The Daily Telegraph compiled an alternative FIFA world ranking based on three criteria 'Footballing Talent', 'Comedy Stereotyping' and 'As a holiday destination'. A kind of world ranking as compiled by a beery, unsophisticated English fan abroad.
For instance, Portugal were ranked at no. 13 overall after being marked 10/10 for footballing talent but 1/10 for comedy stereotyping, while Scotland were placed at no.12 overall, despite being given a 1/10 for footballing talent. They made up for it by scoring 8/10 for comedy stereotyping and 5/10 as a holiday destination.
The Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, were ranked at no.5, behind England (at No.1), Spain, Italy and Holland. A heartening vindication for our status as a distinctive cultural powerhouse, at least.
For the record, we were marked 5/10 for footballing talent (the author evidently didn't watch the match in Glasgow last November) and were handed an unsurprising 10/10 for comedy stereotyping. And we earned 7/10 for holiday destination.
But it was the gob-smackingly unfortunate choice of words in the blurb below that caught the eye. Here is what they had to say about Ireland.
At the time of writing it's not certain if Roy Keane is in the process of being appointed, or in the process of quitting, some sort of role with the Irish side, but he will surely be there or thereabouts in the weeks and months to come. Lovely and peaceful (the countryside, not Roy). Have the usual mixture of quite talented players and knackers but doing allright at the moment, even if the departure of the reliably bonkers Giovanni Trapattoni makes them 30% less interesting.
Now, we're presuming that the Telegraph sub editors are not aware that the word 'knacker' is an offensive term of abuse often directed at members of the Irish Travelling community.
It's also hard to believe that the Telegraph could be mocking the Irish players on the basis of their supposed low social standing, the word 'knacker' often being used in Ireland and (somewhat less often) in Britain as a synonym for 'chav'.
The Oxford English dictionary defines the word 'knacker' as a person 'whose business is the disposal of dead or unwanted animals, especially those whose flesh is not fit for human consumption' but then that does not sound like a description of Jonathan Walters.
It is probable that the author meant the word 'knacker' to conjure up an image of an excessively physical, workhorse type footballer. Or, to put it more bluntly, maybe he was just saying we have a lot of dirty players.
Either way, it's a mysterious word to employ here.