Uri Geller writes exclusively for Football World

Issue 5 France 98 Edition June 5th to June 19th 1998

In a recent national newspaper Paul Gascoigne reportedly told radio presenter Danny Baker: “UFOs are real, they’ve fbworldgot to be. I’ve read books and magazines, bought videos and everything.”

“I even think they stop and pull people on board for a couple of hours. I don’t care if you look at me like that. UFOs are a definite fact and I’ve got to see one soon. I’ve got to… It’s coming and I can’t wait, mate.”

Some people would say, “What’s the point of seeing a UFO when you already come from another planet?” But the believers could turn the question on its head – Paul Gascoigne has extraordinary, almost superhuman abilities, and an inexplicable interest in alien lifeforms. Isn’t it very possible he really does come from another planet?

What was once a crackpot viewpoint is rapidly becoming a mainstream theory.

The question is: if Gascoigne really is an extra-terrestrial hybrid, what the hell are the aliens playing at? Surely their unimaginably sophisticated technology can home in on his DNA and eliminate whatever causes those bizarre urges to bare his bottom at cameramen. I mean, Gazza isn’t exactly Mr Spock, is he?

But if he wants to see a UFO, I’ll be more than happy to oblige. The fields around my Thameside home are frequently visited by UFOs. I actually warn my guests about it. Personally I like Gazza and I think he has a brilliant talent. I had only one short conversation with him over the phone a while back. Hopefully, one night after the World Cup, Paul and I will sit on the riverside, and wait, and watch.

Although if my theory is right, the aliens are already watching Gazza.

One visitor to my home who wasn’t abducted by aliens was Glenn Hoddle. There’s some confusion over this. Glenn’s initial reaction was that he could not have been abducted by aliens here because he’d never set foot in my house. In fact he’d only met me once, at a football match four years ago.

Which was curious, because four years ago I wasn’t going to football matches. My very absorbing passion for English football erupted after a visit to Reading three years back. Within a few months they were on the brink of the Premier league. Before the beginning of this season I had a dispute with the Chairman and sadly I had to walk away. Now they’re in Division Two, which is another story and one I’ll tell another time.

What I want to lay to rest here is the Hoddle connection. The world supposes I am being sued by the England coach, because the world’s media reported this. In fact, I’ve received no writ.

Which is a good thing, because I’ve said nothing untrue and nothing defamatory, and I was upset when Glenn denied the fact of what I was saying.

As I told the News Of The World. I met Glenn Hoddle and the faith healer Eileen Drewery in my home. Her remarkable powers have benefited the coach and his team for a long time. I have complete confidence in the power of faith to heal, and I know that Glenn’s beliefs can do England nothing but good. So why he accused me of not telling the truth, I cannot understand.

Let it rest. This shall be one of life’s imponderables. There are more important things in the picture this summer. The World Cup, and England’s strongest chance of seizing it for 32 years, for instance.

Every night I stare into the sky and say a prayer. My prayers are always very visual, and I imagine Alan Shearer, our triumphant Captain and goal-scorer, grinning as he clutches the writhing figure of the Cup in both hands (which I actually touched myself at my home). He presses it to his face, kissing it like a holy relic, and then he thrusts it into the air.

The roar can be heard all over England…

Good luck Glenn. Good luck England. All my energy is with you.

But at the end of the day I suspect that the decision lies in Gods hands.

Uri Geller’s Little Book Of Mindpower is published by Robson Books at £2.50, and copies will this week be delivered to the Football Association by Uri personally, for distribution to the squad. Uri can only hope that the players will get it and tuck the inspirational volumes behind their shinpads as they play, they are only three inches square. His novel Ella is about the power of healing and prayer, is published by Headline Feature at £9.99. Visit his website at www.urigeller.com and e-Mail him at urigeller@compuserve.com

Issue 6 20th June to 3rd July 1998

We knew all along, but now it’s been proven by scientists – football is the meaning of life. Or at least, it matters as much as good sex, which amounts to the same thing.

Researchers at the University of Utah have measured testosterone levels in fans. For decades it’s been known that an athlete’s testosterone surges at the moment of victory, releasing an ecstatic sensation that many sportsmen describe as “better than sex”.

