Showman has landed

EXPRESS & ECHO

SATURDAY MAY 11 2002

uri-and-sonHE’S famous for bending spoons and he’s just taken the chair at Exeter City FC.

But Uri Geller believes his connection with the city of Exeter could have begun hundreds of years ago – when his son Daniel lived here in a past life. Uri and Daniel Geller spoke to the Echo’s Richard Best – Geller believes that his connection with the city of Exeter may date from when his son Daniel lived here in a past life. “Seven years ago Daniel suddenly came to me and said he was in love with Exeter City Football Club,” said Uri. “I said: ‘You’re crazy they’re three hours away and they’re a Third Division team’. “I personally think there’s a touch of the paranormal about it – he probably lived in Devon in a past life or something.”

Law student Daniel, 21. who one day hopes to be a barrister, said that he could think of no other reason for his infatuation with the club. Daniel said: “I just felt an attraction to Exeter to the club and to the people. It’s something spiritual, something really deep. “I became a Devonian. an Exonian. “I felt as if I’d been here before. I knew my way around. I felt at home.” So Uri began to drive Daniel to the city whenever he could and gradually felt his own bond grow in addition to bonds he already had with his home club. Reading, and Norwich City, not to mention rumours about his plans for Oldham Athletic. “Being his dad, I drove him many times here and I began to love the club myself” said Uri. And he has had a feeling for some time that he would one day become involved in the club.

At a press conference to announce the appointment of Uri Geller and John Russell as joint chairman. with Mike Lewis and Daniel Geller sharing the vice-chairman’s role. Uri whipped out a crystal trophy he’d had made and engraved some time ago for the club. “I had it carved about a year ago and thought that some lay I was going to present it to the club, when the right opportunity came along.” he said.

Now Uri hopes to use the power of positive thought to help the ailing club’s prospects. The press conference at St James’s Park kicked off at the slightly unusual time of 10.11am. He explained: ‘At exactly 10.11am and 11.11am I pray, for world peace and for the sick children around the world – and there are millions of sick children. And people join with me fm prayer. So I thought it would be a good moment for me to walk in here. I’m a religious man. I believe in greater and higher forces. “There’s a touch of spirituality to this event in my life today. “I believe your can take individuals and awaken passions. Music does that, spirituality does that – and a belief system does that. “I will try to bring that to the club and get people to buy season tickets. “I will do my best to be here throughout the whole year and I will cancel certain engagements that I have simply to show up and talk to the fans. ‘And because I’m Uri Geller, I’m very well-connected and I do open doors. I know a lot of industrialists and celebrities and I will try to lure them to this club and, obviously, will try to find People who can bring some money.”

Uri said that one of the first contacts he would tap up was with his old friend Mohammed Al Fayed. “We’ve been friends for quite a few years. so I will try to convince him to bring Fulham for a friendly match.” lie said. “I don’t think ever in history there has been a paranormal who’s been chairman of a football club. But since thr announcement, we’ve already had CNN and other media wanting to do something. So it’s amazing that for a Third Division club there’s worldwide interest.”

Exeter City is far from being the first football club in history to benefit from Mr Geller’s powers. In fact, he has a long history in the world of football. He recalled: ‘when I was about 13, my mother divorced my father and remarried a Hungarian living in Nicosia, where they had a small hotel. Football managers would come to stay. “One was Hungarian, and I spoke Hungarian and I bent a key for him. He was freaked out by this and by my spoon-bending and asked me if l could direct my energies to inspire his play. “So I got him to take me to the dressing room. They were bottom of the league, but they won it that year.”

“That was my first introduction to football. For years I thought it was really me and my powers. “But I was wrong. What I was doing was inspiring them. I’m a motivator and I believe positive thinking is an important dimension to the belief system of any player. “l can’t bend it like Beckham – that’s psychokinesis at its highest levels – but then who knows? “

I will want to keep the paranormal away from this, definitely away “I’m here because I care about this club and about the people.” But although he might not be able to bend the ball like the England captain. Uri has got involved in trying to help in the healing of his injured foot. He said: “I was on television helping to heal Beckham’s foot. I’m not a healer, but with the help and inspiration of thousands of people in England he did heal very quickly”

Uri has also been trying to play his own role in England – success at the World Cup. He said: “I did recently visit the stadium in Yokohama and I did my little ritual there, and I could tell you who’s going to win the World Cup. “Or, rather, I know who’s winning but I won’t tell you,” he added, joking that he already had money riding on the game. Uri knows vice-chairman Mike Lewis from his days at Reading football Club, which is near his home. He said: “I’ve known Mike for years, he visited my house many times. He called me three days ago and asked if I would agree to be joint chairman. “So I called Daniel and he was very positive, and I spoke to my wife Hanna, and our daughter. Natah, who is 19. It suddenly was an awakening in my mind and that’s when I said ‘yes’. They came to my house and, for hours we talked about what we should do for the club. “It’s hard to believe that 72 hours ago I made up my mind to join the club – and for Daniel to be next to me there is an inspiration.” It must be something of an inspiration for Daniel too. The phrase I am in a candy store comes to mind and he is plainly exhilarated by the prospect. He said: “I’m thrilled, it’s a fantastic opportunity, as you all know.

