Forget the money, forget the lifestyle, forget the materialisation that being a modern day footballer has become. As even though top Premier League players earn copious amounts of money and can live in the high life people do not give footballers enough credit for just how much it takes to make it at the highest of levels.
This lunchtime saw Manchester United host Arsenal and a prime example of having to be in top physical shape is a young Brazilian called Rafael Da Silva. Now at the moment he isn’t the best of players in the world but he must be pretty good to play for Manchester United. On top of that he must be a finely tuned athletic machine to have played three full 90 minute matches and an extra half an hour on Wednesday all in a week. To be able to play 300 minutes of football is one thing, but to do it at the highest level in three massive games for one of the biggest football clubs in the world is ridiculous.
He played 90 minutes on Sunday in a fiery encounter at Stamford Bridge under intense condition. Then to go and play 120 minutes in all at the same Stadium following what took place on Sunday was incredible; not to mention the fact that he was the most senior man in the defence that night at the tender age of just 22. And on top of training sessions in between he then plays in the Saturday lunchtime kick off against one of United’s oldest and most familiar foes in Arsenal.
Now I’m not saying footballers do more than other sportsman or anything along those lines. I just think that its pretty unfair how people claim that footballers don’t do an awful lot , the broken record needs to be changed and replaced. Rafael is an example and in every sport hard work has to be put in to make it at the highest level. Whether it is a Snooker or Darts player practising and learning their trade in pubs and pool halls all the way to football and rugby players who play in the park, in the playground or anywhere they can get space to move the ball around. To be at the top of your sport you have to be a super-human in terms of athleticism along with mental and physical ability.
Over the summer we saw the Olympics hit London and suddenly everybody hit out at footballers questioning their commitment and sportsmanship, quite understandably but my feelings on the matter cannot be any more passionate towards football. Football is almost a different entity due to how much it is highlighted in the media and how every little thing is scrutinized in such a high profile way. But what people don’t realise is just how hard making it at the highest level takes and I feel more consideration and appreciation just needs to be shown more often.
Anyone who watches or follows football year in year out would undoubtedly be able to admit that this season especially has been one of the darker seasons we have had. With racism being the main issue in the sport, ironically after a major tournament where the racism that was highly anticipated never really made an appearance. Now following the battle of the Bridge on Sunday the referee’s are now having their integrity questioned on a scale the likes we have never seen.
That was until Tuesday night, namely at the Madejski Stadium where one of the greatest comebacks that I have ever seen took place. Following Manchester United for 17 years or so now I know a thing about comebacks. Before Tuesday the greatest comebacks I had seen were United’s legendary night away to Juventus in the 1999 Champions League Semi Finals where, at 2-0 down United look dead and buried in the tie. But a Roy Keane goal saw a spirited United side go onto win the tie and the competition in a similar comeback style. Then there was the Tottenham 3-5 United match which was literally a match of two halves.
However, on Tuesday night at 4-0 down Arsenal were done for me. Didn’t really look like coming back at all, but suddenly Theo Walcott broke and going in 4-1 down you just knew it was going to happen. Everytime Arsenal pulled one back to get closer to extra time it was incredible. What drama to have in a competition that supposedly no one cares about. Then after an amazing extra time to cap off an extraordinary night Arsenal went into the next round.
But not only at Reading were Cup moments being created. Swindon came back from 2-0 down and only a Christian Benteke strike late on denied them an extra 30 minutes against their Premier League opposition Aston Villa. And how about at the DW, where Premier League outfit Wigan couldn’t break down the stubborn Bantem’s defence and lost on penalties to Bradford City.
Wednesday night saw more of the same, a thriller on the telly between Chelsea and United. It was great to see quite a tame match aggression wise after what had happened at the weekend; but for me it was a fantastic match and to think United were one clearance away from going through, but ended up losing in extra time. Swansea going to Anfield and dumping out the holders and their former boss in the process, cranking up the pressure on Brendan Rodgers at the same time. Norwich were 1-0 down to Tottenham after 80 minutes but ended up winning the tie 2-1.
Incredible midweek action that you wouldn’t find in any other country. A great advert for not only football as a whole but for English Football, whose reputation took a beating over recent months. And long may the scintillating football continue.
How about you, what is the greatest comeback you have ever witnessed? Cup or League. Let us know and the best will be published on our new social media outlets.
Welcome to On The Ball UK, a brand new sports blog bringing you different takes on the latest news in the Sporting world.
I will take this opportunity to introduce the team:
Ryan Butler (@abaconButtee) – Ryan will be taking care of all things Football and Snooker. As a Trainee Sports Broadcaster his opinions of football come with experience and passion. As a Hampshire fan, Ryan will also be giving his insight on the goings on in the world of Cricket.
Stephen Orwin (@stephenorwinxv) – Stephen is our Rugby man. There isn’t anything going on in the land of the egg shaped ball that this man doesn’t know anything about whether its League or Union. Stephen will also be covering aspects of Tennis throughout the sporting seasons and don’t be surprised to see his two cents in regards to Cricket.
Josh Orwin (@Orwinner) – Josh is our chief Cricket writer. He loves the game and knows a thing or two when it comes to playing and analysing the sport, whether its County or International Cricket he is the man when it comes to the big thing out on the field. Josh will also be chipping in with thoughts and reaction to the goings on in Golf and at points will even have his say on the Football aswell.
Thats the team! Now all we need to say is to look out for regular posts and updates as well as later on in the year refreshing articles on minor sports which we love and follow.