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Paul Trevillion exclusive - part 2

Football runs through the veins of world famous sports artist Paul Trevillion.

You get the feeling when speaking to him that there is absolutely no chance he could have ended up doing anything else. Or at least that nobody could do what he has done any better.

A Spurs supporter from the age of two, Trevillion’s artistic inclination and his ability to understand the essence of great players gives him a unique perspective on the game. He spoke to Total Football about what it means to be a football fan.

“I lived a corner kick away from Tottenham’s ground," he said. "My father took me to the match and my mum knitted my scarf. Spurs’ 1937 FA Cup replay against Everton it was a week before my third birthday, an early birthday present. A great opportunity to see the legend Dixie Dean.”

Dixie stayed with Trevillion forever, remaining to this day his favourite to draw (The 'Pele explosion' image - shown with this story - is another of his favourite drawings).

'Like a missile'

“I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He looked like a weightlifter! No one could head like him. The ball went like a missile! When I went back to my mum and asked her to sew ‘Dixie’ on my scarf, she said ‘but he’s an Everton player!’ I told her I didn’t care, he was my favourite player.

“People came to the ground to see Dixie, if you got Everton in the Cup, a home draw, you could see him twice in a season, and you were lucky.

"When Dixie scored, everyone applauded, and it was the loudest cheer of the game! But that’s what you went to the ground for - you wanted to see Stanley Matthews take on three of your guys and beat them, you wanted to see Finney dribble past your full back then round your keeper.”

Those early experiences witnessing the drama and the excitement of football inspired Trevillion. Since then, he has been happiest whilst sat in the stands being entertained by his vast array of heroes, painting mental pictures of their signature moves.

Despite being issued press passes all his life, he has only ever watched matches amongst the fans. He represents a level of appreciation and innocence that is far less common today.

Different today

“It’s different now, everything’s different. Now if Rooney comes to Tottenham and he gets a red card, the fans cheer. If he gets an injury, they cheer louder. 

"That’s the big change from when I was a boy – they go to see Rooney NOT play rather than to see him play. Cheering for the boy to come off after 15 minutes is like booing Sinatra off the stage after a couple of songs.

“A few weeks ago, I watched Tottenham get destroyed by Man City, and I was happy, I’d seen a fantastic game of football. I would walk over broken glass to see that City team play.”

For all the many things that Trevillion is, he is first and foremost a fan, and his motivation has always been to entertain his kind. An artist of tremendous talent, he chose to draw his sports stars because he knew he could captivate each individual football supporter like he too had been captivated.

“I believe I could have really been somebody in art if I had painted in oils, but I wanted to draw for the fans drawing in ink because that’s what I am, that’s what I do. I’m still the boy who saw Dixie Dean.”

Lasting impression

Even though he later met Dixie Dean and illustrated his life story in the Liverpool Echo, it is poignant that his childhood vision forms his lasting impression. Whereas most people profess that meeting your heroes will only disappoint, Trevillion suggests just the opposite.

From forging a friendship with Pat Jennings after sitting behind his goal to monitor a fellow keeper’s performance, to watching George Best have a kick about with school kids late after training, after all the other players had left, Trevillion has always greeted the greats of the game with the awe of a supporter.

“Gascoigne was another one. He was my neighbour for a bit and if he saw some kids in the field across the way with a ball, he was off, right in the middle of them, dribbling, tackling and all sorts. But that’s why you love him really.”

Trevillion starred as the peace-loving Football League mascot, DJ Bear, in an attempt to pacify relations between fans. Now every club has a mascot. 

Since then, he has been transfixed with the idea of how to improve the pay back experience for supporters. It is no surprise that he has come up with a novel idea for how the footballers could give them better value for money.

Free pies - courtesy of Wayne Rooney

“I’d love to come to the ground one week and Rooney has sponsored all the pies, Rooney’s bought all the pies and they’re all free for the fans. Or Gerrard has sponsored all the programmes this week and everyone can have a free one!

“You don’t tell them, you just announce it on the day. Just a little something back, that’s all I’m saying, plus you’d get people flooding back to the ground.

“I spoke to the people at Carlsberg and said ‘can’t you get ‘You Are the Ref’ on your beer mats?’, and they said they could do it. It’s a small thing, a real small thing, but it’s something for these fans that make such huge, huge sacrifices. Sometimes it’s their last penny that gets them the ticket to see a game.”

Optimism is what characterises him more than anything. Even as thousands rush to condemn England’s Euro 2012 chances, Trevillion remains characteristically upbeat about the current squad.

“We could really win it with Cappuccino – I refuse to call him Capello. He’s been here four years, three English lessons a week and he’s still no better. My paper boy, an Italian, has only been here a year and he’s fluent. So until he can speak English, I’ll call him Cappuccino.

“I really do think we have a chance because we never make it easy for anyone and we’ve got some world class players. We could win it – then maybe I’ll call him Capello.”

Paul Trevillion is a testament to the joy of football. Through his art he has sought to replicate that magical, hair-raising moment when the ball hits the back of the net.

He is a great who has spent his life amongst other greats, who will continue to create, amuse and enthral for years to come.

By Chris Smith

Click here to see Chris Smith's first feature on Paul Trevillion - and watch this space for further contributions from Paul.

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