He was a stick of footballing rock with Yorkshire written right through him. Until he moved to Blackburn Rovers, as it turned out. He was tough. He was bloody-minded. He did not score many goals.
After his retirement, David Batty slipped off my radar, although I caught him a couple of times on Sky One's pro-celebrity The Match. But I never saw him donning his slacks and pale blue shirt (evidently the strictly enforced dress code for the BBC's Euro 2008 panel) as a pundit-for-hire, and he never seemed the type for a career in motivational speaking. Perhaps, I pondered, he had opened an ironmongers in Guiseley with Mel Sterland, or taken over a bar on the Costa del Sol with John Lukic.
So yesterday, imagine my delight when I was reading The Guardian's report on the Rooney/McLoughlin nuptials, in an attempt to receive a dispassionate, purely factual report on this most sociologically important of festivals, to see that one of the co-authors was none other than David Batty. Well, who else better qualified to reflect on the extra-curricular pressures of a young footballer at the epicentre of the modern game? When I clicked on the link to his Guardian profile, I was impressed to see that my David Batty had adopted a disguise, albeit of the primitive moustache-and-false-nose-attached-to-glasses model, in a bid to reinvent himself and shake off any stigma associated with the intelligence of footballers, thus ensuring his work is judged fairly when the Pulitzer Prize committee come a-knocking.
In addition, it has now come to my attention that David Batty regularly 'ages up', and glues on a moustache and eyebrows – or maybe it is actually three moustaches, I'm no expert – from his disguise kit in order to disseminate to the general public his considerable expertise in the field of possibly valuable old stuff on the BBC's popular Antiques Roadshow programme.
That is not all.
He is also a TV director, producer (you will, no doubt, remember his work on Hitler In Colour), lawyer, freelance IT professional and part-time accordionist. I could go on.
He is, I am telling you, a modern day Leonardo. How long will it be before his image and accomplishments adorn the animated credits of The South Bank Show? Melvyn – and I know you're reading this – you surely know what you must do.