Let's face it. It is not every day you are halfway through writing a preview for a Europa League play-off between Hearts and Tottenham when your phone rings and Noel Gallagher is on the other end.
But on Thursday morning skysports.com had the privilege of a half-hour conversation with the most influential and prominent man in British music in the last 20 years, and it was not a disappointment.
Noel, formerly the brains and brilliance of Oasis before a now infamous bust-up with younger brother and frontman, Liam, in Paris, is a hero to millions and is of course now embarking on a solo career. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' debut single, 'The Death of You and Me' is released on Monday.
The singer-songwriter is also well known as a football fanatic and so there was surely no better time to have a chat. On the agenda: Noel's beloved Manchester City. Burying the hatchet with Gary Neville. Hair advice for Wayne Rooney. A night on tiles with Paul Gascoigne and a parrot in Glasgow. A job application for Soccer Saturday. A coded message about the 2012 Olympics.
So, Noel, a 4-0 win over Swansea on Monday and Sergio Aguero doesn't look a bad player, does he?
I'm not sure about him, you know... He might take a while to settle in... I was excited about the season anyway before I even saw him play. Even if we hadn't have bought him, I would still have been looking forward to a very exciting season, because I think we're very close. But, saying that, to play like he did on Monday, when he's supposedly not very fit, is a statement. It's great. It's money well spent already. We paid £38million, he is already worth £40m. Not a bad investment.
What about Carlos Tevez? It looks like he's now going to be staying?
Well, you know, not that I'm a spokesperson for anyone, but I've been telling anybody that was going to listen that he's not going anywhere. He has been for sale since January, effectively, and if anyone was going to buy him, they would have by now. The season has started. They're not just suddenly going to stump up £50m on a Saturday night. The good thing about Tevez, you know he can't give anything less than 100 per cent when he's playing. Even if he gives 75%, that's pretty much more than other players' 100%. D'you know what I mean?
You said in the past that you would like to play guitar with Tevez. Does that still stand?
Oh yeah! He's still an absolute legend. If he doesn't like Manchester, fine. At least he has been very open and honest. He hasn't been snidey about it. He's saying he wants to leave, and that's fine. The club have said he can leave for this amount of money and everybody's cards are on the table. If nobody buys him, he's not going anywhere. So, he's still my mate. I still love him. I'll still cheer him when he walks out on the pitch, no question. I think most City fans will. I don't think his name will get booed, no way.
It looks like you're going to sign Samir Nasri. Will he get in the City team?
We're going for the Quad' aren't we. We can't play all the players every week. At the moment, if David Silva gets injured, we're f****d, because we don't have a spare creative player. I think it (signing Nasri) is a brilliant move, because, with the Champions League, there are big chunks of the season when you're playing Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday. I think it's a great move for him and a brilliant buy for us. If he (Roberto Mancini) is going all out for steamrolling teams, he can play Silva and Nasri. If I was Gareth Barry, I'd be a bit worried!
You said at the World Cup that City chief executive Garry Cook showed you all the club's transfers on a napkin at a lunch. Who else will City be signing?
Oh, yeah, you mean last year? Hahaha. I can't remember. I was absolutely... I was wasted. I drank so much champagne, well, you know, it was the World Cup finals. I was hammered. I can't remember who was on the napkin. I think most of them that were on it have been signed.
Obviously you're a diehard City fan. How did it happen? How did you avoid supporting Manchester United?
I often wonder this. My parents are Irish and, being Irish, we have about 108 cousins. They're all, to a man, Man United fans apart from me, our Liam, and our Paul (eldest Gallagher brother). I have no idea. My dad, this used to happen a lot in the Sixties and Seventies, used to go and see City and United in Manchester. He took us to my first game, which was City against Newcastle in 1974. Of course, you go into school the next day and once your allegiance is declared, that's it. The end. Luckily my dad never took us to Old Trafford. He took us to Maine Road. For years I resented it. When United were winning Trebles and the Champions League, I was thinking, 'Why!? Why did he do that?'. Then, Sheikh took over and I was like, 'Thank the Lord. I knew one day my faith would be repaid'.
I once saw a dodgy American TV biography on Oasis, which claimed the floodlights from Maine Road lit up the bedroom you shared with Liam as a kid. True or false?
No, no, no. I could see them from my bedroom. We used to have the tallest floodlights in the country. Don't know if anyone knows that. It used to be on the honours board. The lights were quite a way off in the distance, but when City were playing a midweek game you could see them. But they never used to shine into the bedroom, no. Hahaha.
Thirteen years ago this week, City lost 3-0 at Fulham in what is now League One. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster, hasn't it?
