What’s wrong with the modern day footballer

by Nicholas Grounds

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Earning your respect

While the boos rang around Wembley Stadium back in the autumn, one could be forgiven for believing they were being directed at a team who had been struggling against a Kazakhstan side placed 131th in the world. As it was, the jeers were reserved for a solitary figure. Right or wrong, Ashley Cole was singled out amongst a squad of players that increasingly look detached from reality and from the public who continuously inject their hard-earned cash into the game. A right to boo? You bet they do.

I remember well the media having a rather mixed response to the cat-calls directed at arguably the premier left back in Europe, if not in the world, at this current time. Paul Hayward of the Daily Mail labelled those who berated Cole as naive and immature, whilst others supported the notion that players should take it firmly on the chin whatever is thrown at them from an expectant crowd. What has not been touched on, however, is the real reason why Ashley Cole was victimized by so me sections of the Wembley crowd.

It was also suggested that Cole was singled out for the rather dreadful cr oss-field pass that lead to Kazakhstan halving the arrears on the night. Although there is no question this would have acted as a catalyst for his abuse, the real reason why ‘Cashley’ was subject to such a reaction is simple. He typifies everything that is bad about the current crop of professional footballers. Far from writing this piece in an attempt to lambast footballers as money-lead scumbags, I will merely be attempting to highlight the current ills polluting our game. Gone are the days when, after a gruelling 90 minutes of blood, sweat and, in Gazza’s case, tears, the players would join with the locals for a pint and discuss the afternoon’s entertainment. Now although I am not advocating a return to this, as the notion of Messrs Beckham and Henry delightfully indulging in a pint of John Smith’s is ludicrous, a bit of a reality check for these overpaid prima donnas would not go amiss.

So out of touch with reality are these footballers, that Cole was once heard in stipulating why he did not take up Arsenal’s offer of a contract extension: “I nearly crashed my car when they only offered me £55,000 a week”. Hello? If only I could earn that in two years! And the current crop of journos think the boos were served up due to a misplaced pass? Get real. This is the first in a long line of reasons why Mr. Cole is not on the vast majority of England fans’ Christmas card list (not that he=2 0should be anyway).

I would even go as far to say that the recent respect campaign we are seeing in the Premier League came about largely due to the antics of our Nation’s number three. We all remember the incident at White Hart Lane as Mike Riley tried in vain to calm him down. “Ashley, please turn around, you’re going to get yourself sent off in a minute” was the plea from the despairing man in the middle. Cole displayed a complete lack of respect, refusing to cooperate with the official as he took his name in the book. If only he had shown him a second yellow. The incident provoked huge debate on the current disregard for referees in the modern game and, thankfully, measures are now being made to follow in the footsteps of the respect we see from our top rugby stars.

As we go through the keyhole, there are yet more clues which suggest why Cole has fallen into the boo-box. The scene at White Hart Lane is not the first time Cole has turned his back on a figure of authority. The lack of loyalty he has shown to those who have looked after him and supported him both in his professional and personal life beggars belief. Arsene Wenger has created a legacy at the Gunners, continuously giving youngsters the chance to flourish at one of the biggest clubs in the world. Cole, despite now being established at both Chelsea and England, was once a starry-eyed teenager and it was Weng er who had the faith to put him in and amongst the likes of Sol Campbell, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown. Wenger’s chance on Cole, with hindsight, has not been fully rewarded; as the cash of Roman Abramovic proved too much of a lure. This explains why Arsenal fans hold him in such contempt, but the neutral was soon beginning to see a side of a man that would be subjected to such abuse.

How Ashley treated Cheryl was despicable. I mean, how could he? He has managed to land one of the most beautiful girls in the world, and what the average Jo wouldn’t do to just converse with the stunner. Either way, it was a further example whereby Mr. Cole has wrongly exploited the privileged situation he has found himself in at the expense of someone who is close to him. This is what grinds the gears of the aforementioned Jo Bloggs, because you can bet your bottom dollar that if he were in Cole’s position, he would not have exploited the luxury afforded him.

The boos may well have been due to a misplaced back pass. However, I can almost certainly guarantee that if it had been from Barry, Upson or Lampard, the chorus that followed would never taken place on the same scale. Sure, perhaps we would have come to expect it from these players, but the menace and disdain in the bar rage was down to a collaboration of incidents involving a man who has not portrayed himself in a positive light ever since he was given the marvellous opportunity by one of the current greats in management.

I can only hope that he begins to reflect on his recent demeanors and begins to plot a way out. It is not impossible, nor improbable. David Beckham managed it following France ’98 as he was subjected to sickening chants and burning effigies when he returned home. He has since transformed himself into one of the most respected and revered individuals of our nation. Although these are rather large boots to follow, Cole can mute the boo boys, and I sincerely hope he does. He is a talented footballer if nothing else, and when he is on the top of his game there are few better. After all, we’re going to need him if we are to silence the world doubters in South Africa 2010.

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  • tef1on

    “What’s wrong with the modern day footballer?”

    They are fairy’s with too much money and too big ego’s

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    Rafal Nadal playes 3 5 hour tennis matches in 1 week, plus he trains every day. Footballers moan when they have to play 2 games a week.

    Watch out for our top 10 highest paid footballers in world football, you’d be well surprised who’s top

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    perfect timing… This has literally just come in..;

    Chelsea and England footballer Ashley Cole has been arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly, sources have said.
    Police said a 28-year-old man was held in Brompton Road, South Kensington, at about 0215 GMT on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.
    He was taken to a central London police station and given a fixed penalty notice, police said.
    The man was released at about 0530 GMT on Thursday.

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