Ex-Diamond Caleb Folan last night played an integral role in Ireland’s 1-1 draw with reigning world-champions Italy. The Leeds-born striker (who is qualified to play for Ireland because of the imfamous ‘granny rule’) made seven appearences for the Diamonds in 2001, when he came in on loan from his hometown club of Leeds. Caleb spent just under a month at Nene Park (including a 7-1 defeat to Cardiff in the LDV) and scored no goals. He was 18 at the time of his Diamonds debut.
After Rushden, Folan went on a one-game loan to Hull, before making a permanent move to Chesterfield, where he played over a hundred games. He then moved to Wigan and, soon after, moved again to Hull.
This rather ordinary career is marked in clear contrast by his rapid rise to the Irish international squad. Called up in 2007, he was issued an Irish passport at the 11th hour. In just his second game for the Irish, against Italy last night, he was brought on as an early substitute. His sheer size and strength set up Robbie Keane’s equaliser, and another knock on moments later by Folan could have sealed a 2-1 Irish win, if Keane had kept his composure to score a second.