Why this image of smashed up Emanuel Pogatetz can spark Boro’s season to life

Gordon Strachan should make every one of his players pin the amazing picture of Emanual Pogatetz playing for Boro at the weekend to their lockers.

It sums up the bravery, spirit and grit that every football fan wants running through their club.

Poggy has always been the toughest of defenders. He sticks his head in to opposition boots for fun. He’s had countless broken noses, cracked bones and spilled blood for the cause.

On Saturday he wore a mask to protect the cheekbone he fractured three weeks ago.

But that wasn’t enough for Mad Dog. He promptly split his head open and had a full head bandaged added. “Every time I get hit I seem to start bleeding," he said. "The lads say I should cover myself in vaseline every time I go onto the pitch.”

I recall flying back from a European trip during Boro's epic UEFA Cup run and seeing Pogatetz, head lolling with concussion, being wheel-chaired off the plane, his face smashed up.

He looked like a car crash victim, not a centre-half who had just played a game of top level football.

He’d broken his nose, jaw, and cheekbone in an accidental clash of heads with FC Basel’s Mladen Petri during the first leg of the quarter-final and couldn’t train after for three months for fear of risking his eyesight.

If any Boro player is not fancying the fight this season, I recommend sending in Pogatetz for a quiet word, with a list of injuries he’s suffered for the Teesside cause.

That should sort them out.

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