Hey: How Would the England Squad Do On 'Love Island'?
Come on, you must have seen this one coming.
(Potos via the FA)
Our boys, our brave boys, our superior large sons, our wonderful, wonderful boys. I love them. I love the boys. All of the boys. I love them all. But they are no longer going to the World Cup final because of Luka Modric, who I hate, so let’s imagine them in the Love Island villa instead.
"ALRIGHT GIRLS!" Jordan Pickford is saying, sneaking into the villa during a Tom Zanetti gig. "OOSH, OOSH, OOSH!" None of the girls fancy him, but immediately take him under their wing. Laura teaches him how to gel his hair. Samira and Jordan share a clumsy dance. "You're a great guy," Georgia says, as he nods along like a pure, pink dog. "Your princess will come, babes, I’m telling you." Megan shows him how to make tea ("I’ve never made a brew before!"). He wears goalkeeper gloves to bed, which he chastely shares with Dani. He’s voted out after a couple of weeks but he wins our hearts, and that’s what really matters, isn’t it? That’s the real quiz.
NICK POPE, JACK BUTLAND
Both enter alongside four other anonymous lads as part of the Casa Amor influx, completely fail to graft for even one second, leave silently without getting a single line of airtime and have their Instagram ticks revoked two weeks after the show ends.
Ashley Young is 33 years old, which I’m afraid is simply Too Old for the Love Island villa. Look at Laura, on the precipice of 30, a weird franticness about her grafting that suggests the ticking of an internal sub-biological clock, an internal metronome unique to the villa. Look at Glasses Alex, who, at 28, was considered some wizened old sage, someone who had gone through all of the stages of life – boy, teen, lad, man – and now, geriatric and staring into the abyss of death, just wanted to find a glamorous wife to massage his balls.
Ashley Young, in the confines of Love Island, would soon grow crazed and demented, lost to the ebb and flow of young people and their young people talk. "Trent keeps dabbing!" he says, tears in his ancient eyes, locked alone in the Beach Hut. "What’s dabbing!" He manages 48 hours before excusing himself from the show, the final straw coming when Jesse Lingard calls him a "rust lord".
Can't quite tell with Trent. As a rule, 19-year-old full-backs in breakthrough seasons at Champions League finalist clubs are quite preternaturally confident, and if they are unfazed by walking onto a football pitch in front of 90,000 screaming fans, they can probably graft a girl without too much by way of nerves. But I feel like TAA's time in the villa would be dogged by montages of all the boys, lounging and red in poolside beanbags, slowly explaining obvious anatomy to him. New Jack has to tell him what nipples are for. Josh has to go to the kitchen and show him how to put a condom on a cucumber. Whole night-time argument scene that runs over two episodes when Trent confidently says "clits aren’t real" during a recoupling, and Georgia gets so mad security has to step in. That sort of thing.
Kyle Walker has the vibe of doing something dramatic, like walking out of the villa to follow the girl he coupled up with after she got voted out over a recoupling, but then she'd only been in the house three days and he'd only been in there two, and nobody really remembers who either of them are even before he appears, alone, on Aftersun, slowly explaining that yeah, him and Jess decided to go their separate ways but she’s still a good girl, she’s still a great girl, but yeah, smile to camera, he’s still looking for love. Has to sadly go back to his job of running really fast for Manchester City, turns up two years later on First Dates.
Our winner. Slabhead would win the boys over by being the crucial glue that keeps them all together – a sort of rectangle-shaped keystone who is intrinsic to the strength of their banter – and win the girls by being loyal-to-the-point-of-dog-like-love over a giggling northern girl he coupled up with on the first day, and during a weird scene during Week #5 Harry, red like a postbox after 35 consecutive days in the sun, writes "CHARLOTTE WILL U BE MY GF?" out in ketchup on a wall, and she acquiesces and they kiss, and from there the two of them coast to the final, where Caroline Flack announces their names and he dive-bombs into the pool so hard he knocks five or six attending girls in there with him and ruins so many mics ITV has to invoice him for them.
