Continuing my blog was always going to be determined by the response I received from my initial effort and it’s fair to say I was pleased with the comments and reaction, hence me writing another! There’s no hiding the fact I’ve tried to keep myself as busy as possible since the injury. The idea behind that is to keep my mind ticking over and leaving as little time as possible to indulge in wallowing and self-pitying about my current injury situation. So thanks to everyone for their positive messages because it means I can continue writing my blog and keep my sanity in the most testing and frustrating time of my career – and probably my life too!
I heard last week I had unofficially retired from football…..from no other than my brother too! Rumours are called rumours for a reason, it’s because somebody somewhere has put two and two together and come up with five (and anyone that has maths skills as poor as that really shouldn’t start them off!).
I know many people doubt I will play professional football again after my horrendous injury against Forest 18 months ago. I expected there to be a sceptical few and more importantly I accept that to be the case too. For me though, those negative thoughts have never entered my mind. I know I’ve got to work incredibly hard, be very patient and also have my fingers crossed that the luck (the only bit I have no control over) will see me over the finishing line. I’ve been asked on many occasions do I want to ‘prove the doubters wrong?’ My reply consistently is ‘no’ because my aim is to prove me right! I’ve stuck by the belief that I will return and I will have the best part of my Derby career ahead of me. I’ve suffered many injuries since my arrival. I’ve managed to play week in week out over a nine month period with reasonable amount of consistency whilst not being able to be on the training field for single session (I can tell you this isn’t easy!) and also played with a tear in my thigh as well back in the early months at the club. I suppose it’s no surprise that after enduring all these problems in my short time as a Derby County player I honestly believe this setback will not stop me!
Of course over the last 18 months of rehab I’ve had to dig deep because there’s no question that my positivity and resolve have been constantly tested, but I will not allow anything to overcome me and stop me from reaching my goal. I’ve had ups and downs, with the swelling in my knee which is a frustration, but that’s the way it goes I guess. Another part of it all is feeling like I’m not being honest to anyone who’s thoughtful enough to ask how long until I return. I’ve always responded with “I don’t know yet and hopefully I’ll have a better idea soon”. This isn’t to hide my progress or to disguise the fact my rehab isn’t going smoothly. Myself, the physio team and the specialist cannot give me a return date because we just don’t know. How can we say how my knee will react the day I jog, run, tackle and sprint? I’ve not managed to reach that stage of my rehab and this injury hasn’t been dealt with in football before, there’s just no previous comparison to form an opinion! It’s both hard not know myself and to not be able to tell the people that have continually kept a keen eye and interest on my rehabilitation work. I will promise though I’ll keep you updated with progress and setbacks as I continue along. When I do start getting closer to a return date it will be hard not to know as I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops!
As a professional footballer, one of the main downsides to my daily routine is having to endure hours and hours of dull and ironically soulless, and monotonous R&B/soul music. Names like Drake, lil Wayne, Miguel and Chris Brown are often branded about with ‘legend’ attached to it. Now I appreciate everyone has their own opinion, each and every human being has their own unique taste but I find it hard to believe that 90% of the football lads’ taste is exactly the same, which left me wondering the possibilities as to why R&B is so popular in my culture? Is it peer-pressure and the restraint to not be ridiculed from all of their colleagues? (I can tell you now there aren’t many places of work that have the ruthless banter that professional football has inherited!) Is it just extremely clever, powerful and manipulative marketing strategies? For the younger generation I do think that’s a huge possibility; or is it the way the so called ‘stars’ act and the lyrics they sing about in these hit songs? The lyrics boast about champagne, cars, money, girls and their unattainable lavish lifestyles. This seems to be the aspiration of so many of the young impressionable youth of today’s culture and the R&B stars seem to want to focus on this and reap the rewards. As Bob Dylan once sang “The Times They Are a-Changin”, despite the era since he wrote the timeless song it speaks truth and does so to date. Personally I feel the genre has no substance and more disappointingly no interest in attempting to find some either. R&B/soul has had a beautiful and powerful past which has seen some incredible talent such as Aretha Franklin, Mavin Gaye and Stevie Wonder all musical legends that will all go down in history as true greats, mocking the list of today’s stars. Is it because these artists are not talented? Probably not, I think it’s more down to the fact that they don’t need to be. If they manage to create a catchy tune and talk about things that gullible youth aspire to have themselves they are set to earn millions of pounds each year. Which left me thinking it’s you (of course I’ve sussed it out) that are the foolish ones and they are just money making machines living off your hard earned cash and using it to live the lives you so desperately want for themselves…..to be fair they will write another song about it and charge you again!
This leads me to mention that I had the privilege to see Leonard Cohen in Birmingham a few weeks ago at the LG Arena in Birmingham. For anyone who doesn’t know him, he’s a 78-year-old musician who has written some incredible song over the years and arguably said to be one of the greatest lyricists ever. His most obvious song is Hallelujah which was covered with a hauntingly beautiful effort by Jeff Buckley and (how can I put this nicely?) SANG by a girl from the X factor.
Although Mr Cohen is 79 years old in a few weeks’ time he managed to belt out a three and a half hour set, with only a 20 minute break. To still pull in crowds of 10-15 thousand fans at that stage of his life and perform with the grace and class he did is both astounding and commendable. I’m sure at his age and with his success, money isn’t his goal (I’m sure he’s still grateful though), music is; and after watching him onstage for over three hours I felt he was giving back to the fans that have supported him over the years. His latest album ”Old Ideas’ is yet another masterpiece. Once again each song is beautifully written and arranged throughout, all of which showcases his unique, distinctive voice. Along with David Bowie’s (the next day) album earlier in the year Leonard Cohen doesn’t try to seek approval or reinvent himself, he simply absorbs the past and accepts the present. It isn’t something we haven’t heard before. It’s not an Artists change of direction. It’s so much simpler than that, it’s an album to appreciate his quality, his strengths – and well to enjoy him.
With that all said, let’s leave the term ‘Legend’ to be used when appropriate and justified – Mr Cohen, you are a true legend!