Marriage is a funny thing. Footballers are a funny thing. As such, it should come as little surprise that the matrimony between wag and lad so often descends into a charade resembling a peculiar social experiment. Yet, for an abundance of these eternal adolescents the domestic stability of marriage is often imperative to on pitch performance.
What’s problematic is that trying to confine an obscenely wealthy 20-something to fidelity is about as futile as trying to deter a youngster from killing prostitutes in a Grand Theft Auto game and, ultimately, the spotlit turbulence of their private relationships tends to impede on-field focus.
Fortunately, the solution here is clear: footballers need to become more adept at cheating on their spouses. It’s an art not yet mastered by many in the beautiful game but the failures of others could serve as explicit learning materials for other aspiring football adulterers.
Guideline 1: Commendable though it is to cultivate a healthy relationship with your in-laws, if you do decide to venture into an extra-marital affair your brother’s wife is off-limits. When the narrative of Ryan Giggs’ various sexual misdemeanors emerged in the tabloids it wasn’t until the revelation regarding his all-in-the-family approach that his reputation seemed beyond remedy. Put simply, try and avoid anything resembling a Hollyoaks story arc.
Guideline 2: Wealth can’t buy discretion. Certainly it can leverage you a super-injunction but ultimately they seem about as effective as anti-piracy ads. So if, say, you decide to affect the role of loyal customer to a -ahem- working girl, you may want to anticipate the eventuality that the reach of the tabloid press will intrude on your romance should Mrs. Right no longer feel inclined to protect your identity. Such a dilemma reportedly plagued Wayne Rooney during the 2010 World cup and was cited as the source of his underwhelming displays. We can only assume the same apprehension afflicted the rest of the England squad too.
Guideline 3: Here’s a familiar, yet charming, Hollywood rom-com plot line. Our socially awkward, aesthetically underwhelming hero relentlessly pursues a romantic interest who is, audience members will never tire of noting, out of his league due to her startling beauty and supreme popularity. Okay, so after much rigmarole the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. The guy does not then indulge in an affair with a teenage prostitute á la Peter Crouch. (Generally, in blackjack it is frowned upon to gamble with 21.)Thus, sometimes a departure from the norm is appropriate and perhaps honouring one’s vows is the best course of action.
Of course, this is always an option isn’t it? Football heroes could conform to the marital limitations of the everyman however difficult it may be to disregard the hubris born of sudden and obscene wealth. After all, footballer’s wives deserve respect too don’t they? Perhaps that note of uncharacteristic sentimentality is a good place to conclude before we drift irreversibly into misogyny. Now, where did I leave my copy of Grand Theft Auto?