Footballer’s – will they ever learn? Even the young, with apparently ‘their feet on the ground’ are prone to some bad decision making. I’m talking about off-field antics here of course – on pitch mistakes can be forgiven, for the most part. The latest blunder comes from a surprising source however – Theo Walcott. His decision to release an autobiography right at the start of a new season, in which he criticises current England manager Fabio Capello, just before squads are announced for the latest Euro 2012 qualifying matches, is a baffling one indeed. More of an annoyance however, is the fact that somebody is releasing an autobiography at the age of just 22.
Walcott isn’t the first young footballer to release an autobiography of course, and he sadly won’t be the last. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard are all guilty of it in this country – some, even guilty of releasing multiple books! There are two connotations to take from this: age, and overall, the point of it.
At Theo’s age, 22, how much can he have to write about? One would think it is vastly premature to be releasing an autobiography. Disagree? Let’s take a look at the actual definition of the word:
Autobiography – (n.) A biography written by the subject of it; memoirs of one’s life written by one’s self.
So, by definition, this is supposed to be the memoirs of Theo’s life. Does he not plan on sticking around with us much longer? Joking aside, as a professional footballer Walcott has been in his job for roughly six years. Granted, he’s had a rapid rise to stardom, with more media attention than most, especially during his surprise inclusion in England’s 2006 World Cup squad, prior to him having kicked a ball at Premier League level as a 17-year old, but retirement for his profession usually occurs around the mid-30’s. At the age of 22, he should have some years left in him – including what should be his peak ages in football.
Still not even an automatic first choice for his club team Arsenal, never mind an established international, Walcott has chosen to criticise the current England manager in his new book, which has been serialised in a daily tabloid provoking headlines. This is another trend when releasing an autobiography, especially when it comes to sport stars – the newspaper serialisation. Keen to generate any headlines possible, the press will feed on any incident – no matter how small, and sensationalise it. With only a relatively short career behind him up to now, Walcott needed something a little controversial included in his memoirs, in order to gain publicity and sell his book; thus probably guaranteeing a hefty sum from the paper than wishes to serialise the book. The controversy has come in the form of ‘attacking’ Fabio Capello who has been revealed as ‘cold and clinical’ (I big shock to fans, I know). Theo also painted Capello as a monster on the training ground, informing us that the Italian screamed: ‘Theo! I will kill you if you come inside like that again!’ when Walcott made a run from his position. Theo moaned he never knew what was required of him by Capello (maybe to stay wide, Theo?). Other revelations in the book include instances involving Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey, clashing with the England manager. Amazingly, having a look around forums regarding the subject, people have been keen to jump all over Capello, saying the ‘revelations’ prove their point that the Italian shouldn’t be in charge of England. How about the players been held accountable, rather than the big bad ‘foreigner’?
Which brings me to the second point; the point of it all. Why release a book at all, especially at such a young age? Money. What else? It’s all about cashing in on your brand name. A lot of today’s players seem more concerned with building a reputation off the pitch instead of earning one on it. As stated, a little bit of controversy almost guarantees a newspaper serialisation which brings in extra income, and promotes the book even more who may just be tempted to line the player’s pockets even more by purchasing it. This is not just relevant to young players. Lots of ‘star’ footballer’s choose to cash in on their name whilst still playing – businesswise it makes sense. But how about concentrating on your career instead of how to make your next £ million? Footballer’s of any age, pre-retirement, shouldn’t release these kinds of books full stop.
Walcott should concentrate on his career, and on becoming a regular for club and country before risking the wrath of people in the game, who could help him in the future. His book is called ‘Theo: Growing Up Fast’ – maybe he needs to!
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