Published on 14/08/2011 3:36 PM
In comic book parlance, managers are sheep-skin wearing, centre-halfs beefy, and wingers tricky customers who go on mazy runs. In modern professional football it can seem that garish, quaint cartoon stereotypes have little place; modern wingers are expected to defend as much as they attack and to play it safe rather than rampaging wildly down the flanks. Football is a much more considered, a much more serious, and a much more controlled environment that it’s brightly coloured stuff-of-myth counterpart.
Which is why it’s such a thrill to see a player who can cope with those demands while also exhalting in the sheer thrill of maurauding up and down (well, mainly just up) a touchline, making for terrified full-backs like a runaway train manned by a frighteningly serene driver, the ball all the while magnetically attached to his feet.
Paddy McCourt’s two goals for Northern Ireland last night were the stuff of footballing dreams. The first, itself a quality finish from a tight angle after some great running into a dangerous area, was overshadowed by the second, a master-class in intricate, close control, in balance, skill and perfect technique.