My father approved of football. It was the people's game, working class, played in barrios and ghettos worldwide. With the right ideological apparatus it could be a force for international communism. I set myself diligently to the task of becoming a world-famous footballer and, therefore, revolutionary. I practised heading against the block of flats where we lived until the widow whose bedroom was behind the wall I was using came out with her poodle yapping. I developed my weaker left leg by practising corners with it; I built up my stamina on long training runs invigilated mercilessly by my Marxist father tottering behind me on a woman's bicycle through the streets of south-east London. My rise was prodigious. At ten I was the second-best player in the London under-twelves. Like Stan Bowles I was a stylish, shaggy-haired number ten capable of a blistering shot with either foot, of finding the miraculous pass, and with a gift for dribbling that I used seldom and apologetically, because my father had trained me into believing that the player must subordinate himself to the team and not indulge in displays of bourgeois individualism.