Hello folks, thanks for following my series, Contemplations of a Football Fan. I started this series in April but due to some projects I had at hand, I was forced to take a break in May after the fourth post. Now that I have a bit of free time, It is time to continue with the series. Today’s post is post number five, and I hope you enjoy it as you enjoyed the previous four. I want to apologize profusely for slacking off and I hope I can finish the series without interruption this time.
V. The Only Thing Constant is Change
There is nobody who knows anything about football that doesn’t know Wales and Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale. He is the highest record transfer in the world (100 million Euros to Real Madrid in 2013). Even though he is still in his twenties, he is already arguably the best Wales player of all time. Bale is currently at the European Championships in France and he has been one of the standout performers in the competition. The 26-year-old has led from the front and has been scoring for fun, as Wales, one of the least rated nations in the tournament embark on a quest to be among the best in Europe.
However, Bale has not always been a frontman, he actually started his career as a left back. it was erstwhile Tottenham Hotspurs manager Harry Redknapp that decided that his athleticism, skill, and speed would be put to better use as a winger and converted him to a left winger. Bale took to his new role like a fish to water, performing so well on the left wing that he won the English Premier League’s Professional Footballers Association Player of the year in 2013, which made Spanish Club Real Madrid pay a record-breaking fee to buy him. When he got to Spain, Bale discovered that his favourite left wing position was already taken by club star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, so he had to switch to the right wing. He soon became one of the mainstays of the Real Madrid team even from his unfamiliar position. And when he thought that was it, Wales came calling and as the Welsh had no decent strikers, Bale has been called to either lead the line or support the main striker at the Euros so far, and he has been excellent in both positions. What that means is that in the last five years or so of his career Gareth Bale has played in five different positions, and he has excelled in all of them.
The reason why I started today’s piece with the Gareth Bale story is to point out that the maxim: “the only thing constant in life is change” applies to football the way it applies to life. Like Bale, when life turns we must turn with it. In whatever we do, we must be ready to adapt to change, or we will not survive in a changing world that waits for no one. Like a stream, we must continually be flowing. if we don’t flow, we become like a stagnant pool, which soon becomes dirty and useless. It reminds me of all the things I have read about how the dinosaurs went extinct. Though there are different theories about the event that wiped the beasts out, but the common thing to all of those theories is that something happened to change the world the dinosaurs lived in, and they died because they couldn’t cope with that change.
Everybody who watches football knows that the deadliest partnership in football right now is the FC Barcelona triumvirate of Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Lionel Messi. What makes the three of them so dangerous together? Individually each of the three is a gifted footballer in his own right, however in the Barcelona team, the three move as a unit. They swap positions constantly, using their speed to create swift interchanges that keep opposing defenders confused as to how to mark and contain them. That is why they keep excelling and their partnership is synonyms with goal scoring attacking potency.
I remember that the very first topic we were taught in Integrated Science, the year I entered Secondary School was characteristics of living things. One of the attributes we learned was G-Growth, which is described by the English Dictionary as an “increase in size, value or strength.” If you are not preparing to grow, you are preparing to die. Imagine for a moment that Gareth Bale failed to make a successful transition to a right winger at Real Madrid, he would have had to play second fiddle to Ronaldo all his career, consigned to be forever second rate. Because he changed and adapted, he earned his place in Real Madrid’s own triumvirate alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. I could go on with more examples of players who became superstars by transitioning to positions other than their preferred ones, but I feel the Bale story is lesson enough. Football is simple enough just like life. Be ready to change or be ready to die.