Whether or not it expedites Brian Murphy’s move to Portman Road (though why the Waterford man would want to be understudy to anyone, not least Richard Wright, at this stage of his career is moot) the real story is Irish Under-21 ‘keeper Shane Supple’s decision to tell professional soccer where to stick it.
As our football correspondent, Ipswich “nut” Matt Keane observes, Supple, who joined Town six years ago from Home Farm, “was the envy of lots of players of his age.” He helped the ‘Tractor Boys’ win the FA Youth Cup in 2005 and made 38 first-team appearances as well as enjoying successful loan stints at Oldham and Falkirk.
However, having signed a one-year deal in the summer, last week he dropped the bombshell that “deep down my heart is not in the game any more.” There was no one reason, he said, but “a number of factors… I did not go into work every day enjoying what I was doing so the time is right for me to walk away. I have fallen out of love with the game.”
As Matt says, the 22-year-old Dubliner “has always been regarded as a level headed and down to earth guy who shunned the limelight and had no interest in the artificial glamour and hype that is associated with the game today. Not for him, fast cars and the glittering lifestyle.”
Or as Supple put it: “All I wanted to do when I was younger was to play professional football, but as you grow up, you realise that there are other things in life and to be honest, the game is not what I thought it would be.”
On Sky Sports’ ‘Goals on Sunday’, guest Gary Speed remembered his time at Leeds and Newcastle and how his midfield partner David Batty was no lover of football: last in to and first out of the training ground every day.
Former Millwall and Ireland striker Richard Sadlier, now CEO at St Pat’s having been forced to retire in his mid-20s because of a chronic hip problem, wrote in his weekend ‘Sunday Independent’ column that he wouldn’t go back to playing even if he was given a five-year deal and an injury-free guarantee.
While it looks the dream job from the outside (well at least to those who like football, which isn’t everyone), what with the wages and lifestyle that go with it, I’m sure it’s like any occupation: occupied by plenty people you can’t stand.
Many among us aren’t motivated by money, never have been, never will be. As far as this country is concerned, the ‘Celtic Tiger’ distorted priorities. Like ex-‘fun and games’ minister John O’Donoghue, there was only one mode of transport people were interested in: the gravy train.
The best-paid jobs were, by definition then, the best, the most-rewarding money could buy. Soccer was the stand-out example.
Sick of saving everything but his sanity, Supple, however, has seen a broader picture (he’s considering university, at perhaps turning his hand to cooking). Whatever he does, it won’t involve rolling in mud or money, and mixing with lower league big-time Charlies.
His manager Roy Keane, not exactly pulling up trees in Suffolk so far, says: “I think it was brave of him to take such a huge decision. A lot of people go through life doing something they don’t necessarily want to do and he has been brave enough to stand up and say that football is not for him. He is a very intelligent boy.”
Keane, too, you reckon is someone who may well have wondered many’s the time if he was cut out for football, often appearing a hair’s-breadth from another head-wreck/moment of clarity.
You sense he might even envy Supple’s courage.