Daniel Gregory’s column: Bellamy hits the nail on the head with respect issue

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At the risk of starting to sound like a miserable old man, I am going to have another moan about young footballer’s and the way the game seems to be going.

I was discussing a lack of respect that seems to emanate in youngsters for their elders now, and that attitude has transcended into football.

Reading the views of Craig Bellamy, a footballer who has had his off-field problems during his career, really rang true with me.

Speaking in the Daily Mail, Bellamy said: “These days you get some boys coming in who aren’t even bothered if they impress. You have an 18-year-old kid driving a Mercedes in to the club. I didn’t start driving until I was 22.”

Those words just about sum up the situation for me.

Players used to have to put in an appreticeship and graft to earn the right to take to the field and wear their club colours.

Now we see the likes of Raheem Sterling reportedly turning down offers of £25,000 a week? How on earth has that happened?

Carlton Cole spoke out on the matter this week, adding: “I got my first pro contract at 17. I was travelling with the team, going up north, but still I had to wash Dennis Wise’s boots at that age.

“Now these kids don’t have to do that. They think everything comes easy. I did a lot of stuff. I used to play a Premier League game and get on a bus to go home. These kids are getting driven home now, you know what I mean?”

Such a medial task as washing a pair of boots has been taken away and that sense of discipline has gone with it - Cole and Bellamy are bang on the money.

It comes back to the issue of money in the game, with the top clubs scouting all over the world to try and unearth the next big superstar and cash in.

When you see the biggest club in England and possibly the world, Manchester United, losing youngsters to other clubs, the alarm bells start to ring.

Paul Pogba moved to Juventus to sign a bumper contract and the efforts United put in scouting him and nurturing him were wasted.

Then we see the likes of Sterling and Ravel Morrison turning down lucrative offers from their clubs - The day these players were called into the manager’s office and told they were getting a contract would have been the best day of their lives about a decade ago.

So much has changed since the birth of the Premier League and the increase in money trickling into the game after the Sky TV deal.

Bellamy, who has enjoyed a superb career - a very underrated player in my opinion - cleaned the boots and looked after a player called John Polston as a youngster at Norwich City.

Now I like to think I know a fair amount about the game, but even I’ve never heard of Polston. But that just goes to show how much things have changed.

Bellamy, who was one of the club’s best prospects, running around after an average footballer like Odd Job in the famous James Bond flick Goldfinger.

Can you now imagine the likes of Sterling cleaning Brad Jones’ boots now, or Morrison, on loan at Birmingham, getting the polish out on Steve Caldwell’s motor? No chance.

Bellamy added: “It wasn’t just cleaning boots. I used to have to make my “man” tea and coffee, clean his car.

“It was a guy called John Polston. He was a pain at times and not always nice to work for. But I learned a few things.”

Bellamy sums the situation up with his statement that concludes his interview; “We didn’t leave till late. It was a bit too extreme if I’m honest but there has to be that balance and they have gone too far now the other way now.”

Young players are wrapped up in cotton wool now. This is just going even further to detracting even further from normal society.

We already treat footballers like they’re from another planet, just imagine what the next generation player will be like.

To quote another James Bond title in summing the current situation, it seems ‘The World Is Not Enough’ for some of these modern players, and they need to be handed both a bucket and sponge and a harsh reality check.