Well do I remember the first time I saw Mother Teresa. It was Dalymount Park in 1980 and Ireland were trailing Holland 1-0 at the break. I thought we were finished. These guys don’t give away goals. I thought we’d never see the World Cup, but then, in a moment of inspiration, Eoin Hand brought on his latest signing: an old Albanian nun. What a player! Mother Teresa had everything: the pace to outrun an international defender, the skill to take the ball past them on the ground, phenomenal power in the air and a deadly left foot in set-piece situations. Who could forget her equaliser in the seventy-first minute, powering through the Dutch defence to head the ball home from Langan’s viciously-swerving corner? That was great, but nothing could equal the match-winner in the ninety-second minute when she ghosted the ball around two defenders and nutmegged a third before whipping in a low, fast daisy-cutter rocket of a shot straight into the bottom left-hand corner, leaving the keeper stranded.
The evening ended on a sour note, though. Some people might remember Cruyff’s uncharacteristically brutal tackle on Mother Teresa that led to her cruciate ligament injury, almost spelling the end of her international football career. Thankfully, she made a full recovery and scored Ireland’s winner against Brazil two years later in the World Cup final.
What a fucking nun! What a player.
I was sorry to discover later that Mother Teresa had become one of the greatest scam-artists the world has ever seen, but that’s football for you. Some players make it, and some go wrong.