Drawing a line in the Sand: The Expensive Life of our Footballers
Football and everything that revolves around ever soccer is mega business. Apart from being the opium of the masses it is the most popular sporting event in the world. Players are envied all over and everyone wants to be like them. They roll in mega bucks and are courted by high and mighty. Some of them cannot even venture out casually due to crowd problem. They are even more popular than movie actors and have usurped the limelight from astronauts. That to me is where the bad news begins. The money they make is enough to keep them out of work for life time but spend more.
They appear on TV every day while we don't. They life live while we barely exist. The life full of glitz and razzmatazz. They marry at the epic of their career and carry on as if prudence doesn't count. Once in lime light, they settle into a familiar and cozy relationship with kings and queens as if the latter play soccer. When twilight comes knocking and denied of all the glitzy life, the wife, hangers-on and door men appear disappointed and disappear.
Away from football and away from the pitch he is now struggling in retirement, the over pampered wife starts to bicker and foment trouble that is if she is still around, and the marriage collapses no thanks to the old familiar ways of fast lane. Husband and wife no longer glue to each other as tired pugilists as they did before. The rug has been pulled off his feet, he is no longer a star and neither can he meet President Jonathan or Dangote. Or drive around in a convoy with mobile policemen in tow. Something he was doing before with little or no effort. Frustration sets in and he turns to drug for succor sometimes selling off his prized properties to keep the expensive needless vice.
He is back to square one with reality and suddenly the glamour wife he married at the epic of his career sues him and claiming half of what is remaining for upkeep of the children. He has no option than to declare insolvency or bankruptcy like Celetine Babayaro in 2011. All the fortunes made chasing the round leather has been fritted away by needless and expensive life style.
Football is war of sort by another name. But they fail to realize that away from football, life is anything but comfortable. Once into retirement, they contend with frustration and addiction. They claim that they were so young and were in experienced. Or they had bad managers. They spend more in betting, gaming, exotic cars and weird life styles. Of course money is not the problem but it will soon be.
Like a dare devil armed robber, they reign for an average of three to five years. I use the word average in every sense of it. If they are not knocked by injury, better and more sophisticated players will and they are out as soon as they are in. Or put in another way, they retire in mid-thirties except those who glue around and draw a line in the sand. Rodger Milla of Cameroun appeared in world cup at the age of 40 and all that. Because they retire quite early, they have many more years ahead of them and the need to save for the rainy day. But that isn't the case. They save for now.
Go ask Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Neymar Yaya Toure, Kano Nwankwo, Emeka Oliseh, Drogba and JJ Okocha etc how much they have made playing soccer. Only very few with foresight invest well. Others share the money with their family members, managers and contract men. The will soon realize that the bigger the head, the bigger the headache.
Players are their own worst enemies. Still in the limelight and enjoying all the attention in the world, they compete amongst each other about the latest driving machines and who can out drink and out gamble the other. They buy diamond bracelets and other outrageous mementos just for the fun of it. Due to lack of foresight and proper planning, they join us the ordinary people living in the valley. Instead of living life, they now exist like before. They join us in the popular side where they once were before God blessed their legs.
Because they suffer from alcohol and drug addictions, many either squander their cash or take up misleading investment advisers. While still in active service, footballers fritter away their fortunes on holiday homes, mistresses and globetrotting around the world. They would soon realize it is too late when reality beckons. In retirement they are supposed to thread slowly on spending but that is not the case as the party continues.
They metamorphosed from their rusty villages to playing abroad in modern stadia in Europe and elsewhere smiling to the banks after every match. Sponsorships, adverts, endorsement and all that apart from kicking the round leather is it. Before delving into limelight, they had no special clothes that we know of but now were designer clothes, phones and sunglasses. They only respect big cars and their owners. Footballers will provide a rich database for the academe in the study of wealth squandering. People often pay scant attention to the future and life of footballers after retirement is staunch evidence of how it hunts them! This kind of terminal fatalism hasn't worked anywhere that I know of. May we not be history when we are still alive.
Mike Onwukwe can be contacted on [email protected] and sent this piece from the Great Lakes
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