Simons orðaður við Man Utd - Calafiori færist nær Arsenal - West Ham hefur áhuga á Tomori
   mán 26. desember 2011 12:00
Sam Tillen
Pistill: Pistlar á Fótbolta.net eru viðhorf höfundar og þurfa ekki endilega að endurspegla viðhorf vefsins eða ritstjórnar hans.
The unglamorous side of English football
Sam Tillen
Sam Tillen
Mynd: Getty Images
,,In light of the Gary Speed suicide, the focus amongst the football community in England has shifted to dealing with depression.''
,,In light of the Gary Speed suicide, the focus amongst the football community in England has shifted to dealing with depression.''
Mynd: Getty Images
<b>Graeme Le Saux</b><br>,,One year, at the end of the season, he went in a camper van with a team-mate and travelled around Europe. After that he was falsely labelled a homosexual and it lasted throughout his career.''
Graeme Le Saux
,,One year, at the end of the season, he went in a camper van with a team-mate and travelled around Europe. After that he was falsely labelled a homosexual and it lasted throughout his career.''
Mynd: Getty Images
,,My contract ended and I joined Brentford. The first year was great, full of wonderful experiences. After that it became awful. Unbelievably awful.''
,,My contract ended and I joined Brentford. The first year was great, full of wonderful experiences. After that it became awful. Unbelievably awful.''
Mynd: Getty Images
Sam Tillen leikmaður Fram skrifaði pistil sem birtist á íslensku hér á Fótbolta.net á Þorláksmessu. Pistillinn hefur vakið mikla athygli og vegna fjölda áskorana er hann hér birtur á ensku.

Smelltu hér til að sjá hann á íslensku
.

In light of the Gary Speed suicide, the focus amongst the football community in England has shifted to dealing with depression. A few footballers have come out detailing their own troubles behind the scenes during their careers. It is hoped that by encouraging players to speak out, they can act as an example to others who are afraid to do so.

Having played in England and being English I know the culture of both the people and footballers in general. This therefore, has obviously affected my attitudes towards both. As you may know I played for Chelsea from the age of 10 to 20 years old. I never made it past the reserve team, never ‘made it’. However I came across a huge amount particularly during this time and my subsequent two and a half years at Brentford, before coming to this wonderful island. I was never suicidal, maybe depressed at times. Unhappy? Well, quite a lot.

I love football; I always have and always will. However there are things that go with it that I dislike intensely. Things that at times, have made me think of turning my back on the game.

The British culture is one that hates anyone who is successful. The media typifies this. They build people up, then, try to destroy them, taking great delight in doing so. As a teenager, I was playing for Chelsea, going to school, training 4 times a week, trying to do my best to stay at the club. People wanted me to fail, just like any other sportsman at the school, or anyone I knew who had a chance of being a success. There was intense jealousy. I was lucky enough to be picked to play for England Schoolboys, it was announced in school. I was so proud, as was my school. It still didn’t stop some pupils, who I didn’t even know say; ‘I’ll break your legs so you can’t play if I see you outside of school’.

As I got to the point where I started dating, football became a problem rather than helping. Of course a lot of players, most, in fact, use it to their advantage. Team mates of mine used to go into the nightclubs of Kingston in their Chelsea tracksuits in the hope of getting lucky! However, whenever I started dating a girl, I had no idea if they were meeting me because they liked me, or the prospect of being with a footballer. They all asked, ‘So, how much do you earn then?’ or ‘Bet you make loads of money don’t you?’ The answer was not a lot. People put Chelsea and money together but it just wasn’t the case. This, in turn, lead to me never seeing them again. I eventually just stopped bothering altogether.

Imagine if I was a high profile player!

Elite athletes marry at about the same rate (73%) as everyone else, but their divorce rate is considerably higher. A recent study revealed that 57% of the marriages of elite athletes ends in divorce. It might also be noted that many of these divorces take place during the first year following retirement.

People in the street who knew me or my parents would ask firstly ‘How is the football going?’ Followed by a question regarding money. For some reason, playing football seemed to offer anyone the chance to feel they could ask you things they would never ask another person. It became so annoying and in a way depressing. I basically felt that personally, I was zero, just someone who was quite good at football.

A problem every player has is how they deal with injuries. Everyone gets one, some get many. It is a massive drain on the player mentally as well as physically. The rehab is hard, made harder if your physio is bad. Every physio who works in a football club has to have a sense of humour, or, like one I had, be so unfunny, he was funny.

If you are injured long term, usually the coach will stop talking to you. You aren’t fit, so you are of no use. This can be hard, especially if you are a young player, you can feel unwanted and unvalued. It takes huge mental strength to keep going. You see your team mates training, improving, while you are inside on a bike watching out the window. Some step up to the first team, get new contracts, while you feel you are stuck, like a tree, going nowhere. No-one helps with the mental-side, it is really just left to your own character to see if you make it back. When any footballer doesn’t play, he is unhappy…..to not play for 12 or 18 months it can be excruciating!

