Category Archives: Arsenal

Former Arsenal duo’s harrowing stories are reminder – Footballers are human

Footballers are human. We often forget that.

From a young we idolise players, they are our idols, they are Gods. Put on a pedestal it is almost like they are mythical characters. invincible.

As we grow old, they become less of idols and often more of a punching bag. Someone to shout and scream out to release the tensions of  a bad week. Someone to take your frustrations out. They also give us joy – occasionally.

With high wages and the growing distance between fans and players, it is very easy to treat players like robots instead of humans. We see it on Twitter. People sending vile messages to players that they would simply not send to a “normal” person.

Abuse becomes part of the job.

None of us would go to work to be shouted at and abused all day. Yet for footballers it is part and parcel, with the justification being that they are very well paid.

A few weeks ago we lost Jose Reyes. It was a reminder to all that footballers are human and life is fragile.

This week we have two Arsenal related story that act as a stark reminder that footballers are human too – and no matter what they earn they are still affected by the horrors of life like the rest of us.

n a revealing documentary by Athlete’s Stance, Jack Wilshere talks about how he almost gave up football because of the stress of caring for his young son, who suffered epileptic seizures.

For the first time the West Ham United midfielder revealed that his long absences were not always spent purely in rehab and that Arsène Wenger, his former manager at Arsenal, allowed him more time away from the game to be with his family.

His son, Archie, suffering from seizures and causing Wilshere sleepless nights. During the 2015-16 season, Wilshere was out for eight months with a fractured fibula.

“It was tough to take because I was making my way…

During the time a lot of people were getting on Wilshere’s back. Labelling him “Jack Wheelchair” and accusing him of having a substance abuse problem.

Speaking in the candid documentary with Athlete’s Stance, he said: ‘I’ve had different types of injuries and types of injuries that have affected me different mentally.

‘I always think about one injury and it always plays in my head. It was in 2016, maybe 2015, and I picked up an injury in training. It was tough to take because I was making my way back to where I wanted to be and all of a sudden my four-year-old son was having seizures on the floor.

‘It happened time and time and time again, every day for maybe three or four months and there were times when in the middle of the night I’d be rushing to hospital.

‘Me and my wife would sit up most nights because most of the seizures were happening at night. So we’d put him to bed but most of the time we couldn’t sleep because we didn’t know what was happening with him, so we’d just sit up.’

Wilshere was a 23-year-old dad with a son having unexplained seizures.

Yes, he has the wealth and support that enabled him to not have to worry about the bills, but that becomes secondary to your thoughts when you see a loved one in pain and you can do nothing to help.

In an emotional interview on French television, former Arsenal full back Emmanuel Eboue about his battle with depression and said he had even considered suicide.

The 36-year-old revealed his problems started when he was suspended by Fifa from all football-related activity for one year.

The ban, a result of failing to pay money owed to a former agent, led to the termination of his short-term contract at then Premier League side Sunderland in March 2016.

Without a professional club and shattered financially after a bitter and acrimonious divorce case, he said he had suicidal thoughts.

“Sometimes I would lock myself in my room for three or four days. Just thinking and asking ‘what’s left?’,” Eboue told RMC Sport’s Le Vestiaire (The Locker Room) in France.

“Even today, I still take antidepressants to help me because it is still a long road for me. But here I am hoping others would learn from this.”

“Being away from a competitive football pitch for a year was heartbreaking,” he added.

“I had to train by myself, and I was really ashamed because people looked at me differently.

“Some would say ‘look it’s Eboue, a Uefa Champions League finalist with Arsenal in 2006’, to them it was surprising or shocking.

“Personally, I prefer to train in the morning, but there were people who were training at that time. They’d come to take a picture and post it all over [social media]. So I left to train at night.”

As things got worse he began to lie to his family.

“I couldn’t train during the day and was too embarrassed to stay at home,” he admitted.

“My children always asked me when I was going to return to the field, so whenever I stepped out in the morning, I pretended to go to work.

“Unbeknown to my children I was staying outside and returning home when they were already in bed. I didn’t want them to ask me why they didn’t see me play on television.”

Depression is a real problem faced by footballers.

The Secret Footballer talks about how following a defeat, he would often not go out for days bar going training for fear of abuse from fans. Players end up isolated. Hiding away in a mansion, training in the morning with little to do in the afternoon.

It often becomes even worse when they retire. Having been in the game for decades and with enough money to not work another day in their life in the bank account, they find themselves at 35-years-old without a reason to live.

Suddenly they go from being extremely relevant to completely irrelevant. with friends still working 9-5 and no longer having the routine of training and the dressing room, they find themselves alone with nothing to do.

Being a footballer does not stop a loved one getting ill or dying. It does not stop the dark cloud of depression from floating over.

The stories of Wilshere and Eboue are a reminder that footballers are human. The recent deaths of Jose Reyes and Justin Edinburgh further reminders.

North of the border, Rangers legend Fernando Ricksen has been suffering from has been suffering from motor neurone disease. He is losing his battle with the terminal illness and reports are he is living the last days of his life.

Reyes was 35. Edinburgh 49. Ricksen is 42.

