“Ødegaard would be a world-class astronomer” / England-Arsenal / SOFOOT.com

Dizzying astronomical discoveries and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table. Two things for another time. Ian P. Griffin is knowledgeable in both disciplines. Interview of the month.

How did you become an Arsenal fan?
I was five years old and Arsenal won the FA Cup in 1971. It was one of the few games broadcast live on television at the time. I remember Charlie George scoring and thinking to myself: ” Surprise! Wow ! »

Do you remember your first time at Highbury?
My father, who did not like football, took me there when I was eleven. It was 1977 and Arsenal beat Norwich 1-0. From memory the weather was disgusting and my father wanted to leave before the match was over. I think the book Fever Pitch (Autobiography of Nick Hornby, published 1992, editor’s note) very much reflects my own experiences as a fan.

What are your fondest memories at the stadium?
It’s mostly the feeling of standing in a HUGE crowd and also the humor of the supporters. While some songs can be crude or offensive, others can be downright hilarious. I remember the Arsenal-Chelsea game shortly after the whale was seen in the Thames. Arsenal fans began to shout: “I saw Frank Lampard go up the Thames. »

What was England like when you were growing up? (Born 1966, editor’s note) ?
I grew up on a housing estate in south London, my father drove a bus and my mother worked in a supermarket. Although we were not rich, we knew how to have fun. The London of the 70s and 80s was not the London of the 60s. It was the time of the oil crisis, the three-day week, the holidays and Margaret Thatcher. When I studied astronomy, I was able to move away from my southern suburbs and live in central London. I could go to museums and many concerts. I still remember Blondie, the Clash, U2 and other bands playing in small clubs on crazy nights!

How did this passion for astronomy come about?
In the early 1970s, I followed the last moon landings. After visiting the London Planetarium, I became interested in the night sky and the planets. During my studies, I was able to use telescopes all over the world: Hawaii, Chile, Las Palmas, South Africa and Australia… I had never been on a plane before starting my PhD. By the time I graduated, I had traveled to every continent except Antarctica.

“For someone who grew up with English managers who were nothing more than illiterate braggarts, it was great to see an intellectual coach like Arsene Wenger lead a team with intelligence and style. »

You’ve named several asteroids after your wife, children and Bruce Springsteen… And in 1998 (33179) it was ‘Arsene Wenger’, was that clear to you?
In the early 2000s, I used a small telescope to track the position of future asteroids. When I took pictures of these asteroids, sometimes a new object appeared in the same field of view, and my pictures were the first of the asteroid. This gave me the privilege of proposing the names of these new asteroids to the International Astronomical Union. After naming some of them after my relatives, I decided to name them after people I admire. Named after (23990) Springsteen and (33179) Arsene Wenger.

What was the most memorable part of Arsenal’s 2003-2004 Invincibles season?
It was a joy to know that it had never been done before in the Premier League. The fact that it hasn’t been done since, despite all the money some teams have spent, shows how difficult it is to achieve. This is a real feat. For someone who grew up with English managers and was nothing more than an illiterate lout, it was great to see an intellectual coach leading a team with wit and style.

This year, Gunners The Premier League shines, what is the reason for this change?
I think Arteta has matured as a coach, and so has the team. He obviously learned from last season. We have also brought in some big players to complement local players like Saka and Smith-Rowe. My favorite in the current team is Aaron Ramsdale, who has a very good character. I have high hopes for this season. Anyway, we play Manchester City twice more before Arsenal travel to Tottenham. Being five points clear is something that would make me jump at the start of the season, but Arsenal fans have had over two decades of disappointment when it comes to the title race. I believe there is a phrase that is used a lot in TV series Ted Lasso : “Hope is what kills you” and very true.

What has the club been missing all this time?
We’ve always had top players, but we haven’t had a team capable of getting results. So far this year we’ve shown we can come back after falling behind, which wasn’t always the case. We have a good team, but it still looks a little thin. Hopefully we’ll have a few recruits. It would be nice to have a few substitutes on the bench who can come on and change the game.

“I would trade my telescope for the Gunners Premier League title. »

What do you think of Martin Ødegaard and his role as number 10?
Ødegaard is a great player for this team. After watching his passing skills, I’m sure he has a solid understanding of physics and gravity. If he ever quits football, he’ll probably be a world-class astronomer. Unfortunately, the salaries are not the same, so the salary needs to be cut!

You were born in 1966, a great year for England. How do you explain not winning anything since then?
It’s ridiculous that despite all the great players who have represented England over the years, my nation last won the World Cup when he was six months old. Now I am 57 years old! A few years ago I became a New Zealand citizen, so I have two chances of the national team I support winning the World Cup!

Would you rather explore an amazing planet or see Arsenal win the Champions League?
I would trade my telescope for a Champions League title without mentioning the Champions League. Gunners In the Premier League!

Can you spot Cristiano Ronaldo’s watermelon from space?
You don’t need to be in space to see Ronaldo’s ego. I have heard a rumor that when he is invited to an event, his ego enters the room at least an hour before he does! (Laughs.)

How would you explain the James Webb Telescope, which revolutionized astronomy since July 2022?
The Webb Telescope is an extraordinary machine designed to study the universe, from the outer reaches of space to the planets of our own solar system. With a mirror almost three times the diameter of the Hubble telescope and an expected lifetime of more than ten years.

Did you know that other asteroids have the names of footballers like Cruyff, Ballack, Puskas?
It’s great that astronomers around the world are honoring their heroes in this way. Why should we only know artists and scientists in heaven? Some of the players mentioned have given immense joy to millions of people who admire the beautiful game. Considering his recent passing, maybe it’s time to put Pele’s name on an asteroid.

Interview by Gad Messika

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