Famed more for his goalkeeping ability than his philosophy and rhetoric, Manchester City and England stopper Joe Hart has seemingly missed the point this week with his statement that he is not going to live like a ‘monk’.
Speaking at a press conference the 23 year-old noted;
“I don’t think you have to live like a monk. I just think you have to be a bit smart about how you do it… Maybe at my age and not realising the position you are in, naivety comes into it but you have got learn fast as a footballer… People are out to get us and there are places you should be and places you shouldn’t… I’d never disrespect football because it’s my livelihood. But I’ve always felt that I’m 100 per cent ready for every training session and every single game.”
It is a fair point, after all, football players are human, and with vast amounts of fame and fortune coming at a very young age for many of the top players, it is very easy to forget that most people of Hart’s age and younger are out every weekend. The difference is, 40,000 odd people don’t turn up to watch them at work the next day, paying very good money for the privilege.
I don’t think any football supporter would begrudge their players heading out for a respectable night out on the town. But when these nights’ out end up in the morning papers, or worse, the courtroom, it leaves fans wondering whether their money could be better spent elsewhere.
Although young, these players have a responsibility not only to the paying fans, but also as role models for younger generations who idolize them. No one is expecting them to live like monks, but just to respect the position they are in. When they become professional footballers, it is an unfortunate fact that they will have to give up many of the activities that they would normally do. But in return for behaving in a relatively deferent manner through what is supposed to be their wilder years, these young men are paid a king’s ransom and are lauded across the globe.
We all need to cut loose sometimes, but when you are in the public eye as many of these players are, there needs to be restraint shown. I think Hart is right in his assertion that; ‘I just think you have to be a bit smart about how you do it’ in the sense of the word ‘smart’ not meaning crafty, but instead meaning clever. I am not one of the people who believe they should just not go out, but it must be done in a way in which the players respect themselves, their clubs, but most importantly, those supporters who pay money week-in week-out to watch them perform.