Football’s Life Lessons I

Football is the most popular sport, played and watched by millions of people world wide.

Football is more than a game because it teaches us a lot about life so let’s take a look at some of the lessons we can learn from following the game.

1. People don’t remember all the things you’ve done for them rather they will hold unto the one you didn’t do. Robin van Persie has scored a lot of important goals for Man United this season but took a lot of stick for missing a glorious chance late in the game against Chelsea.

2. Success breeds haters. Lionel Messi and his FC Barcelona team are hated by many because of the success they’ve recorded.

3. The media will make and mar you. David Beckham married spice girl, Victoria Adams in 1999 and the pair were dubbed “Posh & Becks” by the British media. A few years later, British tabloids offered Rebecca Loos a whooping £5m to reveal all the details of her affair with the football star.

4. Competition is healthy and brings out the best in us. Javier Hernandez has really improved in his all round play this season because of the emergence of Danny Welbeck and signing of Robin van Persie.

5. Football enlightens us on geography and makes us conversant with some places we had never heard of. Eg Andorra, San Marino, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Catalunya, Lichtenstein, Basque country, Andalucia country, etc.

6. Football helps you become familiar with some names of the players/coaches and the countries associated with such names.

7. Nothing is permanent. Life is all about rise and fall. In 2002, Leeds United were in the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League; they play in the English second tier (Championship) today.

8. All is fair in love and war.
If you like complain and moan all day about some refereeing errors that cost your team the match, the match won’t be replayed.

9. Opportunity comes but once, take it! Kenneth Omeruo was relatively unknown prior to the start of AFCON. He was given the chance to play after Efe Ambrose was red carded in the first game, he did well and cemented his place in the team ousting the captain, Joseph Yobo from the starting line up.

10. Football educates one about history, only if you listen to the commentary and don’t make silly noise/arguments during a game. Did you know whenever Tottenham Hotspur plays at home, Arsenal (Highbury days) must play away to prevent traffic jam?

11. It is hard to replace or leave a team player out of the team. Pedro is the one of the most hard-working players I’ve seen, that’s why it’s hard to keep him out of the team at FC Barcelona and International level.

12. Footballers inspire you, you can be anything you want to be if you work hard.

13. Money will always come but what would you do with the money? A lot of footballers have gone from riches to rags because they failed to invest their money properly.

14. Nobody is indispensable. Manchester United won’t become extinct when Sir Alex Ferguson finally retires.

15. Humility is truly a virtue. Ryan Giggs is the most decorated player in the history of English football but he’s laid back and humble, a true example to everyone. See Kanu Nwankwo also.

To be continued

Heart Doesn’t Break Even

Music is my life, everything about me revolves around music. It is everything to me; it inspires me, calms my nerves and soothes my sorrows – not necessarily but it helps me deal with my fears.

A day without music makes me itch like a crack-addict who is deprived of a sniff. Music is to me what sex is to a prostitute.

I listen to music everywhere while working, driving, walking, studying, prior to a football match; in fact music takes me to another world and aids me perform at an optimum level.

My best genre of music has to be Rock – Soft Rock to be precise. Here in Nigeria, people see Rock songs and its artistes as devil incarnates/worshippers and weirdos but these weirdos thrill and provoke my thoughts each time I listen to them with their unrivalled choice of words. I implore you all to listen to bands like Coldplay, One Republic, Hinder, NickelBack, The Script, Keane, Avril Lavigne and pay attention to the lyrics of their songs – believe me, there’s a message in between the lines of all the songs for you. Thank me later.

Anyways, let’s get down to the crux of the matter. Yesterday, as I laid down my head on my bed to retire, I sought the help of my music library to take me to El Dorado. That’s when a song (Break Even) by The Script came on and I fell into a trance.

Read carefully the lyrics of this song.

“I’m still alive but I’m barely breathing
Just prayin’ to a god that I don’t believe in
Cos I got time while she got freedom
Cos when a heart breaks no it don’t break even

Her best days will be some of my worst
She finally met a man that’s gonna put her first
While I’m wide awake she’s no trouble sleeping
Cos when a heart breaks no it don’t breakeven… even… no

What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you,
And what am I supposed to say when I’m all choked up that you’re ok
I’m falling to pieces, yeah, (One still in love while the other ones leaving)
I’m falling to pieces (Cos when a heart breaks no it don’t breakeven)

They say bad things happen for a reason
But no wise words gonna stop the bleeding
Cos she’s moved on while I’m still grieving
And when a heart breaks no it don’t breakeven even… no

Oh you got his heart and my heart and none of the pain
You took your suitcase, I took the blame.
Now I’m try’na make sense of what little remains ooh
Cos you left me with no love and no love to my name.”

