After nine years, Arsenal have said a fond farewell to not only the greatest player in the club’s history, but also to the greatest striker ever to have lived. Despite being eternally grateful to the club for all the support they have given him over the years, Nicklas Bendtner has decided that his remarkable talent demands that he move to a club better placed to help him fulfil his potential. Upon hearing the news, Arsenal fans took to online message-boards in their millions not only to express their anguish at his leaving, but also to assure him that they understood the reasoning behind the move and wish him all the best for the future. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and the fictional American cartoon team the Hurricanes are all said to be interested in signing the misunderstood Danish international, who has often been the victim of vicious tabloid rumours about his personal life, spread by journalists who are obviously envious of his footballing genius, magnetic personality and chiselled good looks.
Such salacious hearsay included the Paddy Power pants controversy which erupted after a game against Portugal in Euro 2012. The press reported that Bendtner had been paid to advertise the betting company on his boxer shorts, which he would reveal if he scored for Denmark. Indeed, the athletic Adonis did score, but what actually happened in the aftermath was that his shorts, which were slightly too large to fit snugly around his washboard stomach, slipped down to reveal the controversial underwear. What reporters failed to mention, however, is that, although the boxer shorts did indeed bear the Paddy Power logo, they had actually been lent to him by a friend after his own pants were eaten by a bear a few minutes prior to kick-off.
Then there was the incident, or should I say non-incident, which occurred in Copenhagen in March 2013, when the rangy, broad-shouldered heartthrob was pulled over for allegedly being drunk behind the wheel of his car and driving against the traffic. Whilst it is true that Nicklas had indeed taken a few sips out of a friend’s can of Shandy Bass, he was actually speeding to the aid of a helpless faun with a broken leg he had spotted lying by the side of the road. His superlative hand-eye coordination meant that he was able to weave in and out of the oncoming traffic and at no point posed any threat to other drivers.
Not content to let him get on in peace with his career as a footballer, philanthropist, raconteur and wit, the press again attempted to unsettle the rugged, statuesque hunk by reporting in November 2013 that he was arrested and cautioned for causing criminal damage to the door to the swimming pool in his North-West London apartment block. What actually happened was that, when his key card failed to unlock the door, he attempted to gently coax it open, only for it to inexplicably burst into flames in front of his very eyes, a detail which journalists mysteriously failed to mention at the time.
The latest attempt to slander the rakish, charming, blue-eyed Danish boy-next-door came in March of this year when, after being declared injured and therefore unable to play in the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League tie against Bayern Munich, he flew to Copenhagen to join some of his old friends for a meal. Accusations by a taxi driver who picked them up outside the restaurant that Nick rubbed himself up against the cab, whipped it with his belt and called the man a ‘little whore’, were way off the mark. In actual fact Nicklas had noticed that a bird had deposited its business on the side of the car, and in an act of selfless charity, had attempted to wipe it off with the groinal region of his trousers. When he found the dropping had dried surprisingly quickly and would not easily budge, however, he decided to use his belt, with its altogether more abrasive surface, to remove it. And as for the offending comment, well, what he actually said was that he needed to rub it ‘a little more’ before it would come off.
Despite these attempts by the media to call into question the integrity of the man, football fans in the know are well aware that Bendtner’s almost unfathomable talent is matched only by the quality of his character, and it is certain that, whichever club he ends up with, his gentle nature, steely determination and unwavering professionalism will shine through.
Next week: John Terry tells us what he really said to Anton Ferdinand, explains the altruistic reason behind his affair with his best friend’s girlfriend, and tells us about the time Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez fell on his knee during a Champions League semi-final.