Football

Neil's nuggets

Our man in Brazil, NEIL HUMPHREYS, rounds up what's happening around the grounds, on the streets and beneath the underbelly during the World Cup.

BIZARRE BALOTELLI AT HIS BEST

The sponsor was clearly excited. Mario Balotelli had been picked, rather dubiously, as the sponsor's man of the match against England. The Italy striker was supposed to collect his award in the press conference, pose for photos and say a few words. Instead, the game's most legitimate rock star strutted into the room, took the award, laughed and then walked out. He never said a word.

NO HEAD FOR HEADPHONES

During the press conference, Roy Hodgson was asked a question in Italian and reached for the headphones to hear a translation. He struggled to get them on, tugging away at the straps at the side.

"How do you get these on?" he muttered. The England press officer was heard to reply: "Put them over your head, Roy." They're very confusing contraptions, these headphones.

LIGHTS, CAMERA AND CUT

THE Arena Amazonia Stadium in Manaus still isn't finished and what does work …often doesn't. Shortly before England and Italy kicked off in Group C, the power went out in the press box (Wayne Rooney knows the feeling.) Much of my second-half was spent with a tradesman around my legs hacking away at a power cable with a sharp knife. I spent the rest of the game with my legs crossed.

A STRANGE CHAPERONE

A young female Fifa volunteer offered to pick me up from the hotel and take me to the stadium. The Manaus law student said it was a chance to improve her English. I thought it was a chance to be chauffeured around the city by a pretty girl. When she picked me up, I discovered she brought along her mother. That cramped my style in what was already an exceptionally small car. The older woman never said much except: "Inglaterra … no good." She should be a TV pundit.

World Cup