There was a time when two rocks on opposite ends of an asphalt road meant for the next three or so hours you were going to play your heart out, that no matter what type of shoes you came in, you knew you were going to play. If you had flip flops you know you would put them as extra goal posts and play bare feet. You were going to go for every ball and make up for a bad ball by tracking back and winning it back. If you scored a goal you knew you would run the length of the road kissing your plain white tee but in your head its playing out different, your in a stadium packed 50,000 seater on a Tuesday rainy night and you celebrate like it was the goal of the year, even if it was just a tap in.
But why go through all that? risk getting cuts, bruises, and even worse, break something as I once did playing in those exact conditions back home in Saudi Arabia. Well let me tell you I never once regretted not pulling out of that tackle even though it cost me big because when you play from your heart WITH your heart, everything you do on the pitch is justified.
There was even a time in the professional scene when players played for the love of the game. Where a certain great by the name of Terry Butcher (see picture above) who was nick named Captain Blood for his heroic performance played in a white shirt drenched in blood, suffered a deep cut to his forehead early on in Sweden, and the hasty stitches and bandages didn't hold for long. As he helped his side attain the point they needed to go to the finals, his wound eventually bled out, making Butcher an icon. In this money infested world a footballer would most likely bow out at the sight of blood and probably be out for 2-4 weeks. I remember a game in the EPL not to long ago where Spurs where losing to Stoke 1-0 and dynamic wide man Aaron Lennon left the game and his teammates with 10 men on the pitch with well over 14 minutes left in the game, at that point gaffer Harry had made his 3 substitutes and had to play a man down in a game they really would have wanted to win I'm sure. I wonder what Butcher would say about this.
Jamie Carragher a well known footballer but its not down to his 1V1 skills, or because of his greased back hair or his flamboyant type behaviour, infact he posseses none of that. He is an iconic image in kopite folklore because of his never say die attitude, the amount of heart this lad has was more then enough to replace a bad groin that he was suffering during that historic night at Istanbul. I am not saying that Carragher is not well paid, but when you play with your heart for the club that you are representing and you leave 110% on that field, then every single cent that comes you're way is justified
Money changed the game and for the worse, it has made it so that player's who go away for the African cup of nations do not give it their all because of fear from injury and losing their spot in their respective club teams and that is SICKENING!
Bring back the days of where being down 4-0 at half time did not mean "okay lads the game is done and dusted we can't come back and turn this around just go out there and keep it respectable" because history has proven that NO GAME is ever lost until the final whistle. Iraq went from 4-0 down to tie it 4-4 in the Final of the pan am games. Argentina ressurected their World Cup hopes with a very late Palermo winner versus Peru. Bahrain eliminated Saudi Arabia from World Cup play off contention with a late late goal, even later then what seemed to be the winner scored by Saudi centre back Montashari. So no! Offering Egypt Cash rewards to beat Algeria in their crucial world cup qualifier showdown November 14th will not guarantee or even better your country's changes, why cant the simple fact that if you do give it your all, you could play on the worlds biggest stage for a sport you apparently love be enough motivation! But nowadays footballers are more motivated by who signs their cheques rather then what's on the pitch.
I know I would be a professional footballer for free given the chance and I guess I just miss the day's when that was a common feeling amongst all players.