Phil Neville, domestic god … In the way that gods have minions to do everything for them and can get stuff done just by pointing a finger and issuing orders.
Neville always seemed a kind of soccer everyman: an honest, hard-working, solid but unremarkable guy. His BBC commentary is so bland even Keira Knightley felt moved to come to his defense. He played 59 times for England and was Everton captain, but his work ethic, initiative and leadership skills apparently vanish the moment he walks through his front door.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Neville’s wife has lifted the lid on Neville’s inability to lift the lid on jars of coffee. The story — which, like Neville in his heyday, has run and run in England — started when, during an interview with a reporter at his house, Neville apparently phoned his wife to ask how to make coffee. It seems that instant coffee is a beverage bridge too far for the 37-year-old. (What, no Nespresso machine?)
“If you’d seen it you would not have thought it was classed as a coffee. I didn’t taste it, but it didn’t look good,” Julie Neville said. The Mail reports that in a radio interview, she said that Neville has never used a vacuum cleaner, mop, dishwasher or washing machine.
“Ironing? Oh gosh no, he wouldn’t even know where we keep the ironing board … He wouldn’t know how to turn an oven on,” she said. “I’ve never known anything else and I’m super-domestic so I don’t really mind. Phil is an amazing father and husband – just not domesticated in any way.”
Neville’s take: “I’ve lived in a bubble all my life”.
After a career spanning nearly two decades, this is clearly the most interesting thing we have ever learned about Phil Neville. That it’s possible to be a father of two in your late thirties in England in 2015 who has never done any housework.
To an extent, this looks like a married couple’s in-joke being played out in the national media. Still, it wouldn’t be hard to construct some sort of indignant analysis about the gender stereotyping that, on the face of it, seems to be at work here (man goes to work and earns money, woman looks after kids, does housework and cooking). Through wealth, celebrity and the infantilizing culture of soccer, which cossets top stars and treats them like children, players are so removed from the everyday realities of ordinary folks that they’re as privileged as monarchs or lords; they’re the indolent upper classes in some sort of Premier League as Downton Abbey social structure.
And how much do soccer players work? Let’s say it averages out at four hours a day, five times a week. They’re not exactly leaving the house at dawn and staying glued to their desks till midnight.