Exclusive: England dressing room intruder told players: You're a disgrace (with video)
Published 23:59 19/06/10 By Simon Wright
The fan who burst into the England dressing room on Friday night told the multi-millionaire failures: “You are a disgrace.”
Pavlos Joseph’s shock appearance in the dressing room led news bulletins in the hours after the desperate 0-0 draw with Algeria, widely condemned as England’s most shameful performance in years.
And as South African police hunted high and low for Pavlos, unaware of his name and scouring CCTV for his face, the man at the centre of it all was calmly sitting down to breakfast with the Sunday Mirror.
“The crazy thing is I only went looking for the toilet,” said Manchester United fan Pavlos, 32, from South-East London, who has followed England home and away since he was a schoolboy.
“I walked round the outside of the stadium to meet my two cousins and their dad who were at the opposite end of the ground.
“We’d arranged to meet at a certain lamp-post on the stadium concourse. When they still hadn’t arrived after half an hour, I started needing the toilet.
“I found a security guard, who sent me off back along a walkway underneath the stand out onto the pitch in the direction of the tunnel and explained that there were toilets near there.
“This was 45 minutes after the game had finished. There were a few photographers packing up their stuff, there were six or so groundsmen working on the grass and a dozen police doing a practice march, but no-one else around.
“I walked across the grass and up the players’ tunnel. Eventually, I took a right, down a corridor and before I knew it I found myself in the dressing room. There was no door.
“The next thing I knew, there was David Beckham standing in front of me. He was stood up wearing his grey England three-piece suit, wandering around with his hands in his pockets and looking at the floor. I froze and looked round the room. I couldn’t believe where I was.
“I saw Joe Cole walk naked out of the shower a few feet away from me. He glanced at me and then did a massive double-take. Then David looked at me. His face seemed to drop. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion.
"The room was dead silent. The players were sitting on benches with towels round their waists just looking at me. They looked like they were in shock. No-one was moving. It was surreal. Suddenly David spoke. He took a step towards me and said, ‘Whoa, who are you?’
“At first I didn’t know what to say. I glanced around at everyone again and then looked back at him. I said, ‘I’m Pavlos and I actually need the toilet.’
“For a moment, no-one said a word. Then I thought, ‘What the heck. I’m in the England dressing room. Why not say something?’. I looked David straight in the eye. I said, ‘David, we’ve spent a lot of money getting here. This is a disgrace. What are you going to do about it?’”
He was met with stunned silence.
Then Pavlos, whose Greek Cypriot mother and father Leo and run a fish and chip shop in Crystal Palace where he was born, fixed the other players in his gaze and said: "That was woeful and not good enough."
“The room was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. David’s face changed as if he was going to say something back to me.
“Then, just as quickly, the look turned to confusion and his mouth closed. Straight away, a FIFA official in a suit was alongside me.
“He told me I had to leave and led me out the way I’d come in. I didn’t say another word to the players and I didn’t get an answer from Becks.”
Mortgage advisor Pavlos appeared in the dressing room ten minutes after Princes Harry and William had been in to commiserate with the team, booed off the pitch by many of the 30,000 England fans in the Green Point stadium in Cape Town.
At around midnight, South African police released a statement that “an unidentified male has entered the England dressing room” and said CCTV footage was being examined in a bid to identify him.
At around the same time, the FA said it had made a formal complaint about the “security breach” to World Cup organisers FIFA.
“The funny thing is that FIFA has my phhone number because it’s on the card I gave to their guy who led me out,” laughed Pavlos.
“His name is Mark Lindon. According to his card, he’s FIFA’s competitions co-ordinator, whatever that is.
“But no-one has rung me. The South African police are supposed to be trying to find me to arrest me but I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.
“It WAS the worst England performance in years. They DID let the fans down. It WAS a disgrace. I didn’t rant or shout or get out of order. I was calm and quiet. I left when I was asked to.
“The FIFA guy who led me out actually showed me to the toilet I had been looking for.
“It was funny because as we walked away, I said to him, ‘The atmosphere in their is shocking.’ He said to me: ‘If you think that was bad, you should have been here at half time.’”
Pavlos has spent £4,500 on his trip to South Africa after scrimping and saving to make the trip.
He said: “I’m a massive England fan and I love these players. But they’re also ordinary people, just like you and me. They’d played awful.”
David Beckham yesterday sought to play down Pavlos’ sudden appearance in the dressing room, saying: “Luckily it was ten minutes after the Princes left.”
And Becks declined to go into detail about what Pavlos had to say. “The actual fan literally just alked in very casually and just said something to me and then walked out. There was no scuffle, there was no aggression.”
Pavlos insists he only said what any other fan would have said in such dire circumstances, with England’s progression in the World Cup in serious jeopardy.
He said: “They’d let the fans down. Most of them didn’t even try. Some of them looked like they didn’t even want to be there. I just spoke my mind. I’m no different to any other England fan over here. I just want the team to play like we know they can and to do well.
“The whole thing lasted no more than 25 seconds. I was totally calm the whole time. I didn’t get worked-up or agitated. I never do. I’m not that sort of person.”
After the incident Pavlos’s second cousin George, 22 - with whom he travelled to South Africa along with George’s brother Andrew, 26, and George’s dad dad Leo, 47, - called on his mobile phone asking where he was.
The group only decided to go to South Africa at the last minute last Friday - and bought flights, accommodation and match tickets on line in just a few hours.
“I told him I’d been inside the England dressing room but he didn’t believe me,” says Pavlos. “I passed the phone to the FIFA guy and said: ‘Here mate, tell my cousin where I’ve just been.’ The guy told George but George still thought he was being wound up. A moment later, we parted. We left on good terms. There was no anger and no-one tried to stop me leaving. No police or security officers were involved. It happened, then I left.”
Pavlos has a ticket for our next game against Slovenia at Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
He is now unsure whether the authorities will ban him from the match or even kick him out of the country altogether.
“I’m an England supporter and I will always be an England supporter. I want the fans to get behind the team and not to boo them or slate them. I did what I did on the spur of the moment and I don’t regret it. It’s not every day you get a chance to tell the England team what you think of them - directly to their faces. I hope that, when I walked out, they looked at each other and said: ‘Wow, that’s what it really means to all the fans.’ I hope they say to each other: ‘We’ve got to get our acts together for him and all the others.’ It must have been a shock for them to have me turn up out of the blue like that but maybe it will do some good.
“And if any of the England boys ever need any mortgage advice, I’m here for them and I’ll get them a good deal.”