It is coming to the business end of the season, and whilst some are being affected by the infamous ‘squeaky bum time’ (yes City and Real Madrid I am looking at you) others are making the final push for various trophies and putting their names forward for the obligatory end of season awards categories. Whilst Torres has nearly taken his name out of the ‘donkey of the year’ award for the second season running, Carroll has only enhanced his chances of winning it, and both Ronaldo and Messi are making claims for the ‘from another planet’ category.
One award that has not been discussed in previous seasons however, and this season seems entirely relevant is ‘survivor of the season’ and I do not mean in a managerial context. This season has been like no other for football with both on and off the field having its fair share of tragedy and health scares for players – some life threatening.
It is events such as the tragic death of Gary Speed and the heart attack of Fabrice Muamba that brought the footballing community throughout the world together – the prayers for Muamba and out pouring of grief for Speed showed that football is a family and a community, and despite the divisions of supporters, at the end of the day, football is just a game and fans will unite when it really matters.
Footballers and supporters alike were reminded of the harsh lesson in mortality when Muamba collapsed, and memories of the death of Sevilla player Antonio Puerta were bought back with a harsh vengeance. For such a young and seemingly fit player to suffer a heart attack on the field it drives home the lesson to all of us of how fragile life actually is, and how little football matters in terms of family and friends.
Much the same goes with the health issues suffered by Barcelona full back Abidal and the recent Acute Leukaemia diagnosis of Villa skipper Petrov, with shock and sadness still felt around the footballing community.
You would be hard-pressed to think of a season in which such a great deal of tragedy has occurred, or in which supporters and players alike have united with such a force. Obviously it is a great shame that it takes such tragic and life changing events for this to happen, but in an age where footballers are accused of such extravagance and distance from real people, this season has shown everyone footballers are just like the rest of us – human and vulnerable to scares both during and after their career is finished.
Whilst we can take delight in the recovery of Muamba and hope and pray for the others battling health issues this season, not to mention be proud at the reaction of fans and players alike, no one would want a season like this again.