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.