Monday, 30 January 2012

The grass is always greener on the football pitch.

Exactly two months have passed since Gary Speed took his own life.

It’s amazing how quickly the only story being talked about in the footballing world can dissipate from the mainstream.

Football ‘is’ more important than life or death.

Not in the sense of it being more important to an individual than his or her’s own life.

But in that even when we do lose one life, football will continue on - long after they are gone.

The Gary Speed story has made me realise just how important football can be to society.

It has a power that no one man can match.

No one team.

No one country.

It has the power to move people.

All types of people.

From all walks of life.

It has given a lot to many people.

It gave a lot to Gary too.

And from the outside looking in, Gary had it all.

But maybe having it all is not what it’s made out to be.

Maybe the profession that is football, is not the holy grail after all.

The grass never looks more green than when cast upon the pitches of football.

And Gary was a master of these pitches.

Great talent as a footballer coupled with great longevity in his career.

Outside looking in, suggestions he had it all.

And then he took his own life.

Presumptions were wrong.

Most of us dreamt of being a professional footballer, unbeknownst that life’s problems were part and parcel of that dream.

Just ask Ryan Giggs.

If any ‘normal’ person was dealing with the problems associated with having an affair, the whole country wouldn’t be reading about it on the front pages of the newspapers.

Paul Merson, Tony Adams, Paul Gascoigne to name a few, all had their private lives dissected by the punters on the terrace.

Each of them had it all.

We build footballers up to be these demigods yet are so quick to bring them back down once they’re finished.

Packed stadiums screaming their names the world over every weekend.

Yet pick up an injury for a long period of time and even the tabloids aren’t interested in where you buy your milk anymore.

Week 36 of your cruciate ligament recovery may be important to you.

But it won’t sell newspapers.

That’s not the arena that fans demand.

The arena that Gary didn’t experience much of his life outside of.

Broke into the Leeds team at an young age and when he bowed out 20 years later, Gary had virtually spent his entire life adorned by thousands of fans week in week out.

How tough it must be to lose that in an instant.

He can now go a week round Cheshire and not get ‘hassled’ once for an autograph.

What Gary made me realise through this was that we all have problems, no matter what we do.

Even inside the bubble we all look upon so enviously.

Footballers seem to have it all.

But having it all includes problems.

With the transition out of the game seeming a bigger problem than most.

Paul Scholes another who is testament to this.

Retiring at 36 years of age after 17 seasons at the top and winning almost everything there was to win in the game.

Yet he still found, just five months into the season, that he missed it too much.

Dean Windass came out last week and admitted to feeling depressed since he left the sport.

He carried on until he was 40.

Much longer than the average player at his level.

There are options to stay in the game of course.

But 80,000 people don’t greet Gary Neville when he arrives at Sky for work.

The coaches at Everton don’t get asked for their autograph.

And managing your own country doesn’t appear to be a big enough fix either.

It may have looked liked Gary had it all.

Quite clearly he didn’t.

No doubt the grass he walked on seemed greener to most.

It’s just a shame, that like a bad pun intended to sell just another newspaper in our arena - it all faded too fast for Gary Speed.

Thank you Gary for everything.

The grass just seems a little less green since you’re gone...

No comments:

Post a Comment