Being English, I grew up playing football. Nothing unusual about that. Millions of boys were the same as me. Playing in the park, playing for teams, supporting a team(usually a top team, if you were from a small town. I supported Liverpool, and I am not a Liverpudlian).
This was what most boys did(girls did not play then, for all you PC brigade). It was life. Driven by 2 things; desire, and positive peer pressure. The thought of being left out was not something anyone wanted to experience. What were you to do when all of your friends were playing? This is how serial killers are made!!!!(my attempt at humour).
No one though about being a professional, although several of my friends, in my opinion, were good enough to do so. Leave school, go to college or university (if you were really smart), or do an apprenticeship, and begin your working life. That was everyone’s path. This did end one’s football career. We played for Saturday, Sunday teams, or both, as I did. Work and study fitted in around this. Fast forward to today,s world in which we have; The Premiership, La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga. I use these as the benchmark for my theory. These are the 4 main leagues in Europe, with most of the best talent. Football has risen over the years to become a multi-billion pound industry, and with it have come 3 things.
1. The drive to become a player.
2. The drive to win trophies.
3. The drive to become famous.
I have not placed these things in order, I will leave you to do this.
My order is;
1. The drive to become rich.
2. The drive to become famous.
3. The drive to become a footballer.
Most top players are multi-millionaires these days, with even players in the lower leagues collecting salaries per week, which most people earn in a year. It does not take much logic to work out that money is the overriding factor. Because nowadays we, as humanity, worship money, and the people who have it.
I remember reading an article about a player who played for Tottenham Hotspur, who admitted that the only reason he played football was for money. I admired his honesty at the time, and although I read this at least 5 years ago, the die had already been cast.
Many players do not care whether they will or lose games, whether they get to finals, win trophies, leagues, or championships. They
probably spend most of their waking hours checking their increasing bank balances, and thinking what they are going to spend their ill-gotten gains on. I say ill-gotten due to the fact that they are defrauding the club, the supporters and fans of the clubs for their own personal gain.
Sport in general has shot itself in the foot by initiating, and perpetuating this situation. If you read the news you will see a trend of players forcing moves, refusing generous contracts, refusing to play, agents expressing discontent to engineer increased salaries, or hold clubs to ransom. Most top clubs do not need the income from packed houses. They can play in empty stadiums and still earn massive amounts of money through TV rights, merchandising, and more. Why would you need to care when you are earning a quarter of a million pounds per week?(For non-British, do the conversion). You are becoming a millionaire every month. This for me is the main reason why many players do not follow the ‘football dream’ anymore.As a footnote, I am not disparaging those who live the dream and see the resulting wealth as secondary. There are hopefully enough of these players still around, or coming through to keep that side of the game afloat.