Here's To You Bolo Zenden

Happy 42nd birthday to Boudewijn Zenden! Here’s to you, your baffling career and weird legacy.

When you think of him, the idea of vaguely competent spells at Middlesbrough and Sunderland make sense.

He was a grafter, a prototype Park Ji Sung, a winger whose x-factor in later years was a dynamite long throw in.

The reality is, he’s probably the most underwhelming player to somehow turn out for Barca, Chelsea and Liverpool, whilst starting two major tournament semis (WC 1998/ EURO 2000).

Looking back, how can we be so sure he was a bit bobbins?

Ignoring cold hard stats for a minute – the fact he averaged a cool 2 assists/2.3 goals PER SEASON in his 8 years as an attacking midfielder in the Premier League, for example – it’s because his two greatest moments are thoroughly botched celebrations.

His second finest act, misjudging the structural integrity of a big orange box, came during a two-year spell at Marseille.

From total legend to thundering wally in a flash. Heartbreaking.

Sick to the back teeth with the good life on the Cote d’Azur and desperate for the daily sight of Alsatians in prams, fights in KFC and people drinking Dolmio straight from the jar, Bolo returned to the northeast of England.

Here, he produced his magnus opus, giddily joining Asamoah Gyan to toast a goal.

Look at his crap, strangely medieval bob and high, tucked in shorts.

Look at the initial, extraordinary commitment to the jive.

Look at the colossal bottle job that occurs when he realises he’s combined Morris dancing legs with arms straight out of you Nanna’s wedding playbook.

Good gravy.

Ok, I’ll stop mugging him off completely. As it’s his birthday, here’s something vaguely snazzy he once did.

Am thoroughly looking forward to reports of him bungling it at his birthday party tonight – his trousers falling down as he cuts the cake or accidentally headbutting his mother in law attempting to do the worm when Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin comes on.

Here’s to you Bolo, happy 42nd.

Pete Starr
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Photo by Phil Chambers / CC BY