Assou-Ekotto: Footballers play for money, not the shirt
Published 22:58 15/10/11 By Paul Smith
Benoit Assou-Ekotto makes no apology for his controversial take on footballers.
He admits his refreshingly honest views will probably upset some people but claims he sleeps well at night anyway. He wasn’t always as outspoken, but once his surgeon told him there was a chance he might not play again after knee surgery he realised there are far more important things in life than football bulls**t.
Ekotto became football’s forgotten man, sidelined for 18 months with a serious knee injury in 2007. He returned to the game transformed.
He explained: “When your surgeon tells you that you might not play again I think it puts things into perspective.
“You realise there are more important things in life than kicking a ball around.
“I have never bought into the hypocrisy of football but perhaps I’m more strident in my views now. I’m lucky and appreciate what I have, but football is just a job, a means to an end. I had a lot of time to think and reflect when I was injured. I even kept the severity of my injury secret. I didn’t tell my mother because she would have cried.
“It would only have upset her needlessly. Her tears wouldn’t have made my injury better. Besides I could have always cried for myself.”
Ekotto just doesn’t get the modern day footballer. “I’d rather be honest and say what I think,” he said.“I play football to earn a living and make my life easier.
“Yes, I play for the money but then doesn’t everybody who gets up in the morning and goes to work? They do it to provide for their family.
“It infuriates me when footballers go on about playing for the shirt. I think they should be held accountable for it when they kiss the badge and six months later clear off for a better pay day.
“After all, they turn up at a press conference and go on about history and the love of the club.
“But what is the first thing they ask about before signing? How much! I have a conscience so I’m not prepared to say something I don’t believe.”
We are speaking after Ekotto was a guest at the 2011 Haringey Educational Achievement Awards held at White Hart Lane – a joint initiative between the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and Haringey Council.
He is very active in the local community, particularly after the recent riots in Tottenham.
“Being in a fortunate position I think it’s important to give something back,” he added. “If I can make the slightest difference it helps. When I finish playing I have no interest in staying in football. There are more productive things I can do, like support various charities and help those less fortunate than myself.”