Winiarski? A legend? I do hope you are joking auld yin. Apologies in advance for the following rant but it really boils my blood when I hear the term used loosely.
So what does it take to be a considered legendary status. Is skill enough or is it something more? In my opinion, it is the latter.
One factor that could be a catalyst in the development of a player’s career is his character. The character of footballers, as in real life, can either help the player gain fame, or bring him to his downfall.
We have all witnessed cases in which a professional footballer with breath-taking skill has been booed by fans and hated by the media, simply because his character is somehow contradictory to the publicly accepted values.
I could not stress more the importance of a player’s loyalty towards a club. If a player is not loyal towards a club of his choice throughout his career, then that would surely damage his image with the public.
A typical example of this is John Martin who undoubtedly had a tremendous amount of talent but his lack of loyalty towards any team, and his poor decisions throughout his career, remain the main reasons why he would never join the ranks of the greatest players.
Some people may now be asking how the lack of loyalty towards a club can really matter on the football field.
When the players are down there, it comes to being eleven versus eleven, and a ball. So how could a decision made by the player, who is not pledging his loyalty to a club, possibly affect him and his team on the pitch? I think it matters exactly how you behave on that field. It is on that football field where you can see the real character of a man.
Nothing can be hidden there. The lack of loyalty or commitment can be easily seen on the football pitch. The state of mind of any of the players can also be easily sensed. At the end of the day, it comes to the things that really matter, your god-given skills and your way of using them.
Sometimes though, it is not that simple. Sometimes there are outside factors that could influence a player’s performance on the field.
The truth is that no matter how good a footballer may be at playing the game, he would always remain under the restrictions of how he should behave on the field and, indirectly, outside of it. Crossing those boundaries will further him from being accepted in any society, thus inevitably damaging the player’s career and reputation.
For example Paolo Di Canio’s Fascist salutes and Joey Barton’s misbehaviour on the field, or outside of it. Same goes for non league footballers.
There are some things that a player, however talented, simply should not do, like attacking Kilwinning Rangers fans or behaving too aggressively towards opponents or teammates. That to me damages the reputation of a player, no matter how good he is. I doubt if a young boy who is making his first steps in football would want to become like footballers of such quality.
To me a legendary player has to have the necessary qualities to be an example for the next generations of footballers. He has to epitomize the ideal footballer, to which future talents will strive to become.
That can be achieved not only by having a unique and impressive style of play on the field, but also by showing a socially acceptable and admirable behaviour outside of it.
A great footballer has to burden himself with the responsibility that comes with being one.
He has to know that all eyes are turned towards him and in response, he must attempt to act as an example for younger players and future generations of footballers. Only then he can he become a legend.
Maybe that is why some footballers will never be legends. They would be remembered as just one of many others who possessed talent. Nevertheless, those who carry the responsibilities on their shoulders can never be forgotten.
For me there is only one man that fits the bill at Kelty, Stevie Leighton. Junior cup finalist as a player and manager but it’s not that which earns him the status of legend in my book.
Thomas Courts is arguably their most successful manager, a good role model on and off the park and also whilst representing his country but he learnt it all as a young captain under Stevie. They both might have been shafted by the board but will always be in the hearts of fans and the people who enjoy football.
He not only raised the level of football from a practical point of view but also contributed to the improvement of the ethics of football.
He put a mark on Courts with his character and revealed to the younger generation a successful path to glory. A true Kelty legend.