Patriotic pride is strong in the Second City – with Brummies backing our boys to win the World Cup in bigger numbers than anywhere else. Yet, even the most enthusiastic fan would have to look at the odds on World Cup finalists with William Hill et al and see that success is something of a long shot.
Luckily, Blues fans have got another avenue for their support. Emerging cult hero Cheikh N’Doye is set to take his all-action displays to Russia as part of a Senegal squad managed by ex City midfielder Aliou Cisse. While a starting place might be tough to secure – with Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye and West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate also in the squad – N’Doye is seen as a reliable member of the squad.
N’Doye might be the sole member of the current Blues squad at the World Cup but he’s the latest in a long pedigree of international stars to grace the stage at St Andrew’s. With a World Cup summer helping to pass the time as Garry Monk gears up for a first full season in charge, it seems the perfect chance to celebrate five foreign imports who played for their national team and Blues.
The Trinidad and Tobago international is fondly remembered at St Andrew’s for a few big moments – netting a last minute goal at Millwall to help the Blues reach the 2002 play-off final, scoring a penalty in that final and his last minute leveller at Villa Park in 2004. However, he’s even more fondly remembered with the national team, having scored an incredible 70 goals in 115 games (51 more goals than Dwight Yorke). Only 12 players have ever scored more international goals.
Cheikh N’Doye becomes the first Blues player to represent the club at a World Cup since Stan Lazaridis featured in the Socceroos squad in Germany in 2006. That appearance came at the end of a seven-year St Andrew’s career in which he became a firm fan favourite. Highlights included the winner against Villa in 2003 and a classic goal against Everton a year later. The Germany World Cup marked the end of an international career which earned 60 caps.
Argentinian Alberto Tarantini might have only been with the Blues for 23 games, but his spell lives long in the memory. He signed for City for £295,000 – back when that was still a lot of money – on the back of the 1978 World Cup (he scored a goal in the 6-0 win over Peru at that tournament). His distinctive afro and large front teeth were striking, but his stay with the Blues is largely remembered for pole-axing Manchester United’s Brian Greenhoff and heading into the crowd to punch someone who sparked his ire.
Stylish set piece specialist Sebastian Larsson made his Sweden debut in 2008 – on the back of a season with the Blues that saw him win the player of the year and goal of the year awards. He played his part in the successful League Cup campaign of 2010/11 too – scoring against Villa in the quarter finals and taking the corner that led to Nikola Zigic’s goal in the final. Larsson is still a key part of the Sweden squad – playing a big part in the play-off victory over Italy – and the Hull City man will feature in Janne Andersson’s plans in Russia.