Forget Indiana Jones: Over-35s World Cup is nostalgia done right - including ex-Man Utd and Liverpool stars

The EPG Cup could become a reality this summer.
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Three weeks ago, Sophie Ellis Bextor appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon performing a live rendition of Murder On The Dancefloor, a song that was originally released 23 years ago. Renewed transatlantic interest in the track can be attributed to a couple of notable factors, from the tinderbox nature of TikTok virality to the gyrations of Barry Keoghan's bare backside, but just as important has been the contribution of that giddiest of phenomenons, nostalgia.

Pure, unadulterated, weapons grade nostalgia is one hell of a drug. It has the power to alter the very fabric of history itself, to make unicorns and rainbows from dog turds and national grid failures, and to kneecap entire populations as they charge headlong into the brick wall of regression while gazing wistfully over their collective shoulder.

Sometimes, however, it is a wonderful thing. Every now and again, nostalgia - that rose-tinted imp - will breathe new life into the cobwebbed career of a disco-inflected monarch, or, even better, spew forth something as ludicrously dreamy as The Over 35s World Cup. That sound you can hear is a nation of footballing hipsters whimpering with excitement.

For those unfamiliar, the proposal is thus; eight international teams, one representing each of the World Cup's previous holders, consisting of players who are over the age of 35 and who have either been capped by their country, or who have played more than 100 times in an esteemed top flight division. It's a very exclusive guest list. Think of it like if Masters Football was organised by the Illuminati.

Unlike the beloved Masters, however, the EPG Cup, as it will be known - (Elite Players Group, just to hammer home the majesty of it all) - shall entail 11-a-side matches played over 70 minutes with rolling substitutes. All fixtures are set to take place in one venue over the course of a single week in June, with the Mail reporting that St. James' Park in Newcastle could be as likely a stage as any.

Teams from England, Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Uruguay are all expected to feature, and the mooted roster of creaking-jointed participants is quite something to behold - like if Disneyland's daily parade ousted Mickey Mouse et al and replaced them with a slightly doddering stream of middle-men in sports coats and white-soled trainers.

Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Emerson, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Marcel Desailly, Christian Karembeu, Thierry Henry, David James, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Pablo Zabaleta, Esteban Cambiasso, Hernan Crespo, Carles Puyol, Michel Salgado, David Villa, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Kevin Kuranyi, Marco Materazzi, Fabio Cannavaro, Francesco Totti, Diego Lugano, Diego Forlan - it's like the Panini sticker albums of your youth have come to life and crawled off the page, albeit marginally greyer and wrinkled, right before your very eyes.

There will be those who dismiss the entire spectacle as little more than a hollow cash grab, and hell, it might just be one. In the past few months alone we have witnessed a geriatric Indiana Jones shoehorned into a mind-numbing caper about the perils of time travel, we have listened blandly as John Lennon was force fed through the algorithmic meat grinder of Artificial Intelligence to hand The Beatles a number one single in the year of our lord 2023, and we stood idly by as Amazon treated Tolkien's Middle Earth with the same measure of understanding and tenderness they usually reserve for workers' rights. We are waist-deep in the slurry of vapid remembrance, and the tide is still rising.

Maybe the EPG Cup will be, unavoidably, a spiritual sibling to these cultural atrocities, but it is hard not to look at it without a certain fond curiosity - a belief that it could be something that is, if not worthwhile, at least entertaining. Show me a football fan who would claim to have no interest in seeing a pot-bellied Ronaldinho - very much putting the 'jog' in joga bonito - tie Rio Ferdinand and his big old giraffe limbs up like a pretzel in this day and age and I'll either show you a killjoy or a liar.

Absolute worst case scenario, half of those involved manage about a quarter of an hour before their knees disintegrate into something closely resembling plaster dust and they spend the best part of the next 55 minutes hobbling around the pitch like zombified pack mules. And let's be honest, there's a part of you would probably pay to see that too.