Rat's tale of Wecock's unknown shot-stopper

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You may have heard of Porto's Brazilian striker Hulk (Givanildo Vieira de Souza).

You certainly know the legend that is Pel (Edison Arantes do Nascimento).

And more recently, there's been Manchester United's Mexican poacher Chicharito (Javier Hernndez Balczar) and Real Madrid's Kak (Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite).

You can't help but think the use of footballing nicknames in England is under used, however.

On a one-man mission to bridge the gap between Blighty and South America, though, is AC Wecock's mysterious keeper 'Rat' – the shot-stopper whose real name is not even known by his manager Ronnie Stephenson.

'He's always been called Rat, even before he came here,' said the joint-boss of Wecock ahead of their Portsmouth Sunday League division five clash with AFC Raven.

'Everyone calls him Rat. That's what I've always called him and so have all the other lads.'

The team's other joint-boss, Gary Armstrong, added: 'He's been with us for five or six years and all of us know him as Rat.

'We've no idea why. That's his name as far as we're concerned.'

While in no doubt that Rat knows his own name – unless he was actually named because of an undying love for small rodents – the stopper was in his element under his alias, pulling off a string of brilliant saves to deny third-placed Raven.

The Raven and The Rat may sound like a good name for a pub but it became an intense battle between the two 'creatures' after the break – the visitors trying to find a way past the inspired keeper.

Despite relying on Rat's impressive performance, Wecock – fourth in the league behind their opponents – had started the better of the two sides, playing some slick football before deservedly breaking the deadlock.

Classic reverse psychology was to blame for this one, gaffer Stephenson admitting before kick-off that if his fellow boss and striker Armstrong headed the ball even once, it would be worth a framed picture.

So it wasn't a surprise when Armstrong rose to nod in a superb Louis Jenkins cross to put Wecock one up.

After two impressive saves from Rat to deny Raven forward Christopher Laver, it was third time lucky for the front-man, who after clashing with the keeper and his centre-back Steven Greaves in the box, stepped up to confidently stroke home a penalty.

That made sure the game went into the interval level at 1-1.

From then on, it was all Raven, our furry friend making three great stops within 10 minutes of the restart to deny Laver again and winger Guy Chapman.

The latter would contribute to Wecock's eventual downfall, though, leading a swift counter-attack down the left to pull back for half-time substitute Graham Baldock.

The striker sliced his shot inadvertently to his partner Laver who lashed home to give Raven the advantage.

As Wecock began to tire, they did find the back of the net. Sadly, it was their own one – a cross from the right expertly headed into his own goal by striker Wayne Humthries.

As stoppage-time beckoned, Rat brought himself forward for a series of last-minute set-pieces in the hope of grabbing a goal.

Sadly, he could not match Pele's famous goal-scoring heroics and was left to drown his sorrows as Raven eased to a vital win.

Don't worry Rat. At least after reading this, everyone knows who you are.

Well, kind of.