Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Mercy Side: Youth and Young Manhood

Here's a short article from me today. I just want to get a few things off my chest.

So I bought a game last week. A game I hadn't played in a very long time. A game that is terribly dated, and even at the time it was poorly designed. That game is called 'Championship Manager 2007'.

Why did I buy 'Championship Manager 2007'? Well, the Championship Manager series, like most football manager games, are mainly released on the PC, where as I used to have it on the Playstation 2, but wanted it for my XBox 360 as I'm trying to move as many games as I can from my old console(s) to my current one. And this was the last year they released a Championship Manager game onto a console. 2008 onwards have solely been released on the PC. So I'm stuck with a game that's six years out of date.

Six years in football is a very long time. As you may know I support Liverpool. What players did Liverpool have in that season? Rafa Benitez was in charge, and we had the likes of Peter Crouch, Robbie Fowler, Sami Hyypia and John Arne Riise at the club. We even had Stephen Warnock and Darren Potter, remember those youth players that have found better success elsewhere? Ah yes. Football goes so quickly we all get sucked into it and forget how fast time can go. Six years ago was before we got to a second Champions League final, got new owners, got rid of new owners and got new NEW owners, got 2nd place in the Premier League, won a Carling Cup, went through three managers in two seasons, bought Fernando Torres, sold Fernando Torres and spent a whopping £35 million on Andy Carroll. Six years really is a very long time.

But... in real life, six years is nothing. Six years ago I was still writing, and yes, things in my life have changed but my mentality hasn't, my aspirations haven't and my priorities haven't. Six years ago I still loved the same bands, played similar games and cracked similar bad jokes as I do today.

Where am I getting at with this article? Well, six years ago this game came out and I'm still playing it today. As I said, it's terribly dated and the squads are terribly outdated. Only Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina are still in our squad from six years ago.

I had some great times playing this game.  I used to live in Portsmouth, and I remember when Havant and Waterlooville almost caused Liverpool a shock cup exit. Since that day I remember taking the Havant and Waterlooville of the Conference South and making them a Premier League force over a long period of time. It was great.

I used to be Liverpool and make them from the team they are in real life, the almost-rans, or not even that, the underachievers. The team that's known from outside of Liverpool as the team whose fans always boldly predict to win the league and fail miserably each season. I liked taking Liverpool and making them the ultimate force of world football. Not Premier League titles but Champions League titles. And every season. And all the major internationals would join my unstoppable team and become even greater. It's one of the most fun things to do on any football game, manager or playing, is to take a team and make them great.

Championship Manager also lets you see the progress of the Youth and Reserve teams. I used to try and make them good as well, even if it made zero impact on the first team as they were so good. At Liverpool we had Paul Anderson, Gabriel Paletta, Danny Guthrie, Lee Peltier, Stephen Darby, Jack Hobbs, Miki Roque and Besian Idrizaj.

Miki Roque and Besian Idrizaj.

If you didn't know already, Miki Roque died only a few days ago. He was 23 years old. My age. I was 17 when he was 17, six years ago. He died from cancer. That could have been me. That could have been any 23 year old. No one should die at 23 years of age. It's just not right in any way at all.

Besian Idrizaj died two years ago. He was 22 years old. He reportedly died of a heart attack in his sleep. He had collapsed on at least two different occasions in his career beforehand. My sister turns 22 today. It could have been her, or any 22 year old.

Football goes so quickly. Six years ago as I said, the Liverpool squad was dramatically different. But when I, at the age of 23, play a Championship Manager game that's six years old, it feels weird. It's unnerving playing Championship Manager 2007, with a Liverpool squad who has two players in its team that have died. Roque was 17 years old, Idrizaj was 18. These two players, these Liverpool youth players, were just boys in real life. In a game they were potential, they were seen as bright players for the future. In football that's what they were too.

But in real life, six years is nothing. Six years ago these boys were becoming men, it probably only felt like yesterday they were playing in Liverpool's youth squad. I remember them. And now they've passed away, terribly before their time should have been. It's just frightening what life can do.

I don't know what this article was to represent, as I said, I just wanted to get these feelings off my chest. I wanted to pay my respects to Miki Roque, his family, and wish them all the best in this terribly difficult time. The same goes to Besian Idrizaj, even though it was two years ago it was still premature by a long shot. I also wanted to convey a simple and possibly clich├ęd message that is, life is precious and we need to make the most of now. These boys did, they lived their dreams of being footballers, playing for some of the biggest teams in the world, including Liverpool.

I'm a writer, this is my long term dream. I hope I can continue to excel, to improve, and one day this can be what I am remembered for. Miki and Besian may have lived their dream, but it was snatched from them before they could really make their careers shine. Their lives were cut short. I really hope that I can fulfil my ambitions, I'm alive and well, and I'm lucky. Very lucky. We all are in different ways. I want to live my life with no regrets and make the most of my opportunities. I hope you all want to do the same with your lives. Stories like Miki and Besian are cruel, and shouldn't happen. So please make sure you live your life to the full. Whatever you want to do, work hard to achieve it. Thanks for reading.

For the latest updates on my work, 'like' me on Facebook here!