After a highly successful playing career, Dutch international Ruud Gullit became a TV pundit and accidentally coined the awful term ‘sexy football’ when discussing Portugal.
It was a casual remark but, thanks to the BBC’s way of harping on about things, briefly became one of the most tedious catchphrases in sports punditry.
Players would routinely be described as producing ‘sexy football’ if they came from Holland, dribbled the ball a bit, or did anything else to differentiate themselves from no-nonsense players.
Among the worst culprits in spreading this phrase were Gary Lineker and Peter Drury. Things reached a low point when, in 2001, the BBC’s Ray Stubbs described a chipped finish from Kaka as being ‘as good as a wank in bed on a cold morning’ and went to describe Brazil’s forward line as being ‘absolutely fit as fuck’. He then said several times to studio guest Gary Pallister: ‘admit it though, you would, wouldn’t you?’
Gullit, who had never intended to become synonymous with this tiresome soundbite, was increasingly riled by its success, and put a stop to it with a famous outburst during coverage of France’s Euro 2004 clash with eventual winners and despicable corner-flaggers Greece.
When it was remarked that the Greeks’ football ‘was hardly what you would call sexy’, Gullit leapt to his feet and yelled at hapless anchorman Matt Smith: ‘why do you say sexy football! Why are you still staying this nonsense thing! I am Gullit, not a clown!’ The incident escaped national attention as nobody was watching ITV at the time.