To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the purpose or objective of this article will actually be – something that never usually happens when I sit down to start blogging. So for that reason I haven’t even decided on a title yet, so what you see above was thought up right at the end of this piece. Today was the day that the news broke that Wayne Rooney allegedly cheated on his wife Coleen whilst she was pregnant with their son. Jennifer Thompson, a £1.2k escort, spoke to the News of The World about her ‘seedy sex’ with Rooney over a period of a number of months. If these allegations are true, something that looks quite likely, then Wayne Rooney should hang his head in shame for what he has done to his wife. This post will explore the social issues surrounding his and other footballers conduct and why players do play away from home.
Like I said, I’m not too sure where this post is taking me (or you for that matter) but I want to clear up a few things. Wayne Rooney is an exceptional footballer – but we’re not talking about his ability on a football pitch. Pace, strength, vision and versatility are all tools in Wayne Rooney’s arsenal, but those aren’t being discussed today. You get fans/supporters/people that do not care what is going on in a players private life and I’ve seen plenty of that today on Twitter.
A “well as long as he is banging them in, I don’t care who he is f*cking” is a typical opinion you may hear in a boozer on a Saturday after a game – but of course you do get the complete opposite opinion. Plenty of other bloggers agree that Rooney’s conduct is disgraceful – something independent of our thoughts of him as a footballer. John Terry was ridiculed for his relationship with Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, and rightly so. Football fans use every trick in the book to try and wind up the opposition – that is the way it is always going to be – and an affair made public (as in Terry’s case) in gold dust.
However, why do we now care so much about the private lives of the players that play for our club? Whats it about? We all have an opinion on Rooney, whether you strongly disagree with his actions (me), whether you are waiting for more details to emerge before making a decision and lastly the fans that really do not care.
Footballers are always banging on about privacy and their right to it. It is being reported that Rooney investigated a ‘super-injunction’ to suppress the allegations on the grounds of privacy – however he was all for his wedding to be displayed in a glossy magazine so I presume this is the reason as to why it wasn’t followed up.
Imagine this scenario….
Imagine this scenario, your local butcher – a married big fat balding man with a slight bit of sweat gleaming just above his mouth is shacking up with some old bat from the local club. Do you care that the man that greets you with a smiling, if a little sweaty, welcome before cutting you up some rump steaks is banging that woman that looks across between Vanessa Feltz and Martin Buchan (if you squinted)? Of course you don’t! So why Rooney? Well – A) He is a super rich footballer that is smack bang in the public eye B) There is something ingrained in the British psyche that loves to see someone crashing down to earth and C) Nobody wants to think of those two bumping uglies.
Don’t get me wrong I’m with you, I think if these alleged reports are true that he has been a disgrace to his family. Does it change my view on him as a footballer? Not at all. Will I look at him differently? Probably not – however that doesn’t mean that I agree with how he conducts himself in his private life. Surely the same could be applied to that mate of yours who is a bit of a dog to his missus. You know the one – we all do. But yet you still go for a drink, play football and do everything else with your mate.
Eric Cantona can do no wrong
You may ask, what on earth has Eric got to do with this subject?! Possibly nothing, however this section may explain the thoughts of a young fan in the pre-cynical days of reality. Eric Cantona, like many Reds my age, was my absolute hero. His footballing ability was simply ‘better’ than everyone else, he strutted around the pitch like he owned it and was a lovable rebel that stuck two fingers up at authority. His skills, goals and influence is legendary and I wouldn’t have changed anything from when he signed in November 1992 to when he suddenly retired in May 1997.
However, my quite naive ‘walking on water’ perception of Eric Cantona wouldn’t allow for criticisim of what society perceives to be the ideal person. We loved him for his aura, ability and rebelliousness but would I have changed my image of him had I known that he wasn’t the ‘God like’ person I had built him up to be? Many of us will have heard of the stories that went around about Eric and his ‘love’ of the high life, but as a teenager – I didn’t care. I wanted to see him chipping the ball over the whole Tottenham defense for Denis Irwin to run onto, I wanted to see him volley the ball into the back of the net against Wimbledon in the cup and yes I want to see him half volley the ball through a crowed Liverpool penalty area to win the FA Cup for United in 1996.
If revelation like the ones that broke today applied to Eric back in 1994, would I have changed my opinion of him? Should I have changed my opinion on him? Surely what happens in his private life stays in his private life, no? Or do you feel let down buy the irresponsible conduct of your God like hero? I guess it all depends on what type of person we actually are.
