It’s hard when you’re from a small country.
You know, small in self-worth. Like Poland. Or Austria. Or Switzerland.
It’s something of a secret, but the Presidents of many Unselfconfident Football Federations have been regular visitors at the shrink in recent years.
The shrinks thought they were used to seeing people who loathed themselves.
Then they met these football administrators.
We are losing, they said, sniffling into their Federation ties. Our players aren’t good enough. They lose themselves at vital moments. They don’t have skill. They have no balls. Many of them have syphilis. There are strange growths on their private parts.
Oh, you know how you can go overboard when it’s just you and a nice woman with a new box of tissues.
All around the World of Self-Doubt, the shrinks came up with the same solution: if your nation does not have the requisite talent, you must be good capitalists. You must import the talent, use their skills and feed them over time with the beauties of your country.
So it came to pass that today, Austria played Poland to a draw. Helped by the beatific generosity of a bald-headed and bald-faced English referee who gave the hosts a penalty within seconds of the game’s end.
Yes, Poland drew with Austria. And the goals were scored by a Croatian and a Brazilian
The Poles, who managed to slip the Brazilian some citizenship just a couple of months ago, are splendidly used to the phenomenon of utilitarian nationality.
After all, they lost to Germany last weekend, the two German strikers being, well, Poles.
In fact, Lukasz Podolski and Miroslav Klose actually talk to each other in Polish on the field. Little wonder that Polish defense looked as confused as Kim Jong Il when someone told him that Elvis was actually dead.
Yesterday, we had the very entertaining sight of Switzerland playing Turkey. Entertaining because the Swiss side included three Turks. And the last time these two teams played they kicked the living cobwebs off each other. On and off the field.
Of course, not all of these foreigners are mercenaries. Sometimes, their families emigrated when they were children.
But if you’re Roger Guerreiro, you have made a simple calculation: I won’t make the Brazilian team, so I’ll play for some other country. Hey, let’s see what’s going on in Poland.
That way, not only do you get to play international football. But you also get citizenship conferred on you by the President himself.
In one moment, your career changed from rocky to Rocky.
There is one country that has so far resisted in importing players to make its woeful team better. That country is England.
Even though English clubs are now so replete with foreign players that some teams in the Premier League field no Englishmen at all. Take Arsenal, full of the most skillful Frenchmen, Catalans and Latvians.
I have a theory as to why England refuses to import foreigners.
Well, yes, there is the arrogance associated with, yawn, having invented football, yawn, and won the World Cup in 1966, yawn.
There is also the simple fact that the majority of English footballers simple cannot be understood by anyone from a foreign country. Even if that person speaks perfect English, which many of them do.
To understand Wayne Rooney, for example, you need to speak Duck.
So the England players, having failed to qualify, spend the summer getting married and drunk, while Croats scored for Croatia and Austria.
Croatia has a population of four million.
The Pond thanks Howdy, I’m J. Michael Karshis for his version of Camus’ L’Etranger.