Gareth Southgate this week named Harry Kane as his England Captain for next months World Cup in Russia.
However going with the theme that has been very consistent, there has been a barrage of criticisms aimed at the young England forward on what certainly should be one of the proudest moments of his career.
And that brings me to the point of this piece and the treatment England’s best footballers get at the hands of opposing club fans as well as the media.I’m not English, but I’ve been a Spurs fan since the 1990-91 season and for as long as I can remember the press have been relentless in their pursuit of some sort of dodgy storyline to out some of the country’s biggest stars. I find it bizarre.
Now perhaps the Spanish, German, French or Italians do it but I have not seen anything to the contrary and when us Republic of Ireland lot make a tournament the whole country turns out to support the “boys in green” but when it comes to England the opposite happens.
If for now we focus on Spurs players the freshest in memory is of course Harry Kane. The man is revered at Spurs but has had disgusting treatment at the hands of the press but also more bizarrely his own professionals. Instead of being lauded for his determination to be the best, to never rest in pursuit of a goal. He’s the best English centre forward since Alan Shearer and has every chance of surpassing his 260 goal record.
Dele, at just 22, has had similar treatment. In terms of goals he’s not had the same return this season but he’s been far more effective than he’s been given credit for. And there was the so called “Sex Tape” in which someone mocked up a video to make it look like Dele. It wasn’t up for long but it did damage. He’s been ridiculed and questioned every week for his “temperament”
He was involved in 50 games all season, scoring 14 and assisting 17 and he’s still only 22. He was roundly criticised for playing an online video game live recently (no doubt contracted to do so from sponsors)instead of watching a champions league match between Liverpool and Roma and he was also rounded on for lending his name to a clothing line. No matter what he does he’s ridiculed. It makes no sense.
Lionel Messi is lauded in Argentina, Ronaldo loved by all Portuguese and Robbie Keane is an icon in Irish sport meanwhile Kane is relentlessly mocked for claiming a goal he was positive he scored and was duly awarded. Yes you’d expect a bit of ribbing but not to the extent it’s been and for his fellow pros to get in on the act. That bit I can’t fathom. Is it jealousy?
But neither Dele nor Harry are alone in their treatment. Paul Gascoigne is a prime example, hounded for years, even having his phone tapped, yes he was a bit of a loose canon but his treatment was disgusting. He’s been on the straight and narrow for a couple of years now, he’s cleaned himself up and looks fantastic but you’ll not see that reported or pictures in the press of Gazza leaving a gym or swigging from a water bottle. David Beckham was constantly harangued, Raheem Sterling has had it, Wayne Rooney,who is his country’s greatest ever scorer, has been mocked over and over again. These are ordinary men, no amount of money changes that. They shouldn’t just have to put up with it because they earn millions I get banter but nowadays it goes far beyond what it should. And now the introduction of social media has changed things ten fold. People seem to type whatever the hell they like and get away with it. Now not all players look after their own social media but with the amount of free time they have they must see a lot of it and even though they are schooled in not letting it get to them it must at times. Just because a guy earns millions doesn’t make him any less of a bloke than the rest of us?
And as we head in to World Cup 2018 the relentless negativity has started, you have “pundits” giving their opinion on every form of media criticising Gareth Southgate for his selections, berating the squad before it even starts. Yes they get paid for their opinions but it isn’t going to make one hoot of a difference. Southgate is paid to do what he thinks is best why not back him.
Banter is all part of the game, I get and accept that but the season just gone it has way overstepped the mark. If someone is consistently ridiculed, abused daily for doing what he loves it’s bound to affect them and their desire to succeed. England need Kane far more than Kane needs England that is for sure.
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