Whatever you’re going through, call the Samaritans free any time, from any phone, on 116 123



Wanda Group, Atletico Madrid & Dalian Yifang – The dodgy dealings that saw Yannick Carrasco move to China

The primary reason why Arsenal fans do not want Belgium midfielder Yannick Carrasco is because he currently plays in China.

He has no ambition
He is the wrong mentality
Only interested in money

Carrasco begun his senior career at Monaco before joining Atletico Madrid  for a reported fee of €20 million in 2015.

He became the first Belgium to score in a European Cup when scored Atlético’s 79th-minute equaliser against Real Madrid in the 2016 UEFA Champions League Final.

Capped 31 times by Belgium, he was part of the golden generation which finished 3rd at the 2018 World Cup, starting 3 games.

So how did this talented 25-year-old end up in the retirement home of Chinese football where careers go to die? I felt it was a little more complicated than him being ambitionless and money orientated.

Carrasco joined Chinese side Dalian Yifang in a fee worth around £27m in February 2018.

Alongside Carrasco, Argentine international Nicolas Gaitan also joining the Chinese outfit from Atletico Madrid in a double deal.

Dalian Yifang were newly promoted to the Chinese Super League and 6 days before the signing of Carrasco and Gaitan went through were bought out by the Wanda Group.

The same Wanda Group that used to own a stake in Atletico Madrid before selling up a week prior to their takeover of Dalian Yifang for just over €50m.

Despite selling their stake in Atletico Madrid, the Chinese group retained naming rights over Atlético’s stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano.

In simple terms, the Wanda Group used the money taken from the Atlético Madrid sale and bought in Gaitan and Carrasco.

It all seems a little strange that they sell their stake in the club and then immediately buy 2 players from the same club for almost the same as what they sold for.

14 February 2018 – Wanda Group sell 17% stake in Atletico Madrid for €50m.
20 February 2018 – Wanda Group buy Dalian Yifang
26 February 2018 – Dalian Yifang sign Yannick Carrasco & Nicolas Gaitan from Atletico Madrid for €48m

It all feels a little fishy. Were Carrasco and Gaitan used as pawns to pay off debt between Wanda Group and Atletico Madrid? Both perhaps offered a huge incentive (IE money) to be involved in the deal?

Gaitan left Dalian Yifang on a free transfer after just one season, joining MLS side Chicago Fire in March 2018. With Yannick Carrasco set to also leave after a year (he would have left earlier had a deal to join Arsenal not fallen through in January), you have to wonder if the agreement between Wanda Group and the pair was that they could both leave after a year.

If Arsenal sign Carrasco, we would be getting an winger with pace and tricks. He will be exciting but also sometimes infuriating, but he will light up the Emirates. It is unfair to hold the move to china against him.


The Arsenal and Me – Ian’s Story

It was always going to be Arsenal. My Mum was regular in the Clock End with my grandparents standing a bit further back. My first game was West Ham 4th April 1970 a birthday treat. I was seven and West Ham were the team of the moment with Peters, Moore and Hurst. I am ashamed to say I bought a West Ham rosette much to my Dad’s annoyance, it lasted till we went 2-1 up!

During my childhood visits to Highbury was limited to birthdays and special occasions but when I left school in 1979 Highbury was a regular destination. I headed straight for the North Bank always in the middle, we were there at least an hour before kicking off chanting the players names and enjoying ‘rip roaring’. It became my second home right though until the new stand was built. At one stage I lived close to Highbury, finishing a double shift at a local restaurant before biking to the ground.

I traded in my £56 Terrace season ticket (that was the annual cost!) for a Clock End Season ticket which I kept until my second son was born and I rarely could get the time to go along. My three sons followed in my footsteps and we enjoyed wonderful European nights and weekend games together. My proudest moment …. when my second son stood on his chair aged eight in the West Stand shouting ‘You fat B**stard’ at Ronaldo (the original one). I knew then my work was complete!

Three of us were there for the last game, we got in by the skin of our teeth in the very back row of the North Bank. I stayed to the end and had to be asked to leave … I knew then that it would never be the same. My sons come with me occasionally, League Cup games and European nights mostly, the thought of paying nearly £400 for four tickets to see an A category game means I am unlikely to share those heady derby days again with them.

My boys have all left home now and I have tried to go back, the last game was Napoli. It was a depressing experience, the stadium almost empty 10 minutes before kick-off, so called fans arriving long after the kick off with drinks and hot dogs, the incessant talking through the game with a mass exodus 5 minutes before half time and the end.

No longer are the names chanted… with the incessant music and the distance to the pitch they would never hear you anyway, and if they did, I am not sure many of this team would really care. When did playing Neil Diamond have anything to do with my club?

Maybe I am getting old! I still watch every game, but it is from my armchair rather than shouting to the rafters in the North Bank, despite the wonderful football delivered by Arsene, the last eight years of mediocrity only added to my view that it is time to move on.  I know it is heresy to say so but for me Arsenal have never been a ‘Big ‘club. We had the tradition and the ethos, we played the game well, occasionally we had periods of success, but we knew deep down it would not last. The current expectation of success seems to drain the enjoyment of the players.

I always walk back past Highbury after every game and wonder what if …………


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