I missed this one last week, but had to go back to the fascinating (if only sketched) tale of Stephen Constantine, a wandering football coach who has guided a succession of back-of-beyond national teams like Maldives, Nepal and Sudan. The pretext for this NYT blog post comes from Constantine’s long-shot, self-declared bid to manage the New York Red Bulls. (Constantine may or may not be aware that the Red Bulls are cosmically foredoomed, like the anti-hero of a particularly grim film noir. Then again, he may not care.)
I know nothing more about Constantine—but what a provocative character he seems: a Graham Greene figure, rumbled and creased and battered by the world, a tired-eyed professional, wandering the football world’s most forsaken quarters in search of a decent centerback, a hardbitten away result, a half-plausible run for qualification. For an armchair fan, some of the great things about football are its global breadth, universal reach and endless supply of strange characters. Stephen Constantine probably understands those qualities better than anyone—and regards them as loci of nameless dread.