Today is Valentine’s Day; a day of love, a day of romance.
But here at Bleacher Report, it is also a day of bromance.
A bromance (a portmanteau of bro and romance) is when one man just loves another man in a platonic way and it is, almost always, a beautiful thing.
There are so many ways you can show someone you love them—send them flowers, write them a poem, make a statement to the sports media about how much you admire their contributions to the game—the list is endless.
So let’s stop beating around the bush and let’s celebrate the biggest man-crushes in football. So come on. Oh. Come on. Let’s get it on.
When asked who the best player of all time is, most people will answer Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Best, Zidane or maybe even Messi or Ronaldo.
But you can’t help but feel that if you asked Harry Redknapp, he’d say "Gareth Bale."
Here’s what Redknapp has said about GazBal.
“He's almost unplayable when he's on his game. He is a genuine world-class player. There's nobody he couldn't play for. He'd improve any team.”
“He's an amazing, amazing talent and he's after the Ronaldos and Messis of this world and he's getting better and better.”
“[H]e is some player. He’s amazing, sometimes unstoppable. It’s hard to sit and pin down one or two things that he’s good at because he ticks the boxes in just about every department. Gareth can keep possession, he can run with the ball, he can dribble, he has pace, he can score goals with a fantastic shot and he has the ability to make great runs into the area. He has the absolute lot and there is no simple solution to keeping him quiet.”
When ‘Arry calls Gareth ‘triffic. He means he’s ‘triffic.
And what beautiful compliments has Gareth made about Redknapp?
Well, not much, actually.
A bit awkward.
In a man-love that dares to speak its name, Neil Warnock has taken goalkeeper Paddy Kenny to three clubs with him: Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United. Is that a bit weird?
Kenny even dropped down a division (for now) from Premier League QPR to Championship Leeds United to be with Warnock. Now that is love.
Warnock said on their latest reunion:
“I think he's the most important signing I'll make while I'm at Leeds United. I rate him that highly and I think the fans will see why. I didn't think we'd be able to get him. There's no way I would have let him go.”
“He’s one of the best in the country, not just the Championship.”
But with most bromances, things aren't always chocolates and flowers between N-Wizzle and Big Paddy K.
Warnock had to fine Kenny after he sent abusive messages to QPR's owner Tony Fernandes and technical director Mike Rigg after Kenny’s replacement, Robert Green, let in five goals on his debut. The messages said:
“It’s Rob Green’s agent here, I just wondered, er, how you got on today. I didn’t really see the ******* score but I heard it didn’t go too well.
But, never mind, Robbo’s a good keeper. Don’t you worry about that, he’s a good keeper”
Despite Kenny’s best efforts to conceal his identity, it was later found out to be him and not actually Green’s agent.
It’s clear Warnock loves Kenny for his abilities as a keeper and not for being a master of disguise.
Gary Neville is only human. He loves David Beckham. It’s a symptom of being part of the human race. We all do it.
But unlike the rest of the male population’s man-crush for Beckham, Neville’s isn’t an unrequited man-love. He was Beckham’s best man at his wedding, they roomed together during their time at Manchester United, Becks played in Nev's testimonial and Beckham has said of “one of his best friends”:
“Gary is still so dedicated. It is the reason why he has achieved so much in his career and why United fans love him. He is a great home-grown talent which United are famous for producing. He always gave me a lot of advice over the years - the majority of which was good. He is such a talent and hard worker.”
But, as with all good bromances, the corner stone is honesty.
While, if most of us mere mortals ever met Beckham, we’d probably just laugh at all of his jokes, ask if we can touch his chest and apologize for not being more like him, Neville reserves the right to be brutally honest with D-Becks.
Neville once told Beckham to just “front up” when he was disappointed over being left out of Team GB’s squad for London 2012. Even saying:
“The manager has to select the squad he wants – and he didn’t want David in.”
You’ve got to be cruel to be kind sometimes.
In terms of man-crushes, it seems The Special One is ‘the one’ for Sir Alex.
They're both very respectful of each other in the media, with Fergie even tipping Mourinho as his heir apparent to the Old Trafford throne.
Before Mourinho’s Real Madrid team took on Ferguson's Manchester United last night, Mourinho dismissed that the fixture would ever test their bromance saying:
"I feel privileged about [our friendship] because he is such an important person in the world of football and, more importantly, he is a good person. I have always had a fantastic relationship with him, and I am proud of it."
And Ferguson reserved equally glowing praise:
“He’s a clever bugger.”
Aww, you two!
Cristiano Ronaldo’s talents are there for the world to see. They’re so obvious, even he’s noticed.
And, boy, has he noticed.
He’s very wealthy, has the looks of a model and, if only he played football during any other generation, there would probably be no debate that he is the best in the world. So you can’t blame him for being a touch fond of himself.
On his price tag following his move from Manchester United to Real Madrid:
“Of course the club can pay €94m for me. Or more. I think I'm worth more.”
"My free-kick secret? I just look at the net and say 'Take the kick, Cristiano.'"
On haters (who are going to hate):
“People whistle me because I am good-looking, rich and a great footballer. They are jealous of me."
"I am the first, second and third best player in the world."
Everyone has a pet name for the one they love “honey," “baby,” “sweetie” or, in the case of this bromance, "CR7." What man wouldn't want a nickname that sounds more like a model of superbike... or a Croydon postcode?
In short, I imagine if you spent as much time with Ronaldo as Ronaldo does, it’d be hard not to develop a man-crush on him too.