On Being A Defender

When I was a kid at primary school, I always wanted to be a defender. Play defence. No matter the game. But mostly, it would be football. I really, bloody wanted to be an awesome centre back, not some cocky striker. There is a different level of narcissism to wanting to defend…you don’t want the flashy, buccaneering glory of the 30 a season goal scorer. You want to be the “it ain’t no thing” saviour…casual but beloved. You get the slow burning glory of reliability, carrying an air of implicit importance and respect, without having to be a loud mouth – which is why so many CBs are made captain.

I, however, was not this kind of defender. I was, and always will be quite a bit manic and very last minute. That said, due to my  aggressive style (not intentionally, I just had a little habit of getting stuck in) and the anglicisation of my name, there were many comparisons to one of football’s most beloved hard men, the peerless Vinnie Jones.

Painfully Familiar

Initially, I took this as a compliment: Being compared to a professional footballer already? Nice. But it wasn’t too long before I realised what people were actually saying “You’re a goddamn maniac, please don’t hurt me!”.

I was devastated: this wasn’t at all what I wanted. I wanted to be this nice guy, helping out his team…hell, my name means ‘good helper’ – implicit defensive player right there.

Things got worse when, despite my attempts, I didn’t make the school football team at all. I DID however, get put into the rugby team, as a number 8 and was actively TOLD to hurt people. It was upsetting at first…wasn’t quite sure how I’d ended up there, but soon I discovered the joy of wiping out some snotty little bastard who thought he was some nuevo-Jason Robinson. Good times came of it, we won a few tournaments and all….and I still retain this need to prevent people doing what they want to do. Especially if they’re being flash. Read from that what you will.

All this might explain the malaise that swept through me when I learned of my 5 a-side team conceding 12 goals last night. I was so sad, I had to glut myself on a take-away to ease the melancholy. I might be able to use this for effect with my Keval Mehta character (who is also a defender). Actually found some info about a (the only) great Indian football player that I’ll post up a bit later. (EDIT: I had a link to him, but that has since expired, but the name of the guy was Mohammed Salim. Google ‘er up!)

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