By Ian Chadband
LONDON (Reuters) – Will Grigg is the man who made a name for himself without kicking a ball in the European Championships in 2016 when the song in praise of the Northern Ireland striker became an international phenomenon.
Yet the subject of the chorus “Will Grigg’s On Fire…” ensured on Saturday that his cult status was only likely to be reinvented as he fashioned a sensation in the FA Cup for third-tier side Wigan Athletic.
Grigg scored both goals as League One leaders Wigan made it a wretched afternoon for Premier League West Ham United, who also had Arthur Masuaku sent off for spitting in their woeful 2-0 fourth round defeat.
The famous victory had the Wigan faithful reprising their now time-honoured hymn of praise to Grigg, a song that went viral during Euro 2016 and made a celebrity of a fourth-choice striker who did not even play in the tournament.
The song had been written by a Wigan fan to salute Grigg’s goalscoring form and, to the tune of the Gala song Freed from Desire, it was adopted so keenly, not just by Northern Ireland fans, that it became a soundtrack to the tournament and a top-10 UK iTunes hit.
Grigg reflected in an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Saturday that the hoopla surrounding the song had proved a double-edged sword for him because, while he enjoyed it all, it did prove a “hindrance” and a distraction both during and after Euro 2016.
Yet he sounded delighted to be back in the musical limelight after his heroics on Saturday took his tally of goals for the season to 14. The double also took his FA Cup total in this campaign to a competition-leading six from five games.
“From start to finish we were brilliant, our quality really came out. It was an enjoyable game to play in. There was only going to be one winner after the first goal went in,” Grigg, who headed the opener after just seven minutes, told the BBC.
“A Cup run is great. The extra games are no problem for us. If it is a top Premier League team next, we will take that,” added the man who also featured when Wigan beat another top-flight side Bournemouth in a third round replay.
Grigg will be looking for more giant-killing fare in the fifth round, having also scored twice for MK Dons when they beat Manchester United 4-0 in the League Cup in 2014.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Christian Radnedge)