Player Profile: James Bannatyne (New Zealand)

9 Jun

Throughout the group matches of this summer’s World Cup it’s likely that you’ll hear much patronising of the New Zealand side. Commentators and pundits will talk in amazed tones of how some of the players in Team Kiwi are not even full professionals. This should be no surprise to anyone who has even a fleeting interest in World Cups or even sport in general. Only a very small percentage of footballers who play regularly are professional, and the vagaries of the World Cup qualification competition do lead to teams like New Zealand qualifying, and in my view the competition is much stronger for it.

One of the players in the Kiwi squad who isn’t currently a full pro is Team Wellington keeper and Puma sales rep James “Jim” Bannatyne who has earned only three caps in an international career that has for the most part seen him fly around the world as backup for other goalkeepers. Team Wellington are effectively a feeder side for Wellington Phoenix, a side that currently features former Millwall midfielder Paul Ifill and Man City youth product and lower league goal-getter Chris Greenacre amongst their squad. That probably gives a good indication as to what level Bannatyne is currently playing at.

Bannatyne is one of the few players at this summer’s World Cup who can boast a season at west-London club Yeading. He played twenty-four games for the club whilst on an extended visa after doing a degree in sports science in America. During his stint with the club he managed to score, a feat he claims to have managed on three separate occasions in his career. Bannatyne’s team-mate at Team Wellington and fellow non-pro Andrew Barron is also making the trip to South Africa, the midfielder can also point to a spell at a club in the British Isles after he spent some of his early career at Northern Irish club Listburn Distillery. In fact New Zealand’s side is packed full of players with British links that will have ITV commentators drooling.

Jim Bannatyne turns 35 on the 30th June, the day after the last 2nd Round game. It’s likely by then that his World Cup will be over, but be braced for what could be one of the most magnificent quiz questions of all time should he get on the pitch or emulate his goalscoring exploits (after all a lot of the World Cup is at altitude with a “crazy ball”).

Question: What is the name of the Puma employee, who while wearing a Nike kit, scored using an Adidas Ball at the World Cup? The name’s Bannatyne, James Bannatyne.

James Bannatyne, hoping his employers don't notice his boots

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