Prostate Cancer UK is the official charity partner of The
Football League this season. It is also one of the main
beneficiaries of Movember,
during which men are encouraged to grow a moustache to raise funds
for, and awareness of, men’s health initiatives.
This year, Movember is all about celebrating what it is to be a
real man. With that in mind – and in recognition of the fact that
one in nine men in the UK will be affected by prostate cancer – we
asked football writer Iain Macintosh to
select nine players whose displays of manliness and bravery have
seen their names etched in football folklore.
To donate to an individual or team taking part in Movember, or
to make a general Movember donation, click here.
Read on for Iain's nine players with the stiffest upper lips in
the history of the beautiful game...
Captain courageous: No one wanted to swap shirts with Terry Butcher. Photo courtesy of Action Images
After his soul-destroying miss in Italia 90, Stuart Pearce had
every right to sit back and let someone else take a penalty in
England’s Euro 96 shoot-out with Spain. But Pearce waived that
right. He took that right to the penalty spot, pulled its pants
down and smashed it into the corner of the net. For a moment, there
was no emotion, then came the outburst of pure “GAAAAAARGH!” as six
years' worth of demons were released into the atmosphere.
What do you do when a booking rules you out of the biggest game of
your life? Do you cry for the cameras? Roy Keane didn’t. He
shrugged it off, redoubled his efforts and dragged his team into
the Champions League final. And when they won that cup in the most
dramatic of circumstances, Keane didn’t change from his suit into
his kit and he didn’t celebrate wildly with his team-mates. That’s
how it’s done, John Terry. That’s how it’s done.
But, in the interests of fairness, we should also mention the
League Cup final in 2007, when John Terry dived in for a header,
was booted in the face by Abou Diaby, lost consciousness before he
hit the ground and was carried from the pitch in a neck brace. Not
because this is something that takes talent, but because later that
evening he was up, about and celebrating with his team-mates as if
nothing had happened.
“When Jason McAteer plays,” growled the shampoo commercial,
“people watch.” Unfortunately, after a nasty leg break in January
1998, McAteer spent an awful lot of time watching while other
people played. But did he make a fuss when his leg snapped? Did he
howl and pound the turf? Absolutely not. McAteer’s only reaction to
the setback that essentially ended his Liverpool career was to look
at the bench, screw up his face and matter-of-factly announce:
“It’s gone.” Nails.
We’ve all played on through a painful twinge, some of us have
played through obvious ligament damage, and some of us have even
strapped up a hurty wrist, played on and then discovered later that
it was broken. Well, boo hoo to you. Manchester City’s German
goalkeeper Bert Trautmann played 17 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup
final with a broken neck. A broken neck! He even went and picked up
the cup at the end, in obvious discomfort. How is that
Known as ‘the red and white tractor’ by adoring Sunderland fans,
John Kay will be forever remembered for his glorious reaction to a
double leg fracture. After being hoisted up on to the stretcher by
the St John’s Ambulance men, the ferocious right-back gritted his
teeth, sat up and pretended to paddle off the pitch as if he was in
a canoe. Kay, who made 200 appearances for Sunderland between 1987
and 1996, also had a habit of eating toilet disinfectant blocks to
prove his masculinity, but we’ll brush over that.
When AFC Wimbledon legend Terry Brown lost his job at the club he
loved in September, he didn’t slink away into the night, never to
return. The man who had hauled the plucky start-up into the
Football League, winning three promotions in five years, simply
turned up the next day to watch his old team in action from the
stands. I bet he owns a ship called ‘Dignity’ as well.
Taken from us too soon, Manchester United stopper Les Sealey was
not a man to suffer fools gladly. Mind you, he didn’t suffer clever
people gladly either. Having picked up a nasty knee injury in the
1992 League Cup final, the physio signalled to the bench that
Sealey would have to come off. Sealey disagreed and made his point
by apparently threatening to kill the physio. Sealey stayed on.
Perhaps the most famous example of stoicism in the face of
adversity, and what a face. With bulging eyes and claret
everywhere, Terry Butcher’s blood-splattered visage during a World
Cup qualifier in Sweden in 1989 is one of the most iconic images in
football. Even today, he still receives copies of that picture in
the post with requests for signatures. Butcher will live forever as
a shining example of how an Englishman should most appropriately
deal with an open head wound.
For more Movember-related musings, check out our
Moustachioed Legends XI,
Top nine father-and-son duos,
Nine amazing facts about goalkeepers and
Nine moustachioed maestros who changed the face of