Steven Beacom: David Healy: is a victim of his own success
It was a reality check. A realisation that we aren’t quite as good as we think we are. And that others, like Slovakia, are much better.
It shouldn’t be that earth shattering, as teams like Slovakia have much more to choose from than ourselves.
Remember the population here, at last count I believe, was 1.75 million.
Still doesn’t stop the hurt, though, that shot through the heart after Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat, but it’s worth taking into account.
Northern Ireland hadn’t been to the World Cup finals since 1986 and going to Windsor Park in midweek there was genuine feeling that ‘our wee country’ would be returning to the grandest stage of all in 2010.
Wednesday at Windsor was going to be another glory night to celebrate en route to South Africa.
We’ve got used to them.
But if the dream busting 2-0 defeat to Slovakia told us anything it was that in recent years, given the size of our country, we’ve been punching above our weight.
Way above our weight.
Like a featherweight taking on the heavyweights and knocking a few of them spark out.
Think Barry McGuigan beating up Mike Tyson and you get the drift.
We’ve come to think anything is possible.
And who is to blame for that? David Healy, that’s who!
More than anyone he has made us believe that miracles do happen, from defeating England’s superstars with a never to be forgotten strike to hitting an unbelievable hat-trick against Spain to smashing home a stunning double against Sweden.
More than anyone, Healy took us from being a team of no hopers to a team full of it.
In the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign Healy scored 13 goals.
In doing so he created history because no one has hit the net more in the competition. No one, not iconic European strikers like Marco Van Basten, Jurgen Klinsmann or Fernando Torres to name just three.
It wasn’t just history David created though, in many ways it was a monster for himself because heading into the World Cup campaign too many felt he was going to continue scoring at that rate.
He’s become a victim of his own remarkable success.
In a candid column in today’s Belfast Telegraph, Healy writes openly about his frustrations on what seems like a never-ending debate on his international future.
Should he have one? Of course he should. He may have had a disappointing World Cup campaign — he’s hardly the first — in the scoring stakes, but he can bounce back, I’m sure of that.
Healy has given this country much to cheer. And if we keep faith, there will be more to come.