Another pub brawl goes on Jack Wilshere’s list of misdemeanours. The Arsenal midfielder has been under fire of late for several seemingly poor life choices, like getting caught smoking on three separate occasions. Now, he’s been expelled from the exclusive Cafe de Paris club on the West End for allegedly got caught up in an argument which spilled up on the street, during which he managed to punch a club promoter in the mug. Perhaps you’re thinking, “This is exactly the kind of behaviour we wish footballers would avoid.” And Ray Parlour would completely disagree with you on that.
“You’ve got to be quite boring, really. That’s what you’ve got to sacrifice if you want to be a footballer now.
“When I got into the first team, it was totally different. Everyone went out, there was more socialising and we could enjoy ourselves. In the early 90’s I made lots of mistakes, but there weren’t any camera phones, so you could fall over in a bar and no one says anything. It certainly wouldn’t be on the front page of the papers.”
What mistakes did he make away from the prying lenses of camera phones? Nothing too drastic, surely?
“I had seven stitches in my head in my head after a night out there [with Frank Lampard]”
Just when we were all urging footballers to clean up their act, Parlour comes in to say that their untrammeled conduct provides football with a certain inimitable character. We can kind of see where he’s coming from. The game just wouldn’t be the same if its players were by-the-book types who studiously followed the rules. Their disregard for social convention may be exactly what makes them so unpredictable and exciting on the pitch. Perhaps keeping too tight a lid on them could be striking at the very reasons we admire them the way we do.
On the other hand, this correlation we’re making is entirely conjecture, just as a heads up. There is no proven relationship between how well a player performs and how well he behaves in his own time. Plus, given that the culture of football encourages individuals to develop a poor sense of boundaries, it is perhaps a good thing that they are getting some pushback from their public. At least they have a sense that not everything they do can go completely unchecked.
But remember all, everything in moderation, including policing our favourite footballers’ behaviour.