Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Paddy McCourt can roll with it at Barnsley

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

With Declan Bogue

Published 06/12/2013

Paddy McCourt is playing for Barnsley
Paddy McCourt is playing for Barnsley

If I lean back on my chair and get my neck to settle to the right, there it is – a book called, 'The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw.'

I must admit, it was initially bought as a curiosity as it was co-authored by Paulo Hewitt and, bizarrely, Oasis bass player Paul McGuigan, and the subject's image was used in a particularly favourite Super Furry Animals poster I had in my student days, but the story of Robin Friday was still fascinating.

Of course we must rely on the testimony of those that witnessed him play, but Robin Friday was one part George Best, nine parts Keith Moon.

He had an abundance of skill, plenty of swashbuckle and a rock and roll attitude that he carried through his brief but illuminating career as a player for Reading and Cardiff.

Next week, Paddy McCourt turns 30. The 'Derry Pele' has a rock 'n' roll look about him, but he doesn't want to burn out, nor fade away just yet. Instead, he is a physical manifestation of 'Teenage Kicks' for the sheer devil-may-care he brings to football. Fitting that a place like Barnsley should be illuminated by his skills.

Paddy took off on one of mazy runs the other night and slalomed through the Brighton defence to score a typically incredible goal.

He has the gifts to do this on a regular basis; two-footed, with insane balance and touch, he also possesses an incredible confidence to try and weave his way past half a dozen defenders at a time.

The best teams don't have players like Paddy McCourt. But that's not to say that they shouldn't be treasured.

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