Football, like any sport, teaches lessons about how to succeed and how to fail. The world football cup competition in 2006 which was won by Italy is full of such lessons.

One lesson is that we should never rely too much on another person or persons to achieve our goals for us.

When England played in the world cup, huge reliance was placed on the shoulders of a young footballer called Wayne Rooney who was expected to score many goals for his team.

In the end he did not score one goal and was sent off for stamping on the family jewels of one of the Portuguese players. England lost the game and all hope of winning the world cup.

Jeremy Clarkson commented in an English tabloid: “I’m assured by friends who are football fans that Wayne Rooney is the best striker in the world. So let’s add up his tally of goals shall we? It was, er, nought.”

Another star English player is David Beckham who is famous for his varied hair styles. Jeremy was not impressed:

“Plainly, he’s very good at taking free kicks. But what exactly does he do for the rest of the time? Is he at the hairdresser’s?”

This is a little unfair as one of Beckham’s goals took England through to the quarter finals. However, Jeremy did approve of one player (with a chaotic hair style) who scored an outstanding goal and who played well throughout:

“Joe Cole spends very little time at the hairdresser’s (obviously) and as a result is the best player we’ve got. I’m not sure what is achieved by all that fancy footwork but it’s fun to watch.”

France also placed too much reliance on their famous player, Zinadine Zidane. When France played Spain the commentator remarked:

“When Zidane’s in the team, the fans will believe”, France won 3-1 and Zidane scored the last goal

Zidane played well with flashes of brilliance for most of the world cup including part of the final but near the end of the final he went from hero to zero when he head butted the chest of the Italian player, Materazzi, for insulting his mother and sister. Materazzi was flattened but Zidane was sent off.

The game went to penalties and, without Zidane, the French team did not perform as well as the Italians. France lost and Italy became the gladiators who won. France had relied too much on one legend who was also a human being.

Obviously another key lesson from the head butt saga is that it pays to keep one’s cool and not take insults personally. A sportswriter for the Boston Globe stated that “on most professional fields of play in the U.S., it’s more of a news bulletin if someone isn’t insulting your mother.”

We still don’t know for sure what was said to Zidane. One lip reader suggested that Materazzi was wishing an ugly death on him and his family.

Henri, a world class French striker, commented that we should not forget that Zidane was a great player and a great man. Some English papers were less kind. They had headlines about ‘ZidVicious’ and ‘Zinsane’. An American anchor man said Zidane had gone from ‘legend to lout’.

Zidane helped the French win the world cup in 1998 and helped them nearly win it in 2006 but in the end his inability to control his anger may well have lost them the 2006 world cup.

He said: “Je ne regrette rien”. But the team he captained and the country he played for will regret his action for years to come. Some lost their chance of winning the world cup for ever.

He had walked away from Materazzi three times but in the end his anger took over and he turned round and performed the head butt which will provide a lasting memory of the 2006 world cup.

One moment of anger can destroy a relationship for ever. It can even result in murder and imprisonment for life. Leaders of any kind are exposed to criticism all the time. If they wish continue to lead, they must control their anger.

A third key lesson can be learned from the man who was the recipient of Zidane’s expert head butt. Materazzi began the world cup final with a disastrous mistake. He scored an own goal.

A lesser man would have worried about his mistake and played badly for the rest of the game. Instead Materazzi used his mistake to spur himself to head a goal against the French at the other end of the field. He thus put his team mates back into the game.

Later he managed to provoke Zidane into performing the notorious head butt. No one condones his provocation of Zidane but he again bounced back from a painful situation. He got up at once after the head butt and carried on playing with energy. In the penalty shoot out, he scored one of the goals.

Materazzi shows us all how to react to our own mistakes. We need to put them out of our minds and focus on what we can do to achieve our goals.

The Italian team as a whole showed this quality. Thirteen of their squad played for Italian teams who were suspected of match fixing. The trial was going on in Italy during the period of the world cup.

The Italian team used the cloud of suspicion and criticism that hung over them to bond them together as a team and give them the energy and determination to win the world cup.

A fourth success lesson from the world cup is that we should not give up too soon because of our age. The French team had done well to reach the final even if they did not win. They had even struggled to qualify

They said that the French team was too old and the Spanish fans told Zidane that this would be his last game for France. Instead it was Spain who did not last long in the world cup.

Henri had been asked a few days before the competition if France were too old to do well.

“Yes,” replied Henri with some sarcasm, “and today we are one day older.”

In view of France’s success when playing with three ‘retired’ players one of whom scored most of their goals, we should reconsider our view of what constitutes retirement age.

Le Monde compared the French team to the English rugby team who won the rugby world cup in 2003 They too were considered too old.

A fifth key success lesson is not to blame other people for our own failures. Again, Jeremy Clarkson has some wise and amusing words to say on this to the disappointed England fans.

“Don’t blame Ronaldo, Sven or the referee… we were rubbish.”

Ronaldo is a Portuguese player who wound up the great Wayne Rooney and then winked at his coach. “Somehow this makes him a bastard,” comments Jeremy.

Some fans blame the Argentinian referee. Giving him the whistle “apparently is a bit like asking Osama bin Laden to referee a match between the USA and Afghanistan.” In fact the referee did a fairly good job and was chosen to referee the final.

Sven, the coach, gets most blame for not bringing enough strikers to the cup. However, if some of England’s key players had played as well as they normally do, there would have been no shortage of goals.

England just did not play well enough. A key lesson for the England team and many of us is that we need to stop blaming others for our failures and just make up our minds to do better next time.

Five key success lessons emerge from the above.

Don’t rely on other people to achieve your goals. They are only human and may let you down. Take responsibility for your own goals and plans.

Don’t lose your temper. Don’t take insults personally. A moment of anger can lead to a life time of regret.

Don’t allow your own mistakes to paralyse or distract you. Focus on what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Tony Blair made the mistake of saying he would retire before the next election. His answer to those who keep asking him when he will retire is that he is simply focusing on what needs to be done to improve the lives of UK citizens.

Don’t retire from life too early. France nearly won the world cup with an ageing team. England won the 2003 world rugby cup with a team that was criticised for being too old.


By yanam49

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