks which so eluded during his time at the Valley. So much so, in fact, that there are those on the Essex terraces who wish the Jamaican international would take a page from the Teddy Sheringham book of career longevity.
Teddy, aged 41, not out, is a former Premiership king whose career data reads like a cricket score in more ways than one. His innate goal-getting predatory instinct, professional nonchalance and hefty collection of medals is still a silent defence against those who highlight the foible of that creeping pipe and slippers maturity.
"There are those on the Essex terraces who wish Lisbie would take a page from the Teddy Sheringham book of career longevity."
Ironically, as Fabio Capello prepares for his first game in charge of England tomorrow night, four of the six strikers first selected in Sven Goran Eriksson`s first squad, Sheringham included, are currently plying their trade in the Championship seven years on. (Read Andy Cole, Kevin Philips & Robbie Fowler as the other three).
Remember, also, that Teddy was most people's alternative to Theo Walcott, the latter bizarrely picked for the 2006 World Cup squad without a single moment of first-class experience to his name.
The annals certainly help cuff away cheap jibes that Sheringham might now need to telephone Colchester`s General Hospital, in need of some crutches to get him onto the pitch of a matchday, even after accepting the reality of a tacit player-club agreement whereby he does not don stripes anymore than once a week.
Lisbie, too, has been the butt of medical wisecracks during his professional days, but for an altogether different reason. The man christened 'Super Kev` by Addicts faithful spent extended periods on the sidelines during his spell in London, notably for ligament damage so severe that it almost prevented him kicking a ball in anger altogether.
Before this narrative becomes another hackneyed attempt to portray Lisbie as a comeback kid who is beginning to marry the imposters Kipling called triumph and disaster, it should be noted that football, like life, has little time for sentiment.
'Beckham denied century`, comes the collective tabloid scream this week ahead of Capello`s bow as national boss against Switzerland, as if the force of public opinion solely picks the national team. 'Golden Balls`, who remains the world`s most recognisable soccer star, is still public property.
His exclusion, which maroons the ex-skipper on 99 caps, has been met with many a furrowed brow, up and down these Isles. An even more emotive issue lies on the horizon this Sunday, however, where Manchester City fans are set to push the boundaries of common sense. They, en mass, intend to boo throughout a minute`s silence commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Munich air disaster before kick-off of the derby against rivals United.
Judge for yourself which event merits either more print space and concentration of our efforts, if you like, but the point as it relates to Colchester`s Lisbie is that nobody would willingly buy his particular brand of fallen-angel routine, even if he was asking them to, because it is a path is so readily and repeatedly trodden by all and sundry with a tale to tell.
Cleary, our compassion for the route-one sob story has reached fatigue levels; we consciously flip the over the page when our eye spies yet another third-world appeal in the paper, or slam the door and change the channel when repetitive charity requests invade via letter-box or Television.
"When you`ve read about George Best`s waning star a few times, or watched Paul Gascoine fall from grace under the influence, an obvious response to Lisbie`s relatively minor top-flight tribulations soon becomes: So what?"
Lisbie`s cause, when portrayed in this light, is not helped by the sheer amount of average autobiographies which saturate the market - each athlete invariably prefers to volunteer the bland thinking behind their favourite choice of breakfast cereal, rather than reveal any meaningful personal incite into a select field. Besides, when you`ve read about George Best`s waning star a few times, or watched Paul Gascoine fall from grace under the influence, an obvious response to Lisbie`s relatively minor top-flight tribulations soon becomes: So what?
A lack of luck and consistency certainly hindered the Colchester man`s progress in Premier League, that`s for sure, but when he broke his long association with Chariton last summer, Lisbie made an implicit promise to overwrite the abiding memory of one sun-baked Saturday in 2003.
Still raw at 24, he produced a stunning hat-trick against Liverpool. Rave reviews told of how he almost single-handedly inflicted a titanic league defeat on the five-time European Cup Champions. Yet, Lisbie made the break from his roots and, in so doing, not only shunned a Charlton comfort zone but also his hitherto underserved status as a one-trick pony.
"Years of frustration at Charlton were what contributed to comments from Lisbie that he would strive to keep his son away from the temptation of a distracting round-ball education."
Once smitten, twice shy, is how the future unfolded for the dominative dynamo after those heroics on the Mersey, however, because the haling by one columnist of Lisbie as a new Messiah proved a false dawn. Four further years of frustration and injury in the capital were surely what contributed to comments from the Colchester number 20 that he would strive to keep his son away from the temptation of a distracting round-ball education.
"I can get him away from football I will," Lisbie said of his son, in September 2007. "There's a lot of pressure. People don't realise." Of his junior, who was a mascot at Layer Road last autumn when his former club Charlton visited in the Championship, he added: "He'll be sitting in the office, typewriting. "
The argument this column is making with Lisbie, then, is that he has finally begun to achieve strides at redemption in his daily job, even if those advances are not of a significance that compels the punter in the street to care.
More than that; this space contends it as a joy to observe, because the forward clearly never lost either his pace, or ability to produce a picture-book finish; the hooked gaol he hammed past a shocked Sheffield back five last weekend was enough to prove that.
It was a Hollywood finish from someone deservedly playing with a photogenic purely-white grin, as standard and, best of all, Lisbie`s new lease of life wipes away the most casual charge of all. No longer will people queue up to say there was always a good footballer inside, just struggling to get out.
If you want my advice, then mark 2008 down as the year Lisbie landed.
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