Paul Dummett may never participate in a World Cup. He’ll live with it because the up-and-coming Newcastle United defender is from Wales. And just like several gifted Welshmen — Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale, to name but a few —Dummett will have no hand in football’s greatest event.
But unlike any of his other countrymen, the 22-year old’s feet did have a most crucial role to play in shaping a most crucial World Cup match.
With a two-footed, studs-up, red-carded move on Luis Suarez in Anfield last month, Dummett all but ensured that his ugly tackle became the big preview point for Uruguay’s World Cup campaign. But big talking point became bigger after Suarez, who was wheeled into a knee-surgery, missed the opening game against Costa Rica — a match that Uruguay lost 3-1.
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And bigger soon became biggest after the Uruguayan striker declared himself ‘100 per cent fit’ before taking on the side that critics and cynics alike believe benefited most from Dummett’s challenge. England.
Back in Britain, Dummett has become something of a cult hero on Twitter as this tweet from one Shreevesy tells you. He wrote: “You may have my children as a token of my appreciation @PaulDummett,” But in the tiny South American nation to the south of Brazil, the masses are in no mood to sacrifice anyone but the Welshman. “Watch out, we’re going to put a bullet in your head,” reads one anonymous tweet. “We will kill you,” threatens another.
So, when first-match losers England and Uruguay meet on the Arena Corinthians field, it’s a matter of life and death not just on the field (the loser is sure to go home) but perhaps off it as well.
For all you know and given his preceding reputation, Suarez may not have been far from also joining the bandwagon and telling Dummett exactly what he thinks of him, considering he’s prone to sending a ‘beware’ text or two. While still in a hospital in Montevideo, he is said to have sent a message to all his fellow Liverpool players in the England camp that when the time comes, he will be ready for them.
And fellow Liverpool players, there are plenty of. Five — captain Steven Gerrard, right-back Glen Johnson, midfielder Jordan Henderson, marksman Raheem Sterling and striker Daniel Sturridge — all of whom made former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson’s playing eleven in their fighting 2-1 loss to Italy in Manaus last Saturday.
But if they were to start in Sao Paulo against a talented Uruguayan side, England will have to put up a little more than a fight. For Suarez’s reputation alone will match that.
“If Luis doesn’t play (against us), it is obviously a positive because he is a fantastic player,” said Henderson, who has clearly observed the 27-year old Uruguayan from up close because he added this: “But I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to be ready and fit for the game.”
The chomping analogy is correct. For the fairweather football fan who didn’t concern himself with any of the Liverpool striker’s sensational collection of 31 goals in the English Premier League this season, Suarez is renowned for just three equally ghastly acts.
The first, taking a bite off Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, which caused him a 10-match suspension. The second, allegedly racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, which slapped him with another six-match ban.
And finally, for that goal-saving hand-ball in the dying minutes of the match against Ghana that denied the African nation their rightful spot in semifinals of South Africa ‘10.
The last act must tell you something about his character. Suarez is not afraid to sacrifice himself for a cause. And, going by their terrible threats, neither are his countrymen.