Four current and former footballers who’d be perfect for panto

It’s that time of year again...

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It’s that time of year again when theatres around the country get ready to put on the annual Christmas pantomime.

It’s a chance for B-list soap opera stars (plus Les Dennis and Christopher Biggins) to demonstrate just why they would never be allowed to tread the boards with the RSC.

Imagine then, if you could re-write some of the classic fairy tales casting footballers in the leading roles. Imagine…

MARIO BALOTELLI AS DICK WHITTINGTON

A talented but temperamental Italian international striker is disillusioned by a future playing football in his own country. His agent sets off in pursuit of pastures new and is summoned to a meeting with a fellow Italian, Roberto Mancini, who is now manager of Manchester City. The young Balotelli is promised untold riches if he heads to the Etihad with Mancini stating that the streets of Manchester are paved with gold.

Balotelli decides to take up City’s offer but shortly after his arrival, he discovers he was given false promises and has to make do with renting a room in a hotel where the heating is rarely ever available. One night, Balo cracks and decides to set fire to his room to get some much needed heat, much to the chagrin of his paymasters and the Greater Manchester constabulary. He quickly packs up his things in a spotted handkerchief and heads back to Italy to try to rebuild his career.

JACK & THE BEANSTALK STARRING JACK WILSHERE

Young Jack is a promising footballer but his career has been blighted by injury. During his latest lay-off at West Ham United, Wilshere’s partner asks him one Saturday night, to go down to the local supermarket to pick up a couple of Findus crispy pancakes. While there, Jack comes across a homeless man outside who gives him a bag of what he claims are magic beans in exchange for the tenner he was going to spend on dinner. Realising he’s left his credit cards at home, Jack tries to explain what has happened but his wife is furious and throws the beans out into the garden.

Next morning Jack wakes up to find a giant beanstalk growing outside his window. Despite having had ankle surgery, Wilshere climbs the beanstalk where he comes across a castle. On entering, he finds a giant (played by Peter Crouch) asleep with a bag of gold coins by his side.

Seizing an opportunity to buy himself out of his current contract at the London Stadium, Jack swipes the bag but succeeds in waking the giant who cries out, “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a (former) England international man.”

Jack legs it, slides back down the beanstalk and returns home to live happily ever after. But not before he stumbles on the way down and is ruled out for six weeks with a twisted ankle.

BARRY VENISON AS CINDERELLA

A 1990s style icon, Barry was the talk of the town in his native North-East, but then his career came to an end and he fell on hard times, forcing him to move back in with his step-mother and his two wicked step-brothers.

Forced into a life of domestic slavery, Barry has to make do with sleeping on the floor next to the fire to keep warm. When word gets around that a local page three model is looking for a new partner and is inviting all the local men to her nightclub so she can choose her perfect man, Barry’s step-brothers go out into Newcastle city centre to buy new outfits.

Barry is told that because he is just a servant he will not be allowed to go and, as they get ready to leave the house, the step-brothers taunt the stricken former defender that he will never be able to find the woman of his dreams. However, shortly after he’s left alone in the house, Barry is visited by a fairy godmother who transforms him back into the pin-up he was at St James’ Park, giving him a pair of magic loafers to go with his white terry towelling socks.

The fairy-godmother states however, that Barry must get back to the house before midnight or else he will turn into Ian Dowie.

VICTOR LINDELOF AS ALADDIN

The Swedish defender has seen his career nosedive since his arrival at Manchester United and after training one day, the player finds himself locked inside the dressing-rooms at Carrington.

Lindelof, whose mobile phone has run out of battery and who forgot to pack his charger, panics and picks up a bottle of Gatorade to try to calm his nerves. At that moment, a magical genie appears and tells the Swede that he can get him out of his current predicament and grant him his wish to become one of the world’s best centre-halves.

What he neglects to confess however, is that if anyone else rubs their hands on the same bottle, the wish that he has granted will be retracted.

Next day in training, the Swede is in superb form and his manager Jose Mourinho feels totally justified at spending £32M to bring him to Old Trafford. What Lindelof has totally forgotten is that prior to the start of training, he put his magic bottle at the side of the pitch which has now been picked up by one of the apprentices and put amongst the rest of the players refreshments.

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