While this comparison is a little far-fetched because football is not a ‘gentleman’s game’ like cricket, columnist Tanya Aldred has her own use of logic. “Dhoni is no puritan, he is paid handsomely for his endorsements, and has a fleet of steely motorbikes and an array of cars in his garage ... But in the
pressure-cooker of Indian cricket, which can be as vituperative as any football-fan site in the UK, he has managed to keep his head,” she writes.
On the same Saturday that Dhoni and his Men in Blue lifted the World Cup, Wayne Rooney, having overturned a 2-0 deficit against West Ham United with a special hattrick, exploded into a foulmouthed rant in front of the cameras. When “they are paid such a grossly distorted amount of money — Rooney earns a basic £160,000 a week just from Manchester United — they can be expected to do two things while on the pitch: play beautifully and behave like a decent human being,” the write-up points out.
“Over on the other side of the world, another man was under more pressure than even Rooney could imagine,” she goes on. “A small townboy, sturdy, stubbly and with a most magnificent nose, MS Dhoni was leading India in their pursuit of the cricket World Cup against Sri Lanka.
India expected, the astrologers had predicted, it was now up to Dhoni to orchestrate victory. He promoted himself up the order, above Yuvraj Singh, and from a run of poor form produced one of the greatest innings in World Cup history. That six that won the Cup, high into the exploding Mumbai sky, was icing so pink and delicious it was almost sickly.”
The columnist adds, “Never will he play a more rewarding shot. And yet, though he gave himself
perhaps a fraction of a second too long to admire the ball sailing into the night, there were no foulmouthed celebrations to camera. Just embraces with teammates and worthy handshakes with opponents.
She finally asks, “Could Rooney learn from him? Who knows, but in the end his biggest punishment will be in how he is remembered. Only he can decide whether he wants his legacy to be that of a brilliant footballer who fulfilled his youthful promise or as a talent tarnished by his inability to control his temper. And although he is only 25, time is running out.”
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