an "a to z" of thoughts, conversations, remarks, observations,musings about

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

a tall man

I first saw football on TV one summer in Kolkata, at my grandparents house. Something called the world cup was on. A television had just been purchased. The newspaper published a photograph of a knee, and the caption - If you see this knee, kick it. That was 1986, and that was Diego Maradona's knee. The hot summer days flew by, as I watched all the matches I could, and I fell in love with football.

With the advent of cable tv, I started to watch british football on television in the 90's while i worked in a call centre job late at night. After finishing my shift around midnight, I would get home, and would have no social life, but just the television, and it was about 8pm UK time, so I would have some amazing football to watch. I saw Thierry Henry run one night on a small 14 inch tv and I was hooked. Arsenal became my club. A new manager had joined them, from Japan, and he talked like someone from the future. This was all so fascinating. He talked and talked about stuff when they asked him stuff, and he answered in depth, with thought and intelligence. 

As a fan, all I can say is that Arséne Wenger gave us fans something to be proud of. For the past decade, rival club supporters and then some of Arsenal's supporters, started to taunt us in earnest. On the field we were being kicked off and the referees and moneymen were bullying us. Off the field, we were bullied by those who did so, just because they could. 

I have watched and listened hungrily to the press conference of Arséne for most of his 22 yrs at this club and seen every match if not live on tv, then a recording.It became something that reminded me of those days, when I was struggling to make a career, alone in a big city, living in a crummy little room and working insane hours. Arsenal was a living presence in my life, something to look forward to, a tribe to belong to, values to adhere to and a mythology was being built. For 10 yrs a winning team strode rampant on the footballing scene and then Arsene moved on. He started to build the club itself. That was the scale of his ambition. 

I do not doubt for a minute, that Arséne deviated from those values. A lot of the magic came from his behind the scenes work, and brick by brick, a value system, style and ethos was built up. Of course there were foundations, and a glorious past, not denying that.

However, from head to toe, from the laces on the boots to the light on top of the stadium, Arséne transformed the club. He made it future ready and fully equipped for the current age. This was one of the most amazing sustained professional jobs executed by any professional. Even the Taj Mahal was built in 20 yrs.

Please do not abuse him. Please do not taunt him. Please do not mock him. If we do that, we lose our values, and the whole edifice will come crumbling down. Anyone, wherever you are, whomever you support, if you love sports then please do not just take a swing at Arsene, just because you can.

Sorry. I am very emotional. I really liked hearing him talk intelligently and he was a big role model. I will post a few things on and off till I remain emotional. Please bear with me. Probably when Arséne leaves, I will shut up too. Its how I grieve. I am grieving.

BBC Widget