Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Not much to say about Fergie's retirement other than grudging respect for his achievements and a curse on Mark Robbins. Of course, there's also an element of surprise; I thought he was Beelzebub himself and would outlast football. Not to be. And as he takes his chewing gum and clock-watching upstairs, it's time to roll out this almost-obsolete cartoon, the work of Jake Goretzkione final time

Saturday, 23 March 2013


The following interview, for Leftlion, took place in mid-December, before the lunacy at Forest that saw Sean O'Driscoll sacked and then Alex McCleish resign after the fiasco of the transfer window. 

Let’s start back at the beginning. What was it like as a young Irish kid moving to Nottingham? Did anyone come with you?
No, I came on my own, moved into the digs, and, to be honest with you, was really lucky. We were so well looked after, in football and outside of football, and the people in the digs and around the club – people still working at the club now – helped a great deal. I was finishing growing up and I needed people around me, people to talk to. I had a good football upbringing with Paul Hart being the youth team manager and outside of people met so many fantastic people who are still really good friends to this day.

Were you ever homesick?
Yeah, I got homesick. I had a daughter over in Ireland when I was seventeen and she lived over in Ireland with her Mum. So there was plenty of times when I wanted to go home, but my family back home were great. They stressed the importance of staying and giving it a go and made it known to me what a good life I could have if I could make it and become a footballer. 

I read somewhere that you turned down Arsenal and Manchester United. Is that right?
Yeah, I went on trial for Arsenal and Man United and if I’m being honest with you I didn’t really like it there. There were that many kids on trial, at both of them, and you kind of felt you were just another number. I came to Forest and they made us feel welcome, made us feel special, like we were part of it, and for me there was no decision to be made. It was pretty straightforward: Forest was the only place that I wanted to come. When my family came over before I signed, they were very happy with the set-up here and felt comfortable that I was going to be looked after.

So, you had five years here to begin with. Did you meet Cloughie during that period? 
Yeah, I did. I met him once, and he was typical Brian Clough, really. He came to a game; I think we’d just played Coventry. I’d played quite well and had won man of the match, and obviously when he came down to Forest he basically did whatever he wanted – and rightly so – so he decided he wanted to present the man of the match award. So, I went in the room and there was probably about a hundred people there and he stood up talking. I’d missed a couple of chances in the game even though I’d played quite well, and he said, “Son, you’re a good player, I was really impressed with you and I’m glad you got man of the match but you need to stop watching Jonny Wilkinson. He kicks it over the bar; you’re supposed to kick it under the bar”. Everyone fell about laughing, me too, and the only thing I could think of saying was “Thanks very much, Mr Clough”.

What were the highlights and regrets of that first spell with the club?
The season we got to the playoffs, when Paul Hart was manager, was a fantastic season. We had a great team on and off the pitch. It was a really enjoyable time and we played some great football. It’s just a shame we couldn’t go all the way and get promoted. It was disappointing that we couldn’t capitalise on the good work and bring in some more players. In fact, we ended up losing a few and never really replaced them.

So, you left Forest for Spurs along with Michael Dawson. Do you think you got a fair crack of the whip there?  
I would have liked to have played more and showed a bit more of what I could do. When I went there, for the first six months I played pretty much most of the games between then and the end of the season. Then, that summer, unfortunately for me, they brought in four or five midfielders. So, yeah, disappointing that I never really got the opportunities there ‘cos it’s a big club, but Charlton came in for me and I moved on. I think I’ve always been the sort of person who’s not afraid of making a big decision.

Is it easy to be philosophical when you’re not being picked, thinking ‘well, only 11 can be picked and I’ve got to bide my time’?
No. Not for me, it’s not. Only eleven can play – well, I want to be one of them eleven. I don’t want to just sit on the bench and think ‘I might get my chance next week…or next week…or next week’. I want to be in the team week in, week out, and I wasn’t so it was time to move on.

You went to Sunderland next and had three years there. It’s a bit of a goldfish bowl up there, isn’t it?
The intensity was phenomenal, right from day one. The fans are fantastic and the Sunderland-Newcastle rivalry was something else – hatred is a fair word to use. It’s very emotional, very passionate, and the city revolves around football. And you can feel that coming from the stands. The top teams never fancied coming to play against us up there.

