Jolly Green Giant

Posted: 01.04.08 in Blogging

Weiran alerted me to an article about David James yesterday, published earlier this month. It is really a short biography of the England goalkeeper’s professional career, and his opinion on football’s role in preserving the environment.

Yet while most will look upon his conversion of a gas-guzzler to a green machine as the most interesting product of his mindset, or his opinion in those World Cups in which he had been called up but had not participated, I read with interest about his days at Liverpool and his subsequent transfer to Aston Villa.

"That was at the height of the ‘Calamity James’ thing and I was making mistakes because I didn’t know what I was doing. It sounds mad, but at Liverpool I didn’t know what was going on. Things weren’t right in my game, and when I asked the staff why, I was told, ‘You’re a big boy, you’ll get over it’, which was not the answer I needed. I was looking for something to hold on to, and there was nothing there.

"… [My psychologist] Keith keeps me on an even keel, mentally. If mistakes happen, they happen. In the past, when I was looking for perfection, it was easy to dwell on them, but you start wearing yourself down, which is what happened to me at Liverpool. I was destroying my own confidence. Now, with Keith, the solid platform is there, regardless of my form."

David James speaking to Joe Lovejoy of The Times

I think that’s my problem. I had shown to be quite mature from a young age, but maturity carries responsibility. If I had a problem, I was trusted to be able to handle it myself. For the most part I could, you learn that most problems are trivial and it is usually obvious which problems need to be dealt with and ones that you cannot do anything about. But I’ve found when you cannot decide whether a problem should be sorted out, or when you have a problem that you can’t sort out, you are told ‘You’re a big boy, you’ll get over it’.

You get used to that burden, no matter what age you are. And when that happens, it takes rather more effort to get someone like me to really open up — to do so feels like a weakness in your character.

So ‘Jamo’ is lucky. He has a mentor with whom he can speak to every day. I wish I could have that.

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