Do you remember the popular kid at football training? The number seven?
His Dad was a close friend of the manager, He had spiky hair, a girlfriend and trials for West Ham.
The kid who the supply teacher mistakenly called ‘Pass,’ because that’s all the other kids constantly shouted at him. You know the one! He had the latest football boots, blonde highlights and more than likely supported Manchester United.
He probably works at Sports Direct now, but that’s beside the point.
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This kid was the emblem of everything wrong with football culture today. Not that he single-handedly oversaw the transformation from a sport with modest roots, integrity and passion to a sport corrupted by fame and money. If anything, he was a victim of it. But he and his Dad still think Ronaldo is better than Messi, so that speaks volumes.
Kids aren't buying into the 'beautiful game' anymore, they're buying into whatever hairstyle Neymar has this week and the idea of having a personalised licence plate with your squad number on it - swag has eclipsed class.
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Fame and glory - the emphasis is on scoring goals and getting the girls. It's ruining the way the general public perceive football on a cultural level. English football culture is broken.
It starts early on. Speaking from personal experience, having spent time training with various soccer schools at a young age, it's a problem.
There was no sense of trying to find your own style, if you were chubby, you went in goal, and they weren't going to try and mould you or utilise your size to play in a defensive capacity. If you were tall, you went in defence, and if you scored goals and nut mugged someone, you got the award.
Before you assume that I was the fat kid, I wasn't, I was actually one of the ones who scored goals, which if anything - put me off even more.
Scoring goals is great, to be able to do it consistently means you are gifted. But I would argue that just as much skill is required to make interceptions or gather the ball safely with two hands.
Being in a team should mean that you work as an intricate machine, 11 parts of an engine, none more important than the others. Being in a team means you should share the modesty as well as the glory. This is what football culture in England is missing.
You would have thought some of the most high-profile players in the football would realise this, and do what they can to promote and emphasise the importance of understanding what being in a team means. But no.
Having been bored enough to watch the recent Wayne Rooney documentary, ‘The Man behind The Goals’, I was shocked to see that Wayne actually snubbed his son’s suggestion that he would like to be a goalkeeper one day.
Albeit light-hearted initially, Wayne went on to say he told his son that he should be a striker. Great. Forget your man between the sticks, he's not important, it's all about the striker.
The same thing happened in the Ronaldo film trailer, where he again snubbed his son’s wish to be a goalkeeper. Why?
Following in your dad’s footsteps is a nice sentiment, and I can understand if both Rooney and Ronaldo want their kids to experience success. But the lines have been blurred by what success means in football now.
Does success mean scoring goals? Is there or should there be such thing as individual success in a team sport?
Football is about glory after all, but not individual glory and that's the key difference.
The problem is that the kid who doesn’t score goals at a grassroots level doesn’t get noticed. Despite maybe having potential as a centre back or another, less glamorous role. As a result of this, advanced soccer schools are jam packed with wingers and strikers.
Is this just a problem with England, and is this why our national team under performs? Is this why our Premier League teams under perform in the Champions League?
The way the Spanish play tika taka like a team which saw Spain dominate world football for nine years, and working efficiently as a unit saw Germany ease past most teams in the most recent World Cup would suggest our obsession with giving the goal scorers the glory has had a bigger impact than we think.
Long gone are the days of players like Tony Adams or Paul Gascoigne - players who knew what being in a team meant and whose passion would resonate with the entire nation.
We need to start looking past goals as a way of measuring who the best is. Football needs to stop being about hair gel. David Beckham-itous is an epidemic. Please pass the ball.
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