Since you left Sunderland, you’ve had loan spells with Sheffield United and Blackpool before coming home to Forest. Do you think the gap between the Championship and Premier League is getting closer?
Yeah, definitely. And I think statistics would show that. The amount of teams over the last three, four, five years who’ve got promoted and stayed up – even if it’s for one or two seasons – where if you take the five or six seasons before that, the statistics would show that now there’s a lot more teams getting up and doing better. So, the gap is getting closer.

Is that because the Championship’s getting better or the Premier League’s getting worse?
I think the Championship is getting better. I think the quality of football, the quality of player in the Championship has massively improved over the last six or seven years.

Steve McClaren re-signed you for Forest – the best ‘foreign’ manager the club’s ever had. What did the players think of the interview he gave when he seemed to have acquired a Dutch accent?
Yeah, he took a bit of stick for it. 

What with that and the infamous ‘Wally with the Brolly’ episode, is it difficult for a manger to get over that – looking so daft – in the eyes of young players?
Well, it’s not difficult. Look at what FC Twente [McClaren’s current club] are doing in the Dutch league, and he’s already won it before. I think an England manager can’t win, unless he wins the World Cup. If he doesn’t, no matter what he does, he’s going to be perceived as a failure. I think they make English managers scapegoats and I think that’s what happened with Steve McClaren. He was made a scapegoat for the players not performing well enough.

Do you think that the manager’s influence is overstated?
No, I don’t think it’s overstated but I do think players have to take a bit more responsibility. Steve McClaren’s a good coach and a good manager. There’s no doubt about that. I know it didn’t work out for him here, but I saw enough to know that he would have set his teams up right. Sometimes things just don’t quite work out. That was our problem when he was manager here. We didn’t perform well enough when he was manager, and that was our fault. It wasn’t his fault. And we’ve got to take responsibility for that.

So, Steve Cotterill last year – that didn’t work out too well but Sean O’Driscoll seems to have revived you a little.
Well, when Steve Cotterill came in he didn’t play me. I was working really hard in training, waiting for my chance, but never really got a chance. Sean O’Driscoll came in and was able to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes. I’m training well, why aren’t I getting a chance? And he think he fought my corner. And once I did get a chance and got in the team, I wasn’t out of the team till the end of the season, so my argument would have been that they should have put me in the team earlier.

Do you ever feel like you’d be more appreciated in a culture such as Spain, say, where small, technical players are the norm?
Yeah, I think so, but I think it’s coming around now over here. I feel there’s more of an emphasis being placed on playing good football. It’s maybe six or seven years too late, because Spain and Barcelona are that far ahead of the English game, technically. I know there’s plenty of managers who’ve looked at me and thought, ‘Well, I don’t really fancy him. He’s not for me, not for my style of play’. But that never really bothered me. There’s plenty of managers I looked at and thought, ‘I don’t really fancy you. I don’t think you’re very good’. That’s the way life works. The only thing I would have asked from a manager I’ve played under is just for them to be straight with me. If they come to me and say ‘I understand you’ve got your qualities, you’ve got your flaws, but you’re not for me,’ that’s fine, I’ll move on and I’ll go where somebody does want me.

Is the Forest you came back to much different to the one you left? 
Yeah, definitely. Clubs are always moving on. Players come and go, but the club remains and progresses the whole time. You look at this building we’re in [the Nigel Doughty Academy]; it wasn’t here when I was here before. The training pitches are fantastic. The new owners coming in – it’s in a good financial state. But I definitely still feel it has retained the core values: the family feel to it, the people looking out for each other, having good people working here. As I say, players come and go, but there are people still here from 15 years ago when I first came and they’re the bedrock of the club. They’re what make the club tick; not us, really. We just go out and play on the pitch, but they keep the club running.

What are your thoughts for after your playing days are over?
I’m going to do my coaching badges and if the opportunity to go into coaching or management comes up – and football’s a lot about timing, and if the timing is right then maybe it’s something I would look at. But I think the important thing when you finish as a footballer is to give yourself options. If I can give myself three or four options, that’ll give me a better chance of being successful. I don’t want to sit around and do nothing. Whatever I try and do, I want to be successful at it.

I’ve heard you’re quite a talented guitarist. Is that right?
I can play. I enjoy playing and it’s a great pastime for me. I’ve been playing for about 10 or 11 years. It’s not something I’d ever seek to go into as a profession because I like the fun element of it.

