Skip to main content

When Men Were Men

Yesterday, former Milan and Inter players gathered together to honor Claudio Lippi, the beloved journalist who died in a tragic accident two years ago, leaving behind a wife and a young daughter. These legends could have been doing anything else they wanted to, but they chose to be there and lend their support to honor an old friend and help his family. Because they are men. They didn’t have to get their hair cut or styled, they weren’t checking social media or taking selfies. They weren’t on the phone to their agents because they sat one game on the bench. They were there to lend a hand because they were not self-important. And when I saw the picture below, it reminded me of a time when men were men.

Still making sacrifices for friends

We’ve talked a little bit before about some of the changes in football. Especially the ridiculously overinflated transfer fees and why players change clubs so often. But too many players today are simply not cut from the same cloth as the players who won both our hearts and lots of trophies. The players who won trophies were loyal. They stayed at one club for longer, some their entire careers. They were also loyal to each other and to the team. They’d never run to Berlusconi and tattle on their coach. They knew it was an honor even to sit on the bench, and would await their opportunity to play without complaint, and without their WAGs complaining to the media.

Without social media to be concerned with, there were fewer players spending longer at the salon each week than in training. No selfies required, they focused on playing football instead of gaining followers or using the right hair products. And I suspect that even if social media had existed during their careers, they would have been oblivious to it. They were there to play football, not act like primadonnas. Because they were men.

Players today would have been on their phones to their agents as soon as the club was relegated

Some players didn’t even have agents, but even those that had them did not call them every day and talk about their options. For example, Baresi was captain when Milan was relegated not once, but twice in the early eighties. He could have very easily left the club rather than play in Serie B. But he stayed at Milan and ensured both times that his team returned to Serie A immediately. That kind of leadership is hard to find these days.

I miss the days when men were men, and footballers really only worried about being the best footballer they could be. It’s not that they didn’t buy nice things for themselves, but it was a peripheral benefit instead of being the focus. They trained hard and played harder, and they looked out for each other. They also kept each other in line, and took care of any problems internally within the club rather than run to the media and let things get blown out of proportion. And because of their discipline and hard work, their talents increased, their teamwork became autonomous, and our trophy room is full today.

You don't have to go back very far to a time when the qualities of honor, loyalty, and dedication ran rampant in the squad

It’s really a shame that there are so few players like this anymore. Players who bleed for the shirt, then take that shirt and proverbially give it to a teammate. Players who aren’t consumed with their image and social media status, or what toys they’ll buy next when their agent gets them a record breaking transfer to any club who likes them. Players who have a moral code and self-enforce it within the team, with leadership at every position. They consider it an honor just to be on the bench, and don’t run crying to their agent. Just because times have changed doesn’t mean the players need to. The self-importance so common today amongst players has taken away from the performance, the results, and the trophy count. It’s much nicer to remember a time when men were men.

This post inspired by the music of Muse

Our next match is
Torino vs. Milan
Saturday, October 17 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)