The great Bill Shankley famously proclaimed football was more important than life or death.
He was wrong.
Seeing Fabrice Muamba lying lifeless on the pitch at White Hart Lane put into perspective how insignificant football really is.
Football is a game. Nothing more, nothing less.
In its simplest form, football is 90 minutes of sport, which, by its own definition means a pleasant pastime.
Rivalries play a massive part in the game, and help make it a great spectacle, but in times of need, to see emotions put to one side for Muamba, shows the great side of football.
Hooliganism, sectarian chanting, drinking to excess and punch ups are terms usually banded around when describing rival fans.
Scenes of violence adorn the back pages of newspapers and dominate the news channels when the ugly side of football rears its head.
That is why its amazing to see so many stand united in their prayers for one man.
Fabrice Ndala Muamba is a 23-year-old man in peak physical fitness, yet right now, is fighting for his life.
Bolton Wanderers’ England under-21 international is not a stupid man. He fled war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo for a brighter life on our shores, and went on to achieve 10 GCSEs and had hopes of becoming a doctor.
Watching Muamba and the reactions of players and fans at the FA Cup quarter final between Tottenham and Bolton was heartrending.
But, to see Real Madrid players wearing T-shirts of support, to see players and fans applaud and pray, and to read the messages of support across the internet, overwhelmingly proves how much the result of a game does not matter.
Muamba’s life now lies in the hands of the same doctors he wanted to be.
Still critically ill, no news must be considered good news, and I pray he comes through to play another day.
So, Mr Shankly, although you meant it as a flippant remark, Saturday’s incident proves football is not more important than life or death.
Published: March 19, 2012
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