In an era where humongous money gets splashed around on players, it is fair to say that there is seldom any room for loyalty. The concept of a one-club footballer, however, seems to have gone out of fashion in modern football with the advent of lucrative contracts from leagues like Premier League and Chinese Super League (CSL).
It makes you wonder whether one-club legends like Matt le Tissier, Ryan Giggs, Francesco Totti and even Steven Gerrard should have changed their career trajectories and enhanced their fortunes.
"It's incredible and you can never ever justify it. There is very little loyalty in football, whether from players, managers or from owners of football clubs. Loyalty and football don't go along (together)," former England international Alan Shearer told journalists in Mumbai, where he was attending The Football Movement, which is being organised by India On Track along with the Premier League.
"Football sometimes is not the real world with regards to transfer fees. In 1996, when I was the costliest player at $15 million, people said no one is worth that much," he added. "When you compare those days to what is happening in the CSL, it's only a matter of time the world record (for player transfer) will be broken. That's football. It's only going to get bigger," the 46-year-old former player said.
Off late, the CSL has been making headlines by splurging big on players. However, the former Newcastle United striker is not convinced by how sustainable the model is. "I don't necessarily see that as the right way forward because it's instant. I find it difficult to see how China is going to sustain it. It's about growing, about trying to promote from within and getting the youth involved in the game. But it's not a quick process and will take time. I find it difficult to see how China will be able to sustain paying the sort of salaries to the players which they pay now.
"The difference between China and the Indian Super League (ISL) is that when ISL signed a lot of big name players they were sort of on their way out or in the latter stages of their careers. What China is doing is getting players at the peak of their career, those who are 24 or 25 years of age, which is one of the reasons why they have to pay the outrageous sums of money as salaries," he said.
India may not have the best infrastructure in terms of a sport like football, but all it needs is proper guidance and dedication, which is visible in China. As Shearer mentions, sustainability is a big issue but India should not try and replicate their counterparts. Rather, he opines, that they must see CSL as an example to spread awareness about the game.
Shearer, who scored 260 goals in the Premier League, added that a lack of infrastructure and facilities should not be an excuse for not promoting the beautiful game.
"I didn’t have great stadiums to play in when I started. I didn’t have great facilities when I was a kid. But I loved the game,” the talismanic striker added. “So if we can keep promoting the game and tell kids how great football is, you necessarily don’t need great facilities, which I never had. I didn’t have pristine pitches to play on or the training stadiums that they have these days. I sometimes played on the road. You don’t need infrastructure to start playing. Not as kids. I used stones, cans, or whatever I could find to play football,” he signed off.
Updated Date: Mar 06, 2017 13:38 PM