What psychologist Paul Bernhardt has discovered is that the same raunchy surge occurs throughout the crowd. Remember the look on Stuart Pearce’s face, the animal roar of intense, aggressive gratification, after he punched his first penalty home in Euro ’96? Remember how you felt the same way? Now you know why.

Testosterone levels soar by up to 20 per cent among fans of the winning team. The losing fans suffer a similar drop. The hormone is more than a sexual trigger – it also determines a male’s will to fight. It’s the hormone that makes champions, because the winner keeps on surging stronger and the loser slinks away with his tail, literally, between his legs.

In football crowd terms, that means the winning fans are on their feet, chanting, “You’re going down, you’re going down, you’re going,” while the opposition sit silently with their chins on thier fists.

Bernhardt, who will be publishing his findings in the heavyweight journal Physiology And Behaviour later this year, collected saliva samples from Brazilian and Italian fans before a World Cup final screening, and again after Brazil won the shoot-out. The South Americans went 20 per cent above the norm. The Latins, despite everything we believed about their Mediterranean sex drive, fell 20 per cent below.

“I think this confirms a lot of people’s notions that serious sports fans really do seem to be affected by their teams,” Bernhardt said. “This is not just happening in the mind, it’s happening in the whole person.”

Italians take defeat at football particularly badly. In Florence, where La Fiorentina went through a rough patch this season, a beating for the team provoked outbreaks of stomach upsets across the city.

Professor Pier Luigi Cabras, director of the Clinic of Psychiatry at the University of Florence, and Professor Franco Pacini, chief physician of gastroenterology at the city’s Careggi hospital, identified a bacterium called Elico, which produces ulcer-like growths when stimulated by anger. The worse the patient’s frustration and pent-up fury, the bigger grows the infection.

So your team loses, and you’re not just impotent, you’ve got a pain in the duodenum too. And for all these years you’ve been blaming the meat pie at half time. What are all those victorious Brazilians going to do with their excess testosterone? Back in the Seventies, when João Saldanha was coach, the players needed all the extra hormones they could generate. Unlike the monastic vow of chasitity that is imposed on most international teams today, Pele’s swinging team-mates faced just one tough rule: only one girl each per week.

Saldanha recalled: “I told them, ‘Look, you can go with girls, it’s natural. I only ask one thing: never change the girl during the week, only on Mondays. Sleep with a girl twice a week, that’s normal. But if you change the woman, then it’s problems – emotional ones.”

The rule was ferociously stringent. When a goalkeeper tried to switch girlfriend midweek, Saldanha stepped in – and confiscated her.

Compare that to France 98, where during training Glenn Hoddle’s men were not allowed to have wives or girlfriends at the hotel. Small wonder David Beckham was looking distracted in the warm-ups. The only women in the entourage were faith healer Eileen Drewery and nutritionist Sue Ready.

It’s an age-old question. Does sex deprivation sharpen a sportsman’s appetite for victory? George Best, who recently described how he would charge Man Utd team-mates to hide and spy in his hotel room while he bedded groupies, never seemed to be weakened by indulgence. On the other hand, most men would turn blue and die after the kind of Saturday night that was routine for George in his heyday.

My experience is that good sex can channel psychic energy, perhaps taking the top off it but leaving the rest more manageable. In many paranormal studies, it’s evident that sexually repressed individuals generate massive charges of psi energy which they can’t control. An athlete cannot afford to have any uncontrolled vitality in the system – better to skim it off than leave it loose.

Of course, sex may have been the last thing on the England coach’s mind when he made his training camp a spouse-free zone. To achieve success, a sportsman has to focus. Totally, completely. And if any kind of emotional distraction is present, focus becomes much more difficult.

I applaud Glenn Hoddle’s ruthlessness. I’m just glad his regime doesn’t have to apply to us fans.

Uri Geller’s Little Book Of Mindpower is published by Robson Books at £2.50, and his novel Ella by Headline Feature at £9.99.

Visit his website at www.urigeller.com and e-Mail him at urigeller@compuserve.com

Issue 7 July 3 to July 17 1998

They play football in heaven. Otherwise it wouldn’t be heaven, would it? On Saturday afternoons you’d have to stay on your cloud and watch the reruns of Film ’98 and Have I Got News For You on BBC2. Which is the definition of purgatory.