Is that right? I remember the play-off final against Gillingham. I remember going to a game away at Wycombe on some God awful night. Freezing, raining, and we are at Wycombe Wanderers' ground. I mean, I've got a bigger house than their ground. I get more people in my back garden than they get in their ground. I remember thinking, 'This is s***e'. We drew 1-1 to go 11th in the second division. In hindsight, you look back and think, 'F**king hell that was bad'. But at the time it was like a little adventure. It was like going on a mad camping holiday. It was like, 'We know this is a bit s**t. We know we should be staying in the top hotels. But we'll just get on with it'. It was alright. It was fun going places like York. York!? F**king hell.
You've been a bit critical of Gary Neville in the past. What did you make of him as a TV pundit on Sky?
D'you know what? I'm not being sarcastic here. I like him. I have always liked him. He is like the pantomime villain for City fans. I have always given him a bit of stick and he gives me a bit of stick. That's great. I've never met him, but I'm told by his mates that he's quite funny. I like him as a pundit and I'll tell you why, because he has only just finished playing and his words carry more weight than the likes of Alan Shearer or Alan Hansen or Andy Gray or any of that lot. When Neville was going on about Aguero's second goal and was saying how difficult it was, he would know. He has trained with (Cristiano) Ronaldo. He has worked under (Sir Alex) Ferguson. He has played with Rooney. He has played for England. He should have captained England, actually, he missed his calling. Neville looked quite uncomfortable when he was stood up on TV, but I like him. He'll get better at it and I congratulate him.
What about the other pundits? Are you a Soccer Saturday fan?
Yeah, yeah, I watch it all. I don't watch Football Focus anymore, but I watch Soccer Saturday. I'm addicted to that gig. It's one of the greatest things ever on television.
You would be great as a TV pundit. Ever fancied giving it a go?I hereby throw my hat in the ring. I would love to sit in between Tommo (Phil Thompson) and particularly (Paul) Merson, because he hates City. I would love to sit next to Merson and flick him on the ear every now and again. When he is going on, I'd go, 'Have that'. But, yeah, I love Soccer Saturday. And The Sunday Supplement. I'd be great on that as well. I would love to say to Brian Woolnough, 'You look exactly like one of my aunties'. He does!
I have dug out a copy of NME from 2001. You had a bit of a rant about media-trained footballers. Do you still think that's a problem? Has the game lost its soul?
Well, you don't know, because Stan Bowles was never interviewed live on the television and neither was George Best or all those great players in the Sixties and Seventies. Footballers these days have got to be quite bland. They can't really say what they think. I mean, they do now on twitter, don't they, and they get slagged off a bit. But they do trot out the cliches. Those post-match interviews are a bit stale and dull, really.
Have you got many footballer mates?
Rio (Ferdinand), Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp, Nigel De Jong - I keep bumping into him in hotels. Tevez - obviously - Patrick Vieira...
Has Rooney sent you any more guitars to sign? You had the last one, which Coleen wanted to give him as a birthday present, sprayed blue then you wrote the lyrics to 'Blue Moon' over the top and called him 'Spongebob'.
Has he f**k. I think his missus learnt her lesson. I'll sign Wayne Rooney's hairpiece if he wants to send it down. I'll spray paint it blue for him and send it back. Rooney wanted the guitar for his birthday! How dare he.
Here's a strange one for you. Is it true that you stayed at Graeme Le Saux's house in Jersey during a break from Oasis in the Nineties?
No. I met him on a high street in Jersey once, that's it.
Okay, well, you're famously friends with Alessandro Del Piero. How did that happen?
There's a guy who used to work for Sony records in Italy. He used to look after Oasis and do out promo. His best mate was Del Piero. Oddly enough, Del Piero was putting out a compilation album on Sony in Italy. If you can get your head around that? Del Piero was an Oasis fan and he came backstage at one of the shows. It went from there. We kept in touch and I went to the 2006 World Cup with him when Italy won it. It was great. When City played Juventus in Turin last season, we were in Juventus' dressing room afterwards with the Italian players. It smelt magnificent. IT SMELT MAGNIFCIENT.
What about your early experiences of football? The Oasis song 'Round Are Way' (sic) refers to 25-a-side park football before it gets dark. What inspired that song?
We used to have a park 'round our way called Errwood Road and we used to play 25-a-side on the bowling green, because the grass was cut really short. We used to get chased off by the park-keepers and all of that. But playing on bowling greens, God, it's like it's only one level down from the World Cup final. We used to play until it was dark. Then if the game had finished 22-22 or something, you used to carry on the next night. Those were the best days, man. Jumpers for goalposts and all that. Brilliant.
What position did you play when you were younger?
