Neil @ Euro 2016: Celeb-spotting can be surreal
NEIL HUMPHREYS' POSTCARDS FROM PARIS
In a quiet back street near the Eiffel Tower, David Moyes walked towards me.
But it couldn't be Moyes, surely, not in a deserted back street at 11am nowhere near a stadium or TV studio, not the former Manchester United and Everton manager.
"Hello, David, it's good to see you," I blurted out.
"Yeah, you too," he replied.
We've never met.
Clutching a suit in one hand, perhaps for a future interview with the English Football Association, he quickly examined my Uefa credentials on my lanyard.
"It's been a terrific tournament, hasn't it, David?" I asked my new best friend forever.
"Yeah, really, really good."
Already, we were lying to each other. It was a firm friendship.
"Well, good luck today, David."
"Thanks. You, too."
Neither of us are employed managers or footballers or in any way involved with any of the nations left in the tournament, so it's hard to work out what exactly we were wishing each other "good luck" for.
But I shook hands with the man who once saw his name on a giant banner flying across Old Trafford, albeit not in a positive way, and left him with his suit in a Parisian back alley.
Surreal encounters with familiar faces are always one of the welcome bonuses of covering a major football tournament.
At the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, Iain Dowie tried to scale a small fence with the skill and grace of a newborn giraffe, but his trailing leg clipped the iron bar and he almost went over.
The stumble evoked warm memories of the former Northern Ireland and West Ham striker falling over at Upton Park in the early Nineties.
At least he kept his footing in Lille, which was rarely the case at Upton Park.
In Paris, the legendary commentator and original voice of the English Premier League, Martin Tyler, dozed off in the media centre, an hour before everyone else did during the Wales-Northern Ireland snooze.
Before each TV interview, Gareth Bale made a point of adjusting his ponytail, presenting himself with the usual fastidious care. Whenever he smiled, a pretty Japanese journalist giggled nervously.
By the end of the short interview, she appeared to be on the verge of proposing.
Elsewhere, several Northern Ireland footballers miraculously received urgent phone calls the moment they stepped into the media mixed zone.
Of course, the urgent calls freakishly ended as soon as they left the mixed zone.
And Antonio Conte, up close and personal, really does bare a strange resemblance to Tom Cruise. Honestly.
As the Italian manager passed me in a corridor deep inside the Stade de France, his glowering eyes met mine.
I offered my sincere congratulations and resisted the temptation to whistle the theme tune to Mission Impossible.