With a little more than 24 hours to go before England v. Portugal (and, incidentally, Frank Lampard’s participation in doubt), I think it is fair to say that even the more thoughtful of the English papers are running out of angles. From the Independent’s Terry Kirby.
Of course, this being England footballers, with their massive salaries and their glamorous girlfriends, this is not just about having a family pet, such as a humble terrier or a mongrel from the local dogs’ home. No, this is about lifestyle choices, where your dog is selected with the same care that you might lavish on the decision whether to have a Porsche or a Ferrari, for instance, or whether the built-in sound system at your country mansion is sufficiently state-of-the-art.Even so, the choice of doggy chums does reveal some intriguing selections. Is it sexist to assume that an extravagantly coiffured Maltese could not really be the automatic companion of the more bulldog-like Wayne Rooney? Do we sense the hand of his girlfriend Coleen McLoughlin here?
Similarly, one feels that the brace of chihuahuas owned by Ashley Cole and his intended, Girls Aloud member Cheryl Tweedy, probably owes more to the trend for dogs as beribboned fashion accessories you can pop in your Burberry bag than to any other consideration.
And should we draw any conclusions from the fact that those among the England squad who are less, shall we say, prone to the celebrity lifestyle – such as Paul Robinson or Frank Lampard – seem to lean towards more traditional bulldogs and boxers? Ironically, these are the very dogs that epitomise the kind of spirit the England team has been accused of lacking.