Footballers are amongst the most handsomely remunerated people in society today. As Wayne Rooney’s fraught and public bid to (successfully) wrangle a wage rise out of his Manchester United employers’ shows, money is a huge motivation to many contemporary footballers – even those perceived to play for the sheer love of the game, as we thought Rooney did in more innocent times.
Love, too, is a motivation. For all the pressure that comes on a match-day, intense media speculation about private lives and the repeated monotony of going into work at the training ground each day, few feelings must match that of scoring a goal in front of thousands of celebrating fans. Us mere mortals still find ourselves dreaming about such moments long after our adolescence has past. Go on. Indulge yourself. Allow yourself to daydream once more.
For those who exist in the bubble that is the life of an elite professional footballer, life is somewhat different. Again, this is something which for the ordinary member of the general public is difficult to comprehend. How can these guys not realise that they are living our dreams?
Disillusionment with football is not a criticism one would ordinarily think to point at Carlos Tevez. Rarely has the Premier League had the privilege of witnessing a forward who melds sublime talent with indomitable industriousness so wonderfully. Tevez’s style is one which immediately captivates. It is also one which one would believe conveys a deep love of football. The fan can relate to the spirit of the street footballer he espouses. He has, you suspect, rarely changed since those formative games in the Barrios of Buenos Aires where he grew up in extreme poverty.
Whilst his love for football, for Manchester City even, is profound, we have to realise that these guys too are mortals, even if their demands and their lifestyles do not seem so. They are touched by the same fears and insecurities as us. They, like us, yearn for the stability of family life and are nostalgic. As is often the case for economic migrants who find work away from home, the comforts of home call loud.
If quotes by Roque Santa Cruz are to be believed, Carlos Tevez is feeling the strain of living away from his homeland, his compatriots and his family. Money and a childhood love of football only carry so much resonance. No matter his weekly income, some things are just that bit more important.
Tevez has been granted a four-day holiday in Argentina as he recuperates from a dead-leg – an injury which denies him a place in City’s squad to place Wolverhampton Wanderers and puts his participation in next week’s Manchester derby under threat. However more than the injury it is the mentality which casts worries over Tevez’s long-term future in English football. He has already gone on record as saying he is jaded with football and that he feels as though retirement could theoretically be imminent. Santa Cruz’s comments only exacerbate these worries.