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Career decision gone bad

The ‘University of Life’ teaches us a lot of lessons and risk-taking is one of the crucial courses as it is a vital part of life.

A lot of people might see risk as a negative thing -- with danger and possible failure -- while others see it as a positive thing, as it could bring a platform for hitting a big win.

Our game is life and many of us avoid taking risks. We like our comfort zone. The problem is, however, that without taking risks, we can never truly experience the exhilaration and thrill of success and achievement.

I’ve always admired football players because they are more daring, and willing to throw caution to the wind, especially when it comes to their careers. We see players moving from club to club hoping for greener pastures and in search for more silverware and money. However they soon find out that life on the other side of the fence is not always what they hoped.

Every football star got to where they are by working hard and by having the talent to get them there. Some had it in their blood -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Oupa Manyisa, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Lionel Messi are true testaments of that. Some had to out-work their peers -- Katlego Mphela is proof of that. Some landed in the right place at the right time. Lehlohonolo Majoro and Daine Klate are proof of that.

How do you go from being one of the most feared, most respected players in the game to someone barely hanging on in the league? Is it because they have chosen the wrong career path?

A lot of fans say players break the unwritten rule, “thou shall not leave a good club for a greater club if you are going to warm the bench”. Bidvest Wits midfielder Sfiso Myeni can attest to that. He has previously turned down offers from big local teams. He believes that when you go to such teams your career ends because you are given less game time and end up warming the bench for the rest of the season. You can’t really blame this Soweto-born midfielder, because for him it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Over the years teams have spent so much money for players. Sometimes these teams make unintelligent purchases. As fans we are also mesmerised by the sheer skill footballers possess in their clubs and for their countries. The transfer period can be an exciting period for a football fan as you wait and see what players your club brings in to strengthen your squad.

Imagine your club spends tons of money for a new signing, after years of not winning any silverware. You see your all-time favourite player reveal a new jersey number that represents your club colours.

There’s no question that emotion can play a big part in being a sports fan -- it’s why we support teams through thick and thin. Some fans happily support teams their entire lives without ever seeing an ounce of success, while others angrily curse their team for not repeating their glory days. However, you sometime get some signings which, quite frankly, don’t work out. Some players abandon their team for more moolah (cash).

Robinho is an example of a career decision gone wrong. He transferred to Manchester City from Real Madrid for $48.28 million. Despite making a great impact in the first half of the Premier League season, he found it difficult to make any impact on the second half of the season and ended up being dropped to the bench. Soon after that he redeemed himself by going to play for Serie A club AC Milan.

Are Fernando Torres’s days as a top striker numbered? That’s the question on fans lips. The player has struggled badly for goals since leaving Liverpool for a record fee of £50m in January, scoring only three times. Everybody expected him to become the new hero of Anfield.

It seems the pressure is too much for him and his performance is utterly disappointing. Please don’t get me wrong, I like Fernando Torres. His boyish charm makes him get away with so many things. However, a striker attracts merciless scrutiny. They are (strikers) normally seen as the club’s gladiators and nothing undermines a team faster than splashing out on a goal scorer who is incapable of fulfilling the team’s dream.

Torres justified his disappointing start at Chelsea by suggesting that one reason he struggles with his team is because the midfielders are too slow.

Richard Henyekane was a regular in the Bafana Bafana squad until he moved to a bigger club that splashed out more money for him. His career was best with Golden Arrows FC, as the striker bagged three hat-tricks during the 2009/2010 PSL season ending with 19 league goals. He also scored a Telkom Cup Knockout hat-trick to finish with 23 goals for the season.

The electric-paced Hanyekane has been something of a peripheral figure after he was snapped up by Mamelodi Sundowns.

The Kimberly-born striker has subsequently been reduced to cameo appearances from the bench and, when he does feature, he rarely lives up to his own billing.

Another player who lacks game time is Sthembiso Ngcobo, the former Free State Stars player who is now playing for Kaizer Chiefs. His time playing for Stars was a success, with him gaining a call up to the national squad. However, the 28-year-old has found goals much harder to come by due to his fleeting appearances from the bench.

The focus of professional sports has evolved from one of teamwork and camaraderie to one of avarice and greed. Today, many players hold out for optimal salaries, like Asamoah Gyan leaving the English side Sunderland for Al-Ain, a club in the UAE that has not won their own league since 2004.

Gyan was playing relatively well at Sunderland. He was scoring goals and basically progressing his career in a positive manner. All that is now flushed down the drain.

Maybe it’s a trend nowadays to simply have the label of being the highest paid player in the league.

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