When Football Really Hurts
Football really hurts, and the Champions League final is no exception.
Expert panel chooses top ten images that best reveal the pain and emotion fans and players alike endure for the beautiful game.
With an all English Champions League final around the corner, the image of Manchester United celebrating in front of broken Bayern Munich players in the Champions League final in 1999 is voted among the top ten images that define football really hurting.
Over a million archive images were whittled down by football experts, and viewers of the Nuts TV docu-drama Football Hurts to form a shortlist of 10 images that reflect how football can hurt, both emotionally and physically. The expert panel includes ex-footballer Alan Cork, AFC Wimbledon Co-Founder Ivor Heller, psychologist Jim Lowther (senior lecturer in Sports Psychology at Kingston University), Getty Images Football Editor Mark Trowbridge and Nuts TV programming director (and commissioning producer of Football Hurts) Joe Talbot.
This will be the first season that the dominance of English football in Europe comes to the forefront for all to see, but this doesn�t mean that the final will go without English heartache. Every game must have its winners and losers, and as both finalists represent the Premiership one set of English fans will see their team lying in the wake of the other creating similar scenes as 2001. Will Manchester United be victorious once again, or will it be Chelsea celebrating while United players reflect on missed opportunities?
Jim Lowther, Senior Lecturer in Sports Psychology at Kingston University, comments on the image of Manchester United celebrating after their 1999 win:
'Despair and joyful celebration. Bayern Munich were a few minutes away from victory. A loss of concentration at a corner allowed Man Utd an equaliser. The momentum shifted and Man Utd won. The image shows winning team in huddle and the losers are left coping on their own. Did Man Utd have a more cohesive team?'
Martin Perry, Confidence Coach and Sports Psychologist, comments on players succumbing to powerful emotions, which can clearly be seen in the Manchester United image:
'The football field is a pressure cooker arena. In the moment of scoring a goal, for example, those emotions, tensions and anxieties get released. The power of the moment, the euphoria, acts like a release valve for the emotions. The player can't help himself. The emotions come pouring out. The greater the consequences, the more intense the emotional release.'
The poll was commissioned by Nuts TV to celebrate the critically acclaimed docu-drama Football Hurts which follows the progress of every fan's favourite second club: AFC Wimbledon, in their successful campaign this season that has seen them promoted from the Ryman League via the play-offs. More than any other club, AFC Wimbledon and their fans know how much football can hurt: In 2002, Wimbledon FC's owners were granted permission to move the club the 60 or so miles to Milton Keynes, cutting all ties with the area of Wimbledon, launching a new club Milton Keynes Dons in 2004. Desperate not to lose their club, Wimbledon football fans decided Wimbledon football should stay in South London; and started their own club.
Former Wimbledon legend Alan Cork played football in every division for Wimbledon as the Dons made their climb up the football pyramid. He knows only too well how emotion can really affect a player and his performance after seeing the ups and downs of the professional game both as a player and a manager:
'Whenever you step onto the pitch from the changing rooms, you're not only dealing with the pressure you put on yourself as an athlete, but the huge pressure to perform � from your fans, from the rest of your team and from the coaches. So even before you�ve started, you've got this emotional battle raging: 'am I going to be the man of the match, or am I going to be the one that messes it up?� That's why, when you do score you sometimes can't control the urge to run the length of the pitch spinning your shirt in the air - it's like a pressure valve for all that tension! On the flip-side of course, if your game has been a disappointing one, knowing that you're letting down the fans that come and see you week in-week out can really affect you as a player.'