There’s little doubt that tennis world No3 Andy Murray will remember 2012 fondly. Not only did he win his first Grand Slam title, but he also claimed a gold medal at the his home Olympics in London.
The Scottish star is also a keen football fan, so FIFA.com thought it was the perfect time to let the 25-year-old take over our official Twitter feed, @FIFAcom, and let his fans ask the questions.
Thousands came through with the hashtag #AskAndy and Murray was keen to answer as many as he could. His replies covered numerous facets of the beautiful game during the 75 minute session, from the FIFA Ballon d’Or and favourite footballing memories to his own dreams of the playing the game professionally.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was kind enough to get the ball rolling. Murray’s grandfather was a professional player during the 1950s, and the head of world football's governing body was keen to know whether he had to make a choice between the two sports. “I had to make a decision between football and tennis. Tennis won. I think I made the right decision,“ quipped Murray.
He was offered the chance to train with Rangers at the age of 15, but had he gone on to make the grade he was clear which club he would have aspired to appear for and which current player he’d hope to emulate. “It would have been great to play for Hibernian, but the ultimate would be Arsenal . [I’d want to play like] Jack Wilshere. Pulling strings in midfield, but not afraid to get stuck in!”
Murray admits that now he’s a full-time tennis professional his chances to show his skills on the pitch are limited, but every now and again he and the other players on the ATP circuit get the chance to have a game. “It's hard to play other sports because of the risk of injury, but we play football when we can. We agree not to tackle hard, but then forget! [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga is a very solid right back. I played a match with him and he was very good in that position,” he quipped.
When FIFA.com asked the Wimbledon finalist who he felt should win the upcoming FIFA Ballon d’Or, Murray was unequivocal, saying: “I think Messi for a few reasons, but the amount of goals he's scored makes his year particularly amazing.”
Despite his desire to play for Arsenal, his first experiences as a football fan were following the green and white of Hibs, and he still ranks one of their games as his best footballing memory. “Hibernian v AEK Athens in the UEFA Cup at Easter Road when I was 13 or 14. It went to extra time. Hibernian won on the night, but lost 4-3 on aggregate. It was an amazing atmosphere.”
During his Twitter chat he accepted an invitation from Hibs to go see another of their games – against fierce rivals Hearts. He even plans to go see England play at Wembley too, after Three Lions legend and FIFA World Cup™ winner Sir Geoff Hurst invited him as his personal guest.
But even though Murray’s Scottish allegiances lie in Edinburgh, it doesn’t mean Murray hasn’t been impressed by Celtic’s victory over Barcelona and qualification for the UEFA Champions League last-16.
“It's an amazing achievement," he wrote. "I was watching it out in Miami. I'm out here training with another British player called Jamie Baker and we watched it after our first training session of the day. Jamie's a Rangers fan, so it wasn't an easy 90 minutes for him!”
His own success has brought many a smile to Scottish sports fans too this year, but he admits it’s difficult to choose between his two major triumphs in 2012. “They're different - winning a gold medal in front of a British crowd on centre court was unique though. It was an amazing feeling. But the way the US Open finished too; it's just hard to pick one over the other.”
It is clear that London 2012 left its mark on him though, when asked who had inspired him most this year. “The British Olympic team. Not one person, but very inspirational. I watched Mo Farah win his first gold on an iPad on the player's lawn at Wimbledon. Amazing.”
One of those credited with helping build his best season so far is his new trainer and eight-time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl. Despite Craig Levein’s tenure in charge of Scotland coming to an end recently, Murray would rather his coach doesn’t opt for a change of career. “With his knowledge of football, I really hope not!”
Who would he rather? “The Scottish managers in the Premier League are doing great jobs. Moyes, Ferguson, you can take your pick.” He’s a little less sure on who his favourite coach is though, torn between two of the game’s greats. “That's so tough. I do really like Jose Mourinho, but you've got to admire the job that Fergie has done. Very tough call.”
Murray fancies himself as a bit of manager himself though, being very into his fantasy football, and it looks as if the 2012/13 season is treating him well so far. “I'm doing very well actually, I’m top of the league having won it last year. There's a few of us who play and we have a proper trophy that we get the winner's name engraved on. I went big on strikers this year. RVP is doing very nicely for me. Cost me a lot of my budget, but money well spent!”
Intrigued, British sports presenter John 'Fenners' Findley wondered what the skills have brought him his fantasy success. “I'd say thorough research, picking attacking players and little bit of luck!”
This was FIFA.com’s first ever Twitter Q&A and it wouldn’t have been possible without the great input from all the followers of @FIFAcom and Andy Murray himself. Following the chat, fans were quick to show their appreciation for #AskAndy:
@krismyth: had a wonderful session with #AskAndy.Read as much as possible of the tweets.Thank you @andy_murray, @FIFAcom & all others involved.
@mtrenhaile: It was entertaining to read. Always enjoy getting other perspectives on football.
@Ancsika7: I loved it! Especially that Andy answered to one of my best frind's question!!! #AskAndy #ThanksAndy
@chriscynar: Had been continuously read #AskAndy by @FIFAcom and@andy_murray. I can see that is a really great interview. :)
The full exchange can be found on FIFA.com’s Twitter feed until 11 January – a link to which can be found to the right of this article.
Have Your Say: Which star would you like to put your questions to about football in an @FIFAcom Twitter interview in the future?