The Ball is stolen and retrieved

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Yes, we very nearly lost The Ball in Xian. Our worst nightmare narrowly avoided.

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Outside the Terracota Army near Xi’an (where I launched a beautiful free kick over a wall of imitation statues) there are many tourist-tat-traders / thieves. We were surrounded quickly, our pockets felt and as always the Ball received much attention. This warrior couldn’t resist a touch:

Click here to download the MPEG clip with warrior’s kick and celebration dance

Shortly afterwards, as our attentions were bombarded with diversions, I noticed the ball gone…

…asking Chris, Rob and Tim if they have seen our precious item, I get the response that the old man had it.

The moment of theft – caught on film

click here to download the MPEG movie clip

Where is he?

Don’t know, I think he went that way, one of them says.

I look in the direction of pointing, don’t see him and so hurry off. Asking along the row of stalls bordering the street, my football mime pays off as I am directed round the next corner. From there I finally spy the Ball 100 yards up the road being kicked further into the distance by a group of 5 or so. I gently quicken my pace, not disturbing their flight, and reach them to be greeted by protestations as I ask for the ball back!

Click here to see Chris’ footage of my final grab back. You can just make out a guy to my left with his hand in my pocket who, as I turn back down the street, is suggesting that I give him 2 dollars for the Ball. I refused.

Phil recovers the ball from thieves in Xian
Ball recovery from thieves in Xi’an.

This video is missing because we are in the process of uploading all our videos to YouTube. Please be patient: the video will appear at some point! In the meantime, visit The Ball on YouTube.

One of us stays with The Ball at all times as we prepare to leave for Beijing.

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Written by on Monday, May 27th, 2002

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The Ball 2014 left England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.