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Following the sudden retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, came the announcement that star Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes is hanging up his boots (again).
The “Ginger Ninja” has been a brilliant player for many years, but you’ll never hear him say it.
He has always kept a low profile, preferring to let his football do the talking rather than make outlandish statements about himself or his team.
And in retirement, he’s more likely to take an assistant coach’s role and spend more time with his family than be found in a high profile and better paying media job.
So, what do his footballing peers say about him?
French superstar Zinedine Zidane after being asked what it’s like to be the best midfielder in the world, “Ask Paul Scholes.”
As a long-time Manchester United supporter, I was surprised and saddened this week when Sir Alex Ferguson suddenly announced his retirement from management at the tender age of 71.
Whilst, I have supported Manchester United since before Sir Alex took over as manager 26 years ago, all of my memories of the great club have involved him at the helm.
His medal tally is extraordinary and will probably never be matched in top-flight football at one club, including:
- 13 Premier League titles
- 10 Community Shields
- 5 FA Cups
- 4 League Cups
- 2 European Cups
True his Glasgow origins, Sir Alex was never shy about giving his opinion and has given us some great quotes over the years on a wide range of subjects.
Some are withering statements about his opponents that don’t quite match the encouraging, uplifting essence of this blog, but there are a few great insights that I would like to share with you today.
In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Jessie “Tha Monstar” Williams with the 137th pick.
The 191cm, 147kg Williams is a nose tackle from the University of Alabama who also has the distinction of being the first Indigenous Australian to be drafted into the NFL.
In the moment that his name was called, his dreams came true.
He was an instant millionaire and is joining the big show for an already successful team.
So, what did he do next?
Before the most recent NFL season had started, Marshal Yanda of the Baltimore Ravens implored his team-mates to “embrace the grind.”
He was reminding them that although the life of a professional football player seems glamourous, it takes hard work, pints of sweat and unyielding discipline to be successful.
Every gym session matters.
Every seemingly mundane training drill matters.
Every tactical discussion matters.
Yanda made a similar rallying cry in this year’s Super Bowl as he encouraged them to do the grunt work required to win the big game.
Because on that day, every gym session, training drill and tactical discussion made a difference in getting the Ravens across the line.
A couple of weeks ago, Minnesota Timberwolves star, Ricky Rubio was coming out of a time-out with his team-mate, rookie Alexey Shved, he put his arm around him and said, “Change this face, be happy, enjoy.”
At the time, Shved had every reason to scowl.
The Timberwolves were expected to improve dramatically this season and challenge for a playoff spot, but they’ve had a horror run with injuries and are struggling to stay competitive. At the time of this incident, they were losing the game badly and had lost 20 out of the last 24 games.
But Ricky wasn’t buying it and encouraged his team-mate to be optimistic.
“Change this face, be happy, enjoy.”
It worked, Shved smiled.
I suspect that most of us need a Ricky Rubio in our lives every now and then.
It was a shocking injury that ended his season and normally results in a significant recovery time of over a year.
World-renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrews said of such injuries that, “The average NFL player … only about a little over 50 percent are still playing after two years.”
Adrian Peterson didn’t just come back within 8 months, he was a popular and worthy winner of the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2012 season after falling just 9 yards short of breaking the NFL all-time rushing record.
How did he make such a remarkable comeback and why is he such an inspiration?
Peterson himself humbly suggests that genetics played a big part and that may be true to an extent, but I suspect that there was more to it than that.
Here are a few things that we can all learn from such a tremendous athlete, especially if you have ever suffered a setback in life:
Earl Manigault was a street basketballer from the 1950′s and 60′s who was given the nickname “the Goat.”The Goat stands for “Greatest of All-Time” and is a description of his extraordinary talents.
Standing only 6’1″, the Goat’s legendary accomplishments include:
- The ability to touch the top of a basketball backboard to remove dollar bills with his 52 inch vertical leap.
- The ability to “double-dunk,” meaning that he could dunk a ball, catch it with his left hand, switch it to his right and dunk it again in the same jump, all without hanging on the rim.
- When all-time NBA leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired and was asked who the best player he had played against, he replied, “That would have to be the Goat.”
When a boxer climbs into the ring, he takes a significant risk.
He risks getting pummelled.
He risks catching a lucky punch on the chin that knocks him out.
He risks the jeering of the crowd.
He risks facing an opponent who’s much bigger, tougher and more skilled than him.
But he gets in the ring anyway.
Marathon runners talk about experiencing “the wall.”
It’s a feeling that they get when they get to a certain distance and don’t feel as though they can continue.
The legs feel heavy, the mind starts to wander, strides shorten and an overwhelming feeling of self-doubt starts to take over.
More than 50% of marathon runners will hit the wall at some stage. At that point, they each have a choice.
I admit it, I’m not the fittest person going around.
I know a few people who have run marathons, but couldn’t imagine being able to run one myself.
I can’t do it, so why bother trying?
But then I wonder…
Can I run to the end of the street? Probably.
And if I do that often enough, could I move up to running around the block? Maybe.