The Big Brother celebrity generation
Ok, here is where the real debate kicks off. Georgie Best, Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh, Diego Maradona and Romario are all some of the names that get branded around as the playboys of football. The booze, the girls and the flash lifestyle and some of the things that make these players appealing and adored by the thousands of fans that paid to watch them week in week out. One of my major issues with modern day football is the amount of PR crap that surrounds each and every player. From Frank Lampard waddling around Sainsbury’s to Beckhams extremely short pants to the mundane awful interviews we hear all the time. You can see how well the player has been taught/trained to not actually have an ounce of personality or an honest insight into the questions that are being asked (unlike this man). Football players are marketable commodities and their management firms are so hellbent on creating the ‘brand’ that footballers become distant from the ex-players that didn’t have all of this nonsense surrounding them. Footballers wages have increased massively (as we are all well aware of) as the game has evolved into business. This of course distances fans from players, combined with the PR rubbish that we have to witness – which could be a reason why we are so (as a nation) A) interested in the public lives of famous people B) Have such a low opinion of footballers when you know plenty of mates that would do the exact same thing if they had the chance – the fact is Ashley Cole, John Terry and Wayne Rooney are better footballers. Over the past ten to fifteen years, Britain has become a celebrity obsessed egotistical nation – with the rise of reality TV shows and the invention of ‘Wags’. Young footballers are only a reflection of what society has become. I am not stating that is an excuse for Wayne Rooney (far from it) but more of a criticism of what we have become.
Quick note, as I am typing this – the missus is watching some awful programme on Sky about some PR firm and in the space of ten minutes, along with Jennifer Lopez and P.Diddy – David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo have been branded around as possible clients for some tanning promotion. When did it get to this – what happened to the football?
Diego Maradona Vs. Johan Cruyff
Two of the finest footballers of all time go head to head in the battle of bikini clad woman stories. Cruyff’s most famous tale is that of on the eve of the 1974 World Cup final, Holland’s captain along with a number of team mates were ‘relaxing’ with a number of German ladies in their hotel. News was leaked to the press and Mrs Cruyff was reported on the phone to her husband for most of the evening, which is one conspiracy as to why the Dutch didn’t beat the inferior West Germans in Munich. Cruyff was a genius of a player and genius of manager, did this incident taint his legend or could there have been a more cynical act at play by the German press release the story at a time that suited them (something Yolkie discussed earlier in the day)? Who knows.
Diego Maradona was the best player of all time for me. Exceptional genius that could do impossible things with a football. However Maradona was a rogue, a tearaway – raised in the slums of Buenos Aires – and his lifestyle whilst playing reflected that. In the brilliant book ‘Calcio: A History of Italian Football‘ – a story emerges of Maradona partying the night before a UEFA cup match away in Moscow. The cocaine fulled orgy lasted all night and Maradona missed the plane to Russia. After a monumental hang over and a big sleep – El Diego joined his teammates in time for kick off but started off on the bench before coming on the second half. The stories i’ve heard about Maradona make you laugh out loud in terms of what he got away with – but he got away with it because he was the best. If he was indeed like our Butcher friend from earlier, I doubt the many ladies he partied with that night would have done so and he probably would be stuffing cocaine up his nose with his roommate Bez.
Other players that have had, shall we say, controversy surrounds a sleazy rumour, is Zinedine Zidane and Garrincha. Zidane is the greatest player (in my opinion) in the past twenty years to grace the football fields of this earth – but there are certain Italian football experts that believe Marco Matarazzi was informed by Marcello Lippi (Zidane’s ex manager at Juventus) of an ‘event’ that occurred in Turin whilst Zidane was a player. Details didn’t emerge of what the ‘event’ was but it was enough for the balding French captain to smash his shiny head into the torso of the chunky Italian defender. Could it be that even the squeaky clean, but slightly mad, Zinedine Zidane was involved in some type of sleaze whilst in his mid to late 20s in Serie A, I hope not. The fact that i’ve said ‘I hope not’ clearly demonstrates that I still haven’t got over my ‘Eric Cantona God like’ association. What does it matter if it were true? Would that make him a less talented player? Would that taint his exquisite volley in the 2002 European Cup final? Course not.