Do you get out to many gigs in Notts? Any favourite local bands?
A good mate of mine called John Burns [ex-Forest] plays in The Establishment, and I go and support them when I can. They’re a good local band. I used to go and see Roy de Wired quite a bit before he sadly passed away and he was a really good bloke and a very talented musician. When I was down in London I used to go to Ronnie Scott’s jazz club quite regular. I was a member there. I remember seeing Van Morrison there – it’s a small enough venue and there was probably only 250 people there. That was fantastic. And I remember seeing a jazz musician there called Avishai Cohen who was absolutely amazing. And I love Irish music as well, so when I can get to a gig, I do. 

So, if you were curating the main stage at Glastonbury, which would be the three headline acts?
This is a tricky one. I’ve been listening to Mumford and Sons quite a bit. I love the sound; I think it’s a real big sound. U2 were fantastic when they played there a few years ago, so they’d be up there too. The thing is, just because I pick it doesn’t mean everybody else is going to like it too! I mean, I love Van Morrison but it’s not a Glastonbury kind of thing – maybe one of the small stages… I love The Smiths, Morrissey – his songwriting, and Johnny Marr: what a guitarist he is, by the way. Johnny Marr’s one of my favourites – sometimes I listen to The Smiths and I want to take out everything else and just listen to the guitar.

So if you were going to put a band together from Forest lads, who’d feature? Obviously yourself on guitar…
I don’t think I know if anyone plays an instrument. Trying to think of a good frontman… Probably, if we were into metal or something, probably Henry Lansbury as he’s a bit of a headcase. He’d be jumping around, banging his head off walls and breaking stuff, so he’d be good. As a drummer…I would probably pick…Billy Sharp. He’d be a decent drummer. He’s always active and a little bit hyper and I think he’d be good: a bit like a baby banging stuff and trying to make lots of noise.

So what’s your karaoke tune?
God, the last time I did it was probably about five years ago and I sang Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’.

Quite a tough song.
Yeah, but I’d had quite a few pints before…

I guess to the general public, the footballer’s lifestyle more and more seems like a rock star’s – minus the drugs, obviously. Is it really such a different world?
Well, we’re not like rock stars at all. Don’t get me wrong, I know they work hard and travel a lot but we’ve got to be very disciplined. We can’t go out drinking whenever we want. We can’t eat whenever we want. So I don’t think the lifestyle is close. Listen, we work hard when we’re here training but we have a got a good lifestyle.

The top players – Rooney, Gerrard, Terry – are on astronomical wages and there seems to be a growing divide between players and fans–
Well, I kind of don’t agree with that really. What I see happening is, say, over the course of a year, if you get fifteen, twenty stories on a footballer doing something ridiculous and showing himself up and being embarrassing and then you look at the amount of footballers that there actually are – if you put that into proportion there are a hell of a lot more who are very grounded, do a lot of work for charity, look after their families. So I think the criticism and the generalization of footballers is totally wrong.

I know footballers have to look after themselves nowadays, but once upon a time players used to socialise with fans after the game. Times change, but do you not feel there’s a sort of disconnect there, that tension and resentment is growing, as you see with incidents of fans coming n the field and man-handling players?
The point you’ve just made is a good one, but there’s arguments for both sides. You say footballers used to go in the pubs and sit with the fans but if we did that now and tried to build bridges, we’d be abused. It would be on Twitter, on Facebook. People would be writing in to the club, saying ‘How dare they go out for a few pints?’ So, it’s a chicken and egg. We can’t win, really.

So it’s easier to withdraw?
I don’t know, really. Listen, I don’t agree with what some of the footballers do, but that’s the whole point: it’s only some of the footballers.

Like that Liam Ridgwell photo [he was seen wiping his arse on £20 notes]?
Yeah, it’s ridiculous and you can’t defend that. What I will say is that there are lots of other people who have lots of money who do very similar things. But because how they’ve made their money or what they do is not as high profile as footballers, people don’t know who they are so it never comes out.

Is Twitter the cause of some of the bad blood, or just a symptom?
I can’t stand Twitter. I’m not on it, never will be on it. I think it’s invasive and I think it’s just asking for trouble for a footballer to be on there, really.

