When people talk about left backs in the Premier League, they normally mention Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole. This year, Leighton Baines and Jose Enrique have also been praised because they have had impressive seasons. But, as of yet, I have heard very little praise for the Tottenham left back, Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Assou-Ekotto has caused a stir in the past because of his views on football. He said last May, “Why did I come to England? For a job”. He has confessed openly that football is not his passion and that he plays the game for the money he can earn from it. He has also been reported to not know which team the next game is against.
I think for this reason, when he makes a mistake people think it is because he is clueless about football. But I think this is unfair. He does make the odd error, he would hardly be a Tottenham player if he didn’t, but this season he has been up there with the best in England.
As the statistics below show, he has been very impressive in the Premier League this season, both offensively and defensively.
|Left Backs||Tackles Won||% Tackles Won||Completed Passes||% Completed Passes||Key Passes|
The Tottenham left back is not out of his depth in terms tackling, passing or creativity. Surely he deserves some credit for this alone?
Now I understand, that these statistics do not tell the whole picture. They do not account for fouls given away in silly positions, or times that a mistake has led to a goal. These are two things that Assou-Ekotto’s critics will highlight. But I think, in general the Cameroonian has had a solid season, and that kind of solidity is exactly what Tottenham have needed at left back. In fact he has been one of Tottenham’s most consistent performers this year.
In truth, the game has changed. There is so much money in football now, I doubt many top players play for the love of it alone. But, Assou-Ekotto admits that he plays it for money. That does not mean that he is does not care about winning, doing the best for his club or becoming the best footballer he can be. It just means that he has perspective on the importance of his career.
I think Assou-Ekotto is misunderstood, he has made a massive improvement to his game over the last year, and that is the result of hard work. It is a testament to that fact that he is a true professional and works hard at his game. Not that many players can honestly say that they put their love of football before their wallet, Tevez? Rooney? I don’t think so.
In interview Assou-Ekotto seems to be one of the most grounded and intelligent players I have seen. He is eloquent given English is his second language, he is environmentally conscious (he drives an electric car), and down-to-earth enough to travel by tube. This is hugely rare these days. In fact, Assou-Ekotto shows a refreshing honesty in the modern game. He is not so bothered about his image that says want people want to hear.
Last year he boldly criticised Wayne Rooney for being a “prostitute sha**er” and he expressed his sympathy for Coleen. As a spectator of the game I could not agree with him more and wish people would stop defending Rooney for his off the field shenanigans, deliberate fouls, and wage demands. It seems Assou-Ekotto is brave enough to tell it how it is.
So, if you asked me which footballer I would most like to go for a pint with, I would most probably say Gomes (he is a hero of mine), but Benoit Assou-Ekotto would be a close second.
If you share an appreciation for BAE, you can contact me directly on twitter @joeaustin8