Last week, on one of many programmes anticipating World Football 2010, one of the wisest of pundits John Motson said that the current England manager, Capello, was the first one to share a characteristic last evidenced by Sir Alf Ramsay, presence.
An interesting choice of word. One dictionary definition, “a quality that makes people notice and admire you even when you are not speaking.”
The Duke of Wellington is reported to have said of Napoleon “…his presence on the field made the difference of 40,000 men.”
It’s a rare quality but here are some who had or have it.
In South Africa last week even though not at the ceremony Nelson Mandela made his presence felt. As did David Beckham once a presence on the pitch, now more so off it.
Among world leaders JFK had it, Nixon didn’t. Obama had it during the race for the White House but seems to be losing it. Putin still has it.
Our politicians, ever since Margaret Thatcher and of course before that Churchill, do not have it, with the possible exception of Boris.
On the cinema screen Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall had it as does Russell Crowe today. On the small screen Jeremy Paxman yes, Jeremy Vine not.
A few in sport. Footballer Drogba, cricketers from the past ‘beefy’ Botham and ‘King’ Viv Richards, in athletics Usain Bolt, in tennis Boris Becker and Serena Williams but not her sister and in rugby Martin Johnson on the field but not now off it.
Charles Saatchi, of course, has mastered the art of invisible presence..
Since most pitches will not be graced with any of these , the challenge for any team is to at least make their presence felt! Pitch a performance and rehearse the hell out of it.