Garrincha is the other one I wanted to talk about. Many Brazilians cite Garrincha and not Pele as the greatest Brazilian that ever lived. An extremely talented right winger that would ghost past players and was part of Brazil’s 1962 and 1958 World Cup wins died a lonely alcoholic in hospital. However, if a footballer participated in some of the reported ‘allegations’ that Garrincha was caught up in – football chants/songs would never be the same again. Not only did Garrincha have a, reported, large manhood that he ‘showed’ to the nurses in his final days but the fact that he lost his virginity to a goat. If only I could find a picture of Steven Gerrard or John Terry at a local farm…..
So this post will hopefully have explained the following:
- Wayne Rooney should hang his head in shame if these allegations are true
- Wayne Rooney does not care what I think as some random blogger. He owes nothing to me or to you but he owes his family an explanation
- I’m not too bothered about what a person gets up to in their personal life (aka the sweaty butcher), however I am raising that question on whether we should do; do you?
- The ‘Eric Cantona God like association’ of our players sometimes clouds/influences our perception of our heroes
- Britain has become a celebrity obsessed nation and the birth place of the ‘wag’. You know the type – people that do not care how they get famous (or for what) but as long as they are known for something – unfortunately we embrace it.
- The footballer of today is further away from the fans than he has ever been. As football has evolved into big business; wages have increased, ridiculous ideas such as the 39th game rear their ugly head and marketing deals become priorities.
- The idea that the British like to see people at the top get knocked down a peg or two is quite true.
- Football and controversy go hand in hand at times.
I’m sure it is clear that I object to Wayne Rooney’s actions. If I was as good as Wayne Rooney and was a professional footballer I would like to think that I wouldn’t act in such a way. However, I am confused as to whether it really makes a big difference to me. I don’t look at Wayne Rooney as an inspiration for how I should live my life or become a better husband – I look at Wayne Rooney as a Red and as a top footballer. If these allegations are true I do feel for his wife as it will be a humiliating ordeal (I can hear the more cynical bunch in the background shouting ‘cha-ching’) but then again I know little of what his wife does, so it doesn’t impact me.
Our celebrity obsessive and egotistical carved society has seen the Wags getting more attention from glossy magazines than the players themselves in International tournaments – when did we forget about football? When was it more about getting famous than having a skill? Why are people interested in Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham appearing in tanning ads? I’m sure you’re all shouting ‘because it sells!’ – S Club Seven sold a lot of records, that doesn’t make it right. Footballers behaviour is a reflection of society today. When we all go out on a night out you see fighting in the street, you see friends pulling a bird when they have a girlfriend/wife at home and you see people smoking/drinking in public – something that gets reported in whenever a footballer gets involved. I mentioned in another post that Zidane, Cruyff and Socrates all smoked – didn’t do them much harm on the football field when they were banging in goals. Do footballers have an obligation to act in a responsible manner and act as role models to the young kids of today? Their sponsors would hope so (I hear that ‘cha-ching’ sound again), but really does it matter? Eric jumped into the crowed and kicked a Palace fan – did it make me smash into a passerby and his dog on a Sunday morning after hearing ‘Oi number seven, you’re shit!’? Course it didn’t. Football is a working class game (well the majority of players come from working class roots) and with working class roots comes certain baggage.
This isn’t a defense of Wayne Rooney at all (as I have criticised his conduct a number of times) but more a deeper look into where we find ourselves today. Rooney cheating sells papers – whether you’re interested or not, it does. As mentioned, this is something that has born out of our ever changing society that becomes more shallower by the day. As you get older you get more cynical and I recently did a personality test to see where my strengths and weaknesses are. Turns out I’m quite guarded and don’t trust anyone – which means that you have a low expectation level of people. This could be why I’m not surprised that Rooney has done this, not surprised that the papers ran it at this specific time (something Yolkie was annoyed with) and why I’m not surprised at the comments aimed (both positively and negatively) at our number ten.
I think i’ll wrap up now and try and get a title together to consolidate all of these points. How can I formulate a title that encapsulates a Rooney cheating story, the social and moral dilemma of such actions, fans points of view (and do they matter), older footballers and their shenanigans and lastly the evolution of the football business. ‘Rooney cheat rumours & Maradona’s tiny penis stories’ won’t really run – so I’m going to settle with ‘Wayne Rooney, ethics & celebrity obsessed society’. Would have been a more fun title had I been writing about Garrincha on the farm wouldn’t it?