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Posts Tagged ‘ Espanyol ’

When Football Meets Tragedy

Football has long been associated with tragedy and unwanted headlines. From the 1985 atrocity at Heysel to the 1989 disaster at Hillsborough the football world became engulfed in shock and horror at such incidents that will never be forgotten.

But since the turn of the noughties a different kind of footballing tragedy as quickly emerged and the game has really brought a lot into perspective this past weekend. On Saturday Tottenham hosted Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup quarter final. A lively and pulsating affair had to be abandoned shortly before half time after Bolton star Fabrice Muamba collapsed in the centre of the pitch. White Hart Lane fell silent as the severity of what had happened became apparent. Players and fans alike were distressed as the former England under 21 star lay still on the ground.

Shortly after Muamba was rushed to a London hospital details began to emerge as to what had actually happened the Zaire born star. Muamba had suffered a cardiac arrest and remains critically ill. The world of football has united in rallying around the fallen Trotters midfielder and some remain fearful that he may never be able to play again. Of course though football plays second fiddle to life itself and if Muamba can come out of this unaffected then he will have won footballs greatest battle.

Fast forward to Sunday and the footballing world was still in shock yet few could have imagined such harrowing events to bear a reoccurrence just a day later. Kilmarnock had beaten Celtic 1-0 in the Scottish League Cup final to win their first ever League Cup and in doing so denying the Hoops the chance to win the treble. As the players celebrated at the final whistle, Liam Kelly`s joy turned to grief as he was informed that his father had suffered a heart attack in the stands. Kelly rushed down the tunnel to be at his father’s bedside but Jack Kelly passed away at approximately 5pm yesterday afternoon. Kilmarnock players and fans have dedicated the win to Jack but football has really been put into perspective this weekend.

But the combination of football and tragedy is not a new thing yet on field tragedies have become all too regular in the past decade.

Perhaps the earliest and most notable case came in the death of Cameroon international Marc Vivien Foe who perished during a Confederations Cup tie in 2003. His death was viewed as a rare occurrence yet other notable footballers such as Benfica starlet Miklos Feher and  Espanyol captain Dani Jarque suffered a similar fate. Spain and Sevilla star Antonio Puerta also died as a result of cardiac arrest he suffered during a game with Getafe.

Some players have been lucky to survive such instances. Reuben De La Red`s glittering career at Real Madrid was cut short due to a heart problem and Longford Town star Sean Prunty saw his career abruptly ended after a medical showed up a heart defect.  

Then of course there is the case of former Ireland international Clive Clarke. The two times capped star was playing for Leicester City when at half time during a match against Nottingham Forest he went into cardiac arrest. Thankfully he survived but his fledgling career was over at the age of 27.

Who can forget the faith suffered by Portsmouth star Kanu. In 1996 the then Inter Milan star was diagnosed with a serious heart defect following the Olympics. The Nigerian underwent surgery to replace an aortic valve. After successful surgery Kanu resumed his football career and 16 years later he is still playing.  

We live in an era where professionals of any sport are so fit they are almost like machines. But how fit is too fit? As of yet there is no firm reasoning as to why the players mentioned in this article suffered the faith that they did. FIFA and all other sporting bodies need to act and ensure players hearts are checked regularly.

The greatest battle in football lies not on the pitch but instead in the hands of the powerbrokers who must ensure all players are checked regularly so we don’t witness another tragedy that is essentially a life or death situation.

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The Irish Abroad

It is estimated that there are 70 million people in the world who claim to be Irish or who claim Irish origins or roots; did you know that? The spread of Irish people reaches every corner of the globe. While we are not viewed as a top football country, we hold a claim that wherever we travel we bring football with us. Here are elements of Irishness in world football that may come as a surprise to you.

Hibernian FC (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Hibs were the brain child of Cannon Edward Hannon and Michael Whelehan, who were members of the Catholic Youth Men`s Society. They were looking for a mechanism that would integrate the strong Irish population in the city with that of the natives. Whelehan put the idea of a football team to Hannon and this laid the foundation for the creation of Hibs.
The Cowgate area of the city, effectively known as “Little Ireland” was home to 12 000 Irish emigrants and in 1875 they were given a sense of community with the birth of the Hibees.  Hannon and Roscommon native Whelehan had established a model that would be followed in other Scottish cities.

Celtic FC (Glasgow, Scotland)

Glasgow boasted a far greater Irish population than Edinburgh during the late 1800`s.Brother Walfrid was an Irish Marist brother based in the city and was desperately trying to ease the plight of the Irish immigrants.
Walfrid was a keen fan of the Hibs model and had invited them to play in Glasgow on a few occasions, before deciding that the Irish population was so strong that they could have their own team. Thus, Celtic were born in 1888.To this very day the club maintain strong links with Ireland and boasts vast support there.