And don’t need to spell it out what a fan I am. It’s not just close to my heart. it’ in my heart and it has been for many years. “Now my dream is for us to be promoted and be successful and we have so many superlative ideas”. “It’s just going to be magnificent.”

Daniel was in Strasbourg when Uri heard the news of the chairmanship. His dad rang him and told him to drag himself away from his revision for yesterday’s press conference. He said: “I came over here as soon as I could and, even though I’ve been away, whenever I couldn’t make it to the match I’m constantly on the phone and I celebrate like mad when they score goals.”

Looking into Un’s life and times to date makes interesting, if at times bizarre, reading. He was born in Israel in 1946 and had his first paranormal experience when he was just four years old. He apparently first became aware of his own powers when he was five, as a spoon just curled up and broke in his hand during a meal. He then began developing this at school, showing his fellow pupils what he could do and the spoonbending has since become a Uri Geller trademark. Uri served as a paratrooper in the Israeli army and fought during the Six-Day War and was wounded. He then worked as a model and slowly began to build up his shows.

`THIS IS DEFINITELY A NEW THING FOR ME. I’M VERY HONEST ABOUT IT. BUT I WILL TRY TO MAKE TH I NGS HAPPEN…’

He first came to real prominence when in Israel, the them Prime Minister Golda Meir, declined to predict what the future held for the state and answered: “Don’t ask me-ask Uri Geller” Geller left Israel for Europe in 197’2 and immediately attracted widespread attention. His fame in Britain spread like wildfire after lie demonstrated his powers on. a TV show presented by David Dimbleby.

To this day he bends spoons, although lie prefers to be known now as an inspirational speaker and motivator.. But he is still mot beyond bending the odd eating utensil. In fact, lie was quite happy to show off his talent to the waiting journalists and television crews who had turned up at St James’s Park yesterday – stopping the cameraman who had picked up the spoon on the way out and signing it. “It’s a piece of art now,” the said.

He tends not to travel alone and leaves much of his arrangementmaking to his brother-in-law and manager Shippi who was at St James’s Park wielding a digital video camera to record the event. And Shippi was happy to talk about the fundraising potential of bending spoons “We’ve raised £17,(10(1 from auctioning bent spoons over the last five weeks at shows,” he said. Uri was also proud of this fact and told of how. on a recent appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, he had got a £1,000 bid for bending spoons. ‘And them I asked them what they’d bid if 1 also invited them to come to my house for coffee,” he said. “My wife is expecting me to start putting buses on soon. I am always inviting people.” Mr Geller senior and his wife, Hanna, last year renewed their vows to one another at a service in which Michael Jackson was best man. Also on the guest list, according to Geller’s own website, were the Formula One racing champion Nigel Mansell, Sir David Frost, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, the horror writer James i. Herbert. Dick’s producer Youth. am Israeli consul and the Japanese Ambassador.

Uri also hopes that Nigel Mansell will be among those celebrities lie hopes to pull in to start making regular appearances at the club. Whether or not he can persuade them to part with any of their hard-earned cash to Support the club where it would really count is another matter – although Michael Jackson probably wouldn’t miss the type of money it would take to get the Grecians back on track. The Geller family home has been written about many times over the vears – they are opulent surroundings indeed, and ones fitting to a man who has been the sort of character to pull in six figure sums for his appearances. Uri seems to be less impressed these days by the trappings of wealth and has been quoted as saying he would happily give it up for a small plot in the country Whether that is to be in Woodbury has yet to be seem, although Daniel did mot dismiss out of hand the prospect of his dad buying a place in Exeter.

It seems that the world’s media has for decades been undecided about whether Uri Geller is indeed one who possesses paranormal powers or is am extemely Clever showman. He is well aware of this and on his official website does publish articles which attempt to explain his powers away by science. That being said, lie does refer to am article in Time magazine as ‘one ludicrous example showing to what extent some scientists, magicians and writers indulge in, to explain how Uri Genet- demonstrates his telepathic abilities’. But, for now. Uri and his powers have another grand challenge ahead of them – – working some magic with Exeter City,. “This is definitely a mew thing for life. I’m very honest about it,” he said. “But I will try to make it happen..

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