Passion, loyalty, and dedication are traits people look for in a friend, partner, or an employee. These are traits some football fans consider secondary or irrelevant with talent being the most important. However, fans with a real attachment to their club and players understand that there is far more to a player than just his talent.
How many players have failed and given their club so little while having enormous talent? There are so many players that fit perfectly into that category because they did not have these ‘secondary’ traits. Many players over the years have shown that these traits are just as important as talent. And certain special players have shown that these traits might just be even more important.
In an interview with ESPN, Javier Mascherano hinted that this season will be his last at the club. For those who have followed Mascherano and understand his importance, nothing of what I’m about to say will come as a surprise. In fact, what I’m about to say will only cement the idea that Mascherano is one of the most unique players of this generation.
In a very noisy age in football history, where footballers have become celebrities sometimes because of things they do off the field instead of on it, modesty and simplicity really have no place anymore. Players like Mascherano are now rare and are almost considered outcasts. Let’s face it, there is nothing flashy about Mascherano and there never was. Even in terms of talent, countless players outshine Mascherano. However, that did not stop people from appreciating him.
In 2010, Mascherano came in from Liverpool where he played as a defensive midfielder. At Barcelona, he was converted into a centre-back. This transition wasn’t always smooth but Mascherano made it work regardless of all doubt. This is what Mascherano does.
In simple terms, Mascherano fixes things. He deals with things. It does not matter if he is not in the spotlight or if he is uncomfortable with his position, in case he ever was. The only thing that seemed to matter for Mascherano is how well he did his job. He knows that beyond the complex & philosophical approach many people have for football, it really is all about 11 players doing their job to the absolute best so that the team eventually comes out on top. Every thing else, like individual player glory, goals, pass accuracy, or any stat you could name, are just details in a far bigger story.
Mascherano is widely recognized, by those who love him, as the team’s safety blanket. He is the equivalent of a father for a little girl. She knows her dad won’t always succeed but his presence is comforting and she knows that as long as he is there, at least someone is surely fighting for her.
When Mascherano leaves Barcelona, the club will lose far more than a good player. They will lose a man who contributes to an idea. It’s the idea of being as passionate, as loyal and as dedicated as one could be to their job. It’s the idea of being simple, mature, and straight to the point. It’s the idea of having nothing to brag about yet having nothing to be ashamed of, fighting to the death while having nothing to fear, and walking with your head held high because you know that deep down you gave everything you could possibly give. Only such men will go home satisfied and proud of what they have achieved.
For the trophies, dedication, and simply being who he is, the football world will always be grateful for Mascherano. Those who aren’t grateful just yet will definitely understand. And once they do, they will start looking for someone just like him.