He knew what he was doing was right…after many years, long years of dedication, hard work, excellence and no positive result. He knew it was time for change. He was still young, he still had plenty of game, it was time to push off…
I’m guessing this is what goes through the mind of every footballer while switching clubs. All their training and talent going down the drain along with shampoo commercials. Death threats everywhere from angry fans and rival fans alike, a dip in form is a killer. Moving from a city, occasionally countries or even continents is no mean feat. Adapting to the new team’s playing style, picking up a smattering of a foreign language, slowly getting the fans to like you are certainly not what a footballer looks forward to.
He knew that this was going to be an uphill task, the fans were probably lacing their boots to go and get some gun barrel polish, others were busy writing articles on sportskeeda on how he was not even required at their club and that his boots would be the easiest to step into. He was called a money hungry swine, one chasing after the likes Manchester City, Chelsea or recently PSG, but what he was after was a chance to truly prove himself.
Robin Van Persie, Fernando Torres, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas – some of the best ambassadors of the “beautiful game’s ugly men” (not literally, I mean Torres and RVP can pass for models). People decide to brand them as people who chase after money and fame. They call them names for the remainder of their lives. Is it really what goes through a footballer’s mind when everything, the fans, the stadium, the locality, the language, the support changes?
This move was not unforeseen. Not everybody is Totti or Gerrard or Maldini. Some people do want success. Frustration grows, “I have everything for reaching the starting line, I’m the one leading the pack in the relay race, my teammate’s are letting me down”. A simple 100 word transfer request letter was handed to the board. The nights were spent in agony, “Is it going to work, will some team truly recognize my talent and bail me out?”. Money slowly becomes a side topic, suddenly he was swimming to be recognized (not diving, Sergio Busquets is still in Barcelona, rest assured). But somehow, it was a quick sand pit that he was actually thrashing about in. There was nothing that would have brought smiles to his face had he laid there. He needed a lifeline to get away from everything.
The gentlemen on the list above were experiencing something similar. Fighting for survival. As the old adage aptly puts it ‘The one who survives is the one who adapts’. Is loyalty truly above everything? What about loyalty to self? What about the promises they had make to themselves about striving to be the best? Is fear of backlash and a permanent brand- mark of a traitor worth it? A quick weighing of options. Reds and Gunners on one hand you have the Champions league and the BPL trophy, on the other fans crying, calling you incapable, good- for- nothing and a letdown, what will you chose if you were in their position?
He had surely played the right cards, and after one year of endless and relentless fan bashing, comes the acid test. A quick breakaway, a silent turn around the keeper, a pause to glance at the net and a crisp shot at the bottom of the net. Elation, joy, jubilation, words fail to describe the feeling. The captain, teary eyed, hands him the trophy. A quick jump up the podium, a glance at the 60k- strong fans cheering your name. The past moments flash past your eyes, the pain, the suffering, all behind, a distant memory burning, and the winds of joy scattering their ashes across ghost like memories. A pump, 6kgs of pure Joy and hand crafted metal into the air, surely, it was worth it….
Loyalty? A long lost memory. This is the Champion’s League. They aren’t fans of these clubs since childhood, most were products from other youth academies. They did it then, they’ve done it now, the difference? Their loss was felt, their departure changed nothing for their former club, but to them? To them, the sky was just the beginning…