It’s been an exciting international break for anyone that isn’t English – we’ve seen teams battle for automatic qualification like their lives depended on it, some getting last minute winners to secure their spot in Russia in dramatic fashion. Even without Premier League action, its players are never far from the spotlight while on international duty. Wally of the Week brings you an Irishman, a Scotsman and an arrested Brazilian, it sounds like a classic joke and the punchline is funnier than you think.
3. Robbie Brady
On Monday night, Wales faced the Republic of Ireland in a vital final qualifier with the winner taking a place in the play-offs. It was a game for cool heads, not headbutts, and that’s what Ireland midfielder Robbie Brady has been accused of by FIFA after nudging Ashley Williams in the back. Brady went down under the challenge of Williams in the second half, the referee gave nothing and Wales took the ball and turned defence into attack.
While his Irish teammates got back into their shape, Brady got up and trudged back in the direction of his own goal peacefully and without risking his place on the pitch and on the next pitch he’ll play on for his country. Oh no wait, he didn’t. He walked over to Williams, who had his back turned to Brady, and pushed his head into the back of the Welsh defender. It really didn’t seem much at the time and Williams barely acknowledged it but it was still a childish thing to do and, with FIFA having opened an investigation into it, he may receive a suspension for the play-offs in November.
2. Fabio Rochemback
If this name doesn’t ring a bell (pun intended – wait and see) for you, I don’t blame you. He last played in England almost a decade ago in the red and white of Middlesbrough and is now living on a farm with his family in Brazil. Since it’s the international break and I’m short of ideas, I’ve chosen to include Rochemback in this shortlist because he was arrested this week in his native country for cockfighting (with chickens that is) along with 56 others. Cockfighting just happens to be banned in Brazil and, even if Rochemback is found not guilty, as his father is insisting, it’s not the best thing to have your name linked to, as a former Premier League and Barcelona footballer.
1. Gordon Strachan
The former Southampton and Coventry manager, not at the helm of the Scotland, blamed genetics for his side’s failure to qualify for their tenth successive major tournament. Scotland could only manage a 2-2 draw away to Slovenia which wasn’t enough to secure a play-off spot, eventually finishing 3rd in the group behind England and Slovakia. I don’t know if there was a mirror at the back of the press conference room and Strachan said the first thing that came to his mind, but he tried to blame the failure on the fact that Scottish people are genetically shorter than their European rivals, despite Spain having one of the shortest teams in the world and winning three consecutive major tournaments with it. The onlooking media were baffled with his suggestion and, after consulting experts in the field of genetics, nothing has been found to suggest Strachan was on to something. You could’ve come up with something for feasible than that, Gordon. There’s always next time.