There have been a few instances of racist tweets to footballers and other people in the game, and that goes back to what I said about the general tension that seems to be in the air. The country’s going through tough economic times, after all, and football seems to be a way for people to express their anger and frustration…
It does and it’s a shame that it’s like that because people love coming to watch football, and if people didn’t come and watch it there’d be no money in football. I know you say there’s a lot of anger but we give a lot of joy to a lot of people and when their team scores a goal or wins a game, they’re not angry then. So it works both ways: we try and keep the fans happy, we try and win for their club, try and give everything we can.

What about the handshakes before the game – is that not a good way to take the sting out of things?
I just prefer to do it after the game, the way the rugby lads do it: applaud each other off the pitch, shake their hands then. I don’t want to shake his hand before the game because I want to beat him. I want to win, every game that I go out and play.

Going back to the fans, do you get grief out in town?
I don’t go into town very often. There’s been plenty of nights when I’ve gone out and I haven’t had grief but there’s obviously been times when I have, so I tend to just keep my head down. In general I find people are quite respectful. Sometimes you get people who’ve had a few drinks and they’re just rude, which I don’t like because I’m always polite to people, y’know, if they come and ask me for an autograph or whatever, and if they ask in a nice way I’ll always say yes.

What was the last thing that made you laugh? 
The manager [Sean O’Driscoll] hurt his knee in training a few weeks ago and had to crutch his way off the pitch, which kinda gave everyone a chuckle. Then when Billy Sharp scored against Wolves the next day he got down and did an impression of the gaffer getting injured. That was pretty funny.

And the last thing that made you cry?
When my baby was born, my second one. He’s nearly ten months now. We named him Oscar, after Oscar Wilde. 

Oh, you like your literature?
Yeah I do. I like James Joyce, being from Dublin, and Brendan Behan. I’m actually reading Allan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning at the moment. I’m really enjoying it. I like books that I can use to relate to places, and I can relate to Nottingham with that.

So what was the last thing you bought in Broadmarsh Shopping Centre?
The last thing I bought was last year, just before Christmas. I bought two Christmas stockings with both my dogs’ names on them. 

Thursday, 28 February 2013


For most of my life, Middlesbrough had been famous as the home town of Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown, Brian Clough, Paul Daniels and Juninho ‘Boroense’. Not any more. Not for me, anyway. Recently, I’ve discovered that it’s home – well, home-ish – to my two favourite football illustrators (they both support the Boro). I’ve already written a short profile of Steve Welsh and his brilliant, graphic design-based conceptual stuff. Now it’s the turn of Graeme Bandeira, in-house illustrator at The Yorkshire Post, a couple of whose images had flickered on my radar as Twitter avatars but only became seared there last summer when I perused his whole catalogue and had a bit of a headscratcher as to which of the many to buy. I took two, then six for Christmas. And I had to exercise a lot of restraint, bearing in mind I’m only a couple of loaves above the breadline.

Middlesbrough. I would say “it must be something they put in the water up there,” but that would be the point that any aspiring writer would have to give up the game (unless they were describing an outbreak of dysentery, perhaps). Whatever the reason, if there is any, both have a strong, distinctive and, to these eyes, appealing style. Striking on a bog wall, I've found. Renaissance thug Joey Barton rates them as “evocative of Kandinsky, that cunt Capello's favourite”.

Presumably, Graeme is of Portuguese or Brazilian heritage (or Timorese, Angolan, Cape Verdean, etc) as his surname means ‘flag’ in that language. Graeme Flag. Not quite as exotic a ring to it. Anyway, unlike Monsieur Barton, I’m no art critic, but his ink-speckled caricatures – or are they portraits? cartoons? – have a dash of Ralph Steadman about them and, with their hand-drawn, imprecise borders, also evoke a Panini sticker album.

It has to be said that Bandy is a bit of an elitist in his choice of subjects. Most of the current and modern greats are in the portfolio – the ones who aren’t tend either to play unglamorous positions or for drab nations: Beckenbauer, Moore, Charlton... – and there’s clearly some major lovin’ for the tiki-takistas of Camp Nou. Still, I’d love to see Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoitchkov and Ronaldo (Fenômeno) of that club’s old stars join the gallery; perhaps Savicevic, van Basten and Baresi from the great Meeelan; and from the current crop, maybe the lugubrious Berbatov, pantomime villain Luis Suarez, and perhaps hair-trap expert Marouane Fellaini. (As you can see below, he’s good at barnets, is Senhor Flag.)

Anyway, have a look and, you know, hit him up for one. Footballistically, it’ll be the best £10 £12.50 £15, or two for £25 you ever spend.