St Mirren FC (Paisley, Scotland)
St Mirren was founded in 1877 as a gentleman`s club boasting a variety of games including football, rugby and cricket. The club is named after Saint Mirren or Mirin who is the patron saint of Paisley.
Saint Mirren was born in Ireland and went to the monastery at Bangor Abbey in County Down. He became prior there and sought to spread the Christian Faith. His travels brought him to Scotland where under the leadership of St Regulus he brought the gospel to the west of Scotland. This is the only link the club has to the Emerald Isle.

Dundee United (Dundee, Scotland)
The last of the Irish links with Scottish teams takes us to Dundee United. Dundee United was founded originally in 1909 as Dundee Hibernian, an acknowledgement of the successful Hibees in Edinburgh. Dundee Harp had existed in the city from 1879 until 1897 but then the strong Irish population in the city needed a new club.
The club is known as the Tangerines, in reflection of the colour of the jerseys. When they originally founded they wore the traditional green and white hoops first used by Hibernian. A change of name in 1923 brought about a change of colour. The club was seen originally as a catholic outfit but have moved away from that. The only connection that the club still boast with Ireland is the Irish players they currently have amongst their ranks.

UD Salamanca (Salamanca, Spain)
The club were originally founded by Irish students in 1907 although they now claim their official year of foundation to be 1923. Not much is known about their Irish links but they set a trend that few Irish men would follow. Patrick O’Connell became manager of Racing Santander in 1922 and in recent times Kevin Moran (joined Sporting Gijon in 1988), Ian Harte (joined Levante in 2004) and Steve Finnan (joined Espanyol in 2008) have ventured to Spain in search of glory.

Velez Sarsfield (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Velez Sarsfield are based in the Liniers neighbourhood of western Buenos Aires. The club was founded in 1910 and boast a rich and successful history, having won 7 titles to date, their most recent been in 2009. The club are named after Dalmacio Velez Sarsfield who was an Argentine Lawyer and politician of Irish descent. He wrote the Argentine civil code of 1869, which founded civil law within the country. 

Club Deportivo O’Higgins (Rancagua, Chile)

The Chilean club was founded in 1955 and were named after Bernardo O’Higgins, who was a South American independence leader, who helped free the country from Spanish rule. The club boast a tri colour as their crest in recognition of O`Higgins who was born in Chillàn to an Irish Father. His father was Ambrosio O’Higgins, a Spanish officer who was born in Ballynary, County Sligo.  Bernardo never met his father who was governor of Chile from 1788 until 1796 when he became the Viceroy of Peru.

St Patrick FC (Zabbar, Malta)

Originally known as Zabbar United from 1935, the club opted to change their name to St Patrick Fc.  This was in order to associate themselves with independence seekers, who sought to break free from the English hold over the country.  The club who currently play in the top flight of Maltese football boast a shamrock on their crest; this is an indirect link to Ireland.

Floriana FC (Floriana, Malta)
Floriana were founded in 1894 and are nicknamed The Irish, as they wear green and white. These colours were adopted in 1905 as at that time the Royal Dublin Fusiliers were stationed in the city. The regiment played Floriana three times that year in friendlies and they swapped shirts. The officials of the Fusiliers expressed their wish to see Floriana wear their colours and this is how it came into force.
The club were recently managed by former Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers manager Roddy Collins. They also boast a link with Shamrock Rovers.  
 

Montreal Impact (Montreal, Canada)
The club was originally known as Montreal Supra from 1988-1992 before it went out of business. The impact club was founded in 1993 to give Montreal a football team they so dearly craved.
The original club, Montreal Supra, were founded by the Montreal Hibernian society. The club itself emerged from the shadows of an older club, Montreal Hibernians, and the Irish population in the city had been strong for over a century.  The club also boasted top GAA and rugby teams.

Panathinaikos (Athens, Greece)
The club was founded in 1908 but while they boast a shamrock as their crest and wear a green jersey, they have no real Irish connection.

Guillermo Brown (Argentina)
Guillermo or William Brown was born in Foxford, County Mayo in 1777.He is regarded as a national hero in Argentina for helping win victories in the Argentine war of independence and he is also known as the father of the Argentine navy.  Four clubs exist in his honour. Club Atletico Almirante Brown was founded in 1917 in the town of Arrecifes. They compete in the Liga de futbol de Arrecifes.

Club Almirante Brown de Isidro Casanova were founded in 1922 in Isidro Casanova. They play in the Primera B Metropolitana. Brown Athletic Club were founded in Adroguè in 1945 as a multi sports club. They have never played in the Primera division.  Club Social Y Guillermo Brown or Guillermo Brown for short is a football team from Puerto Madryn in Chubut. Also founded in 1945, they play in the third tier of the Argentine league. 

By Glenn Dowd

 

 

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