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Football Why can’t we let players celebrate their success?

KADEEM SIMMONDS hits out at former players turned pundits who constantly belittle the achievements of those still playing the game, especially youngsters

WHY can we never let people celebrate their achievements without commenting negatively?

It is extremely frustrating in sport, when after a cup win or breaking a record there is always a ‘but...’ or someone having a go.

I understand constructive criticism is needed, as well as perspective, but sometimes it is best to just sit back and allow those who have done something remarkable to bask in that achievement.

For example, Celtic go 63 matches unbeaten in the Scottish Premiership and the response is to ridicule the level of competition they are playing. It doesn’t matter if they are head and shoulders above the teams in the league, to go that long without slipping up should be celebrated worldwide.

An off day for Celtic is a draw, that’s the level they have reached. While fans and pundits can say at the start of the season that the Hoops should be winning every match they play, to actually do it is something else.

The record they broke is their own ironically, set a century ago, and they have a long way to go before matching the European record of Steaua Bucharest which stands at 119 games, composed of 104 league and 15 cup matches.

If they never reach it, it doesn’t matter. Brendan Rodgers’s side have shown that they are an unbelievable team and should be applauded for what they have done over the past few years.

Same goes for the England under-17 team who won the World Cup. It didn’t take long for someone to put a downer on their celebrations. Former player, now pundit, Danny Murphy slammed the youngsters for turning their shirts around and displaying their names.

Was that necessary? These kids just won a World Cup. Let them celebrate however they want, within reason obviously. No-one had a problem with what they did or even noticed until Murphy bought it up.

These kids as of two weeks ago were largely nobodies. Now they are world champions at their age group. If they want people to notice them and put a name to their face I don’t blame them.

“There’s no England badge in the picture of them winning the World Cup — for me, that’s wrong,” Murphy said.

“They’ve all turned their shirts around because they want their names across their chests, so everybody across the world can see who they are.

“They’re all saying, ‘I’m a good young player coming through, look at me’, but that in itself is what is wrong with society.

“In effect, they’re thinking about fame as well as being a footballer and I think it creates a big debate here.

“I thought the way they played was amazing and the way they’ve been coached has been fantastic and Steve Cooper deserves great credit.

“Some of those players could go on to be superstars. We’re talking some amazing talent in that group and the freedom they played with, everybody should be happy to see that in an England shirt, and I am too, I was proud of them.

“But the England badge not being in that picture says a lot.

“The fact they want their names to be on the front of their shirts and think about getting their name out there so people know who they are — they are not wrong, but it’s what is wrong at the moment.”

The fact that he ended his mini rant with “they are not wrong” made his argument entirely invalid and had me thinking about how players, including himself, celebrated goals.

So many players after a goal will turn around and point to their name on the back of the shirt. One of the most iconic pictures of the past 12 months is Lionel Messi scoring the winning goal for Barcelona against Real Madrid, taking off his shirt and holding it up for the world to see his name.

I didn’t see any comments from Murphy about that goal. A pet peeve of mine is when a player celebrates a goal by running off to the crowd and not over to the player that set them up, something Murphy did a lot.

If a player has unselfishly passed the ball for you to score, should you not thank them first? Instead of running off in the opposite direction with your arm aloft, seeking out the attention and plaudits for yourself.

Looking at a video compilation of Murphy’s goals at Liverpool, a lot of his celebrations were him running away from teammates with his arm raised in the air or cupping his hand to his ear. That stinks of selfishness to me. Why didn’t he turn around and hug the player who passed to him?

He did it sometimes. When Robbie Fowler squared for Murphy to tap the ball into an empty net, he did immediately point to his teammate. But more often than not he wheeled away like he created the goal out of nothing.

In the heat of the moment, with adrenaline running high, you act on instinct. That the entire England team turned their shirts around says to me that it was probably planned. If the whole team have done it, let them.

If Phil Foden or Rhian Brewster had done it and no-one else did, then there might have been an argument that the duo were acting in a selfish manner. But even then, let them celebrate.

There is nothing wrong with saying to these kids that what they achieved should be the starting point. To keep them grounded. Steven Gerrard, a teammate at club and international level, spoke about Brewster extremely well and how to use his success at international level to improve.

“The message for Rhian is: ‘Well done. You’ve been superb and deserve all the plaudits you get. How do you improve now? How do you push yourself and try to move people out of your way that are above you in the pecking order?’ That’s the challenge for him moving forward.”

Sometimes it is just best to let athletes enjoy their success.


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