Browse and buy Bandy’s wonderful stuff, the ideal gift for a football-loving friend.

Friday, 7 December 2012



If ever there were a goal to fit the opening titles of Gazzetta Football Italia, Channel 4’s much-loved and pioneering coverage of Serie A in the early 90s, then it was the one scored on December 6, 1992 by English football’s clown-prince, Paul Gascoigne.

The previous week he had notched a first goal for Lazio amidst no less a fixture than the Eternal City’s derby, rising in the 87th minute to head an equaliser that had seared him eternally in the hearts of the club’s notorious ultras. A week later, he followed up with a slalom through the Pescara defence that took six players out of the game with seven touches, a goal that seared him forever into the consciousness of tifosi of all stripes, maybe even the more magnanimous giallorossi – although perhaps not the one who, insistent that Gazza take him up on his offer of hospitality after he’d stumbled unwittingly into a bar full of Roma fans, spiked his drink with LSD, confining him to “two days hallucinating in bed”.

In a sense, such a tale is emblematic of Gascoigne’s entire career – so outlandish (for a top-level footballer) as to be barely credible, yet somehow matter of course when put in the context of the wall-to-wall craziness of his life, a life that tumbled into an equally erratic career that delivered fewer highs than his inordinate talent had promised but that still almost unfailingly brings a glassy-eyed smile to his success starved and resolutely glass-half-full compatriots. 

Gazza's greatest goal: Pescara vs LAZIO, 06-12-92 

Here was a maestro in the grand tradition, a fantasista who in his pomp would have walked into any team in the world (and, despite what the tabloids say about the likes of Beckham, Gerrard, Shearer and others, there have been very few of those). It is perhaps therefore no coincidence that both England’s semi-final appearances at major tournaments (aside from 1966) came with a relatively fit Gascoigne pulling the midfield strings, all imagination, power and balance, a balletic bouncer now ghosting past an opponent, now strong-arming them out of his path.

It is a pity that he only pulled on the three lions fifty-seven times and that his skills never adorned one of Europe’s elite clubs. But the great tragedy of Paul Gascoigne’s football career is not his – it’s ours, the football-loving public’s, given only one World Cup and a single European Championships of this sublime, instinctive footballer. His three years in Italy ought to have been the zenith of his career, the period when unquestionably the greatest English player since the World Cup-winning team lorded it over the world’s pre-eminent league. And to a certain extent he did – to the eyes of Fabio Capello and Michel Platini, anyway – albeit lamentably briefly.

The obvious parallel would be with George Best, although with Gascoigne there’s no pithy Best-like throwaway line to explain it all away – no “I spent some on burgers, some on practical jokes, the rest I frittered away” – perhaps because there was no real hedonism or glamour, just the venting of various rumbling compulsions and hissing manias.

This was a man who, literally, didn’t know what to do with himself; a man tossed about the sea of his impulses – which, on a football field, could be devastating. Take the 1990 World Cup semi-final in Turin. The night before, restless and insomniac, Gazza heard a couple of drunk Americans in the hotel grounds playing tennis at 3am, so, being Gazza, he decided to venture down and have a game with them, two versus one, for over an hour – as you do – until Bobby Robson’s was alerted and he scurried back to his room. 

The game itself would become famous for his tears, of course, the catalyst for English football’s eventual gentrification, but his display was punctuated by moments of magisterial prompting, thrusting extemporisation and rare football intelligence. Above all, he was a master dribbler, the secret of which is knowing when to move the ball; shifted at the right time, one can glide past a defender as close as the bull to a matador performing a veronica. The performance marked him out, along with Roberto Baggio, as the greatest attacking talent from Italy’s largely negative World Cup. Little wonder there was near-hysteria in Rome when he arrived two years later after recovering from the cruciate injury sustained in his final game for Spurs and a fractured kneecap outside a Newcastle nightclub.  

Finally, on September 27, some seventeen months after sigining, Gazza pulled on the biancoceleste shirt for a debut, already a cult figure. That first season would prove his most productive, featuring further goals against Milan and Atalanta – whose fearsome ultras carried a banner in the shape of a beer bottle bearing the affectionate message “This is for you Gazza” – as Lazio finished a creditable fifth, their highest for seventeen years.

