Italy are the bottom line for one Quintin Marais, midfield dynamo for Centurion Blues!
France and South Africa may face a humiliating exit from the World Cup, but it could have been worse. At least nobody lost their trousers.
Who suffered that embarrassment in the process of attempting a diving header in front of the world’s press? He’s not a Bafana Bafana star… just a 26-year-old local midfielder who was asked to join the Italian training session at Southdowns on Thursday.
Quintin Marais, son of two of my best friends from our schools days at Lyttelton Manor High, is now something of a media star, given the coverage which has been beamed around the world. He is the central midfield dynamo for local club Centurion Blues. But that doesn’t quite prepare you for training with Italy, even if you are part of the local Van Rooyen clan.
I’ve known Quintin since he was a boy. Gave him a ring this morning. He told me: “I can’t believe what happened! I went for a dive header and my trousers came down – everyone was laughing.
“But look Neal, it was great man. I used to work at Southdowns and my boss game me a call to come train. All my friends are so jealous. I still can’t believe it. Training with the Azzuri, high-fiving with Gennaro Gatusso, one of my heroes. I’ll never forget my day with the Italians!”
But enough of that. Here’s the account Quintin sent me, written from the heart:
“Here is a story I think all of you will appreciate! Might not believe it but it’s true! Ok so I have to tell you what happened to me yesterday! Eat your hearts out!
“Now, as you know Italy have made Centurion their home base for the world cup where they train at Southdowns
“So yesterday at around 11ish Wian (who is actually my ex boss) called me from Southdowns – told me I have 10 minutes to get there, the Italians are a player short and Marais must come fulfill the role!
“Oh my Lord! – At first I told Wian to stop joking but no – the real deal!
“So I drop everything at work – rush off home to get me boots and off I go
“I get there – heavy security – get escorted to the kit room, get dressed quickly - they kit me out proper!
“Now the Italians were already training when I got there and apparently the bloke who was supposed to help them out was late or stuck in traffic or something!
“So the first person who came into Wian’s mind was Marais! Niiiiiiiccce!!!
“Anyway – get kitted up and off I run to Mr. Lippi who called me on…. No warm up – just get cracking son!
“He greets me with some Italian saying and the whole team crack themselves with laughter – not like I was phased – I just lag (laughed) with them! I mean I’m just happy to be there!
“Moving on… Run on and straight into ‘piggy in the middle’ for those who of you play footy will know what that means.
“After that most of the guys greeted me including Gattuso who I called ‘bulldog’ to the amusement of all his team mates
“We then did some attacking play where the ball gets crossed and the other 3 get into the box to slot it… so this was quite cool! I’m lovin it!
“So we go through the paces a few times… but with this one specific one - Marais gets into the box for the diving header which was squandered but at the same time lost my rods (trousers)!
“But when I say lost my rods…I mean kaal gat (for English readers: Bare Bottom)! All the press/photographers started laughing so I just ran back as if nothing happened and carried on as usual. LOL!!!
“All of them wanted to chat to me afterwards but I was I was not allowed to… oh well!
“Anyway – long story short Marais trained with the world champs and it was probably the most awesome 40 minutes or so of my entire life!
“They all signed a shirt for me afterwards too which is cool – so the Italians are not so bad ey… actually lekker (nice) bunch!
“Here is a link below of my story that’s probably all around the world today. It’s also at the bottom of page 26 in ‘The Star’ today.