When a footballer finishes their career, what remains of the years they spent plying their trade? Friends, sure. Memories. Then there are more tangible things. Medals, honours. But also more miscellaneous items - perhaps a ball won after a hat-trick scored, shirts collected from opponents played over the years.
For a player lucky enough to play in games across the world at a high level, it must be quite nice to be able to show family and friends shirts they have collected from opponents from all corners of the globe over the course of their career. Even more so if they have been lucky enough to get the shirt of a famous opponent. One can only imagine the scrum that occurs for their jersey every time Ronaldo or Messi play a friendly against some lesser opponents. For players at a certain level, getting their hands on shirt of one of the game's greats may well be the most notable achievement from their career, the one they bring up most when they hang up their boots.
So it's surprising - and perhaps a bit of a pity - that Irish striker Cillian Sheridan has given up on the practice of chasing prestigious shirts. His pride has been wounded once too often, as he told Paul Rowan of The Sunday Times:
I only twice tried to exchange shirts. The first was in the tunnel at Old Trafford when Celtic were playing Manchester United and I met Cristiano Ronaldo. The second was against Barcelona and I asked Gerard Pique. They both gave me some reason why it couldn't happen and I felt like a bit of a prick. It's not the sort of thing I normally do and I won't ask again.
In Ireland people generally aren't huge fans of 'licking arse', and one doesn't imagine that Cavan provides any exception to that. Hence Sheridan's reticence.
Sheridan is a really interesting character, and the article is filled with interesting titbits like the benefits of a nomadic football career like Sheridan's, the unreliability of Easter European clubs' wage slips and the difference between inter-county GAA set-ups and professional soccer clubs. Make sure you buy the Sunday Times to read the full thing.