Like any confident, red blooded, virile 21st century guy (read: sad, lonely and desperate), I have dabbled in online dating. It's a strange world where to avoid disaster you need to quickly learn how to translate certain words and phrases that appear on girls' profiles. For example, if they describe themselves as “bubbly”, instead read “fat”. No photos that show anything below the shoulders? Also fat. Photos with no date stamp on them? Ten years older than they claim (and also probably ten pounds heavier). No photos at all? Male.
|Still would, though|
The brightest, reddest warning light by far, however, is when someone is described as having “a great personality”. What exactly does that mean (apart from that it's more than likely they've been smacked around a bit with the ugly stick)? And why do we give awards to sportsmen based on their personality? Since 1991 only three footballers have won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, for such achievements as scoring a goal against Argentina (Michael Owen, 1998), scoring a goal against Greece (David Beckham, 2001) and being a bit old (Ryan Giggs, 2009). Three winners out of the last twenty two – for the nation's biggest sport that's pretty poor.
So is it the case that footballers as a whole don't have “a great personality”? I think it's more likely that, given the role of the media in football, players are coached out of saying anything particularly controversial in interviews from an early age. Whether this extends into their private life is an interesting question though - would you have a good evening sharing a Nando's with Gareth Barry, Phil Jagielka and James Milner?
|Of course not - Milner is more of a Wagamama man|
If footballers want to express themselves more freely, they have to be careful. The media love to jump on anyone acting a little bit differently from the herd – look at the attitudes towards Mario Balotelli and Joey Barton. If they hang around with their other rich footballer friends they're aloof and not in touch with the common fan. If they prefer not to be ostentatious then they're labelled as “boring”. Footballers also use Twitter, though I think we all know what happens there time and time and time again.
It seems like a bit of a no-win situation, which is maybe why the majority of footballers don't seem that bothered about their public perception and so don't feel a need to be more “interesting”. Those that do need a very thick skin and the ability to not take themselves too seriously. As Joey Barton may say, “I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best”. Just don't put it in a dating profile Joey, it's code for “I'm a twat”.