Our particular version of names theory was born on a rugby pitch in 1978, though we didn’t know it at the time. But it was there, in our subconscious, quietly determining who we were and how we played that day.
It was too warm for jumpers, so our goal was the rugby posts on the school playing fields. Chipping the goalie was easy. Or should have been, except our ball was a tennis ball. Some sixth former had confiscated our proper ball when it strayed into his territory and we were too small and submissive to do anything about it. (Most of us probably still are.)
On that day a Wiltshire field became Buenos Aires. I was still wide-eyed with wonder at the world cup final: my first live football on television. The commentator, voice crackling with the distance. A blurry screen. Unending reams of paper falling from the skies in the Estadio Monumental. Swarthy Argentinians, too-short shorts and sideburned Dutch. Or so my memory tells me.
And then there were the names.
Arie Haan, Johnny Rep and Robbie Rensenbrink, Osvaldo Ardiles and Mario Kempes. The names we screamed as we played. Were they the best players? Probably. Maybe.
They were the best names though.
And so it began.