The Sweeper: Stop Playing Football and Follow Your Dreams

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At the age of 18, most would say Shane Supple had it made.  Subbed on for Ipswich in the thirty-fifth minute against Leicester, he kept a clean sheet for the rest of the match.  Supple’s future looked bright, but almost as soon as he debuted for the first team, the Dublin native met with Roy Keane to effectively end his young career.

His reasons for leaving the game of football, explained in an exclusive interview with the MailOnline, were so incredible that observers initially pointed to a fall-out with Roy Keane to help explain why such a young talent would want to throw it all away so early in his career.  Supple however is adamant that he left Ipswich and returned to Dublin because of the greed inherent in the modern game, because some of his fellow first teamers “didn’t really care whether we won or lost,” because he wanted to pursue something more noble, like police work.

Supple’s narrative flies in the face of popular understanding of the game in which young players work hard and sacrifice in order to make the first team, to which they give their all for the club and the supporters.  Supple however thinks youth academies have introduced an element of mercenarism into football and led to a situation where players want money and fame before they’ve even kicked a ball: “I remember Joe Royle saying that some of them think they’re stars and they’re not even players.”

Channeling the Modern Lovers’ Jonathan Richman, Supple seems in love with the “old world.” He describes his enjoyment playing for Falkirk (“They packed their own lunches”), and laments that he couldn’t have come to football a generation earlier: “I’m a bit old-fashioned, maybe that was a problem.”  Refreshing, certainly, but Supple knew he was swimming against the tide.  It’s a shame the academy system is squeezing old souls like Supple clear out off the pitch.

Worldwide News

  • Kartik Krishnaiyer reports that MLS viewers have spiked 70% on the Spanish language ESPN Deportes. As Krishnaiyer explains, “While ESPN’s English language MLS package is struggling, the Spanish lagnauge package is making major inroads into the viewing audience.”  MLS club marketing directors with troubled franchises take note.
  • The Independent’s Sam Wallace explains how UEFA’s “shambolic” case against Eduardo da Silva meant the Arsenal and Croatia striker was let off the hook for diving, a decision that has left a trail of angry op-eds in its wake.  UEFA’s pitiful defense of the match ban is shocking stuff considering how high profile the incident was at the time, and could be precedent-setting.
  • Maradona has checked into a weight loss clinic in Italy.
  • Soccer365 brings us the five most underpaid players in MLS. “In America, where we’re so accustom to overpaid professional athletes, it’s both endearing and disturbing to recognize these five soccer players who don’t play for expensive shoe contracts or million dollar signing bonuses, but excel on the field nonetheless.”
  • Match Fit USA smartly uses the firing of Costa Rica national team manager Rodrigo Kenton as an opportunity to remind us that “Kenton’s dismissal now leaves Bob Bradley (USA), Reinaldo Reina (Honduras), and Carlos de los Cobos (El Salvador) as the only head coaches in the Hexagonal that have led their teams for more than a calendar year.”
  • The Premier League is bringing in home grown quotas. Several newspaper writers weigh in on the consequences, and they are significant indeed.

Richard Whittall, author of A More Splendid Life, has subbed on as Sweeper for Tom Dunmore this week.

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