Football is nice. And entertaining. And unpredictable. And addictive. Very addictive.

In the world of sports, it remains the most popular around the world, and it is easy to see why.

When 22 men — and, nowadays, women — are let loose on a pitch and handed a ball, they lose themselves in the drama.

The players are the stars in their own movies. Young, starry-eyed and athletic, they are the engine of the game. And the fuel too.

Their job is to not only score goals, but also do it in a most entertaining, skilful way. They are soldiers on a battlefield, protected from harm by rules of engagement, and paid a fortune to kick a ball around.

Football, for the hundreds of its fans, is pure bliss and raw, nervy emotion. It is suspense that dwarfs Hollywood, and heartbreak worse than a lover’s jibe.

It is a unifying factor, a militaristic call to defend the pride of an entire nation, and a celebration of the skills and goal-ferreting abilities of the 22 on the pitch.