Knocking On Heaven’s Door.
As the latest international window draws to a close,allowing the fans to get back to what they love most-supporting their club-it is an appropriate time to reflect on the events of the last week or so.
Why do so many of us loathe these windows so much? Well,for me the answer is obvious. Our interest is mainly if not exclusively in club football. We are putting our top players at risk with no real benefit to ourselves. Some of our players represent countries on the other side of the planet,and the travelling certainly takes its toll. We know that from experience,particularly in the case of Tom Rogic who seems to take longer to recover from a trip Down Under than most visitors actually spend in the country!
Alternatively,there is the out-of-sync internationals involving players from Asia-Kyogo will miss the first two games back after New Year plus a couple in late March,and TR is likely to have the same problem. The African Cup of Nations is on at around the same time,depriving many clubs of top players for around a month,and there are games for players from the international federations in North and South America.
So why do the players bother,since it massively inconveniences the people who pay their wages-that’s the clubs and ultimately the fans who adore them? The simple answer is that every player seems to grow up with two ambitions-the first is to play for their favourite team,and the second is to represent their country.
Now,many of us have little interest in watching our country play,even on TV,but there is little doubt about the importance attached by the players to turning out for their country. We’ve seen Ryan Christie in tears when it seemed he just shrugged his shoulders at the thought of playing for our club,we’ve seen congas.
Prior to the 1994 World Cup,we saw Eric Cantona nearly lynching David Ginola for a shocking piece of game management in injury time against Bulgaria,an incident which led to Bulgaria breaking up the pitch to score the winner.
Personally I would no more upset Cantona than I would Bertie Auld or David Hay. Or heaven forbid,Big Bobo. But Cantona’s explosion was all about the effect that the error had on his national team,and on the effect that it had on his own chances of representing his country,France,at a world cup.
Cantona was by this time a highly decorated if controversial footballer,with four league winners medals plus various other medals and accolades. His reputation was already cemented,as an outstanding talent and as a legend at probably the biggest club in the world at the time.
What he did not have was that appearance at a World Cup Finals,and short of a Champions League medal,that is the ultimate for a football player.
And so it was that I reluctantly tuned in to watch Scotland play on the Saturday and Tuesday evenings. I wasn’t buying into international football,it has mainly left me cold since those to copybook copycat goals from Dalglish against Belgium and Spain in 1983,I think. My frustration at Mabaw McAllister during the Euros in 1996-ATHINGOFBEAUTY will happily confirm how many effs there are in the word frustration once I get started!-just finished me off.
Yet there I was on Saturday and Tuesday,absolutely delighted at both results! Go figure. It means that there is still a chance that my niece will be able to watch one of her countries-she’s half Australian!-in a World Cup for the first time,it means that I can maybe book a fortnight off next December and wallow in football three times a day with,for once,more than just a fleeting interest.
It means that those players are nearer to their ultimate dream-that of representing their country in the biggest sporting occasion on the planet. Scotland aren’t there yet,not by a long way. But an away victory against Moldova puts them into the play-offs-which is a damn sight closer than most of those players have been to that pinnacle.
So,international football? You can still keep it as far as I’m concerned,mainly for the reasons I mentioned at the top of the article. But for the players,it is what they strive for. And maybe on those two evenings recently,I finally got that.
Above article by BMCUWP