Too often, players will often blame off field problems for a lack of discipline, form or fitness, it becoming something of a Teflon shield to protect them from criticism off fans and players. It’s a catch all term to cover all kinds of issues, from drinking (Too numerous to mention) , drugs (Adrian Mutu) , gambling addiction (Michael Owen) to having a persecution complex even though you do yourself no favours at all (Joey Barton).
Yet, one player over recent months has put all this “off field problems” scenario in perspective, Tottenhams Wilson Palacios. Here is a man that for the last 18 months has played with enormous pressure over himself and his family every day, since his younger brother, Edwin, was kidnapped in October 2007 from the Palacios family home. Palacios has been a man in such rich form for both Wigan and Tottenham it would be hard to think anything was wrong with the likeable Honduran. A ransom of $500,000 dollars was paid as requested by the kidnappers but Edwin has never been seen again. Honduran Police were given details of a grave in the North of the country and uncovered a grave which they believe has the remains of Edwin Palacios.
Yet, even when he found out, Palacios still wasn’t one for histrionics. He received the news at 1am at the team hotel before Spurs’ game against Everton and instead of immediately notifying his team mates or manager, he packed his bags and calmly waited for Redknapp to get up a 7am. Apparently, according to Redknapp, he didn’t want to trouble him with a “personal matter” and was astounded.
“The lad had heard from his family at one in the morning what had happened, and his brothers, I believe, have identified the body,” he said.”He sat around the hotel lobby with his case packed until 7am because he didn’t want to wake me.”I’m amazed with him. But we organised for him to be driven back to London so he could get a flight home.”
Palacios has been given compassionate leave and will not play for Tottenham again this season, but football is a triviality in such matters. Compare that scenario with Tottenhams club captain, Ledley King, a hero to the White Hart Lane faithful and well known for not being able to train or play in midweek due to a knee issue that has blighted him since 2006.
Spurs fans will now be surprised to discover that King’s knee may not be up to training, but it’s certainly able to carry him drunkenly around London in the early hours of Sunday Morning and even that it can stand up to having a scuffle with a doorman of a celebrity nightclub. Fans that have sent him support as he tries to battle his chronic injury that blights him now have to take stock of the situation. Club captain decides that getting legless can have no impact on his fitness at all? Really? What a stupid man.
Is King so desperate to go out with his hangers on that he doesn’t give a monkeys if he drunkenly falls over, damages his knee and rules himself out? Is he so selfish that he can’t cope without alcohol? Here’s a man that most Spurs fans would run through a wall for and this is how he treats them. What a prat. He’s apologised, but it’s an empty gesture, especially when compared with Palacios’ behaviour and strength of character. King needs to take a long hard look at his team mate and get a grip on reality and get his priorities in order.
Palacios has shown courage, determination and strength throughout his families ordeal. Remember that next time Joey Barton whines about people calling him names or a footballer can’t cope without getting drunk on a Saturday night.