Iraqi footballer

Sir Alex Ferguson hears that there's a brilliant young footballer in Iraq, but is nervous about going there. A friend sets him up with a movie makeup artist, so that even his own family wouldn't recognise him and with a couple of suitable minders, off he goes.

He watches the young footballer covertly and without a doubt he's brilliant. After a short negotiation, he signs him up.

Several weeks later and Man U are playing at home. They're 4-0 down with 18 minutes to go. With nothing to lose, Sir Alex puts the young Iraqi on. He scores within the first minute of being on the pitch. At the re-start, he makes the second goal with a brilliant pass onto the head of a striker. During the remaining 15 minutes, he than scores a hat-trick. Man U win 5-4, the young Iraqi is declared man of the match and is shouldered around the ground for half an hour by the delighted fans.

On returning to the dressing room, he rings his mother. "I've just played my first professional game for the world-famous Manchester United football club, Mum," he says. "I was sent on with 18 minutes left and we were 4-0 down. I scored four goals and made another one. We won 5-4, I was declared man of the match and shouldered around the pitch for half an hour. I thought that you'd like to know."

"Oh," she replied, "let me tell you about my day. Your dear father has been shot and wounded - not once, but twice. The house has been invaded and is now picked clean and your two sisters and I have all been raped and badly beaten. How do you feel now?"

"Well, I know it's nowhere near adequate, Mother," he said, "but I'm so sorry."

"Ah," she replied, "you're sorry - then that's OK. YOU'RE SORRY?? May I remind you that YOU are the reason we're in Manchester in the first place!"

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