The tale of the ‘one-man country’

We’ve all heard of a one-man club (not to be confused with one-club man). You know, those players who have simply had enough of how bad their teammates are so they take care of business themselves, but what about a one-man country?? As silly as it sounds, the latest international break was full of heartache, joy and rather oddly, heroes who were forced to take matters into their own hands to get the job done. Hence, the ‘one-man country’.

There’s no better place to start than with the absolute hero that is Lionel Messi. The little magician is no stranger to stunning the footballing world with his wizardry, yet Argentina’s final group game with Ecuador really showed just how ridiculous he really is. With his team 1-0 down in the first minute and crashing out of the World Cup qualifying stages for the first time since 1970, the main man stepped up to do what he does best; score a silly hat-trick. Three phenomenal yet pretty terrible goals by Messi’s ridiculously high standards were enough to seal a place in Russia, 100% worth it if only to see his little beaming smile that did the rounds on social media immediately after.

Their reliance on the talisman wasn’t even contained to that final game, where, in an-almost disastrous campaign, Messi missed eight games, in which his nation managed just 17 points. The few wins that the Argentines actually managed were heavily dependent on Messi working his wonders, single-handedly sending the 2014 runners-up to another World Cup, much to the delight of fans whose hearts were broken when Hal Robson-Kanu failed to reach the competition just days before.

Onto a different continent now and the boy Mohamed Salah was up to his usual tricks for Egypt. Not content with winning Liverpool’s August Player of the Month and Goal of the Month, oh and also Liverpool’s September Player of the Month and Goal of the Month, the forward thought he may as well send his country to Russia as well. His brace in the 2-1 victory over Congo send the country absolutely bonkers, but like Messi, that wasn’t his only contribution throughout a remarkable campaign. Salah strutted his stuff in front of the 90,000 supporters in the stadium on that victorious evening, where even his mum and dad fancied a bit of the action, but additionally the number 10 scored five of the seven goals Egypt have managed throughout qualification so far. The David Brent fans among us will know all too well that’s a mighty 71.4%…

A final, perhaps less featured but equally important hero of his time secured an important play-off place for Australia, as Tim Cahill’s double against Syria sent the Socceroos into delirium, with most fans clapping mildly as the deadlock was broken late into extra-time. The Syrians put up an incredible fight in their tense two-legged affair with the Aussies, but it was that man again – Tim Cahill, or the ‘Human Trampoline’ as the commentator covering the YouTube livestream regrettably labelled him who came up with a terrific headed brace. With his 50th goal for the country, Timothy Filiga Cahill (37!) secured victory while simultaneously causing huge controversy as he celebrated with a ‘T’ gesture, a cheeky bit of product endorsement after signing a sponsorship deal with Australian company TripADeal. Geezer.

So, there you have it. The now famous and hugely popular ‘one-man country.’