Green not alone in wearing goat horns
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
England goalkeeper Robert Green, left, and John Terry walk off the pitch after their World Cup match against the U.S. in Rustenburg. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)
CAPE TOWN – Be careful what you wish for.
It is every English footballer’s dream to play for England in a World Cup.
With the good comes the bad. For several players that dream has turned into a nightmare.
The latest addition to the list of England footballers who have become infamous for letting down a nation is goalkeeper Robert Green.
Green's mistake on a Clint Dempsey's long shot led to England's 1-1 draw with the United States Saturday in Rustenburg.
Whenever an England player commits a howler, it is expected he will be excoriated in the British media.
When that player commits the error on a major stage, on a team that is expected to compete for the World Cup, the flogging will be particularly intense. Very few nations can spin a play on words to the cutting degree of the British press.
"The Hand of Clod," was the headline on the Sunday Mirror.
"We wus Rob-Bed" screamed Sunday Sport.
"Robert 'Calamity' Green" was yet another headline.
If only English footballers were as inventive as the English press.
Coach Fabio Capello had some difficult choices to make in goal but he went with Green over Joe Hart and David James. The gaffe by Green has placed Capello under scrutiny as well.
Green now joins the list of other British players who have committed the ultimate crime of failing at key times for the Three Lions.
In 2006 it was the coach, Sven Goran Erikisson, who was vilified for his selections and Wayne Rooney for his dismissal after stomping on Robert Carvalho's tender parts.
In 2002 it was goalkeeper David Seaman, beaten be Ronaldinho's free kick as England lost to Brazil.
In 1998 it was David Beckham, who was sent off for kicking Diego Simeone of Argentina.
The blunders go back even further, though.
In 1970 Peter Bonetti had to take over from Gordon Banks. England led Germany 2-0 in the quarterfinal before Bonetti let in two weak goals. Germany eventually won in extra time.
England should still qualify comfortably. But depending on what happens, Green might move near the top of that list of unfortunate souls.
"It's not a problem, it's not an issue, I'll carry on like normal," Green said after the game. "You make mistakes, but you've got to be mentally strong. That's the game of football."
Green wasn't alone in messing things up.
Sunday, Algeria netminder Fawzi Chaouchi blew it against Slovenia, letting a stoppable shot by Robert Koren get past him. But Chaouchi doesn't play for England and he likely won’t get the following from the Algerian press.
“Shock 'N Draw. Yankee doddle to Yankee doodoo” read the headline in the News of the World, following on the back page by “Stars and Tripe.”
The Sun was no less brutal: "Curses! New keeper cock-up as Green gifts Yanks a point," read its headline.
“Tainted Glove”, said the Sunday Mirror.
How about this one: “Worst Howler Ever.”
“God Save the Green,” summarized yet another newspaper.
Some newspapers even ran a frame-by-frame picture of the error.
Now most everyone is pressuring Capello to sit Green for one of the other ‘keepers.
The goal will be replayed over and over, with newspapers competing to find a new way to describe it.
Green will shoulder the blame for the goal, masking the reality that England did not play well enough to win.
It was a mistake that will mark Green’s career.
But he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last.