Big bucks and “state of the art” hairdos (or “hairdon'ts) seem to count as much as on-the-pitch skills for the elite that make it to the top of the game.
And let’s not take a nightmare trip down memory lane to the “Knysna affair” at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when the French national side threw a collective tantrum and refused to train.
It surely marked an all-time low in (French) football.
But there are exceptions of course. And perhaps it should come as no surprise that the man who recently showed such outstanding behaviour should be an Italian.
After all, it’s a country in which football is revered - even among those who don’t really follow the game.
Look at the recent Euro 2016 (held in France) when every Italian man, woman and child (enough hyperbole?) seemed to follow the fortunes of Gli Azzuri until they were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage.
Anyway, back to that man, Italy’s goalkeeper and captain and (more hyperbole perhaps - but just ask an Italian) legend, 38-year-old Gianluigi Buffon.
|Gianluigi Buffon (screenshot from Rahim Abdullaev’s YouTube video)|
“An example to what we should be seeing on the pitch”, said Fifa president Gianni Infantino after a friendly played on September 1 in the Italian city of Bari between the hosts and France (a game which Italy were to lose 1-3)
But what exactly had Buffon done to earn such plaudits - not only from Infantino but much of a soccer mad world.
Quite simply he had single-handedly led the response to counter booing that occurred from a small section of the crowd at the Stadio San Nicola while the French national anthem was being played before the match began.
Buffon reacted immediately, applauding La Marseillaise throughout, followed by his teammates and, it has to be said - a vast majority of those in the stadium.
Such class Monsieu Buffon!