John Stones has really upped his game this tournament: he’s been doing something slightly different with his hair that’s really working for him; his defensive work has matured to the point that he no longer seems like a defective grenade that's always 50 percent likely to explode on itself, and it feels like he will be a regular part of the English backline for the next ten years. That said, his time in Love Island will basically be exactly like that posh lad Charlie's: gets into a relationship with an Ellie-type who just talks at him a lot while he nods along, makes absolutely no mates in there, only drama comes when the girl he’s coupled up with cries mascara onto his T-shirt because she’s too angry about Georgia and he has to change his top. Anonymous.
Absolutely no way Gary Cahill is going on Love Island, sorry. "Am I fuck" – Gary Cahill, asked if he’s going on Love Island, 2K18. "Am I absolute fuck." It’s just not happening. Don’t even think about it. It’s just not happening.
Convinces the boys he can sprint so fast he can make it across the pool if he has a big enough run up, but decks his hamstring on the way in and has to get helicoptered out while everyone waves him goodbye.
KIERAN TRIPPIER, FABIAN DELPH
Award-winning bromance that leads to a three-episode ITV2 show and absolutely zero shagging between them, absolutely none, not a single molecule of shagging.
"My name's Phil, I'm 26, I've got a brick for a head, and I right I fancy Megan." Somehow stumbles and trips as he walks his way down the villa steps and, in trying to overcompensate for his mistake, headers Caroline Flack into the pool and gives away a penalty. Disastrous.
Anonymous Casa Amor lad whose only moment of fame is when ITV2 tweets a video of him trying to put a metal knife inside a toaster.
Runs in on Megan and Wes in the Hideaway and milly rocks on top of them until Wes, half-hard and furious, tries to chase him round the bed and punch him while clasping a duvet to his crotch. "It's not banter! It's not banter!" Wes says, after Flack is flown in for an emergency parlez between the two. "He’s a twat, Caroline." Still makes it to the final three and spends the rest of the summer at Oceans in Ibiza doing 20-minute DJ sets then setting champagne off over Wayne Lineker.
It actually doesn’t bear thinking about, how well Ruben Loftus-Cheek would do in the Love Island villa. You thought Adam did well, and all Adam did was have a really long six-pack and a trick where he does close eye contact and smiles without opening his mouth. And even though Adam was essentially a creatine shake that got a bit out of hand and got an elbow tattoo and not a full sleeve, he still managed to work his way through four girls in four weeks and is now poised to do a 60-date UK tour where he’s probably going to do 60 more of them.
Now imagine Ruben Loftus-Cheek in there. I think it technically qualifies as financial doping if RLC goes into the villa: he's rich, he’s six-two, and he has a face crafted by God. It would no longer be a game if he was playing it. It wouldn’t actually be fun to watch, because it would just be him smiling and glistening in a pool while all the girls form a neat silent semi-circle around him, and all the boys sit at the back being grumpy. Idris steps in and tries to break the spell and gets absolutely bantered off. Excruciating. We cannot allow this to happen.
Pre-roll boast boy. "I've come in here to do bits," Hendo is saying, over slo-mo footage of him pulling up out of a pool. "I’m not afraid to cause trouble, and I always get what I want." Hendo promises shagging, and cracking on, and taking Megan away from Wes, then walks into the villa, says "Y'alright?" then leaves again, ten days later, without anyone really ever knowing he was there.
Feel like Dele would do quite well in the Villa – Day #1 lad, dates a couple of girls but is very crucially friends with all the boys, keeps doing excited dances when Kaz cracks onto him and keeps winning challenges with his athletic ability, then accidentally says something so fundamentally sexist while giggling into his hand in a boys-only chat with Wes that he has to be pulled into the Beach Hut and given a formal warning, and then there are so many OFCOM complaints because he said "Laura’s some naughty tit-meat" that he has to get pulled out of the Villa and forced onto the Good Morning Britain sofa to tearfully apologise.
Danny strolls into the Villa one sunny day and all the girls are enamoured. "What is it you do?" they ask, while the boys are out on a bonding fishing trip, and Welbz just sits there, toplessly, arms crossed. "Heh: I’m a professional footballer." Georgia leans into him like a sexy, dangerous panther: "Really? Show us a trick." Alright, Danny Welbeck says. If Laura stands by that pool with her legs a shoulder-width apart, he’ll nutmeg her with this Nike Strike he bought with him to the island. All the girls watch and hold their collective breath. "Go on, Danny!" Dani says. And then he absolutely pelts it at her. Full face. Paramedics have to revive her. He’s out of the Villa before Pink Alex even has a chance to bring the trout he caught back to the house.
