Gone are the days when a player ,after scoring a goal, rushes to the fans in jubilation and kisses the club’s badge and actually means it. Yes, the celebration is still alive in football, but it doesn’t have the same meaning any more. Footballers and loyalty are two words that are now – in most cases – mutually exclusive.
It is hard to choose one answer to the question of why loyalty is a dying quality in world football.
It could be the money or the new mindset of the players and clubs that has contributed to this. Just like in every other profession, a man wants to have the best possible life he can and that means better jobs and better salary; hence it is quite natural for footballers to do so as well. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Carlos Tevez, etc. all moved to other clubs leaving the clubs which nurtured and helped develop their craft.
It is not always monetary gain for the players; ambition is an important factor as well- the desire of the players to win trophies and medals. This reason is more justifiable as players have a short career to achieve their goals. Fernando Torres, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Robin Van Persie all claim that they left their respective clubs in search of trophies.
The clubs too, have their fair share of blame.
In the current era, where players are treated like commodities and are bought and sold by the clubs as and when they desire (barring incidents like financial troubles when the club’s hands are tied), the players too don’t have the same affinity or desire to stick around. A solution to this problem might be a good youth system. A player who has come through the ranks of a club will feel more attached to the club and will be more likely to want to make sacrifices to stay at the club.
But even this solution is not without drawbacks, as with a possible exception of La Masia, it is unlikely that any club can produce high quality players to play for their first team on a consistent basis. Even with a state-of-the-art youth system in a club like Chelsea and Real Madrid, whose youth and reserve sides contain wonderfully talented players, the quest for quick success has more or less restricted their way into the side as the clubs have splashed millions of dollars on more established players.
So is loyalty a lost trait? Players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Paolo Maldini and John Terry are all living embodiment of the loyalty that players have for their team. Barcelona‘s players are also known for their loyalty: but their loyalty to their club is little surprise, as Barcelona are at the pinnacle of world football and for them to move anywhere else will be a step down.
A similar case can be made of the players mentioned before, as all their clubs consistently challenge for titles. Considering the position of these clubs and their chances of continued success, the loyalty of Francesco Totti or Ledley King or Steven Gerrard (in recent years), who chose to play clubs at which the chances of filling their trophy cabinets are meagre, or that of Gianluigi Buffon or Alessandro Del piero, who stayed at Juventus when the club was relegated and helped win back promotion, are all the more impressive. With such players present, it is hard to say that club loyalty is a dead trait in football; but it can be safely said that it is indeed a diminishing quality.Published 27 Dec 2012, 23:56 IST