The Curious Case of Football Loyalty

26 August 2014

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United” Di Maria said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Spain and there were a lot of clubs interested in me, but United is the only club that I would have left Real Madrid for.”

6 August 2015

 

“I am very proud, and can’t wait, to wear the colours of Paris Saint-Germain”, declared Angel Di Maria. “I want to win every competition we enter, both in France and Europe.”

The recent high profile transfer of Angel Di Maria from Manchester United to Paris St. Germain has once again opened the debate regarding the wavering loyalties of modern age football players to their respective clubs. After all, how could someone change their mission statement so drastically in less than a year?

 

 

This has not exactly been a recent trend. Remember Luis Figo’s switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000? It was as unthinkable then as it is now, to jump ships at such a high level. Many other players are also known for their indifference to their club, no matter how good they are. Take Zlatan Ibrahimovic for example. He’s consistently been one of the top 3 out-and-out centre forwards in Europe for about ten years, yet his goals have come for clubs splattered all over the continent. 3 years at Ajax, 2 years at Juventus, 3 years at Inter Milan, 1 year at Barcelona, 2 years at AC Milan, and 3 years at PSG clearly reveals a man with no emotional attachment to his club whatsoever. Some others who grace the disloyalty list are Ashley Cole, Robin Van Persie and Mario Gotze. They moved to greener pastures, in search of trophies and glory. After all, in Zlatan’s own words, “Football players should be admired for ambition and not castigated for disloyalty”.

As fans of above mentioned clubs, it is painful to see players leave so unceremoniously after seeing them kiss the badge. But we must ask ourselves, who are we to interfere in the lives of these professionals and their freedom of choice? It is only natural for any person to leave a job to take a better and more financially rewarding post. Then why are we so outraged when footballers do the same?

 

 

Having said that, you ought to spare a thought for those veterans who stood with their clubs through thick and thin. Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Ryan Giggs, Xavi Hernandez, Francesco Totti and a handful more are infamous for their unwavering loyalty towards their clubs, standing and captaining them through the good and bad times. As Alessandro delPiero said, “A true gentleman never leaves his lady’s side”, even when your lady has been relegated to Serie B after the Calciopoli incident.

 

 

Did the thought of leaving never come across any of their minds? Surely at some point in their careers it might have. But the love for their club is the ultimate deciding factor. The same club which took you in when you were a nobody, gave you a life and had fans chanting your name every weekend wasn’t so that you could give it all up for more money and leave on a whim. And sometimes if you’re unlucky, karma does bite you right back (I’m looking at you, Torres).

 

 

The ethicality of abandoning your club for a bright future is a decision that grinds the players more than anyone else. But as fans we must understand that is human nature to fight for what belongs to him and upgrade to better. There is nothing wrong with worshipping your heroes, but do not excoriate them if they make the tougher choice.

As for Angel Di Maria, 4 goals in 32 appearances understates his ability as a quick and talented winger who has won La Liga and the champions league with Real Madrid. Maybe the premier league was too physical for his liking, or perhaps he didn’t take to life in England all around. Whatever it was, maybe the move to Paris can refresh his career as well as bolster PSG’s chances in Europe. A message to all, that times have changed.

 

Vasant Menon (Instrumentation Technology, 4th year)

Illustration by D. Keshav Karanth (Information Science and Engineering, 2nd)

This article was written by 19a

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