A TV pundit pal was listing me his Heaven XI. I remember he picked Dixie Dean and Bobby Moore, but my football history is shaky and I couldn’t really name a team of soccer ghosts, unless you count last season’s Spurs side.

So I called up a team of deities to play his saints: The four-legged Hindu god Vishnu as centre forward, the 30-foot-high Welsh hero Kai in midfield, Jesus in goal – because, as the bumper stickers proclaim, Jesus Saves. . .

“Whoa there,” cut in my friend, “I know you’re Jewish, but that’s blasphemy.”

And I’d been sure my companion was an atheist! I tried to backtrack.

“Football,” he said, “is a religion. And you’re taking its name in vain.”

He wasn’t the first person to say that this summer. Psychologist Antony Clare compared stadiums to cathedrals, with towering spires and an atmosphere of fervent awe. The faithful sit in rows, stand for communal singing and pray loudly at frequent intervals.

In the Vatican, where a former Barcelona season ticket holder, Pope John-Paul II, used to play in goal for the Polish amateur team Wostyla, football fans talk about qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. The five-a-side league boasts teams of Holy City firemen, Swiss guards and even telephonists. The leader of England’s Catholic church, Cardinal Hume, is a ferocious Newcastle fan who has his own No 9 shirt and wants the Match Of The Day theme to be played at his funeral.

Newcastle are well stocked with famous Christians – Tony Blair took half an hour out of the G8 economic summit in May to watch his team losing the FA Cup final.

I’d like to make a point about the New Age, and claim that soccer’s divine status is a product of the worldwide awakening, a sublime gesture to the coming Millennium.

Sadly, I can’t. Football has appealed to all men, from the devout to the devilish, for centuries. The list of ball-kicking clerics in Cassell’s Soccer Companion fills almost a page. Canon William de Spalding, way back in the 14th Century, was a dirty tackler who needed special dispensation from the Pope after an opposing wing-back fell awkwardly and impaled himself on the churchman’s knife.

Brother Eddy Brown scored over 200 League goals. The Rev Ken Hunt scored for Wolves in the 1908 FA Cup final. Derby fan the Rev Ben Crockett would not marry couples during home matches, and Kingston Hill’s Canon A Wellesley Orr would dress his altar and pulpit in pennants and corner flags, and announce the sermon with a blast on a ref’s whistle.

The encyclopedias say nothing about footballing rabbis, but they must be out there, and I want to hear about them.

The Italia newspaper Corriere della Sera is campaigning to have the Bulgarian Passionist bishop Yevgeni Vincent Eugene Bossilkov, who was murdered by Communists, named as patron saint of soccer. Bossilkov was a heavy-smoking, hard-drinking man, whose idea of a good time was probably a night in a Manchester club with Teddy Sheringham and a couple of Karaoke hostesses.

He was imprisoned, tortured, subjected to a show trial and executed by firing squad, for refusing to flee the Eastern Bloc despite Stalin’s anti-religion laws. The secret police watched him day and night, and made their presence very plain, but the unflinching Bishop remained with his people until the puppet government under Todor Zhikhov made a final, lethal purge of the church.

Vatican spokesman Father Aidan Troy hinted to the Times that playing football counted for something if you wanted to become a saint. “I’ve been living here for four years,” he said, “and the passion for football is so incredible. When I told other priests about this idea of a patron saint there was great interest and enthusiasm for the idea.

“There’s no denial that Bossilkov loved football and played all his life. He only died in 1952 – we’re not talking about someone who died ten centuries ago.”

Footballing priest Gabriel Zsidi, a Chelsea fan who preaches at Our Lady Of Fatima in London, put the decision to beatify the bishop into context: “The fact the Bossilkov was a passionate football supporter and that he gave his life for an important principle may be something that people who follow football can learn from.

“Footballers or football supporters can then say, ‘He was a man who had high ideals but he was also one of us’.”

Uri Geller’s Little Book Of Mindpower is published by Robson Books at £2.50, and his novel Ella by Headline Feature at £9.99 Visit his website at www.urigeller.com and e-Mail him at urigeller@compuserve.com

Issue 8 July 18 to July 31 1998

A journalist friend is studying psychology through the Open University. He came over to my home to watch one of the World Cup clashes, England v Columbia in the first round, on wide-screen TV (my sports-channel screen is so wide, we have to open the French windows and let it stick out onto the patio).

