It looks like one of the more tedious questions of recent Irish football history might be answered this week. No, not what Trap said when Andy Reid brought out the guitar – though my money’s on “I’m more of a Leonard Cohen fan, Andy” – but rather the international footballing fate of “Irish” Patrick Bamford.
That’s because England boss Gareth Southgate faced calls to add him to his squad for the Three Lions’ Nations League fixtures this week against Belgium and Iceland – oh, and the small matter of a friendly this evening against the Leeds striker’s beloved Emerald isle.
England squad announced
— Kenny's Kids (@KennysKids) November 5, 2020
Or not so beloved. The Waistcoated One hasn’t yet called him up, but if he does quite a lot of Irish eyes will not be smiling as another underage Irish international (one u-18 Ireland appearance, no goals) joins the ranks of Jack Grealish, Declan Rice and, err, Eoin Morgan in turning down Ireland’s call.
It would be another blow for Ireland, having lost David “The Irish Firmino” McGoldrick to retirement earlier this month, but we’re not giving up on securing the target man’s loyalties without a fight. Here are a few reasons there’ really only one choice – the Boys in Green…
Almost Instant National Hero Status
Any half-decent centre-forward will become a national hero instantly.
“Paddy” Bamford would be a natural replacement for McGoldrick, who, despite scoring just one goal in 13 games in green, the Sheffield United forward earned cult status among Irish football aficionados for his work-rate and smooth link-up play. He even won our player of the year.
2019 @ThreeIreland FAI International Awards ?
— FAIreland ⚽️?? (@FAIreland) August 6, 2020
The Best Fans in the World™ – UEFA even gave us an award for it, like – will immediately fall for the lanky Leeds man if he were to choose green.
And we’re sure the feeling will be mutual – who wouldn’t want to play when your fans are singing about starving and dying at the hands of a foreign power. eh?
Forget Allez Allez Allez, ballads about the misery of 19th-century life in Ireland are where it’s at.
More Than 3 Caps
We’re not going to say “Paddy” slots in with Michael Ricketts or Steve Guppy among the one-cap wonders for England, but there’s a good chance he’s 2020’s answer to James Beattie when it comes to appearances for the national side. It’s not through any fault of his own, but because there is quite a lot of attacking talent out there for Southgate to pick form right now.
In other words, aim low “Paddy”, that way, anything good feels better and disappointments are no surprise.
And Ireland are rather thin on established goalscorers right now. And by thin, I’m talking stick insect stuff here.
Since Robbie Keane’s retirement, we’re struggling to get goals against Gibraltar. In the short history of the UEFA Nations League, only San Marino have scored fewer goals than the Republic of Ireland since it was launched.
While there are a few prospects on the horizon who might be the next Robbie Keane, Niall Quinn, even a David Kelly or Tommy Coyne would do at this point, and “Paddy” Bamford can fill the gap and show any youngsters the international ropes whenever they start actually scoring goals.
Some big games (probably)
International tournaments aren’t the exclusive realm they once were. With 32 team World Cups, and 48 ones being mooted, as well as the expansion of the European Championships from 16 to 24 sides, it’s now easier than ever to play in a major championship even if you’re not all that good.
Scotland are even on the verge of doing it. Scotland!
Though if they do Euro 2021 will probably be cancelled and they’ll have to wait another 23 years to pull off the same trick.
So, if you fancy showing up chancers and plodders like George Weah, George Best, Ryan Giggs, Ian Rush and Alfredo Di Stefano by actually playing at a major international tournament, it’s time to grab your ginger wig, inflatable tricolour hammer and a chippy attitude to Ireland’s rugby team and jump aboard Stephen Kenny’s happy shamrock bandwagon.
(But, seriously, please, do it. Please.)
We’ll help you fit right in
“Paddy” may not know his Tayto from King Crips, and probably couldn’t tell you what a hotpress is if the drying and airing of his Marcelo Bielsa-patterned undies depended on it, but the big man with a decent, Premier League goal-scoring touch would be more welcome in Ireland right now than a reborn JFK handing out US visas, tins of Chocolate Kimberleys and photos of Pope John Paul II.
And just to make sure you feel at home, we’ve put together a “Welcome to Ireland” kit just for you, that includes:
- Both a complete set of Reeling in the Years DVDs and a Father Ted boxset – including the Christmas special
- A 232-page itemised report on the Saipan incident from 2002 to help you decide if you were #TeamMick or #TeamRoy
- A star-studded instructional video to help you work on an Irish accent
That’s everything you need. The decision is yours, “Paddy”…
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