Espresso Existentialism

As I sit here in France, quaffing my espresso and gazing upon the sublime Alps,  I can cast my mind back to England and my normal life with a clarity not usually afforded when ensconced within my damp homeland. Although I am skiing this week, my mind always glides back (much like the manner of my sumptuous parallel turns) to football. From my lofty perch in the mountains, and with England’s desirous performance still seared into my brain, I have begun to feel a certain je ne sais quoi about football in general. No doubt England’s turgid performance is in some way to blame, but I cannot help but feel other forces at work. My football aesthetic is failing: my personal playing experiments in midfield have been a disaster (resulting in several heavy losses) leading to a growing disinterest in the game…

What’s the point any more?  My right foot is so un-cultured it could be a gag in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new ‘Grimsby’ movie, my left foot so shaky Daniel Day Lewis is imitating it for a return to Oscar glory. “White men can’t jump” may be a stereotype, but for me it’s unfailingly true; I’m about as useful in the air as a Pidgey using ‘sand attack’ . Because of all this, I’m losing my love for the game.  Send help: I’m having an existential football crisis.

So what to do? Pack it all in, apply to the Daily Mail and write rose-tinted articles about what could have been? Descend into nostalgic nonsense and spend my days pickling away under the influence of a million Buttcombe blondes in the pub? Sat here in the mountains, it is tempting to adopt the French laissez-faire attitude.

satreHowever, in my insistence to avert this crisis, my mind falls upon another Frenchmen who undoubtedly experienced similar feelings. Now while I am unsure whether Jean-Paul Sartre ever got the blues after a particularly crushing football match, his maxim “existence precedes essence” is certainly a guiding light to lead anyone, even a disgruntled footballer, out of the darkness. Sartre’s argument is that only the individual can determine their actions and goals in life. While Sartre sounds like he was a ball-hogging number 10, focused on his own game above the teams, his philosophy in fact extends to all humanity. Sartre argues that, as well as being responsible for our actions, we must also be aware of how these choices affect others. What a team player the man was! With this in mind I’ve realised that ultimately, I love football and it’s up to me, not a benign football god (I imagine Gianfranco Zola with a big bushy beard) to sort my head and game out.

The true British bulldog spirit, channelled via the philosophy of a Frenchmen. With this new found optimism, I might just have to give that centre-mid spot another go…


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