Once upon a time, Ian Tiberius Kane was a young man with a bright future in the world of football. His career flamed out, but despite all that, today, several decades later, for four months out of every year, he is one of the most influential men in world football.
As a child, Ian Tiberius Kane was a footballing prodigy. His family and neighbors had great hopes for the young man and dreamed of him leading the line for Manchester United or Liverpool. Tragically, like so many others, as he grew older his talent was outshone by others who could pass better or shoot more accurately. But as he toiled away in the academies and lower leagues of England, he discovered that while he paled in comparison to his teammates on the pitch, his likability was unmatched off of it.
No footballer knew hot to throw a party like Ian. No footballer knew how to get into the best clubs like Ian. No footballer knew how to use bottle service like Ian. No footballer could chat up a bird like Ian.
As a result, Ian made friends in the game. Ian knew anyone worth knowing. And they knew Ian. There were lads. Then were was Ian.
As Ian grew older, his dreams on the pitch fell by the wayside. And so too did the time he spent with his former teammates. He looked for solace in the newfound depths of the internet. Yet as a middling, lower player, he did not receive the respect he felt he was due. His opinions were ignored. His views were discounted. His career was mocked.
Yet, despite his distance from the game, he still heard things. And then, one day, a friend of his heard that Paul Gascgoine was going to be sold to S.S. Lazio for a English record fee. That evening he logged onto the usenet to share this information. As he prepared to hit submit, he paused. No one would take Ian Tiberius Kane seriously, with his inability to crack Swansea's lower league squad and prominent beer gut. I.T.K. however, may get more notice.
Using his new nom de plume, Ian shared what he knew with the world. He was scoffed and dismissed, but in a short time, the news proved him right. For the first time since he was a child, Ian was a sensation. People hung on his every word.
Is Fergie going to get the sack?
Who is Leeds going to buy?
What's going on with Rovers?
He reveled in it and started to buy his friends more drinks than he had in years. The information gushed onto the internet like a waterfall. Cole to United, Bergkamp to Arsenal, Collymore to Liverpool. ITK was there and he knew before everyone else.
Contrary to popular opinion, footballers aren't completely stupid and several of Ian's friends began to figure out what was going on. One by one people stopped talking to him.
It wasn't long before Ian had fewer and fewer answers for his devotees. Instead of hard information, Ian began to traffic in vague hints and half truths.
Liverpool looking to buy a defender.
Tottenham are looking to hire a cracker from their past.
United are sure for green and red.
Slowly but surely, ITK's reputation started to turn. Wind up merchant, they called him. No one should believe his nonsense, they said.
Ian bristled at this, but he had to do something. Determined to prove his legitimacy, he tried to negotiate a deal with the Guardian, to officially pass along rumors in their paper. And did he have the rumor he needed to prove himself. Bordeaux footballer Zinedine Zidane was set for a shock move to Blackburn Rovers. His online friends would fawn over his foresight and connections and the entire nation would be in awe of his knowledge, just as his footballer friends used to do in swinging London.
And then it didn't happen.
The move never came off, because they had Tim Sherwood. Blackburn ruined his life and they didn't even need chicken magnates to do it.
ITK's attempt to go mainstream didn't come off. He didn't get to write for the Guardian. So he doubled down. Everything was possible. Cantona to Liverpool. Beckham to Arsenal. Owen to Chelsea. Gerrard to Madrid. All through a prism of coded names and vague hints. United were after the jade monkey by the silver moonlight. Tottenham were like a moon in the sky like a big pizza pie. Dwight Yorke was riding the horse to tomorrow's sunset.
He'd get one right sooner or later. It's only a matter of time. And when he does, you'll love him again. You'll hang on his every word, you'll sing his praises to all of your friends. For at least the Summer and the month of January, you won't be able to help yourself. He knows you'll be back. Because if Ian Tiberius Kane is anything, it's in the know.