All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen has said John Key was the difference between New Zealand and Italy today.
New Zealand beat the fancied Italian team 1-1 in their World Cup encounter at Nelspruit this morning. The result has stunned the football world.
Nelsen spoke after the game about the inspiration behind their victorious draw.
“This has been a tremendous effort by the boys and by our management. But one man deserves most of the credit. If it wasn’t for John Key we’d have lost.”
Nelsen said the presence of the charismatic and popular leader had pushed them to achieve the unthinkable.
“When they held the Rugby World Cup here in 1995 Nelson Mandela united his country and inspired the South African team. That’s exactly what happened today.
“John Key was our Nelson Mandela.”
Heroic goalkeeper Mark Paston said the watching figure of the Prime Minister gave him the strength to hold out.
“After their equaliser I was feeling pretty down. They were just peppering the goal, and I thought ‘sooner or later they’re going to get one past me’. But then I saw him looking down on me. He was in the stand watching the game. That’s when I knew I could do it. My spirits lifted and I decided this was not Italy’s day.”
The ever-modest Key said he was pleased with the result, but had never doubted the team’s resolve.
And he had put other business on hold to enjoy the spectacle.
“I was on the phone to the Chinese President during the game, apologising for our nation’s long and glorious tradition of democracy and dissent.
“But I had to cut the call short, because I was so nervous about the game.”
Key was eager to stress that the result was not all his doing.
“Politics, like football, is a team sport. I’m the captain of my team, but behind me is a terrific group of loyal and dedicated people. My presence may have been the difference between defeat and a victorious stalemate, but I couldn’t have done it without the unswerving support of my caucus colleagues.”
“Still, the people are right to love me. And don’t I look good in the All Whites shirt?”