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The mine of talent and the minefield of life

Filed: Wednesday, 26th June 2013
By: Julie Stewart

A mine of untapped talent has awaited treasure seekers over the years, at the home of the claret and blue.

Unfortunately those seeking goal scoring, midfield magic-making or even shot stopping excellence have come bearing their treasure maps of scouting reports and plundered the Boleyn Ground. Their promises of honing gems into sparkling diamonds to glisten in the shop window of the footballing world have attracted many away from the Hammers.

One of the most famous is now part of the Chelsea vault of wealth, in the form of Frank Lampard. The box-to-box midfielder, who has a current international scoring record of a goal every 3.31 games, may have been polished in SW6 but he was made in E13. It is not just moving on that can affect a player's West Ham career, or his appearance on any pitch, though.

Injured to an End

Compared to many careers football is fleeting in its existence; injury can make the timeline even briefer. Dean Ashton was an England international when his career was interrupted in 2006 whilst training with his country. The Hammers striker broke his ankle and although he returned to action for the club in the 2007-2008 season the injury proved to be a weakness which effectively ended his career following an ankle sprain in September 2008.

Ashton now lives his life away from the passion and physicality of football. He still has his life off the pitch though, a fact sadly not true of former wearer of the claret and blue Marc-Vivien Foé. Surely no-one can forget the dramatic death of the Cameroon international whilst playing for his country 10 years ago to the day. It was tragic that a gifted life ended at the age of 28, but he died doing something for which he had great passion.

The Addictions of Sport and Life

Injury is just one potential challenge to a footballer's career. In a world full of pressure and temptation it is all too easy for addiction to become an issue. Matthew Etherington spoke to the press in 2010 about the gambling addiction which saw him lose approximately £1.5 million. Whether it was the greyhounds, horses, or poker, Etherington had a problem which was only addressed with the assistance of his family.

For anyone, footballer or not, addiction can seem impossible to overcome. The absolute compulsion to partake of an activity or substance despite the consequences can be life consuming, and most definitely life altering. In the case of Matthew Etherington, Sporting Chance assisted him in dealing with his issues. They provide help, for amateur and professional sports people, in dealing with addiction issues.

Addiction can affect anyone in any walk of life the world over and dedicated local recovery programmes exist to help those in difficulty. Details are provided of potential recovery programmes and help for those affected to regain control of their lives. There is discussion as to how long it takes to control addiction and how that answer depends on the individual. Advice on how to control addiction, and where to get assistance is available online via addiction support.

The Survivors and Stayers

Just like people from all walks of life footballers can experience difficulties along the way; they are not immune. There have been some West Ham greats who have survived any pitfalls in life and gone on to be legends for the club, and those who will always be in the hearts of fans.

There are few people who can truly be regarded as iconic in the world of sport but Bobby Moore is one of them. Even those who are not Hammers fans have to admit, however grudgingly, that he was a player who graced any pitch he played on. The player that Pelé once said was the greatest defender he ever played against captained the institution that is West Ham for 10 years. In the modern age of massive transfer fees, and seemingly limited loyalty which can often be bought, it is refreshing to remember that there are some footballers who have dedicated their life and talent to one club.

There are those footballers who move to where fame and riches wait and there are those who live their lives by their hearts. Some have their choices taken from them by injury or worse. Several more struggle to control addictive impulses which pressure and fame can exacerbate. One thing which many share is how lucky they are to have played for the great club that has been, is, and always will be, West Ham United.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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