In a week when football has been dominated by the fall-out from the theatrical play-acting of Chelsea’s Arjen Robben, Fulham’s Heidar Helguson proved there are still some real hard men in the game.
The 28-year-old Fulham striker helped to destroy woeful West Brom at Craven Cottage with a performance of power and presence that had Albion’s defence waving the white flag in the first 45 minutes.
During that period, the tough and uncompromising Iceland international, signed from Watford for a bargain £1.3 million last summer, had bagged two goals – both taken with a skill and accuracy that belies his powerful physique.
Such was his commitment to the cause that he left Albion ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszczak with battered ribs and a cut over his eye in one 50-50 challenge that Helguson was never going to shy away from.
The effects of his meeting with the Fulham juggernaut eventually got the better of the Albion keeper and he was forced to retire in the second half.
Helguson will have to wait until a Premier League panel decide on whether or not his ‘hat-trick’ goal – Fulham’s fourth of the afternoon in this 6-1 demolition of Bryan Robson’s side – will be allowed to stand.
It was heading wide until it struck the retreating Curtis Davies and spun into the net.
Fulham boss Chris Coleman has no doubts that his striker scored a hat-trick but he was even more in awe of the way both Helguson and partner Brian McBride are proving to be a real handful in the days when all the talk is of ‘diving’ and ‘play-acting’ by today’s professionals.
“It is not in Heidar to pull away from a challenge – like him or loathe him,” said Coleman. “It is as simple as that. I am just glad we have got him in our team.
“He’s a tough lad. When you have got Brian and Heidar in attack, they are a real handful for any defender.
“They don’t want the pass slid down the side of the defender to run on to it, they want the ball wide and in the box so they can go and attack it.
“We know that when we play a long ball forward we can go and press the second ball, because even if Heidar and Brian don’t win it, they make sure the opposing centre-back hasn’t got a clear header or chance to clear it.
“They give us a different dimension. There were a lot of clubs trying to sign Heidar in the summer. Thankfully we got him. He’s had to bide his time but he’s taken his chance.