Larsson, Bergkamp, Reina…professional to the very end

Some players just don’t get enough credit for their squeaky clean image and their attitude towards the beautiful game. Today I take a look at a few players who have always kept themselves out of trouble and constantly maintained a perception of themselves that close to perfect.

Starting us off is Henrik Larsson. Larsson, who made his name scoring goals for fun at Celtic Park, was the ultimate professional during his playing days. Never a bad word said about the clinical striker who never hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. As well as his physical and mental dexterity on the football field, Larsson always showed a clarity of mind and purpose off the field. He was never flustered, and was always polite and thoughtful, furthermore he rarely showed unseemly emotion, thus culminating in a human being who is very worthy of his place in this article.

Next up is Pepe Reina. Last season I was impressed with the way in which the Liverpool goalkeeper handled himself during his contract talks. Reina’s decision to sign a new contract during the most turbulent season upon Merseyside in recent memory served to further endear the Spanish international to the Anfield faithful and football fans alike. Futhermore he has managed to immerse himself fully into the English culture and culture of his club, with his consummate professionalism which is unquestionably admirable.

My final ultimate professional is Dennis Bergkamp. I was recently told a story about the former Dutch international during his playing days at Arsenal. It was about 2 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon and a family friend walked into a North London pub. On arrival he sees Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn enjoying a pint, he thinks to himself no problem with that. Half an hour passes, the Arsenal boys’ glasses are empty so he offers them another. They kindly decline and respond, “we’re lucky we had one, if Bergkamp was here he wouldn’t be happy.” Bergkamp trained hard, played hard and never gave anyone any excuse to doubt his professionalism or his ability. His intelligence on and off the pitch was unrivalled and his attitude towards the game has warranted his inclusion in this article.

So what do you think? Obviously I have missed other gentleman of the game off the list so why not comment and bring other ultimate professionals to the fore.


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