Much has been said recently about the antics of professional footballers. John Terry and his alleged affair with his team-mate Wayne Bridge’s former girlfriend. Ashley Cole and alleged saucy texts to various models, which has led to his wife Cheryl Cole announcing their separation in a blaze of publicity. Not to mention various players being involved in drunken brawls, drink driving offences and in some cases stabbing incidents.
The media cry foul and accuse them of being bad role models. Now forgive me for saying but these people are hardly role models. By virtue of having a natural talent, the vast majority find themselves well paid, and in some cases extremely well paid individuals. A recent lottery winner has proven what happens when you give oiks large sums of money.
We now hear that Wayne Bridge has ruled himself out of contention for selection by England for the World Cup, he says his position is untenable and could result in disruption if selected to travel to South Africa in the summer. Footballers are dominating the front pages of the Sunday newspapers, not the back pages as they should be.
The original “Golden Boy of football” long before David Beckham was Wilf Mannion. Here was a man blessed with a natural talent, he scored a hat trick on his England debut. During the Second World War he served in the Middle East and was also evacuated from Dunkirk. He featured in several wartime internationals for England.
Mannion played his football in an era of the maximum wage, he exposed illegal payments in the game at the time and received a life ban for refusing to reveal the names of the clubs involved. This ban was later lifted at the end of his career.
Wilf Mannion ended up working as a “Tea Boy” at ICI’s Wilton site in Middlesbrough. Compare this to the vast amounts of money floating around to players these days. He died in 2000 aged 81, in 2004 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame
If Wilf could see the way footballers conduct themselves today he would be ashamed.