But there were always the injuries. A Jan Wouters elbow against Holland (in the “Do I not like Orange” match from An Impossible Job) fractured his cheekbone, leading to his then revolutionary Phantom of the Opera mask. A year later, a reckless lunge on a young apprentice by the name of Allesandro Nesta saw him break his leg in training.

And when it wasn’t the injuries, the problem was that Gascoigne’s low boredom threshold – and the lack of professionalism his genius afforded him – frequently derailed periods of strength, an indiscipline that would later catch up with him. As a result, the barnstorming performances are probably outnumbered by the tragicomic anecdotes: commandeering a coach and driving it down Oxford Street; putting a dead snake in Roberto di Matteo’s pocket; mimicking an Orange Order piper after scoring in the Auld Firm derby; replying to a Norwegian reporter who’d asked him for a message to his countrymen, “Aye, fuck off Norway”; diving in a lobster tank in a restaurant to fish out his desired meal and catching flu; belching into the microphone of an Italian TV reporter and offending the country to such an extent that they debated his expulsion in Parliament. There are several others. 

His Lazio coach, Dino Zoff, frequently despaired of his mischief-making maverick man-child: “He ate ice cream for breakfast, drank beer for lunch and when injured he blew up like a whale. But as a player? Oh, beautiful, beautiful. I loved that boy,” he reflected. “He was a genius, an artist, but he made me tear my hair out.”

It is not only for his combination of buffoonery and flair that the Lazio fans adore him, as was amply demonstrated by his visit to the Stadio Olimpico last month. It was also his transparency – almost stupidly vulnerable – and his spontaneity, a man whose unpredictability on-field and off became almost predictable (a paradox to complement his famous assertion: “I don’t make predictions and I never will”). 

The trite or puritanical thing is to lament a flawed character, a loveable idiot, a psychiatrist’s wet dream who transcended their taxonomies with his ADHD, OCD, Personality Disorders and multiple addictions (alcohol, gambling, food, prescription drugs), but was eventually sundered by them.

And yet, as he struggles to find a way to deal with these subterranean forces without the succour provided by football– the constructive way for him to get out of his mind – here’s another way to think of Gazza: he increased our perception of what it is to be human, bringing pleasure not only through his football – at times so magnificent the only response was to laugh – but also through his great warmth and fellow-feeling, his incessant merry pranksterism, even if he himself did not always feel that joy, or could only feel it through the intoxicating prisms of drink or daftness.

He remains, in an age of plastic ‘stars’ and vacuous pre-fab celebrity, a beacon of heart-on-sleeve authenticity. And he could play a bit. Gazza: human, all too human.

The original (edited) version of this piece was published by ESPN

Others in the Fantasy Footballers series...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


After the grotesque chanting at White Hart Lane on Sunday, Big Sam makes moves to endear himself to the Hammers' hardcore by unveiling a revolutionary new formation to be used at Old Trafford if/when they get a man sent off -- the first real tactical innovation since the 4-2-3-1.  

Friday, 23 November 2012


So, Sparky has gone and some windswept mic-thruster in West London tells us that, before the almost certain arrival of 'Arry (who has realized that the Poole to Kiev commute presents problems for his non-negotiable early doors pooch perambulation), it has today been up to Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki to prepare the Hoops for their trip to Old Trafford. Here's how they've done it: 

cartoon courtesy of Jake Goretzki, on Twitter here
[You may also like this take on the origins of the Manchester derby]

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Mark COOK (ISLANDS) (Univeritario)

Ryan FRANCE (Hull)
Rinus ISRAEL (Feyenoord, Netherlands)
Mike ENGLAND (Spurs, Wales)
Ken OMAN (Shamrock Rovers)

Matty HOLLAND (Charlton, Ipswich; Ireland)
Stephen IRELAND (Man City, Villa; Ireland)

Alan BRAZIL (Ipswich, Man Utd; Scotland)
Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente, Club América; Argentina)
Diego Capel TRINIDAD (Sevilla, Sporting Lisbon; Spain)

Joe JORDAN (Man Utd, Milan; Scotland)

Jason SCOTLAND (Swansea, Trinidad)
CHAD Barrett (LA Galaxy)

Manager: Rosa LUXEMBURG
Kit design: Roy LICHTENSTEIN
Physical trainer: Rob DENMARK
Shirt sponsor: ICELAND
Tennis player for them to have a hit with: Juan MÓNACO
Team Womble: Uncle BULGARIA

A few other daft XIs and Top 10s