Steven Gerrard is my favourite footballer of all time. Dragged awful Liverpool sides to respectable finishing league spots, won a European Cup final almost single handed and more importantly, for a Villa fan such as myself, he captained England and did so very well.
With all of this on his CV, combined with heaps of natural talent, an attractive wife and being a decent looking chap himself, it would’ve been easy to imagine him selling out and becoming a kind of pseudo-scouse-Beckham. But he didn’t. Imagine the millions he could’ve made doing underwear shoots or endorsing weird, East Asian products like some of his contemporaries.
He maintained integrity and dignity throughout his career, which arguably created more of an image for him than the Ok! magazine and those photo shoots of famous people lounging around on beaches (that they apparently don’t know about but obviously do) would’ve made for him. Not only more of an image, an image that meant he’s universally respected.
When I heard that he was going to LA Galaxy, I thought something along the lines of “thats a shame, I’d be happier to see him go to one of the big European teams and win something because he deserves that, but he also deserves to settle down with his family away from the British press and get a big final payday” (I know, I think very deeply and philosophically into such issues). I imagine most English football fans were with me in thinking that it was quite sad losing one of the genuine Premier League legends.
Recently, I stumbled upon a series called From Liverpool to LA that LA Galaxy released upon his signing. Honestly, it’s awful. There’s stuff like filming the team talk inside the dressing room at half time when they’re losing. Just really American stuff. In many ways, he fits the mould of the American movie hero; bringing teams back from losing followed by running through explosions with a knife between his teeth etc. But this irks me, because after all the avoidance of becoming a marketing puppet that Gerrard has done throughout his illustrious career, he’s ended up at a Mickey Mouse team with a Mickey Mouse camera and become the centre piece of a banquet of soulless marketing.
I call it soulless because they’ve tried to take the reputation and respect that Gerrard has earned and pass it off as their own, by that I mean they’ve tried to increase their brand strength in regard to the respect they should get as a footballing institute. In fairness to them, people with little knowledge of football would probably lap it up. Seeing as football is a relatively new phenomenon in America, most of their audience probably falls into this category.
Gerrard isn’t the first respected footballer to be used as a marketing puppet. Here, Spain legend and one of the best strikers of the last 20 years, David Villa can be seen looking very confused in a dreadful music video promoting the new football franchise, New York City.
There’s no doubt players like Gerrard go over there knowing what to expect and it’s probably even discussed in contract negotiations. I just feel that being in the changing room at half time with a camera, following an individuals training regime and everything else Galaxy have done is a cheap end to a great career for Gerrard, through no fault of his own.
Let me know what you think below! Unless you disagree. Then don’t bother, I’m not interested.