James Collins performs a delicate balancing act (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Sorry to disappoint, y'all, but James Collins is Welsh, not Irish. I know, his gingerness can really be confusing. And Villa do seem to have a thing for Irish players--at least, according to the media. But Collins has 34 caps for Wales, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be wearing those if he were Irish. Collins' first game was a match against Norway back in 2004 and he's been helping hold up their back line ever since.
On Friday, September 3, Collins and company will face Montenegro as they kick off Euro 2012 qualification. The two teams have met just once before, in a friendly last year, with Montenegro beating Wales 2-1. This is Montenegro's first run through Euro qualifications as an independent nation, as before they were part of Serbia & Montenegro. In fact, it was just two years ago that the Hrabri Sokolovi (Brave Falcons) were scored upon for the very first time in international competition by our own Stiliyan Petrov, and went on to draw that match against the Bulgarians. And if you think it's frustrating to have two Youngs and two James Collins on the Villa squad, only four players on the Montenegrin squad don't feature an -ić ending to their last name, and three of them are named Božović.
And in the Wales trivia camp...well, it's not as fun to mock the poor Dragons. Wales last qualified for a major tournament in 1976, when they went to the quarter-finals of the Euros. They haven't qualified for a World Cup since 1958. This year, they're stuck in a group with England, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and, of course, Montenegro. It's bad enough to have an arrogant older brother strutting around much of the time--but now the very really possibility of being eliminated by that older brother exists. It's ok, Wales. Just mock England for their exit from the World Cup. Never mind the number of years it's been since you've had your day in the sun.