What does the modern day footballer stand for anyway?

by Ben Edwards

GerrardAfter seeing the somewhat refreshing images of Lazio’s outgoing midfielder Hernanes shedding a few tears with fans on January 30th, it made me think that this is quite rare. Now I don’t mean players crying with fans; I mean loyalty. Many fans I am sure will say that in the fast-moving game that there is no room for loyalty in football more. I’m sure most players believe this as well.

While Hernanes’ reaction is rare these days, I really think it speaks volume. The reason being that while players move clubs left right and centre, it shows that to at least some of them there is a bond formed when you play for a club for a reasonable period of time. It also really picks out the ones who are more bothered about the money. I probably come across with the outdated ideals, but surely as fans invest time and encouragement in their favourite players it would be nice to see the players reciprocate.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that all players are like that; take Steven Gerrard and Francesco Totti who are two high-profile players who have stayed no matter what. Maybe it’s easier to see why Totti stayed giving Roma have had some very good times while he has been there. Of course, Gerrard could have jumped ship at the peak of his game to play for a better side and won a Premier League medal, something I’m sure everyone would agree he deserves.

But this kind of commitment is fading, and I for one find it rather sad. Like I say, a real bond can be struck up between supporters and players and it can have real effects. Like, for example, when they played in a derby game, you can physically see them giving their all and it means as much to them as it does to the fans on the terraces.

Some players these days wouldn’t even blink an eye at moving to their club’s most bitter rivals at the drop of a hat. This is where the real issue stands for me, I understand that they have to earn a living and do what’s best for their family and yes that has to come first, but maybe they could give the fans and the club who has supported them and willed them on a little respect? Such a gesture, in my opinion, would mean so much to the fans, and would go some way in them going down in that clubs folklore.

By wanting to do the very best for the club you are at shows a real footballer, one who may be willing to put aside that extra money and show real respect. I don’t care much for other teams’ results, but there is nothing more than refreshing watching an ex-player celebrate in style when they score a goal against your club’s rivals. It shows, yeah sure they have moved on yet they still have that passion and desire for their former clubs who may have made them what they are today.

Maybe I’m being unrealistic but I certainly believe that loyalty has its place in the game, and makes it all that bit sweeter when a long time player who has stuck with them scores a goal. Maybe in ten years it will be a concept that no longer exists at all, as players and managers continue to move from club to club at rapid pace. But just maybe, it will stick around and grow again once more. Here’s hoping.