I came across this Venn diagram a couple of months ago which I thought was particularly relevant for a lot of us. Relevant because most people look at their jobs or what they do for a living and actually try to figure whether they enjoy what they are good at and what they like i.e. trying to find the intersection of the three circles shown below. This does not only apply to regular joes like you or me – it applies to everyone on the planet, like football players for example.
For some football players, I imagine that football could be a job where one has to turn up, put in the necessary hours of training, play games every couple of days and then go home to the wife and kids. For some of these footballers, they may be fairly good at what they do and playing football may be useful (you get paid!) but they may not necessarily enjoy their job.
For other footballers, particularly the more extravagantly talented ones, I think that football could possibly be more than a job. This could be the intersection of the three circles above for guys like Leo Messi or Andrea Pirlo. These are players who seem to be at home on a football pitch and appear happiest when they are doing what they do best.
One player who reminded me of a guy who really enjoyed his day job was the 2006 Ronaldinho – at the height of his powers at Barcelona, the Brazilian was a joy to watch. Mainly because he played high-profile and insanely competitive games with a huge goofy grin on his face. He looked like a man who could have been playing beach football with a bunch of mates every time he took to the field.
This particular diagram also came to mind when I read this great article by Barney Ronay of The Guardian discussing how Wayne Rooney needs to rediscover the enjoyment of playing football again. Ronay describes how Luis Suarez plays with a level of passion and enjoyment which makes him a joy to watch:
“It is above all that fidgety, twitchy, horribly infectious demeanour. This is a man who at the age of 25 still feels able to play high stakes professional football in a style that brings to mind the kind of cartoon dog that comes haring around the corner with a string of butcher’s sausages in its mouth.”
Ronay makes a valid point comparing Wayne Rooney of old to the current version of Wayne Rooney:
“What has happened to Rooney anyway? For the past two years England’s only top-class striker has played like a man frowning his way through an exam, where once he was a player with his own shades of what is known in Brazil as the malandro spirit. The 17-year-old Rooney did keepie-uppies in midfield during his full England début against Turkey (this, remember, is an England player).”
Ronay expands on the point above to describe how Rooney seems to play almost automatically these days.
“The unexpected angles, the sudden surges have gone. Rooney has well-grooved patterns to his play. He rarely if ever attempts to play the game off the cuff. So much so that it is hard to remember the last time he scored a really memorable goal aside from the muscle-memory brilliance of that overhead kick last season, a goal that left him afterwards “worried I might never feel this way again”. It is a comment that has some sadness to it, measure of the additional personal gravity under which Rooney – since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure the most important player on the pitch for both club and country – continues to perform, a factory-issue fantasista, familiar, careworn and almost disappointingly trouble-free these days.”
I certainly hope that Rooney rediscovers his joie de vivre and that the old devil-may-care attitude returns to his play. For the benefit of all lovers of the beautiful game.