Football Heroes - On and Off the Field
Known mainly for their skills on the pitch, footballers can be badly stereotyped into brackets of selfish, irresponsible and arrogant off the pitch. But throughout the decades, footballers have been turning the public opinion of players and changing their general airhead perception into an admirable force. Let's have a look at just what football players have been heroes on the pitch and off it.
Renowned for his spells at Arsenal and Milan, Mathieu Flamini is a French Central Midfielder who was known for his strong tackling presence on the field. However, what many don't know is that he is also tackling a huge issue off the pitch. Named in the Forbes list for promising business leaders, this unsuspecting player has set up a biochemical company which looks to tackle climate change by creating sustainable alternatives to oil-based products, such as plastic.
You have probably avoided Flamini when it has come to football betting with sites like Infogol, but perhaps he's worth investing in off the field?! Known for his hard-working and utility ability on the pitch, Flamini was never quite an extravagant player who would break the headlines, but an important servant for the clubs he played for. His humble nature has left him to slip under the radar and become a hugely successful business man with a business that is fighting for a very worthy cause.
In direct contrast, one man who is known to create a headline is Manchester United and England star, Marcus Rashford. An electric, influential attacker on the pitch, Rashford recently found himself in a national squabble where he attacked the current Conservative government. His righteous campaign has received universal praise from even the staunchest Man City supporters after the young footballer led a crusade on Matt Hancock's slander of players.
Using his status and influence which he has rightfully earned on the pitch from scintillating performances at both club and country level, Marcus looks to fix poverty stricken hunger in children. He helped FairShare raise a whopping £20million and supply 3 million meals a week to vulnerable children in the UK before getting the government to do a U-turn just about as quickly as he gets defenders to turn on the pitch, allowing for parents to claim food vouchers over the summer holidays worth up to £1.3 million.
This young man inspires so many with his talent when attacking defenders on the pitch. But perhaps more importantly, his influence has now gone beyond the realms of football, and he has used his platform to attack a government policy which, after affecting him directly, would go unchallenged and harm millions. He has proved himself to be nothing short of inspirational.
From helping education in others, to getting educated yourself. Footballers often get slated for their general perception of being a tad silly or uneducated. When Giorgio Chiellini is mentioned, you automatically envisage a brutish, hard man whose no nonsense defending has gained him a reputation as one of the best defenders in the world. But in contrast to his tough exterior and extraordinary defensive skills, this Italian is a bit of an intellectual softie off the pitch.
Before his footballing career kicked off he aspired to study medicine, instead ending up with a hugely impressive 109/110 on his thesis on Juventus' balance sheets which gained him a degree in economics and commerce. Who would've guessed? An avid reader and academic, Chiellini proves that not all footballers are airheads.
As the limelight on footballers provides them with an increasing presence within society their celebrity status is increasingly being used as a tool by both players and politicians alike. Following off the back of a hugely successful Women's World cup in 2019, Megan Rapinoe (part of the US winning side) gained a huge amount of praise for her strong appearances on the field. Ballon d'Or Feminin and best women's player of 2019, she has created a legacy on the pitch. But her activism off the pitch is what has truly focused people's attention on her.
A huge LGBTQ+ activist, she holds numerous sponsors and has co-created her own gender neutral lifestyle brand. She stands up for what she believes in and holds people accountable; equality on and off the pitch is her passion. She stood up to Donald Trump in a twitter clash, tackled the US Soccer Federation and told the world of female athletes struggles. An icon to both the present and future generations she has consistently fought for equality and used her incredible skills as a footballer to project her forward in this mission.
So it's clear to see that despite what many generalise, footballers can and do have the potential to be heroes off the pitch as well as through their skills on the pitch.