To say that there is a lengthy line of players who in recent years have occupied more column inches on the front page than the back is something of an understatement. Whether it is down to the money in the game now, or simply the way footballers are idolised to an almost God like status by the public, they are behaving in a worse and more disgraceful manner than ever before, and at some point this is going to start impacting on what they do on the field.
Don’t get me wrong, quite frankly I could not care less what footballer’s do in their own time and how they chose to behave is down to them, but when it begins to affect both what they do on the pitch and the team morale and pre match preparations – there is a problem.
Case in point is Wayne Rooney – throughout his career he has been involved in various indiscretions, of which there would be little point listing due to the fact everyone is fully aware of them to begin with, and each and every time his form on the field has been impacted.
Nicklas Bendtner has become the latest player to be forced to issue an apology for off the field behaviour after being caught with club Captain Lee Cattermole on an alleged criminal damage spree.
Why either player felt that this would be appropriate conduct is beyond comprehension, but it is hardly what a struggling Sunderland need – and manager Martin O’Neill will not tolerate such behaviour in any way, shape or form with neither Bendtner nor Cattermole starting what was a vital game against Spurs on the weekend.
Likewise players who find themselves in trouble with the law and have to deal with potential arrests and court appearances – this can obviously range from players who do time in prison – Pennant and Barton can testify to how this effects your career in a highly negative way – or just driving offences – yet even this is hardly a great example of behaviour from a role model for young children – something our footballers are.
It can even be something as simple as getting too involved in a hobby – long have people accused Owen of being more interested in his horses than being fit to play football, and likewise with Ferdinand and his magazine, restaurant and music – anything but football distractions.
Not to do a disservice to players who are complete and utter professionals here – someone like Gary Neville may not be your cup of tea, but he gave his heart and soul to the game for as long as he played it and was also a fantastic role model off the field, and in an age where some footballers are in danger of forgetting what they do is actually a job – yes a dream job – but a job none the less, and 100% of their attention needs to be directed towards it this is a precious commodity.
Yes, playing football is a short career and can end in a heartbeat, and full credit to footballers for pursuing off the field interests and endorsements whilst they can, but when their off the field commitments or problems begin to impact on their day job – that is a problem.
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