In her column this week, Pria Rai takes a closer look at loyalty and what it means in a world that is increasingly driven by money and tangible gains. Just because we can’t see loyalty, does that make it worthless?
We live in a markedly materialistic world with many external motives shaping the decisions we make, such as the location of our home or the job we strive for. Does this mean that the most basic, innate human qualities are now deemed less relevant and to some extent overshadowed by tangible assets? I talk here of loyalty, and therefore respect, looking at both others we associate with and ourselves. Can we be bribed for these values; can they themselves be bought? Or is it when these qualities are displayed from within, that we are set apart from each other, in a world where things are perhaps more common?
I talk in light of Steven Gerrard’s announcement that he will be leaving Liverpool, his football club for the past 17 years. At the age of 9, the young footballer joined the Liverpool academy, before signing his first professional contract for the club in 1997. A successful 2000-01 season saw Gerrard contribute to the team’s cup treble in the FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Cup. His peers highlighted his success by naming him PFA Young Player of the Year.
2003 brought with it captaincy and a new four-year contract. However, things at Liverpool were not quite living up to expectation and their manager, Gérard Houllier, resigned as a result. For the captain, the offer of a £20 million move to rivals Chelsea was on the table, and he admitted he had thought about the possibility. Despite this, he declined, and decided in favour of staying on with new Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez. Consequently, he went on to lift the UEFA Cup in 2005, after being deemed the catalyst and inspiration for the team’s famous second half comeback after trailing by 3 goals.
Offers for the star player continued, from the likes of Real Madrid and Inter Milan, but he was not tempted by a move to a thriving Champions League club. Chelsea too made another offer, of £100,000 a week for the midfielder. But he declined, and signed for a further four years with the club he loves. His dedication was yet again demonstrated when he dismissed the top-flight German team and European Champions Bayern Munich. Again, he chose to focus on Liverpool, saying that:
“A traditional club like Liverpool still has a value, that’s the reason why I have stuck around for so long. It is more important to win a couple of trophies and achieve something that is a lot more difficult than go down the easy road and move to a club where it becomes easier.” (Telegraph, 2013)
He revealed his departure from the club in January 1st 2015; a decision that he said was the ‘toughest of his life’. But it followed the club’s failure to offer him a new contract in the summer, and instead waiting until November 2014, by which point his manager had spoke to him about playtime he would be given in the future. This left many pundits disappointed and upset, particularly with how easy Liverpool appeared to have let one of their greatest, and most loyal players go.
Steven Gerrard’s loyalty to his club earned him the respect of both football fans and his peers, many of who recognise that his inspiration carried through some poor Liverpool teams. One former teammate said that he was ‘so level headed for someone with such talent.’
He is by no means a man that is going to be short of money any time soon. However, he turned down contracts of more money and easier routes to success, and this is what sets him apart from a stage of the world’s greatest players. The characteristics he has are what made him the captain of the team, and quickly became a role model for aspiring players. He showed that there are more important values in success than the pay cheque received at the end of the day.
Following a football-orientated column this week, my intention is to demonstrate basic but often over looked human values, which gain priceless respect from those around us. Loyalty forms the basis of all successful relationships and partnerships, whether they are domestic or working. It strengthens bridges between businesses and their clients, it secures returning custom and it creates a good reputation. Perhaps the cheapest form of loyalty comes in the form of a stamp on your coffee card, though it still works on the same idea.
Obvious this may seem, but it should be pointed out that it is these successes that occur behind closed walls, which allow for exterior displays of accomplishment in the public eye. Unfortunately, one’s ‘success’ is often based on this surface image. Nonetheless, reassuring for the sanity of humanity, a humble honesty and sense of deserved prosperity will undoubtedly shine through any number of possessions.
Pria Rai, Online Features Columnistbookmark me