Football

Theo Walcott, Eusebio, and the spirit of the game

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Theo Walcott's devastating knee injury which leaves him out for a minimum of six months, has not only proved hugely disappointing for Arsene Wenger and Roy Hodgson, but also for the footballing community and the spirit of the game.

As news filtered through the digital grapevine that is Twitter, a rather surprising volume of reactions and statements from fans of alll clubs left a sour taste in the mouth. Too many fans were rejoicing in the fact that Theo will be absent for the remainder of the season.  The following are merely a sample of the vitriolic statements that were being made on the news.

@Bloodzeed theo walcott is injured, karma 4 the c***

— mark griffith (@Islandmwg) January 11, 2014

Karma for Walcott innit, went to a WC he should never have been at now injured for WC he deserves to at my heart bleeds for the little p****

— Rossco (@Ross_wil_i_am9) January 7, 2014

These idiotic, and sometimes frankly illogical tweets caught my attention for a number of reasons. Whether you'd like to admit it or not, many agree that a fit and in form Theo Walcott is at the very least a unique asset and option that England could have utilised at the World Cup.

With these messages of abuse and hate filtering in amidst Walcott's bad luck, one can only presume that these same fans don't want to see England's strongest 23 in Brazil during the summer?

Subsequently, the sad passing of one of the greatest players to have ever played the game, Eusébio da Silva Ferreira has reminded us all of how to play and appreciate the game in the correct way.

In the 1968 European Cup final, Eusebio stalked through on goal with only Manchester United keeper Alex Stepney to beat, hitting a sweet shot that was denied by the cat like reflexes of Stepney. Manchester United went on to beat Benfica 4-1 in extra-time.

In recognition of Stepney's excellent save, Eusebio applauded the goalkeeper there and then, patting the goalkeeper on the cheek as a sign of appreciation of the quality of football.

Lessons like this should never be forgotten. Eusebio's act of sportsmanship teaches to have respect for the opposition, to appreciate good play no matter what the circumstances and ultimately to play hard but fair.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if these attitudes were reflected by the fans? Fans with a desire to see the best football that can be seen and opposing the frankly ridiculous 'win at all costs' mantra. Such principles are not forgotten. One case that stands out is the standing ovation given to Ronaldinho from the entire stadium in 2005, for an outstanding individual display in the Bernabeu.

These acts of appreciation are not required every week, it would slightly take the gloss of them if they were to become so commonplace within the game. Of course, with all the financial pressure that is in existence in the modern game, the heat of the moment will sometimes prove to get the better of certain individuals and fans.

But we must also remember what is important. There are those that are saying that money is ruining our beautiful game. Indeed, there are elements of truth to this statement. Yet whilst the fans can remember the lessons of Eusebio and others, we can remember it's the game that counts, not money. Taking pleasure in the injury of a good natured player? I'll pass thanks.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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