All I know about Life, I learnt from watching Football III

Hello folks, Thanks for sticking by with my Musings of a Football Lover Series. This third post in the series was supposed to come yesterday, but I could not post it for reasons beyond my control. For that I apologize. However it is better late than never so here it is after all, I hope you enjoy it like the first two




Let me start with a quick question, what does South African striker Benni McCarthy and Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho have in common? clap for yourself if you remember that they were both in the FC Porto team that won the UEFA Champions League in 2003, because you are correct. In the years since then however, their paths have widely diverged. Jose Mourinho has become a worldwide figure, one of the best coaches the game have ever seen,with the trophies to prove it. Benni McCarthy on the other hand, even though he is also a super star in his own right, is little known beyond the shores of his native South Africa. But that UEFA Champions League title will always be on both their CVs.

Pixar’s 2001 animated movie Monsters Inc. and 2013 prequel Monsters University, teaches us a valuable lesson about achievements and superstardom. All Mike Wazowski, the hero of the story, wanted to be was a scarer, as scarers are regarded as the superstars of the monster world. But inspite of his hard work and study, he never becomes a scarer instead he has to pick up a mid level office job  where he finds out that even though he will never become a superstar scarer, he has some other talents that are useful and can help him make an impact within the monsters’ community.

That brings me to the point of today’s piece, in this piece from 2014 , I  talked about how action movies are creating a sense of entitlement, where people think life is a movie and they are the star actor and thus they like James Bond, or Neo, are owed a beautiful girl to co star with them. Football often creates the same effect, with people thinking that the world  is their football field and they are the Ronaldinho that the Santiago Bernabeu has stood/should stand up to applaud them. The bad thing about this feeling is that it creates a sense of entitlement, and anger at the world, which one holds responsible for not achieving the kickass dreams that one has. However the truth is that football like life is a very cruel game of Russian roulette. For example the other day I was looking at the England squad to the 2009 World U-20 Championship, and I found something startling, none of those 21 players have made it into the national team, they are in essence, a lost generation, how many of the Barcelona Academy graduates in Lionel Messi’s class have achieved even a top level football career, not to talk of iconic status like he has. Surely, as the sagely Solomon says. ” The battle is not to the strong and the race is not to the swift, but time and chance happens to them all”.

The truth is that (this may sound defeatist and it is not intended to stop everyone from dreaming big) not everyone will be a member of the world’s superstar echelon, but even if you don’t turn out to be a billionaire like Dangote, or maybe a iconic  entrepreneur like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, you can still achieve enough in whatever you have chosen to do that you can sit back and say like “I didn’t make billions, I didn’t become Governor or President, I didn’t become a TV darling, but I made an impact in something I choose to do”. That brings to mind German midfielder Sami Khedira, he will never earn the big wages and the high paying endorsements (Cristiano Ronaldo), He doesn’t score a shed load of goals (Lionel Messi) or create a shed load of goals (Mesut Ozil) he will not be applauded by the whole Santiago Bernabeu (Ronaldinho). He will likely not win the Ball on D’Or, or even be recognized as Player of the Year in his nation or any of the clubs he will play for. He will be recognized as a solid player but his name will never be spoken with the awe that follows some of the people he has played with. While no doubt Sami Khedira will love to be all these things, but he can still look at the winners medals he has, (Spanish League, Italian League, UEFA Champions League and World Cup) and be happy that even if he doesn’t get recognized as an individual, he was still part of units that achieved big things.

The important lesson of today is this, whatever you do, do it because you love it, and because you can do it, but do not do it because you think you should be a superstar at it. Because like Mike Wazowski and Sami Khedira, not all of us will have a church dedicated to us, or have fans vehemently arguing about us on social media, but we can all make a difference in our small corners of the world. We may never all be superstars, but we can be achievers nonetheless.

Leave a Reply