Rick sat down just before the 8pm kick-off and said smugly, “No one would think we were working, eh?” Now, I took this a little hard, since I’d been up at 3.45am, to be at the GMTV studios in time to psych up the country over its breakfast. I’d glued the Three Lions logo to my palm, held it out to the camera and urged the 2.5 million viewers to touch my hand. Across the country, people were bellowing, “Win England win!”

All of them focusing on that magical symbol, all of them sending their mental energy to the team. Imagine the immense power of the national will – I could feel it, rolling in waves, through me and blasting like laser rays towards the stadium in Lens.

That kind of performance is draining. And I’d done it twice, at 7.05 and 8.05. So 12 hours later, psyched up for the match so hard I was almost running on the spot, jokes about work were not welcome. I explained this to Rick, in a couple of words.

He wasn’t fazed. “I mean that. I’m studying for my psychology degree for the next 90 minutes. Think about it – I’m submitting an essay on body language next week. And where are we going to see some extremes of emotion, acted out in slow motion? Right here.”

I saw the point. Body language is a fascinating subject but hard to study. Stare at a man in a bar, for instance, trying to plot his progressive inebriation by his increasingly erratic body language, and you’ll have to be very discreet. Catch his eye inadvertently, and he might think you’re looking at him. Which you are. He might think you want to start a fight. Worse, he might think you like him.

On TV, no one knows you’re watching. OK, the team know 30 million people are watching in Britain alone, but they don’t know you are watching. So feel free to stare.

Nick talked me through the best bits. “Look at Anderton!” he exclaimed.

I was standing on the back of my chair shrieking “Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo,” but I tried hard to follow his explanation.

“His hands are aloft. That’s an invitation – ‘Give me what I’m owed’. And then he spreads them wider, and that means, ‘Adore me’. Think about it, that’s very relevant to him, because everyone said he shouldn’t be in the team. They reckoned he wasn’t fit, he didn’t have the match experience. So he’s saying to the fans, ‘You should have loved me like you love the rest of the team – and now you’ve got to!'”

Within ten minutes, David Beckham had curled a sizzling free kick over the South American wall and into the corner of Mondragon’s net. And he was at the goal-line, fists out to the crowd and pumping his pelvis.

“OK, I think I can work that one out for myself,” I told Nick when the hysterical screaming (mine) had died down.

“Go on then, Dr Freud,” he said, sarcastically.

Now it happens that one of my forebears on my mother’s side was indeed Sigmund Freud. So I ought to have no trouble interpreting sexual gestures.

“He’s saying, ‘This is better than sex’.”

“No. Maybe he’s saying it’s like having sex. . .”

“OK, so he’s miming sex with the whole crowd, because he knows they all love him.”

“That’s a little promiscuous, don’t you think? Even Mae West couldn’t have done it with a whole football crowd.”

“OK, so – you tell me.”

“He’s saying, ‘I feel sexually dominant. I have achieved what every male in my tribe wants to achieve. I have stuffed it to my enemies and I have demonstrated physical superiority. I will mate with the female of my choice, and she will be damn lucky to get me.”

“It’s a pity Posh Spice is on tour then.”

“Such is life,” agreed Nick.

Michael Owen, when he blasted a sitter over the bar, proved easier to interpret, clapping a hand to his forehead and bellowing, “Doh!!!”

“‘Seasy,” I jeered. “Homer Simpson does that all the time.”

“If they ever do an Open University degree in TV cartoons,” Nick promised, “you’ll get a First.”

But the final pictures, of the Columbian keeper, needed no commentary. He’d saved the 12 on-target shots that were humanly possible to save, and he’d gaped helplessly at two that weren’t. Now he sat with his arms folded against his knees and his face buried, and he wept. Beckham and Anderton must have felt almost sorry for him. Almost.

Uri Geller’s Little Book Of Mindpower is published by Robson Books at £2.50, and his novel Ella by Headline Feature at £9.99 Visit his website at www.urigeller.com and e-Mail him at urigeller@compuserve.com

 

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