Ask any 10-year-old boy today: 'what do you want to be when you grow up'?
At least 75% of them I think would say footballer. The same question 10 or 15 years ago would have probably given the exact same answer, but it wouldn’t be for the same reason.
Football as a sport, in my view, has been on the decline for quite some time and the reason is down to the status that footballers nowadays get.
Look at David Beckham, for example. One of the greatest players the world has ever seen yet people see him as an 'icon' not because of his footballing abilities but because he has his own clothing range, or perfume. His estimated net worth is £160m. That is not from football alone.
So why do we allow ourselves to get dragged into the circus that surrounds footballers nowadays? You didn’t hear of Francis Lee or Mike Summerbee starting up an eau de toilette, or Michael Thomas creating his own sports clothing line. So why now?
Is it the media? Or are we just fickle and allow ourselves to fall at the feet of players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero?
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching footballers and the way they play but once they step off the football pitch, why can't we leave them alone?
Why do the press chase after Mario Balotelli in a train station and then act surprised when he pushes them away? Or when the French media push players to the point where they use profanities against them straight after a game?
Footballers are people too. I don’t blame Beckham for doing what he does and playing on the fame, but it's only fame because we push it upon them. I know he gave all his PSG salary to charity, reported to be around £3.3m, but look at that figure - £3.3m for six months work.
Is it because he was still one of the best in the world? I don’t think so. PSG paid the money for the Beckham brand.
Do I blame the players? No. I blame the clubs and more so I blame the media. The hype we put on people in this country especially is ridiculous. I use Adnan Januzaj as an example.
Good player? Yes. Great Player? No. Worth an increased pay rise of £55,000 a week? Certainly not.
At the end of the day, a young footballer who earns a lot of money is still a young man. When Mario Balotelli got asked why do you drive a Maserati, he answered, because I can afford to drive a Maserati.
When are we going to stop pressurising footballers into becoming stars and just let them get on with being what they are brought up to be: professional sportsmen.
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