I was good in net. I was good in the Claude Makelele role as well. Seriously.
Only question on this subject, I promise. Liam's band, Beady Eye, have released a copy of 'Blue Moon' for Umbro. Have you heard it?
Oh, with the football kit? Yeah, yeah.
Do you like it?
Yeah, it's all right.
Moving on, you are a Celtic fan as well as City. Why is that?
That's an Irish thing. I used to love watching the Old Firm games in the Eighties. Then about 11 years ago we ramped it up a bit in our house when I met my wife. She's a staunch Rangers fan. It was like, 'Right, let's f**king get this on then'. Only recently have Celtic been on equal terms with that mob (Rangers). I've been to Celtic Park and heard the entire crowd sing 'Roll With It' before the game. It really was spine-tingling. I was at Martin O'Neill's first Old Firm game as manager when Celtic won 5-2. Henrik Larsson scored a hat-trick and it was honestly the best game of football I've ever been to. I would say to any football fan, no matter who you support and if you can get tickets, go to an Old Firm game at Celtic Park. Unbelievable.
How does it rate in comparison with the Manchester derby?
Well, I'm from Manchester and there is no love loss in those games. It's on a par with the Old Firm. But Celtic Park is huge and it's a lot more colourful. The Manchester derby, The Poznan is a spectacle now, but we have only just got that. Up at Celtic Park, when they all sing with the scarves going up, it really is something else.
Any other memorable matches?
I was at the FA Cup semi-final against United last season. I wouldn't say I enjoyed a single second of it. It was just too nerve-wracking. The play-off final against Gillingham was a bit of a game. My first ever game, the one against Newcastle, we won 5-1 and Malcolm McDonald scored the one for Newcastle. It was the Bell-Summerbee era and I guess that's when the bug took over. Never look back. I've seen some great games on the television as well. The way Barcelona dismantled United in the Champions League final last season was something else. And the Barcelona-Real Madrid games in the Super Cup have been amazing. What about Jose Mourinho poking that guy in the face?!
What do you think of Mourinho?
I love him. We all love him in England. Everybody hates him all around the world, but we love him. He doesn't give a f**k. The ladies love him because he's swarthy and looks like a pirate. And we love him because he's a bit mad. He talks psychedelic bulls**t half the time and we would all love him as our manager.
Skysports.com spoke to Alan McGee (former Creation records founder who first signed Oasis) a few months ago and he said he used to invite Rangers players to your gigs in Scotland. Any good stories?
We met Gascoigne. He used to come when he was playing for Rangers. We had a few nights out with him. I remember having a night out with him and, no word of a lie, a parrot. Don't ask what happened, but there was a swimming pool involved.
Let's have the full story...
I can't remember. We were all wasted. It was when Rangers were signing loads of Italian players and they were all coming to the gigs. I remember one night, I think we were just in the bar havin' it, and Gascoigne was there smoking loads of cigars. I went, 'Are you playing tomorrow?' and he went, 'Yep'. I thought, 'F**king hell!'.
You don't get stories like that in football very much anymore. Do you miss it?
Players like Gascoigne are one-off. It's such big business these days. If Gazza was playing for City now, at the equivalent, he would be on £140-150grand-a-week. I'm sure there would be all sorts of clauses in that contract, so I don't think the likes of Gazza would survive in the modern game. Gazza wasn't really an athlete, he was a force of nature.
Are you a fan of any other sports? I don't really have you down as a cricket fan?
I do like cricket, yeah. I don't play it. I've been to Lords once to see England-Australia, which was great. When they won The Ashes in 2005 for the first time in years, that was great. They seem to be like young lads now. Back in the day, cricket was played by Geography teachers, like David Gower on Sky and all of that mob. Public School boys. Now, I know Freddie (Flintoff), and it's young lads and you can kind of relate to them. I watch the Ashes. But I've not watched much of this Indian series. I do like tennis as well, yeah, love it. Obviously I don't play it. If I played it, I'd be in hospital in about an hour. But I watch it. (Roger) Federer, (Rafael) Nadal, (Novak) Djokovic and all that lot, it's great. I love watching Wimbledon, it's amazing.
What about the Olympics in London next year? Will you be going?
I've been invited to the opening ceremony. I might take my kids.
I was going to ask about that. Apparently Coldplay are part of the opening ceremony. Did you get any offer?
(Pause) I'm not allowed to say.
Really? Did you turn them down or something else?
I'm not allowed to say. Hahaha. But I'll be there. I might go along with the kids. It looks like it might be a laugh.
Sadly, that's our time up. Good luck with the single on Monday and hope it all goes well.
Try and get me on that Soccer Saturday panel at Sky Sports! Bye.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' debut single is available here.