ENGLAND TUNE UP FOR WORLD CUP WITH [I]NME[/I]… (AND A LITTLE BET ON THE SIDE)

ALAN SHEARER, England World Cup squad captain, was "dancing on the ceiling" after copies of the NME were flown into the team's tournament HQ...

ALAN SHEARER, England World Cup squad captain, declared last week that he was “dancing on the ceiling” after copies of the NME were flown into the team’s tournament headquarters in France.

Shearer was delighted because at the time the England squad had a running bet on who could name the most song titles in each TV interview they gave – and they’d been poring over NME in an attempt to get one up on each other!

NME‘s publisher IPC is the official magazine supplier to France 98 and, as part of the deal 22 copies of NME are sent out to the England team each Wednesday. A spokesman for the FA says NME had been “a great help” in keeping the bet going, though rumours that Tony Adams had been working on slipping titles of Fall songs into his interviews were unsubstantiated as NME went to press.

Each England team member put #100 into a kitty and the player who mentioned the most titles in a single TV interview by the end of the tournament would win the lot. To make the task harder, players had to pick band names out of a hat.

Last week, Gareth Southgate drew George Michael/Wham! just before an interview with ITV’s Bob Wilson. Asked what he thought of England’s training camp, Southgate told Wilson, “It’s hardly ‘Club Tropicana’, Bob.” After repeated questions as to who would feature in the team for England’s opening game against Tunisia, he replied, “You won’t be getting any ‘Careless Whisper’s from me.”

In The London Evening Standard (June 16), Southgate revealed that Tony Adams had been way out ahead in the competition, which was called off when the UK press cottoned on to it. “He is the king. He managed to fit four titles into an interview.”

In a three-minute interview with BBC’s Des Lynam, Adams scored four Beatles titles: ‘Get Back’, ‘Something’, ‘Let It Be’ and ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. He was leading the competition with a high score of six. “It’s a silly little thing really, but it all helps to while away the time and keep the spirits up,” Southgate said.

The bet explains why Alan Shearer punched the air in triumph during a TV interview last week. Shearer told ITV he thought less fancied teams could do well ‘Against All Odds’ then realised he’d scored without even trying.