Can you believe you have to scroll back to the beginning of February to get even a mention of football!? I feel I’ve let down the readership who gave me my first break and like Arctic Monkeys new album I’ve alienated the day one followers who liked the simple sub-cultural references and colloquial twang. Fear not! Now that the dust has settled on a fantastic World Cup from the confetti comes stories of sportsmanship, degradation of character and most important lessons which if dissected arbitrarily enough can act as cautionary tales within our own industry. As a person who believes the worlds of professional sport and agency recruitment are somewhat synonymous let me take you on a journey on some of the lesser known headlines from the greatest sporting competition in the world.
For those with a keen interest in Anthroponymy, you may have clocked that Kalinic is a Croatian name. Nikola plays up top for AC Milan in a league which will house Cristiano Ronaldo from next season. Now, most of the Croatian team play their football out of Croatia however that did not hinder the almost telepathic synergy showed by the brotherhood of Croats in this campaign. Nikola is a perfect example of the importance of being a team player. He was asked to come on in the 85th minute of Croatia’s 2-0 win against Nigeria in their opening game, a simple request? It seems that Niko thought that it was beneath him and opted to not do his part for the team, his manager, and his country. Needless to say, he was on the next flight home in the morning. You can only imagine the regret Kalinic would’ve felt as he was condemned to watching his nation’s team in a World Cup Final on TV with the rest of us. Ego is detriment to any team and as Niko has proven can result in a ruined reputation and the ultimate FOMO.
Politics and football don’t mix however it can’t be bad for public appearance to be seen in your nations colours, enjoying a drink like ‘one of the boys’ although the idea of a Boris Johnson ‘type’ gingerly nursing a pint of London Pride would turn my stomach in what would be an obvious attempt to curry favor with a lower to middle class demographic. What did seem genuinely authentic was the enthusiasm and passion shown by the French President. At every game, you could see him squirming and wincing as only a politician can but he was in unison with his nation, when France took a 2 goal lead in the final he was beyond animated eventually leaping on top of the TV table and celebrating wildly. This is what we need from our leaders! On a more micro scale, if your superior is your biggest cheerleader going through everything by your side respect and admiration are bound to follow, I always love hearing when managers lead from the front even adding to their team’s billings in a mix of financial and symbolic comradery. The admiration was reciprocated as Manni joined the team in the dressing room and the parade and was even taught how to ‘dab’ by Benjamin Mendy, a gesture with its roots in drug culture but who cares about origins of pop culture when your teams just won the bloody World Cup!
Jon Obi Mikel
The Nigerian captain and ex Chelsea darling was going into the final group game against Argentina needing a draw to propel his nation to the last 16 of the World Cup in a tournament that had seen the Super Eagles sparkle, impress, and surprise. Four hours before kick off Mikel was informed that his father had been kidnapped and he was not to breathe a word of this to anyone. This was actually the SECOND time his father had been used as a bargaining chip, the first instance happening in 2011. Mikel Snr. was released by his captives and is now recovering in hospital when asked what it was like playing in such an important game with his dad in the hands of bandits Mikel answered “I was confused. I did not know what to do but, in the end, I knew that I could not let 180 million Nigerians down. I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first.” We’ve talked about being selfless and putting the team first but the resilience shown and ability to get on with the task at hand is next level! We recruiters are an emotional bunch and often wear our hearts on our sleeves but if Jon Obi can embody professionalism to such an incredible degree it puts things into perspective.
There are some honorable mentions; Neymar going from global superstar to the poster boy for rolling around on the floor in a regression of his professional integrity. Michy Batshuayi showing the importance of not celebrating too early when over-zealously kicking the football against the post resulting in it hitting him square in the face. The Japanese supporters/team who both cleaned up after themselves after and the team even leaving a thank you note for the Russian FA in what is an amazing gesture and an exemplary lesson in aftercare.
The very nature of what we do day to day is operating within a team but trying to excel as individuals. Everyone aiming for the same goal with their performance being measured and judged, applying your trade-in pressured scenarios never wanting to let down your nation/agency in a very competitive arena. The desire to be the best should be ingrained in every recruiters DNA and in what can be considered a shameless plug the Recruitment Agency Fantasy Football League (RAFFL) is now live and will remain open up to the first game. To join the league while you still have time by going to premierleague.com/fantasy and use code 331285-69763 to join in on the fun and be in with a chance to win a flash trophy, your football teams new kit and bragging rights for the year as NZ’s top player.