By Robert Ellis
As an avid football follower from birth (according to my dad anyway) the life of modern day footballers fascinates me. The lifestyle, playing on the big stage and the thrill of walking out for a club you love is something many “amateur” footballers like myself crave.
The question is though; can the modern professional footballer uphold the title? Growing up with a father who has both supported and played for Morecambe FC (League 2) as well as supporting Manchester United, my life has been dominated by the beautiful game.
In his era, footballer’s earned their right to be adored. Working their way up from boot cleaner, to youth contract and finally, professional. This was recently cemented for me during a recent sports dinner with now retired Liverpool pro, Alan Kennedy.
Alan Kennedy came up through the ranks at Newcastle (having been born in Sunderland!) when in 1978, Liverpool manager Bob Paisley decided to fill a left back shaped hole and bought Kennedy for £330,000.
Kennedy went on to play in a Liverpool team with the likes of Alan Hansen and Phil Neal. The defining moment of this professionals career, winning the European Cup against Real Madrid in the 1980 / 81 season scoring the winning goal!
Here is a man who clearly earned his professional footballer mantle, working his way to the top, playing for the game, not the Baby Bentley. With the recent events at Manchester United, it is little wonder today’s footballers are often vilified as greedy and money centred. The will he, won’t he saga surrounding Wayne Rooney and his alleged £60million, five year contract simply highlighted why many believe modern day footballers are greedy and disloyal to the regular fan who, at the end of the day, pay these outrageous wages.
Matt Le Tissier, 16 seasons at Southampton, sums it up perfectly:
“It is amazing, isn’t it? He says he wanted to win trophies and then he gets offered more money and then wants to stay. It seems to be money that drives the players these days.” In the Daily Mail.
So, what is your opinion? Is it that modern day professional footballers simply don’t care about the beautiful game and have it “too easy” or, as a fan, do you believe they deserve everything the modern game brings to them?
My thoughts rest somewhere in between, many of today’s super rich footballers are a similar age to myself and I wonder how my “love for just playing football” would change when offered £250, 000 a week at a new job...