People are very quick to criticise modern footballers. Many are equally fast to jump on how 40 or 50 years ago, footballers would never behave like the way they do now.
What many fail to realise is how much has changed in the game. Essentially, players’ actions need to be split into two categories: the way they carry themselves on the pitch and their behaviour off the pitch.
On the pitch, it would be good to think that players will maintain conduct to an extent. For football is about the characters. It’s all about your Robbie Savages’ and Joey Bartons’. The sort of players you love when they’re playing for you and despise when against you. Where do you draw the line though?
Swearing into a camera right when millions are watching is unjustifiable to many. Wayne Rooney knew it was wrong back in April against West Ham. There are probably a few reasons as to why he did it though.
The adrenalin coursing through him having scored a hat trick is a possibility. There is also only so long you can take criticism without reacting. Lots of people had been on Rooney’s back, saying he wasn’t in form and he wasn’t the player he used to be. He proved the doubters wrong with that hat trick. That was Wayne’s way of saying, I’m back.
Although it’s hard to condone Rooney’s actions, I can understand though why he reacted like he did when he scored against West Ham.
Off the pitch, it is the player’s prerogative how they want to act. However, this is contrasted with the public’s idea of the model professional. For example, they would love every player who pulls on the England shirt to be a saint off the pitch. In all honesty though, when in recent times have players been role models off the pitch?
Those times have come and gone. Players have a lot more temptations in front of them as well as a lot more money. If you give people who haven’t had much in their lives previously a large amount in contrast, it’s easy for some to fall foul.
Before this summer, Ryan Giggs was always hailed as the model professional. Now details have been revealed about his private life, it doesn’t make him any less of a great footballer. It is a fact he is definitely one of the greatest players to play in England.
When I go out to play football, I’d like to try and emulate him. In my private life, personally I don’t really care what Giggs does and therefore won’t try to copy him.
Even though footballers to have some responsibility when kids are watching, it’s up to the kids’ parents to dictate what is right or wrong. You’d like to think any children who saw the Rooney incident against West Ham knew it was wrong and wouldn’t replicate it themselves.
Ultimately, in today’s society, we shouldn’t expect modern footballers to be saints. In times gone by, there might have been more of an expectation to keep their behaviour off the pitch clean.
However, society’s attitudes have moved on and as a result it is unrealistic to expect players to have the same attitudes as those who were living in a completely different environment.
Above all, we should remember if all modern football players were saints, on and off the pitch, then Saturday afternoons would be very dull indeed.
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