Welcome to a late April edition of my column, kind of held back because I have been really busy trying to settle down with new roles. As have my friends and colleagues involved with my various projects. So, my apologies if we have been quiet on the website front and other areas.
I have spoken before and it certainly hit home again on my recent birthday about friendships forged through the game, in my case I am privileged to say around the globe. The reality is even though football has been the key a lot of those friendships are with people who are not directly involved. So, family members, friends of others or people who you just happen to start talking to and show an interest in your work.
I say this because I was blessed 3yrs ago whilst on holiday with my wife to meet a Canadian Guy whose wife was English. We started chatting about general things then football came up. He showed a real interest in both my career as a coach and my wife’s as an England International. I had started to write a book about my career and he read a few of the first chapters and was always asking me had I finished it. Sadly, I am still in that process and my friend Don who was a Cancer sufferer passed away earlier this year. I will always regret not seeing him again before this happened but one day I will finish the book and dedicate it to him along with a select few others.
As I get older myself the words Friendship, Love, Loyalty, Respect, Honesty, Humility and Family all start to have more meaning. Some of these words are bandied about far to liberally in many walks of life. They are certainly an intrinsic part of my Footballing life. I know I have used them at times without really considering what they should mean and I am as guilty as anyone of making mistakes in my time.
But it is a fact that you live and learn, I have no doubt let some people down but that for sure works both ways. However, the one thing I have and never will do is turn down a request for help or support, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen. Willing to share knowledge and never too proud to learn from others.
As for those closest to me, I would stand side by side in any battle and step in front if I had to, to help or protect them or their families. I have explained this analogy many times; My mother an Army Nurse and Yorkshire Lass who passed away when I was in my early 20s taught me to always be willing to help if I could. No matter even if people at some point forgot what you did and essentially turned their back, she said “If one in ten appreciates and never forgets then it is worth it”.
Over the many years, I have been attending the university of life and football that percentage has been pretty accurate. It seems that one negative situation can bring out a protective mechanism of selfishness,and a type of fear with at times almost childlike I don’t want to be your friend anymore reaction.
Well it’s a cliché but as is becoming more and more obvious in my own. “Life is too short” No matter what at minimum, remember who really stuck by you if you hit hard times. remember your roots where you started and who led you towards which ever part of your dreams you have hopefully reached.
This is not aimed at any one individual in my own life, I genuinely would like you all to consider when you call someone friend are they? When you tell someone you love them, do you? When you use any of the words I wrote in paragraph 4 do they really fit?
I have found that football can of course build friendships but in the competitiveness for personal success and the limited lifespan of both a playing career and Coaching roles even more so. Those relationships can be not only strained and tested but completely broken. Even families can be torn apart in the worse scenarios, all I would ask is please consider is it worth it?