Anche io sono Mirko

International breaks are, beyond a doubt, the worst bits about following a football club. The major reason is that there's no football on that's worth a damn, and the breaks always seem to come at inopportune times. You're on a roll? A two week break from club play will be sure to complicate that for you. Heading into one in a less than ideal state (like oh, I don't know, now?), and you quickly realize that when around ten of your best players all leave the training ground to join their respective national teams, things aren't going to fix themselves. In essence you waste a week and a half, just waiting. And did I mention the lack of football of value?

All of that has changed this fall. Not talking about that dullest of knives in the drawer, Prandelli's Italy, nor am I interested in joining the Spanish campaign of dominance, nor is it even worth the investment of time to stalk England and take joy in seeing Capello stutter. International football 2010 has one thing, and one thing alone, going for it: Montenegro. Their first qualifying campaign ever ended less than twelve months ago - things are happening right now, history is being written right now - they lacked decisiveness (only won one game) but showed promise and resiliance (putting together six draws, and only actually lost three times). 

In 2010, they're flying. Three 1-0 wins, two of them courtesy of Mirko Vucinic's knack for scoring only important and impossible goals. The goal against Wales is a perfect storm of jaw dropping skill: running at full pace, he refuses the most logical solution when coming in from the left into the penalty area, which would be to cut in and finish with his stronger right foot on the goalkeeper's left side. That solution is for amateurs. The Mirko way is to drive the ball one step further than 99% of those watching would think to be wise, and finish with his weaker left foot instead. Behind the goalkeeper. Behold: 


Last night they beat Switzerland, famously the only team to beat Spain in the World Cup. Would it surprise you if I told you the goal is kind of insane, kind of jaw dropping?


Mirko is the captain, talisman - and as I like to imagine, about ten years removed from hosting the most popular late night talk show on Montenegrin TV - and as such carries an incredible load for his team and country. But he's not alone; please consider that the assist last night against Switzerland was provided by a player whose career seems to have topped out at 29 at a Russian club perennially escaping relegation, and you'll soon realize even their modest players possesses a technique that is enviable. But the real point was about players like Simon Vukcevic (Sporting) and Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic, who's likely one of the five best players in serie A.

Supporting Montenegro on their growth and campaign to qualify for a major tournament have resurrected international breaks for me, previously the black holes of the football season.