Wissam Ben Yedder can look like a pub footballer. Not on the pitch, mind.
I often stay in the same hotel as Sevilla, pre-match, and it’s fun.
If you time your departure correctly you can surf a wave of love from the fanatical fans gathered outside the main entrance as you walk to Sevilla’s Ramon Sánchez Pizjuán’ stadium which is about five minutes away.
Yes, it’s true, I’m often bold enough to wander out to Los Rojiblancos’ (the red-and-whites) match at the same time as the team just so I can wave regally to the crowd that is there to adore Andre Silva, Ever Banega & Co.
Ben Yedder is a pint-sized French/Tunisian striker who, shall we say, doesn’t yearn to look Olympian.
At a guess I’d say that you could balance a tray of drinks on his backside – the bit which sticks out.
Back to the hotel. Occasionally I’ll be mooching around on match day, or flitting back from the gym and there he’ll be – lounging on a sofa on the first floor with his shell-suit not necessarily looking a brilliant fit. Slumped down, more bumps and lumps on him than is the norm these days. If you turned out for an amateur match on a Sunday morning at the Links you’d not be petrified at first sight.
But, blimey, this fella can play. Necessity being the mother of invention, his Sevilla coach, Pablo Machín, cast around for solutions a couple of weeks ago against Getafe while Los Rojiblancos were being utterly marmalised at home by that lowly, low-budget team from Madrid.
Machín joined in the summer, from Girona, and with Andre Silva on loan from Milan (scoring a hat-trick on his Liga debut too) the Spaniard just didn’t fancy Ben Yedder.
But, trailing 0-2 at home, Machín surveyed the wreckage in the dressing room at half-time and threw on his pint-sized big- bottomed striker.
Ben Yedder had a goal ruled off, nearly scored twice more and electrified that defeat for the remainder of the game.
Since then he’s scored six times in three starts. The guy who was “last pick” in the playground for the new coach has applied cattle-prod to Sevilla’s season.
The latest evidence was on Wednesday night.
Sevilla, woeful, tearful, lacking personality and tossed around like a rag-doll less than a fortnight ago by one of Madrid’s smaller clubs, welcomed the triple-European champions Real Madrid.
Inspired by Ben Yedder, among others, Sevilla kinda re-enacted Aberdeen v Waterschei 35 years later.
First to everything, smart in every pass, hungry, nasty, skilful – Sevilla took Madrid to the cleaners, paid for the ticket and patted the European champions on the head patronisingly just for good measure.
This ground is the most vibrant and noisy in Spain when things are good and it felt like being in a volcano.
It’s 15 years since Sevilla beat Madrid by three goals and right at the heart of it was this dumpy, lumpy, flippin’ brilliant wee striker who makes special things happen.
What a night.