Column: The Proper Footballer
Wayne Rooney has had yet another incredible comeback from injury. After being diagnosed for 4 weeks, Rooney was back to light training only 10 days after getting injured.
Wayne also had similar recoveries for In-ger-land when he broke his metatarsal before the 2006 World Cup. He managed to take part in the tournament, but that was probably because the rest of the country was on prayer mats.
After injuring his ankle on the first day of this season, specialists announced a 3 month lay off for the scouser. Rooney played against Sporting Lisbon, only a month after.
These recoveries might be due to Rooney being young, but I can`t think of many other players his age that come back from injury that much ahead of schedule.
Or maybe it`s because of the quality of specialists available at United. If this is the case, Saha would be playing more than 5 games in a row.
I think that the best conclusion is that Rooney recovers so well due to his sheer determination and love for the game. There can`t be any other reason. Whenever he comes off for a sub, his body language shows that he just wants to play football all day.
Rooney isn`t soft. This could be another reason. He`s willing to take risks with his injuries, and if needed, he can play through the pain barrier.
This brings me to a point. Are footballers getting softer? If you look at rugby players, or even lower league teams, there is definitely a difference between them and players in the higher leagues.
Despite the quality and money involved, there really shouldn`t be much of a difference because they are still football players.
When was the last time you saw a Bury player jump and do a dive with triple-pike after being stroked by a defenders foot? Or after receiving a fair knock, the player lies on the floor awaiting for the approaching medic, only to get up and continue with the game after a light rub to the foot.
Players in the lower league a more or less fair and honest footballers. The passion and desire to win is still there but when the moment comes, they show great sportsmanship and honesty.
Lower league players are very similar to any sort of player back in the 60s and 70s. George Best and Pele withstood ridiculous amounts of knocks, but they still got back up and resumed with the game. Medicine wasn`t that great either, so if a player was out injured, they wouldn`t expect top quality care to help them back to fitness.
Footballers nowadays, have a different sort of mentality and attitude to players of the past, and rugby players. This could be largely blamed to the money in the game.
A rugby player probably takes as many knocks in a season, than a footballer in his whole career. But still, despite a broken nose, a rugby player jogs on with the game. Why is this? They are still human beings.
A logical answer could be that rugby players are much more mentally tough, and expect this sort of treatment while they get ready in the dressing room.
But an argument comes into my head that goes against the whole purpose for me to write the article.
Footballers go through a harder regime than most fans think. As well as playing matches at the weekend and sometimes in midweek, footballers have training for the rest of the days. 9am till 12noon of football. It`s not just the sort of game you play in the park with your mates, it gutless hard work to hopefully get ready for the next game.
They also have to put in the effort in the gym. Footballers are finely tuned athletes at the peak of their health. They reach fitness levels that the ordinary wouldn`t imagine reaching. All this comes through hard work everyday of the week……rubbish.
After a training session, a footballer dresses up in the changing rooms, looks down at his Rolex watch, casually slips on is Gooch sunglasses and strolls into his Aston Martin parked outside. He then drives to his multi million pound Mansion in Alderly Edge where he has Miss Universe waiting for his return.
Meanwhile the ordinary Stretford Ender wakes up at 6am for his brick laying job. He does a 9-5 shift and returns home to deal with the kids. If he`s lucky, the wife would let him out to the Pub where he`d sit and moan about over paid footballers with his mates.
However, the 'proper` footballer has existed recently and probably still now. Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and of course Solskjear come into it. Nowadays you only need to look at the Reading squad to find an example.
At United, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Giggsy are honest and fair footballers.
Even though the 'proper` footballer still exists, it is a rapidly dying breed.