My theory is that Jamie Vardy can't, or refuses to, sleep. "Yeah, all the other kids used to do it, but it were never for me," Jamie Vardy is saying, a single leg jiggling as he speaks. How often do you sleep, Jamie Vardy? "Once a week, tops." This becomes an issue soon in the villa: after coupling up with Dani on the first day, Jamie’s sleeping routine of "lying in bed, perfectly still with eyes open, emanating a sort of frantic nervous energy" becomes too much: he is quickly demoted to the sofa. "I’m just not a sleeper, like," Jamie Vardy says, squinting his eyes against the powerful sun (he has refused shades). "I’m just not a sleepy person." Dani, sad in the Beach Hut, despairs over the news she has to break. "I like boys who sleep," she says. "I do. And he’s a lovely fella – lovely boy – but I do. I need someone who sleeps." There is a pause. "He doesn’t sleep!"
Vardy, when the hammer blow comes at a recoupling, understands. "It’s 'cos I don’t sleep," he says, single fractured arm in the air in farewell. “" get that quite a lot, don’t worry. Don’t worry about it! It’s 'cos I don’t sleep."
"Don’t tell anyone," Harry Kane says, in a quiet poolside opener with Ellie. "But I won the World Cup Golden Boot." She slurps from a water bottle. "What’s that?" "It’s like a—" he stops himself. "You know what, don’t worry about it." Cue montage: Harry Kane, in turn, goes round each girl in the villa, quietly telling them about the golden boot. “It’s a trophy you get for scoring goals,” he says, leaning back and scratching while Megan looks bored. “I’ve got a few of them, actually: got one for the Premier League… Premier League again. Then World Cup." Cut to: Samira, frowning behind sunglasses, urgently asking, "So have you won any actual trophies, then?" "Not exactly," Harry Kanes frowns. "I've just always liked goals. It’s for goals." Pause. "Yeah," she says. "Has Ruben said anything to you about me?"
He’s on a date with Laura as the yellow sun sets behind them. "This is nice," Laura says, Scottishly. "This is the best date I’ve ever been on." Babby Rashford looks at her: "Yeah."
"Are you having fun?"
"It’s good we met each other, isn’t it?"
"How’s your lasagne?"
"What are your parents like? Do you think they’d like me?"
Babby Rashford thinks about it for a minute. His mum, his precious mum. His lovely mum, who he adores. Would his mum like Laura from Love Island? He imagines it: "Hi mum," he’s saying, one arm around Laura's slender hips. "Meet my girlfriend! She’s Scottish!" Babby Rashford’s mum looks her up, down, up again. A simple shake of the head, no. Babby Rashford has to slowly walk Laura outside. "I’m sorry," he says, "but we have to break up." Back to dinner. 'Yeah, no," he says. He runs all the way home, crying. His mum wouldn’t like them, any of them. He doesn’t even know why he came on this show in the first place.
Walks in, Does Bits, ends up coupled up with Georgia, slowly has the life strangled out of him one proclamation of "loyalty" at a time, leaves the Villa what feels like a hundred-thousand years later with a look of war across his face, and spends the rest of his life rigidly doing sponsored content with her on Instagram while she squats next to him in leggings and makes him drive to Tesco at mad hours to buy her snacks. Cucked.
Listen, I know you're horny for the tender waistcoast man, but honestly his performance in Love Island would be sub-Pink Alex levels of anti-game; it would be an absolute embarrassment; it would be our national shame. The man took two years to find the nuts to ask his wife on a date: I genuinely think a five-minute interaction with Georgia – a fizzy beacon of half-horny, half-angry energy, a ponytail wrapped furiously around the word "babes" – would absolutely kill him. Do not let Gareth Southgate into that Villa. Please. Please. If nothing else, the suntan pattern he'd get from wearing a waistcoat over a bare chest would be absolutely absurd.