Thursday 8 December 2016

Defoe the latest to discover that footballers just can't win

Published 31/08/2015 | 02:30

Jermain Defoe, right, in action for Sunderland during their draw against Aston Villa on Saturday
Jermain Defoe, right, in action for Sunderland during their draw against Aston Villa on Saturday

Noel Gallagher tells a great story about the begrudgery which often faces people when they find themselves with money after years of being poor.

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"You walk into a pub you've been in loads of times before and order a drink for everyone and you hear the whispers, 'Look at him, showing off with all his money. Flash git'.

"The next time you walk into the pub and you mind your own business and you hear the whispers, 'Look at him, won't even buy a drink for people with all his money. Tight git'."

Last week, Jermain Defoe advertised for a Personal Assistant to help him with, among other things, developing "a global brand for the Jermain Defoe name", potentially creating a fragrance and being on call 24/7. Like many adverts, the details were a little over the top; unlike many adverts it was a footballer and so scorn rained down.

The natural progression of wondering why a footballer can't water his own plants is to publicly vilify a rugby player if they had the temerity to hire an au pair and demand to know why they couldn't look after their own children.

Maybe golfers should be criticised for not carrying their own bags around the course or hurlers might be blasted for doing their shopping online and having it delivered to their door rather than mixing with their kinfolk in the local town.

Outside of sport, there's nothing to stop surgeons sterilising the theatre in which they just operated and any profession who employs a secretary should stop being so lazy, answer the constantly ringing phone and noting their own appointments themselves.

None of this will, or should, happen but in Defoe's case it sparked yet another outcry from many people who should know better about footballers not living in the real world. But if the real world was so good, there wouldn't be queues of people doing the lottery every week in order to escape it.

In the real world, the majority of people don't have to perform in front of tens of thousands on a weekly basis and have their work judged by a manager, their peers and supporters who may or may not have the greatest level of expertise in what they are watching.

In the real world, people aren't paid anywhere near the amount of money which players at the top end of the Premier League receive but they can choose to do what they want with the money they do earn order to make either their personal or professional lives that bit easier. Footballers, it seems from Defoe's case, aren't afforded that luxury.

When Defoe scored a hat-trick in the League Cup on Tuesday, there was predictable sneering that he managed to do it without a PA by his side, as if scoring goals in professional football - including 130 in the Premier League - was as easy as watering your own plants.

Admitted

Afterwards, Defoe admitted that he hadn't read the advert before it appeared (no doubt prompting the easily outraged to wonder why he didn't pay somebody to read it to him) and defended his ability not to be an expert in things he is not trained to do.

"I'll hold my hand up - I can't do admin or accounts or stuff like that. I need help to do that," Defoe told the 'Northern Echo', as though he had anything to apologise for.

"If I was one of those footballers who were stumbling out of nightclubs, drunk, smoking, then I guess I'd be fair game. But I don't do any of those things. If I wasn't representing my club or my family in the right way, then I'd have no problem about anyone writing anything they wanted about me.

"But when people are writing about things that are irrelevant, and turning things against me, I don't think that's fair."

Defoe argued that the job would mostly be focused on the striker's charity - The Jermain Defoe Foundation - which the selfish, over-paid, egotistical b****** set up to help homeless, vulnerable and abused children in St Lucia, the Caribbean island from which Defoe's grandparents lived. What a cretin.

"The help that was needed was going to be focused on the foundation because my family have been doing their best, but it's becoming a bigger and bigger job. It's things like organising the gala dinners to try to raise funds, organising the trips to St Lucia so I can do my charity work and get the people over there who are needed to make the whole thing run.

"Am I really doing something that bad? A boy from East London trying to get on in life and do good things? I've read that I can't do this or can't do that, but yeah, I do pack my own fridge, and yeah, I do go and get the shopping near where I live, most days with my girlfriend."

The last sentence must be one of the most bizarre ever uttered by a player but once somebody is on a large salary - and is a footballer rather than an actor or a musician on similar money - it seems there is a need to justify everything.

In an era of zero-hour contracts and Premier League clubs still not being obliged to pay the living wage - £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 outside - to all staff, the salary of Defoe's PA of £60,000-a-year would seem to make the successful candidate well-rewarded.

But much like in Gallagher's story, Defoe is being criticised either because he is earning enough to spend that amount on a PA, or that the PA will "only" be earning a fraction of their employer's annual salary. Like so many before him, Defoe is the latest to learn that footballers just can't win.

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