So, I was skimming through the football news this morning and caught a glimpse of a headline that really surprised me.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto: "I play for the money. Football's not my passion."
Now I am not naive enough to think that every footballer who plays the game does so because he loves the game, his club, the fans, etc.. but the sheer candidness displayed here was extremely refreshing in an age where so many fans are concerned about this type of attitude. Personally, I have no misgivings towards this sort of admission and actually have a lot more respect for a player who, in the past, I had not particularly had much of a liking for.
The thing that shone through to me from the interview was the apparent sharing of views that we have; he openly criticises the hypocrisy within the game today highlighting players that hold different views when questioned in front of the camera, the kiss and tell culture and the mind games that are so prevalent in the modern game. It comes as no shock to me that there are many players who are not really passionate about their club (Ashely Cole anyone?) and Ekotto's open and honest interview supports these views.
Ekotto highlighted incidents from his time as a player at Tottenham to display the weird and wonderful goings on within the game including an incident with the club's ex sporting director, Damien Comolli. He raised concerns with Comolli over problems he had with Martin Jol at the time. Comolli tried to tell him that it was in his head but then, apparently, changed his stance when Jol left and conceded that there was a problem. Ekotto criticises Comolli over this and, in effect, says he needs to man up.
It is these kinds of statements that really tell you a lot about who a person is. Many footballers have the same routines in interviews. They profess love for the game, love for the club and love for the fans. Let's be fair, it's quite mundane to hear the same thing all the time that, in all honesty, is more likely a product of PR advice than deep rooted feelings within the players. In a time when footballers appear to be all in the same mould it's nice to see someone that has values that he lives by and isn't ashamed to be attached to them.
Source of story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/01/benoit-assou-ekotto-tottenham-hotspur