Truly, it is never a two-way thing when lovers break up, it’s always one sided. One side hurts and grieves while the other moves on. When a heart breaks, it doesn’t break even.

Thank God It’s Friday…

Much Ado About Manchester United

I wasn’t into English football when I was growing up rather I was an ardent follower of the Dutch Eredivisie, all thanks to my late uncle. The first “official” European match I watched was Ajax vs. AC Milan, Champions League final, 1995 where an Ajax team of youngsters captained by Danny Blind and coached by Louis van Gaal won the day courtesy of a goal by then 17 year old Patrick Kluivert. Ajax had the Van der sars, de Boers, Davids, Seedorfs, Witschges, Litmanens, Kluiverts, Blinds, Reizigers along with 2 Nigerians, Kanu Nwankwo and George Finidi in their ranks.

I fell in love with the Ajax team and kept on following the Dutch league but all I really cared about was the goals; I never missed an episode of Rothmans football show on NTA back in the 90s. I did not support any club until I watched the UEFA Champions League magazine show prior to the final between Manchester United and Bayern München at the Nou Camp in 1999.

They did the pathetic story of the ruin and rise of the club, Manchester United F.C. The Munich air disaster took place on 6th February 1958, when British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from an ice-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, Germany. On board the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the “Busby Babes” along with a number of journalists and supporters. 23 of the 44 people on board the aircraft died instantly as a result of the crash. As I watched this documentary, I wept as one of the players, Liam Whelan actually said: “This may be death, but I am ready” shortly before take off! The manager, Sir Matt Busby read his last rites (prayers before death) twice on his hospital bed because his chances of survival were slim. But the death of their best players did not bury the club! To feeble minds that would have been the end of the story. I saw the Munich memorial clock on the south eastern corner of Old Trafford that permanently read “Feb 6th 1958.” I saw the “Munich Tunnel” in Old Trafford stadium that contains the names of all the dead players and the bold inscriptions under the crash victims’ pictures: Manchester United Shall Rise Again and that was the day I joined the club because that is the summary of life.
The club did rise again; Sir Matt Busby resumed managerial duties the next season (1958-59), and eventually built a second generation of Busby Babes including George Best and Denis Law, that ten years later won the European Cup, beating Benfica. Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes were the only two crash survivors who lined up in that team.

Thirty one years later (1968-99), United exorcised their Munich demons in a dream final at the Nou Camp beating the men from Munich 2-1 courtesy of late strikes from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær cancelling out Mario Basler’s opener. Basler had given Bayern the lead via a free kick in the first half only for Sheringham to head in a David Beckham’s corner with 2mins left to play. Deep into extra time, Beckham delivered another corner, Sheringham got a head to it and Solskjær who was at the back post poked it in. I was delirious, elated and ecstatic that I couldn’t contain my joy. Since then, the name Manchester United F.C has been encrypted in my heart.

There are only two clubs in England; Manchester United and the rest. If football is your passion, Manchester United is your brand.

Who are the favourites to win the English Premier League this season?
What are your predictions for the incoming season?

Football Induced Psychosis

Football is the most popular sport on planet earth. In Nigeria, football is worshipped and played by a lot of people including me.

Most people are ardent followers of the English Premier League & support teams like Manchester United (Red Devils), Arsenal (Gunners), Chelsea (Blues) & Liverpool (Reds). People roam the streets every weekend to have a glimpse of their team in action on TV. The speed at which premier league football is engulfing Nigerians and the world at large is alarming. You’d see people wearing belts, jerseys, watches, caps, boxers, pants etc just to represent their clubs. Na Chelsea fans do am pass sha. Okada & kabu-kabu drivers are not left out; they decorate their bikes & buses with stickers of their favourite clubs.

I can still recollect back then in 2001 when it was all about Arsenal & Man United, the EPL was less popular, hence there was no news of violence even when these two football heavyweights clashed but now, the story is quite the opposite.

Alas! After the UEFA Champions League final in Rome (May 2009) where Manchester United was trounced, outclassed, outplayed, annihilated, humiliated & taught the game of football by the Numero Uno club in the world at the moment, FC Barcelona, an angry fan in Port Harcourt , Nigeria drove his bus into a crowd of people leaving six people dead &two wounded in the process.

My questions remain “Is this rage worth it? Dem sabi u? Dem dey pay you? These players collect a specified amount of money at the end of every week, match bonus after every match & an extra bonus for taking part in a competition like the UEFA Champions League yet na we dey kill ourselves over nothing.

How do we cure ourselves of this madness abeg?