Something ruined the Champions League Final for me and I’m pretty sure you can guess what I am talking about. The behaviour of Sergio Ramos in getting Juan Cuadrado of Juventus sent off was an embarrassment to himself, his kids and his whole family.
The big game in Cardiff was a really competitive affair, or it was until Real Madrid found another gear in the second half. All in all it was an otherwise fantastic night, yet what are we left discussing?
There’s nothing I personally hate more on a football pitch than screaming at the ref to get a fellow pro dismissed. There are two guys I played with who can help illustrate how I distinguish between that form of cheating and what we might call more of a grey area in this country, and I’ve even got an example for you that proves, to some extent at least, that I used to practise what I preached!
The idea of self-policing among team mates is all very well up to a point, but I would say you should not need telling when it comes to some moral things, and that you are ultimately in charge of your own conduct as a grown man.
El Hadji Diouf used to exaggerate things in the final third, and what he and Andy Johnson also had in common was that they would hold the ball up and be a right nuisance for defenders into the bargain.
I know we always say the play-acting is a foreign thing, but the British guys have started to do it back, if you like, as AJ showed in the penalties he would win through sheer pace and drawing clumsy tackles.
Still, there is a difference in that mentality, if you ask me, where you are seeking to gain an advantage or exploit a defender’s stupdity, and something more sinister which is to do with your upbringing and having the wrong attitude instilled in you from a very young age.
To be brutally honest there were times away from home when Dioufy and AJ came in very bloody useful! It may not have always been right and they may both have had their moments but neither went out to stitch up opponents on a regular basis.
There was one game at Craven Cottage when, playing for Fulham against Man United, I myself had the chance to do just that and I clearly remember Cristiano Ronaldo making a two-footed lunge on me that could easily have got him sent off.
I did not even stay down, in fact I was so keen to make nothing of it I jumped to my feet and offered what you could call a low-five hand gesture, but he was in such a bad mood he ignored it.
We have all been there, and I understood that feeling when you’re losing, so I didn’t blame him. I’m just saying that I didn’t let his challenge go because it was him and it wasn’t because we were winning, either. It was because it is simply not in my head to get another professional in trouble.
Hopefully the use of video in the new season will go a long way to addressing what is genuine contact and, if it was up to me, this would not be restricted to the penalty area.
One eternal problem that we’ll be no closer to solving is the fact that if a player is not hurt as badly by a challenge then the punishment that follows will tend not to be so severe… but that’s down to human nature and it’s clearly not fair to blame referees for it.
I also think there’s something in the theory that Ramos has simply won too much for anyone to have a proper word with him, and that’s a pity because he really has been a super player. It’s not as if it’s just Ramos, though… we have seen Pepe, Busquets and many others guilty, too, all from one league in particular.
I don’t expect every player to follow my example, that’s just not being realistic. But I do hope we can agree that what Ramos got up to has no place in our game and that we can find a way to deter players from following in his successful footsteps.