Losing A Football Prodigy
There are so many instances when football prodigies don’t turn out the way everybody expects. The whole notion of dubbing a young player as the next big thing is a wrong one on so many levels.
First it hinders the development, second the player has to continuously live under the tag and absorb all the expectations and if he turns out to be anything less than what is expected it’s a failure and most importantly it all goes into the head of the youngster which is perhaps the most tough to avoid.
Remember the 8 YEAR OLD Australian Whiz kid that United signed- Rhain Davis? There was so much buzz around about the pre-teen with people amazed about how great a talent he must have been that Manchester United signed him just by watching one of his videos rather than the usual scouting route i.e. scouts watching the game personally? And once he was signed there was no more news or updates. That’s the best the club could do to fend off the limelight from him because as much as we all would like to know about the kid and perhaps relate him to one of the current stars or term him as a successor to any club great it would put unnecessary pressure on the player. History has proven it, with the most illustrious example of Sonny Pike, the English lad who was signed by the Dutch giants Ajax. Ajax, known for their youth system, were more than happy to sign Sonny as a seven year to their youth system after scouting him from Leyton Orient. But what promised to be a master class move turned out to be dreadful for both the parties. Ajax soon realized their folly and Sonny was released and soon began his downfall which culminated with him wandering from one low league club to another and then ultimately crumbling under the stress of seeing his family disintegrate that led to the disintegration of his career.
It’s not just the hype that kills away the talent, injury has been the deadliest nemesis in this regards. Football has seen so many careers turn upside down due to injuries and time and time again medical frailties see players become shadow of what they earlier were. We all hear about players who are injured and then their aura just gets diminished. I mean so many examples in the game now. From Liverpool bench warmer Joe Cole to Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky or perhaps Manchester United’s Owen Hargreaves. They are all testament to players that could have been far more bigger names than what they are now. But the only positives about them is that these guys were able to play again (hopefully in the case of Hargreaves) but some guys are not that lucky. The most prominent examples that come to my mind in this case are of Sebastian Daisler and Ruben De La Red .
Sebastien Deisler was the hottest German sensation at one time of his career and then the injury swallowed his career for once and for all. He was touted to take over the reigns from Michael Ballack at club level with Bayern Munich as well at national level for German side. Deisler, although a winger, could orchestrate the proceeding from the centre of midfield due to his vision and creativity. Known for his pin-point crosses and tenacious speed and a great touch plus his abilities with the dead ball made him obviously all but the future of Germany. But like accolades, injuries too remained the mainstay of his career. With a series of injuries to his right knee and several psychological issues that occupied his head during his time on the sidelines took a toll on him. With the player suffering several relapses on his way to recovery it became tough for both the player as well as the country to bear it all with the player himself stating that “The need for great German talents was so strong that all eyes were on me.”
This need really felt like a burden on the shoulders of Deisler who could not bear it all alone. He went through a bout with depression which made him ultimately quit the beautiful game at last in 2007 at a ripe age of 27. This is the kind of age where players are believed to reach their optimum both physically and mentally but both the aspects in Deisler’s case were rather deteriorating day by day. The strength from within was dwindling and that was reflected in his announcement of retirement when he said-“I no longer have any real faith in my knee; In the long run it’s been an ordeal. I can no longer play with the right level of enjoyment and I don’t do anything by halves.”A case when the mental strength could not overcome the physical lack.
Ruben De La Red will perhaps be rather fresh in people’s memory as it was not too long ago that the midfielder was named as the future of Spain with the likes of Gerard Pique, Bojan Krkic and Pedro by his national coach Vicente Del Bosque in 2008. A product of the prestigious Real Madrid youth academy, De la Red made his name at Getafe on loan but was later recalled to the club. After winning Euro 2008 with the Spanish squad, De La red showed that Xavi and Alonso could retire without worrying for the national squad. The player, in October 2008, collapsed during a match against Real Union playing for Real Madrid and never really recovered from it. It was reported that he would miss the 2008-2009 season as part of precautions. It was always a tough task for him to recuperate from that kind of a blow but he never gave upbut later doctors advised him to give up on his dream to be a Madrid and Spain favorite. At the age of 25, the player bid adieu to his time on the pitch and was reverentially granted a position in the coaching staff of Jose Mourinho. Ruben was last seen donning a jersey in a friendly game for Madrid all star XI VS Munich all star XI this summer and had the privilege of scoring as well as captaining a squad filled with legends like Figo and Zidane. At his last conferencem the player heavy heartedly professed his love for the game and the club by stating that –“I may have a problem in my heart, but it still beats for Madridismo.”