Saturday, January 23 2021


When footballing dreams turn to nightmares

Update: January, 24/2019 - 09:00
Tragic: Emiliano Sala was on a plane that went missing somewhere over the Channel Islands. — Photo AFP
Viet Nam News

Paul Kennedy

As I kid I only ever wanted to do one thing when I grew up. Be a professional footballer.

I wasn’t alone in my dreams, especially being from Liverpool where football is engraved into your DNA.

I owned numerous pairs of Patrick football boots, was given a new Liverpool kit each year and played for a local Sunday team in a tough part of town.

There was one slight problem, one small thing holding me back. I wasn’t very good.

Despite this flaw, I would still daydream about scoring the winning goal in a cup final or having 40 odd thousand fans chant my name.

Being a footballer when I was young enough to do it would have been amazing. Being a footballer today, where the riches and rewards are endless, I imagine like living in another world. Another world where you are treated as a God among mere mortals.

Recently, I was speaking to someone closely connected to Liverpool Football Club asking whether the team might buy a defender in the transfer window after a number of injuries to those who play at the back.

“Doubt it,” my source told me. “We already have one of the best defenders in the world playing for Liverpool.”

I assumed he was talking about Virgil van Dijk but I was wrong. He was talking about a teenager from the same country as Virgil, Ki-Jana Hoever.

Although he has only made one first team appearance for Liverpool, in an FA Cup tie they lost, Hoever is regarded by many at the club as a future world-beater on the pitch.

He’s training with the first team on a daily basis and I’m sure it won’t be long before he starts getting more game time.

It got me thinking about what a life that lad has ahead of him. He celebrated his 17th birthday last week and if things go the way experts believe they will, Ki-Jana will become one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

With the right guidance, protection and sensible decision making, both on and off the pitch, he will end up living the dream, the dream that I wasn’t good enough to achieve.

Another relatively young footballer was very close to achieving his dreams this week. 

Emiliano Raúl Sala Taffare is a name that before Tuesday, probably wasn’t that well known in the footballing world.

The Argentinean striker had been playing for Nantes in the French league but had just secured a dream move to play Premiership football.

He had become Cardiff’s record signing when he joined the Bluebirds for somewhere in the region of 15 million pounds (VNĐ450 billion).

Sala had posed for photographs with the blue shirt, had the press conference and was about to step up and play in what is considered by many as the best football league in the world.

He had a great future, he was living the dream.

After signing for the team from Wales, Sala decided to go back to France to say his goodbyes to his former teammates. No big deal, nothing to worry about.

That was until Tuesday this week when the small plane he was travelling in went missing over Alderney in the Channel Islands as it returned from France to Cardiff.

The authorities have confirmed Sala was onboard and he, and the pilot, are both missing presumed dead.

Details have emerged of a heartbreaking WhatsApp message he recorded and sent to friends saying he was “getting scared” because of the conditions the plane was travelling in.

It’s tragic when anyone dies, and it’s no worse just because Sala was about to become a Premier League footballer.

He could have been an accountant on his way to start a dream job, or a young man about to marry the love of his life. All scenarios are tragic and all a waste of life.

Emiliano Raúl Sala Taffare never kicked a ball for Cardiff City but because his young life was cut short in such an awful way, he will always be remembered. — VNS



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