Is a man like Robbie Keane proof that sentimentality in football is dead?

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As the January transfer window begins to take fruition, it got me to wondering, not about who will go where and for what, but is there actually any sentimentality left in football between clubs and players?

In the age of money and prima donna footballers who are interested in what they can get and will go where ever the best deal is, it begs the question over player loyalty to their clubs.

Moving to a club where a player genuinely feels they have better prospects in terms of trophies is one thing – no one would blame a player for moving to a club like Barcelona or even Manchester United because they desired to further their career and play Champions League football, with a realistic shot at winning titles.

Nor would a fan despise a player such as Cesc Fabregas, who after years of loyal service, returned home to Barcelona. Yes, they may regret his departure and feel sorry that he left, but the player did not leave for money, just the chance to play for the club he grew up idolising and spent years working his way through the academy of.

What fans do have the problem with is a player making a transfer purely for the sake of money – either a big signing on fee, or better wages. This is something that fans will resent and hold against a player for all eternity – think Cashley and Arsenal ‘I almost crashed my car when they offered me £60,000 per week.’ Thus was tapped up and subsequently moved across to London to Chelsea.

Was this for better chances at trophies? Not really. Because he wasn’t playing first team football? No. Ashley Cole left parent club Arsenal for the money, and will forever be hated for it.

Are there actually any players in the modern game left in the mould of an Alan Shearer who stayed at Newcastle for years without winning trophies? Even Shearer himself made a big money move from Blackburn for Newcastle before this, and the ‘one club’ players such as Giggs and Neville are becoming such a rarity. Even Mr Liverpool himself Gerrard had his head turned by moneybags Chelsea in the not too distant past.

Kissing the badge now is an all too familiar sight, yet what does the badge actually mean to the majority of players who would move tomorrow if they felt it would benefit them?

A player would tell you that they have to look after themselves, with the clubs willing to disguard players should the fit not be right anymore – think Alex at Chelsea and Mancini’s top class players cast into the wilderness of the reserves at City, with Bridge being the latest of these.

Footballers have a relatively short career and have to look after number one at the end of the day, and to an extent fans do understand this. A player will be loved at a club if he gives everything he has, and a 100% type payer does not have to have come through the youth system John Terry style to be idolised by the fans. Rooney is loved by United supporters because although he came from Everton, he gives everything whenever he plays and genuinely cares about the club.

A player like Robbie Keane who claims to have supported every club he ever plays for from birth is something that a fan will struggle to take into their hearts, honesty and realism are much more important, and yes, sentimentality may be gone to a certain degree, with players being sold on deadline day in a scene resembling a cattle market at times, and fans get this.

There will always be players who are hated for leaving a club and even by their own fans for whatever reason, but as long as a player gives everything he has for as long as he is at the club, fans in this day and age cannot expect or demand much more.

Written by Rebecca Knight for

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