Cod Almighty | Article
by Pete Green
31 August 2007
Spot the odd one out from this list of footballers: Dida, Cafu, Juan, Lúcio, Emerson, Roberto Carlos, Zé Roberto, Kaká, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano, Dave Mulligan. Yes, Ronaldinho is the only one biologically classified as a rodent. Dave Mulligan, though, lined up for New Zealand against this Brazilian starting XI in Geneva last year, winning his tenth international cap (he now has 16). The day after I write this, he is likely to be facingShrewsbury Town in the English fourth division.
A 25-year-old right-back, who can also play on the right or in the centre of midfield, Mulligan has joined the Mariners on "an initial" one-month loan, implying, of course, the possibility of a later extension or permanent transfer. The player is in the second and final year of his current contract with Scunthorpe, whom he joined in 2006 from Doncaster, four days after playing Brazil, having first come through the ranks at Barnsley (with a geographical career path such as this, a spell at Rotherham is sure to follow sooner or later). After 24 appearances in the league during the Iron's 2006–07 promotion season he has been unable to dislodge Cliff Byrne from the right-back slot this time round, but arrives with a reputation for killer free kicks (which these clips demonstrate).
So is he really from New Zealand? Well, he's at least as qualified to play for them as Tony Cascarino was to play for Ireland. In fact Mulligan was born in Fazakerley, which is apparently in Liverpool, and Liverpool counts as Irish for the purposes of FIFA player eligibility, so if he wasn't on holding midfield duty for the All Whites he would doubtless be lining up for Stan Staunton's blundering charmers. He's got a really Scouse sort of face as well, if you know what I mean, and seems from his introductory Mariners World interview like a nice enough lad, even if the rumour mill is grinding out something about missing the bus to an away game with an almighty hangover.
In the most recent generation, players with international caps have never really thrived at Blundell Park, from Trevor Whymark right through to John Thorrington (yeah, we'd nearly forgotten as well). Mulligan seems more than capable, however, of meeting his first target, which is only to look more the part at right-back than Jamie Clarke, who seems to have failed to fill John McDermott's boots before the current season even began. And hey, Macca never played against Brazil.