We've all had great relationships gone bad. This week's Top 5 focuses on when trouble hits Paradise. A football tribute to V-Day. By Terri Leigh.
by Terri Leigh
Nothing is more romantic than being wooed in an obnoxiously overcrowded restaurant.
Nothing is sweeter than an oversized box of chocolate wrapped in a tacky red or pink bow.
Nothing says 'I love you' like Valentine's Day.
Oh sweet goodness, there are not many things I loathe more than Valentine's Day. I've never been a fan. Perhaps it has to do with a series of disappointing V-Day dates in my past ... all hype and no fireworks.
The Hallmark Holiday is good for one thing. Hallmark. And flower shops. Maybe 20-year-old lads hoping a dozen roses and some chocolate covered strawberries is enough to get laid.
Why am I such a Debbie-Downer when it comes to the annual day of love?
I have a real problem with society telling me to collectively and communally court our love interests on this one, singular day. It's so commercialized and planned. Doesn't the fun of cultivating your relationship come from spontaneity and the joy of acting in the moment? Doing something any other day of the year because you simply feel like it and you care enough seems more appealing (and emotionally satisfying) than being pressured to do it on this one day every year, no?
But no, EVERYBODY goes out on Valentine's Day and EVERYONE get roses on Valentine's Day and YOU DON'T LOVE ME if we don't do SOMETHING on Valentine's Day!
Yes, I understand, it's just a quirky day, cinnamon hearts are tasty, so is chocolate. But there are people out there that rely on this single day for happiness and hope of future joy.
But I tell ya, dedicating February 14th to love and affection is like feeding your fish once a year. It won't take long before you have something dead floating at the top of the tank stinking up the place (how's THAT for a metaphor?).
This week's Five focuses on the reasons why relationships fail ... and how they've applied in a football sense.
Hope you have a Happy Valentine's Day! Remember to bring your iPhone into Red Lobster so you and your date can pass the time not talking to each other while you wait for an hour and a half for a table.
Awww, so precious.
#5 - FIDELITY
Former England skipper John Terry has had his share of 'head-shaking' moments of insensitivity - running his mouth with racist comments, tactless money making schemes ... but allegedly sleeping with a teammate's girlfriend tops the list.
It was one of the many Terry-scandals of the last decade and it ended with the defender getting stripped of his Three Lions captaincy.
Rumours of the affair with the girlfriend of former Chelsea and England teammate Wayne Bridge (not to mention, the mother of his child) hit almost a year after Bridge had transferred to Manchester City.
But this broken relationship also went under the microscope shortly after the 'breakup' when City travelled to Stamford Bridge to take on the Blues. It was a highly anticipated and publicized moment when Terry and Bridge faced each other during handshakes. "Will they-won't they" bets ran high. In the end, Terry held out his hand, but was refused by Bridge. And the answer to the 'alleged' question became clear. I was betting Bridge would clobber him right then and there ... but no.
#4 - MONEY
Not too long ago, Didier Drogba turned 33 years of age and his contract with Chelsea came to a close. A unique opportunity then presented itself to join the up-and-coming Chinese Super League. A chance for the Ivory Coast international to reinvent his career and help raise the profile of what could potentially be the next big league.
However, six months into his two-and-a-half year contract with Shanghai Shenhua, Drogba was ready to leave China. Was it second thoughts? Perhaps it was not all that it was cracked up to be. Reports suggest the issue came down to dollar bills - or should I say Yuans.
Apparently, Drogba wasn't receiving his ¥2,000,000 per week ($300,000US) that was initially built into his contract. Therefore it was a money problem, with promises not being met and a partnership that broke down.
Drogba has since met a new club, one he believes to be a more trustworthy club ... one which pays the bills. Drogba joins Wesley Sneijder in Turkey to play for Galatasaray - another of those 'next big clubs' - where his financial gains will be much lower at $20,000 per game. But at least it's money in the bank.
