The dangers of becoming a young football star

The dangers of becoming a young football star

The dangers of becoming a young football star
The dangers of becoming a young football star

Young football star – It’s a truth universally acknowledged that football is a young man’s game. The sheer stamina and rigorous training required to sustain at least 90minutes of continuous flat out running, blocking and scoring is just not something people over a certain age can pull off. Or at least certainly not at the level required to be a football champion. Footballers are scouted at a very young age and if these young lads perform particularly well, they find themselves thrust into super-stardom before they’re even old enough to buy a drink in America.

Donnarumma is one example of a player who catapulted to worldwide recognition insanely quickly. His first tier debut with Serie A was at just 16 years old, courtesy of coach Sinisa Mihajlovic. His debut at the Europa League was at 18 and UEFA at 22. Now, Gianluigi Donnarumma is at the tender age of 23 and is already one of the most famous names in modern football. Despite controversy with his contract negotiations, this goalkeeping genius is set to have a remarkable career, but will he be able to stay away from all the temptations such fame will offer and keep his head above water?

Let’s take a look at another super young footballing case study – Wayne Rooney. Just like Donnarumma, he exploded onto the footballing scene at age 16 and immediately became one of the most prolific players in the game. Sadly, Rooney became just as famous for his antics off the pitch as on. Arrests, drunk driving, prostitutes, infidelity, disorderly conduct – you name it, Wayne Rooney has probably paid to do it. And is anyone really that surprised?

You can easily draw comparisons with other athletes and celebrities, like Tiger Woods or Lindsay Lohan. No matter what the law states, people in their late teens and early twenties are still essentially children. And if you consider that success and fame rarely inspire them to continue their education or get any kind of real life perspective, young football players run the same dangers as “Hollywood child stars”. The slightest whiff of goal and money-making potential and they are immediately treated as a commodity, something to promote or profit off, and the majority of the people in these young stars’ inner circles fail to keep their best interests at heart. They’re exposed to the holy trinity of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll before they even learn how taxes work, with no one particularly inclined to stop or discourage them. In no time at all, young success turns into on-going scandal!

It’s rumoured that under PSG, Donnarumma will be earning around EUR 7 million per season, and while that might seem like a relatively conservative figure when you consider the salaries of players like Ronaldo, you can only imagine what a successful and famous YOUNG BOY is going to spend that money on. Constant temptation and privileges, with no real authority figures or inhibitions.

If you had a salary that was basically like winning the lottery every year, would you make sensible decisions? Probably not. And that’s not including the pressure of being constantly scrutinised in the professional and public eye. It’s all too easy to become complacent and these young lads, while at the peak of their game, tend to think of themselves as invincible – but between the risk of injury that could lead to retirement before they even reach 35 or navigating the current era of ‘cancel culture’, it may not be the worst thing for the next generation of football heroes to redefine what celebrity in the sporting world ought to mean to them.



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