Marc Bircham is a QPR cult hero who scored for Canada without setting foot in the country and bought a 25ft snake as the team’s mascot which ‘attacked players in the dressing room’


Marc Bircham earned a Guinness World Record for becoming the first player to score a goal at international level without setting foot in his own country – “and I kissed the badge anyway”.

It’s a shame he sang the wrong national anthem, because he got some weird looks from his new teammates when he sang God Save the Queen.

Marc Bircham made 152 appearances for QPR between 2002 and 2007

Cult hero QPR has joined talkSPORT to relive some of his wildest moments and answered the question of how he came to represent Canada, despite being a born and bred Londoner…and playing almost for Wales.

Starting his career at Millwall, ‘Birch’ went on to join QPR where he became a fan-favorite cult hero and true club legend.

He tells talkSPORT it was a dream come true to play for Rangers, later returning to Loftus Road as caretaker coach and manager.

He is loved by the fans – who still sing his song ‘We love you Bircham, you have blue hair’ in the stands – but, while many fans would name him one of QPR’s best players, he is fully aware of his level. .

Many will wonder how a Londoner ended up playing for Canada, well he admits it all started knowing he wasn’t good enough to play for England, so he was ready to play for Wales instead.

Or so he thought…

Marc Bircham is a QPR cult hero who scored for Canada without setting foot in the country and bought a 25ft snake as the team's mascot which 'attacked players in the dressing room'
Bircham gave talkSPORT brilliant stories at the Sports Bar
Getty

“At the Olympics, my grandfather used to say, ‘Cheer for Canada because I was born there’ – the family moved there at the time,” Bircham told Sports Bar.

“When they came back [to England]they stopped in Wales and thought they had registered his birth in Wales, so I was called for Wales.

“I got called up against Belgium and literally the day before the game they said, ‘We looked into it and your grandfather was born in Winnipeg’.

“Just by luck, I think we played Fulham and Paul Peschisolido was playing for Fulham and the Canadian secretary was there and said, ‘do you want to play for us?’

“I was like, ‘uh, I don’t know?’ He said they had a training camp in Amsterdam, so I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll try for a week.

Marc Bircham is a QPR cult hero who scored for Canada without setting foot in the country and bought a 25ft snake as the team's mascot which 'attacked players in the dressing room'
Bircham earned 17 caps for Canada and helped his adopted country win the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000
Getty


Bircham then entered the Guinness Book of World Records when he came off the bench to score on his debut for Canada – who just happened to be hosted by Northern Ireland in Belfast, meaning he didn’t had still not visited his adopted country.

“I’m the first person to score for his country without setting foot there,” Bircham said with a laugh.

“So my debut was in Northern Ireland and I sang the wrong national anthem. God Save the Queen came along and I blasted that – they [teammates] were all looking at me.

“I came on as a substitute, scored my first goal, kissed the badge – unbelievable.”

Marc Bircham is a QPR cult hero who scored for Canada without setting foot in the country and bought a 25ft snake as the team's mascot which 'attacked players in the dressing room'
Bircham represented Canada internationally after coming close to playing for Wales

Bircham was then asked how other Canadian players reacted to Londoner’s presence in the team.

Bircham replied: “I, knowing the national anthem, was a treat…because I learned it in South Park!

“Then, after the game, because my name Marc is spelled with a ‘c’, of course they thought I was from Montreal and French.

“They sent me to do press and it was French press so they talk to me and I say ‘My name is Marc, I live in London’.

“They said, ‘Aren’t you French Canadian?’ And I said, ‘I’m not even Canadian – I’ve never been there before!’ »

Bircham has never been one to miss a practical joke and revealed how he got his international teammates back with an impromptu trip to a pet store.

Marc Bircham is a QPR cult hero who scored for Canada without setting foot in the country and bought a 25ft snake as the team's mascot which 'attacked players in the dressing room'
Bircham spent 5 years as an interim coach and manager at QPR

“It was a game for Canada and the guys all chipped in to send me there, but when I walked into my room everything was upside down – the bed, the TV, the wardrobe,” did he declare. “They thought it was funny.

“So the next day we were in the mall with Jim Brennan and we walked past the pet store. There was a 25-foot python for sale, so I said, ‘Come on Jim, let’s buy it ?’

“He said, ‘What are we going to do with a python? I said ‘we’re going to do something with it’. It was $250, so I bought it.

“When we got back to the hotel, the guys were playing cards in the room. So I walked in and said, ‘hi, last night was really funny’, and threw the python on the floor.

“Paul Stalteri, who was playing for Tottenham at the time, said, ‘ah, that’s a toy snake’. He walked over and the snake reared up a bit – he literally screamed like a girl and jumped on his cupboard crying.

7. Paul Stalteri
Paul Stalteri (left) fell victim to Bircham’s hilarious joke

“There were six [players] in the room and he [the snake] was right by the door so we closed the door and they missed the team lunch. They were ringing downstairs saying, “there’s a snake in our room,” and they were like, “oh yeah, nice.”

“They were stuck in that room for two hours!

He continued on Sky Sports: “The snake was like our mascot. We had a few matches and took him with us.

“The Americans had a mascot, they had an eagle, so we had a living python, it was much better!

“But he kept attacking the guys – it’s a bit off-putting in the half-time team talk!”

“In the end, we took him back to the pet store and even got half of our money back. So that was a bonus!”

I bet your teammates were just as happy…for different reasons!

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