#3 - AGE
Then there is the ever-present story of the child actor who gets their little hands on too much fame and money and makes themselves ridiculous under the media spotlight in a downward spiral of attention seeking behavior that ultimately leads to their ruin. In footballing terms, here enters Mario Balotelli - a young man of so much talent, but so little discipline that he threatens to make himself ridiculous for the duration of his still fresh career, if he hasn't fixed himself permanently already.
His is a tale of an invincible, uber-confident lad from Italy who, at 22 years of age, already has a history of grandiose welcoming parties to big teams followed by less than spectacular exits.
It appears that whenever Balotelli joins a new club, there is great celebration and much fanfare. I liken it to a fresh and exciting new relationship. Everything is new and fun, the exploration and future possibilities with your new beau are endless and positively exciting.
But eventually, the honeymoon period subsides and reality kicks in. Questionable behaviour, hot headed decisions, public squabbles with teammates and coaches, wearing an AC Milan jersey on a television show when you play for Inter. His on-and-off pitch demeanor is why then-coach Jose Mourinho called him 'unmanageable.'
Perhaps now that Balotelli is finally playing for the team he adored as a child, he'll get his act together. Three goals in his first two matches lends itself well to the hope that the Italian has finally found his home. Maybe AC Milan really is 'the one' for Balotelli. Only time will tell.
Balotelli is very talented, but is also very young and with still has so much to learn. His former manager at Manchester City put it best upon his leaving the club - "If Mario is not one of the best players in the world, it would be his fault, because he has everything."
#2 - ABUSE
When the relationship gets rocky, in a physical sense it's time to get the heck out.
David Beckham was enjoying the peak of his career at the turn of the century with Manchester United. Part of the team that won three Premiership titles in consecutive years, things were going swimmingly. Until they weren't.
The relationship between Sir Alex Ferguson and Beckham was much like a father/son bond. But along came Posh Spice and according to the coach, Becks began to change and his football became second banana to his ballooning celebrity image.
Beckham's connection with coach Sir Alex Ferguson was getting tense and it all culminated in a cup loss to Arsenal in 2002. Beckham emerged from the dressing room following the match with a cut above his eye. The resulting reports said it was from a cleat that Fergie had kicked in a fit of rage and it accidentally connected with Beckham's pretty face.
Of course, that was the 'official' story.
As many suspected, the midfielder would part ways with Sir Alex and Manchester United in the next transfer window, leaving the drama behind to start a new story in Spain and be a part of Real Madrid's Galacticos era.
Beckham still endures his share of abuse, but that's par for the course when you have a 'relationship' with the paparazzi.
#1 - FALLING OUT OF LOVE
Your first love is a special kind. Even if it's your high school sweetheart and it only lasted for 3 months. It seemed like a utopian eternity at the time and you'll never forget your first love. Some people commit to their firsts and marry right out of high school. My parents did it, and they are among the happiest of couples even after 35 years. But for others, it's just not destined to last. We can't all be Ryan Giggs and Manchester United, still going strong after 23 years.
Fernando Llorente has discovered this in his ties with Athletic Bilbao. His first love started on the brink of his adolescent years when he entered into Bilbao's youth system at age 11.
The Spanish striker has played for no one else. But that all changes this summer when not only will the 27 year old leave San Mames, but leave Spain altogether.
Llorente's contract with Los Leones ends this summer, at which time he will bid farewell to the only team he's ever known and start anew in Italy where he has agreed to a four-year contract with Juventus starting July 1.
Like many expired relationships, Llorente's began last summer when it appeared there was trouble in paradise. The player wasn't prepared to sign a new contract, there were conflicts with coach Marcelo Bielsa and ultimately, the man was once Bilbao's top provider of goals was now relegated to the bench. A great partnership gone south.
However, this story does have a silver lining; it appears the player and club will leave each other on speaking terms and will remain 'friends' after all.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I guarantee you it will be doomed if you leave all the loving and affection and doting to a single day of the year, and only because Hallmark told you to.