I often wonder what those players who ended up working permanent night shifts in freezing warehouses, before warming the bench at Gainsborough or Gosport, think when they hear about their former room-mate Wayne Rooney earning a million quid a month. If they managed to avoid drowning in bitterness they would be better men than me...!
Idly thumbing through an under-19 England International Programme from 2002, I was struck by the number of stars who "made it", such as the aforementioned Mr Rooney. Plus the likes of 'keeper Lee Camp, Glen Johnson, Liam Ridgewell, Peter Whittingham, Stewart Downing, David Bentley, Wayne Routledge and Marcel McKie.
Marcel F*cking McKie!?
Marcel McKie - not good enough to wear Poppies red,
let alone England red!
Once I'd picked myself off the floor, I continued reading. Marcel was previously in the under-16 team, making 13 appearances, and was on the books of Tottenham Hotspur.
Marcel F*cking McKie!? Sorry. That just slipped out again.
In 2002 he had the footballing world at his feet. Barely 4-years later he was screaming for midfield cover as he was burnt-off time and time again, on a muddy field, by the right midfield of Redditch United in front of a few hundred punters and a few dozen Redditch nutters.
I guess some young players fall by the wayside because of bad luck, injury, or getting too much too soon. Marcel didn't really fit into any of these categories. In his case it was more the fact that he wasn't actually a very good footballer. God alone knows how he got onto the books of Spurs, but at least this explains the international appearances.
I've no idea what happened to Marcel in the period between that England Under-19 Tournament and shivering his skinny ass off at the Valley Stadium, but presumably the phone call from Morrell Maison, and the chance to join his legion of dusky, vaguely French sounding players at Rockingham Road, gave him the chance to rebuild his career. Unfortunately Marcel wasn't aware that Morrell's coaching manual didn't include the words "defensive" and "cover". It also didn't help the player that a popular and actually good full-back, Liam Nicell was dumped in favour of another of Morrell's exotic-sounding signings.
Well, Marcel's career didn't exactly flourish after his short stint of being found out at Conference North level. When you're not good enough for the Poppies, invariably you only head in one direction....Not even sure if he's kicking a ball around with his mates these days, but I hope he has those England Youth Caps in a nice frame, and in pride of place on his living room wall.