I had my fair share of injury problems, I was full time at Chelsea for 4 years and played just over a year fit. In my last year, I had a number of niggly injuries and time was running out. My reserve team manager refused to let any player go on loan. Any interest I received was thrown out by him, or he told them I was recovering from injury…..don’t touch him! By now Abramovich and Mourinho were there. Neither watched the youth or reserve teams. I, and the rest of the young guys were basically trapped. Not enjoying it at all, hating training, resenting the coach and the club. I didn’t feel like I was the player I had been due to the injuries, I worried constantly about my future, whether I even had a career ahead of me after the injury troubles. I felt, as others did, incredibly alone and that really no-one cared about you, which they didn’t, you are just one of a number.

My contract ended and I joined Brentford. The first year was great, full of wonderful experiences. After that it became awful. Unbelievably awful. I ended up with 6 managers in a year and a half after that, some liked me, some didn’t. One match I was left out because we played a team of players picked solely on height. 6ft and over played, the rest on the bench. I just thought, what was the point? We hoofed the ball, never passed it and eventually I was left out, along with a few others deemed ‘surplus to requirements’. We were sent to the youth team, or in one case, not even being allowed to train, or eat with anyone at the training ground. He was the football equivalent of AIDS. He was 31 years old. He eventually told the coach to ‘Fuck off’ and never played again professionally. Another young lad, 18, fell out with the manager and he said to him, ‘you will never play for this or any other club again, I’ll see to that’ He didn’t play professionally again either.

In my experiences, managers would take players on long away trips and not pick them in the matchday squad to piss them off. They would make players play reserve games then take them off after 10 minutes. Any reaction would lead to a fine of 2 weeks wages. Of course there was general abuse, some vicious. A German player was called, ‘German c**t’, general other racial abuse. Black guys were ‘jokingly’ not allowed near the poles that marked out the pitch in case they speared someone like a zulu warrior. Italian guys were told to put their hands in the air, then, told ‘Look! Surrendering again, just like the war!’

Foreign guys were told the wrong instructions in training then made to look like morons when everyone else did things differently. All of which would make the person on the receiving end annoyed…..or a lot worse.

There is also the case of ‘dreams destroyed’. One case in point is my brother Joe. He was in flying form for the youth and reserve teams and Mr Mourinho asked then youth team boss Brendan Rodgers, for a left winger to play against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge. Brendan told him about Joe. The kitman asked Joey what size shirt he wanted and made him up a kit for the weekend, this was his break…..then the day before the game, Roman splashed some rubles on Jiri Jarosik. He played, not Joe, his chance had gone and another one never came. To be so close and have the dream taken away is, and was, soul destroying. Older players then came back from being on loan and despite his great form, they went into the reserves ahead of him. Joe was put back to the youth team, for whom he had outgrown and suffered there as a result. What more could he do?

Obviously there are many more factors. Training well or playing well and being left out of the team. Being told you will play the next game and you are left out. Losing form and losing confidence can crush some players. The feeling a coach doesn’t trust you or believe in you. There are so many things that can make a player feel low, angry, upset like the points made previously above and this can build up. You can’t talk to anyone about it, because you will be made to feel weak, the coach won’t trust you and will doubt your mentality, so who do you turn to? That is the question that footballers don’t know the answer to and can lead to disastrous consequences.

There has also been the rumour regarding Speed’s sexuality and that The Sun newspaper was preparing to put out a story regarding this. I had a brief discussion about this with Kolbeinn Tumi Dada, the great up and coming journalist. The average footballer in England, is not well educated. They do not really have open minds and try to fit into the stereotype.

How many players do you now see with, for example getting tattoos on their forearms/arms, in the last year or so? They follow trends in the cars they buy, everything. Monday mornings, without fail, would be a graphic version of what a few of the guys in the team did sexually with either;-
1. Someone from a nightclub or
2. Their wife or girlfriend
and occasionally
3. None of the above, usually a prostitute.

I will just say nothing will ever surprise me, ever. It’s also difficult when you meet the wife or girlfriend involved!

If a player were to be gay, or known to be, the abuse would be unbelievable, the environment is so macho, so masculine like that above, that anyone not like that will be picked out and the focus multiplied by a billion if they were homosexual.

One example is Graeme Le Saux, a thoroughly nice man with a wife and family. Well educated, thoughtful and articulate, he was different. One year, at the end of the season, he went in a camper van with a team-mate and travelled around Europe. After that he was falsely labelled a homosexual and it lasted throughout his career. He suffered blatant homophobic abuse from fans and players alike.

Until the attitudes change, or a player is brave enough to take the abuse from their own team, from fans, opponents, even managers, who, in my opinion wouldn’t sign an openly gay player for the sake of ‘dressing room morale.’ The 1 in 10 of men that are meant to be gay, are out there, and will stay in the closet, and do all they can to stay in it, it’s far safer.
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