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Standing tall and taking the flak...

PUBLISHED: 11:20 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:41 06 July 2010

WITH the finger of blame pointed squarely at his chest, England goalkeeper Robert Green has endured ridicule, jeers and blame for England's failure to hammer the USA in the World Cup.

WITH the finger of blame pointed squarely at his chest, England goalkeeper Robert Green has endured ridicule, jeers and blame for England's failure to hammer the USA in the World Cup.

But the man who made the mistake stands so much taller than the meathead clods baying in pubs across Britain ignorantly lashing out and mocking him as “rubbish.

His parents should be hugely proud of the man their boy became.

How he dealt with his mess-up on Saturday merited the lions on his chest more than any brilliant save ever could.

It has made him a role model and a fine example for parents to use to children of how to behave if they foul up.

In a world of prima donnas, where we're used to giant egos and immature strops, Green didn't throw have a hissy fit about his excruciating howler in front of millions.

He didn't hide away and snivel the self-indulgent tears of a pampered footballer in the face of mockery by men with flabby bellies and big mouths who have never played 90 minutes in their lives let alone stood in a goalmouth.

He didn't dodge the cameras and interviewers in shame shielding his face insisting he had to “get his head together” about his embarrassing fumble.

He blamed no one or nothing to get off the hook. Other players have blamed the new ball design for lack-lustre performances but he made no excuses about his gloves, distractions of those infernal migraine-inducing vuvuzelas or sun in his eyes.

He merely walked straight out of the changing room to face the music, eyeballed the camera to apologise for his mistake, took it on the chin and made no excuses.

It was his fault. Such a refreshing change to hear someone admit they had fouled up without trying to offload the blame.

He knew his schoolboy error had cost his country a goal - the greatest humiliation for a national goalkeeper - but it wouldn't cost him his dignity. He would handle the fall out like the professional he is paid handsomely to be.

No arrogance, no self-pity, just straightforward decency.

Behind his eyes, he was gutted. He would rather have been anywhere else than facing questions about “that goal.” But he did face it.

We all make mistakes. It happens. But it's how you deal with the mistakes that count. That's what sifts the pygmies from the lions.

Looking mess-ups straight on and addressing their fall-out is the action of a proper grown up. Pathetically curling up, hoping the flak will all go away and someone else will deal with it is childish.

It applies to foul-ups in every aspect of life.

When my older son stropped off the cricket pitch after a less-than-sparkling performance, head down and banging his bat on the ground he was hit with the Robert Green lesson straight away.

“Head up, grow up and do a Green.”

A few days earlier he had had the “don't you ever do a Rooney” lesson after the player's foul-mouthed outburst at a referee, with a lecture on why teachers or anyone should never be verbally abused.

The World Cup is not just one big sports fest and waste of time for children but there are many lessons for life hidden in football - players exhibit the best and worse behaviour examples - to help parents navigate the teaching of rights and wrongs.

Competitive is good - but only if you can lose as well as you can win.

Green proved he could look like a prize wally in front of millions but deal with it like a champion.

For that alone he deserves to be in goal tonight against Algeria.

Are we sub-contracting all responsibility for self-control out to the state now?

A fast food takeaway has been banned from opening near a secondary school to protect the health and well being of pupils

Since when did Britain thwart enterprise because 15-year-olds might stuff themselves with too much lard and end up as lumpy unhealthy adults?

There was a chip shop and a convenience store a stone's throw from my old school. I wasn't allowed to use it. I had to spend my money on school dinners and did as I was told.

Parents can't have so little authority over their children and children such poor self control that entrepreneurship has to be stifled to stop teenagers stuffing their faces.

They will still eat rubbish, just from somewhere else.

Police officers are now allowed to use common sense when they make decisions.

Yes, you really did just read that.

You might have thought that common sense and police action went hand-in-hand in the interests of the public - but not when targets were involved, apparently.

Now the new Chief Constable of neighbouring Norfolk is telling officers to 'do the right thing' rather than just tick boxes to chase targets.

People-centred policing rather than paperwork driven responses. Now there's a thing.

Phil Gormley is giving his officers authority to think on their feet and take actions that they would be proud to happen to their own family. Just how policing should be.

And, cynical as I usually am about anyone with a big new job spouting merrily about what they are going to do - wait until you've done it, then tell us - I hope his ambitions come true.

But what on earth are officers in other counties doing if common sense is not coming first?

Come the World Cup final, men's faces might be crumpled in disappointment but many women will be plumped, taut and frozen.

Desperate for hours in front of the TV, men are booking their wives in for Botox treats to keep them out of the way.

London's Harley Medical Group reports a 25pc rise in demand for anti-ageing remedies like face peels and Botox jabs on Saturdays - with blokes footing the bill.

Whatever happened to a bit of gentle shopping, a frothy coffee and a bun with friends on Saturday? Now women want to turn themselves into Brides of Frankenstein.

Not that their men will notice - they'll be too busy watching the footie.

The car breaks down and we moan: “Why me?”

We fret and worry about things that might never happen, describe a fall-out with a friend or lover as “tragic” and constantly compare ourselves to people we believe are better off than us because they can afford a new kitchen or bigger car.

Whenever we're down about our luck we should think of John and Sharon Walker.

Three years ago they lost their first child aged just 15 from a rare genetic disorder.

Last month they lost their remaining child, Chloe, the day before her 16th birthday in a school bus crash in Keswick.

Once they were a family of four. Now John and Sharon are childless and alone in their five-bedroom family home.

Now that is a real tragedy.

“Why have our son and daughter been taken from us when there are so many evil people in the world that are allowed to live?” asked Sharon.

Why indeed?

So Tony Blair and his family have amassed property worth £14 million since he entered Downing Street.

Whoever said there was no money in politics?

So is he using any of his homes to house the needy and homeless? Is any of his personal wealth being used to ease social problems?

If it was I'm sure the King of Spin would have let us know about it.

Now we know what New Labour really meant - old Labour without the socialism. That'll be capitalism then, Tone.

When the coalition government is looking at new laws, it could do worse than to ban the wearing of iPod earphones on cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians and even dog walkers.

They are a hazard to drivers and people put themselves in danger every time they plug in their earphones and cut off the world.

A 17-year-old was killed by a train in Gateshead when he failed to hear it because he was using an iPod.

I nearly got run over the other day jogging with the dog along the lanes in our village, with old Oasis blaring into my ears, totally unaware of what was approaching. I left it at home the next time.

Cutting off the world to music can threaten lives. Silence might just save them.

It's a scandal that children in Lowestoft have £3000 less spent on their education than children in inner cities.

We can only assume that our children and their futures are viewed as less important than those at desks in Tower Hamlets, Hackney or posh Kensington?

Every child has the same rights, needs and potential. The concept of state education is equality - of opportunity, learning and resources.

Suffolk comes among the bottom counties in education funding despite its areas of deprivation.

Lowestoft is always lumped into the “affluent east”, seen by the outside world as picturesque rolling farmland and successful businesses.

However loud problems of deprivation and under achievement are shouted about they seem to land on deaf ears.

But unless we keep shouting our children will always miss out and be ignored out on a limb in an area misrepresented as affluent where people in London making the decisions own second homes.

Parents should write, en masse, to complain now. There is no justification for holding our children back.

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