By Ollie Irish
Name: Brian McBride
Why so hard? Not all football hard men are also dirty players, McBride being perhaps the best example I can think of. He was one of the most honest, committed and decent players I have ever seen play in the flesh – no mean feat given how many times he was kicked and elbowed in the face by opponents. He was never afraid to put his body on the line for any team he represented, so much so that if you look at an X-Ray of his body, you’ll see a hat-trick of titanium plates embedded in his face, the legacy of surgery he needed after putting his head in the danger zone one too many times.
Here’s McBride describing one such hit he took to the face, during a Gold Cup game for the US against Brazil:
“I went down and knew right away that something was wrong. So I left the field, went to the treatment room with the trainer and a doctor examined me. I was feeling all right again when the assistant coach came running in, shouting at the doctor, ‘Can he play?’ I said, ‘Sure I can,’ but at that precise moment I sneezed and, I swear, my left eye went (whistles and gestures how the eyeball popped out of its socket) … I looked at the coach and said, ‘Maybe not’.
“I do joke about it but my doctor has basically had to reconstruct my face. He’s cut underneath both my eyes, gone up through my mouth to avoid any facial scars and inserted three titanium plates. I guess I’m fortunate not to have suffered lasting damage to either of my eyes.”
[Full interview: The Times]
Hard as nails, Brian. Titanium nails.