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Friday, July 2, 2010
The future of England

Thursday, 6:15 p.m., Embassy Row Offices, crap part of Soho.

Last night, Rog, when I arrived home in the dark of night after a long flight in from L.A., I retreated to the solitude of my beloved Man Cave. From a cupboard filled with old boxing gloves and whiskey, I retrieved my dusty old crystal Jabulani ... and decided to take a peek into the future: Where will England's underachievers/national shamemongers be in four years' time? This is all scientifically indisputable.

David James
Having played his last two seasons in MLS for the expansion Las Vegas Orient, David will make the four-and-a-half hour drive down the 10 to Hollywood. If soap operas are still around, he'll be on one. If not, he'll be like every other English chancer in L.A., shopping around his headshot and complaining about having missed out on the glory years when an English accent practically guaranteed at least a role as a gangster's assistant in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Will play in celebrity football games with Rod Stewart and Robbie Williams. Will drink at the Cat and Fiddle.

Glen Johnson
Pushing 30, and having gained a good 25 pounds while playing professionally in Turkey, GlenJo (as everyone calls him after his somewhat painful Euro 2012 inspired rap album with Jermain Defoe) will be safely ensconced as England's backup right back. His game is less explosive but far more complete -- he is now just as bad going forward as he is at the back. But he has the hesitant throw-in down to a high art.

Cheryl & Ashley Cole
Ashley ... how could you?

Ashley Cole
Having cheated on his second wife, Elin Nordegren, the Leeds United defender is still good enough to play for England; in fact, he is the only left-footed English defender in England, but manager David Beckham just can't bring himself to pick him. The truth is, Posh is friends with both of his exes and just won't have it. Coach Becks decides that he'd rather go with no left back at all and play two right-footed players on the left side of midfield with their ankles tied together. The Sun calls this move: Becking Genius!

Steven Gerrard
Retired from international football after sitting on the bench for three and a half years at Real Madrid.

Michael Dawson
On holiday with his family in Corfu after another solid season at Brentford. He was seen as being England's next great central defender, until someone realized that he was already 26 at the last World Cup and would be older than John Terry was in 2010 at the next one.

John Terry
Player/assistant manager at Brentford, working on his badges, still going out with the lads. He writes a column for the Sun in which he slags off the current England team, the press, the manager and the fans as "a bunch of girls' blouses."

Aaron Lennon
After retraining to be part of the UK men's gymnastics team at the London Olympics, he now regularly appears as the little half of the little-and-large variety/comedy/tumbling/juggling/unicycling act "Lennon and Crouchy" on the piazza at Covent Garden. The tourists love it.

Frank Lampard
After being roundly booed at Premier League grounds around the country, Lampard makes a dream move to Real Madrid and under Jose Mourinho wins three successive Champions League trophies. He is the undisputed captain of England under coach Becksadonna, leads them to the final of Euro 2012 where they are denied a last-second goal in extra time courtesy of instant video replay and lose on penalties to Montenegro.

Peter Crouch
After retraining to be part of the UK men's handball team for the 2012 Olympics ... see above under Aaron Lennon. Crouchy is the large half.

David Beckham
The new Wayne Rooney oddly resembles David Beckham.

Wayne Rooney
After his dissappointing performance in South Africa, Wayne commits himself to a complete fitness and cosmetic overhaul. He becomes the face and body of the P90X training DVDs in the UK and sheds 20 pounds, gains 10 mph and becomes an unstoppable force on the English, European and world stage. Unfortunately, the total body waxing, skin pigmentation, hair transplant, botox, nose job and cheek implants make him unrecognizable from the beloved young chav the country fell in love with.

Joe Cole
Now working at SeaWorld in Florida perfoming juggling ball tricks at the "Super Seal Soccer Supper Show with Gazzer and Wazzer." Gazzer and Wazzer are usually seals.

Robert Green
Having never regained his confidence in goal for West Ham, and never been picked again for England, Rob decides to blog and pod for the 2014 World Cup for "Drop the ball" becomes a runaway success, featuring guests like The Situation, Eric Wynalda and Chef Boyardee and the "total shirts" ranking system for teams and players at the World Cup.

Stephen Warnock
Star of the Channel 5 documentary, "Whatever happened to Stephen Warnock?" Having completely disappeared after the World Cup, and having nobody notice until late 2013, Stephen turns up working as a bus driver in Cameroon.

Gareth Barry
Still completing the 2014 London Marathon. Though running at full speed, Gareth has just made it past the 25-mile marker 67 days after setting off from Greenwich Park.

Matt Upson
Place-kicker for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders.

James Milner
England's holding midfielder. Not quick enough to play on the wing but 10 times quicker than his predecessor, Gareth Barry, Milner trains in the holding role under assistant coach Owen Hargreaves at Man Utd.

Shaun Wright-Phillips
"Manchester's Top Children's Entertainer" according the Manchester Evening News. "Former Chelsea, Manchester City and England speed merchant will make your children cry with laughter with his jokes, impressions (ask for Fabio Capello) and magic tricks. Also available as a triple act with London based little-and-large variety act, Lennon and Crouchy!"

Jamie Carragher
Unintelligible analyst for ESPN. Even Steve McManaman doesn't understand him.

Jermain Defoe
After disappointing sales of "Introducing GlenJo and Defoe," the Euro 2012 rap album he co-headlines with Glen Johnson, Jermain moves to New Zealand where he opens a dance academy with Shane Smeltz.

Ledley King
After making himself available for selection by proclaiming in the press, "Having only played three games in four years, I have never felt better," the 34-year-old England vice-captain sits out the whole World Cup with chronic left knee, right knee, right arm, left arm, hamstring, wrist, elbow, thumb, shoulder, neck, Achilles tendon, metatarsal and groin injuries.

Emile Heskey
Unloved by the English, the big man moves to New York and becomes my second in command in the TV business. After demonstrating an instant feel for the dark arts of game-show producing, Emile convinces ABC to buy a reimagined version of "The Joker's Wild" hosted by -- you guessed it -- Emile Heskey. It becomes the biggest thing since "Millionaire." I am fired and replaced by Heskey both as president of my company and as Off The Ball author. Roger publicly apologizes for ever questioning his abilities on and off the field and thus keeps his co-author job.

Michael Carrick
See Stephen Warnock.

Joe Hart
England's No. 1 goalkeeper at the World Cup. Cracks the boys up in training with his Rob Green impression. Becomes the first goalkeeper to win the Golden Shoe with five penalties and three injury-time headers.

Fabio Capello
Builds a lair off an uncharted Polynesian island. A series of lucrative arms deals with third-world dictators (met through FIFA contacts) gives him the funding he needs to plot the downfall of the British government, the Football Association, Fleet Street and the players who questioned his authority. Hundreds are kidnapped in the dead of night and whipped for their impudence. Still loves listening to the pod in his downtime.