No matter whether they play in the Premier League or the National League, whether they’ve been professionals for most of their life or are only starting out on their sporting journey, there is one thing that every footballer is missing most with the game firmly in lockdown: the feel of a football at their feet.
A few keepy-uppies with some loo roll can only go so far. All the fitness work in the world might keep you near your peak physical level but there is no alternative for getting out on the pitch, be it Wembley or Hackney Marshes.
“The biggest thing is not playing, not being able to even go to the park for a kickabout,” says Ibby Akanbi, a striker for National League South side Maidstone United. “When you have something for so long you forget why you loved it in the first place.
“It’s like when you’re in school and you can’t wait to get out. Then you think about it after you’ve left and those were the best times of my life.
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“That’s what football is.”
If the school of football is still going now for players it has only really survived in the form of double algebra.
Whenever footballers are asked to name the training sessions they dread the most the answer is nearly unanimous: fitness sessions. After all, no-one learns the game in the gym.
“The work without the football is the most boring,” Rita Chikwelu, the former Nigerian women’s captain now with Madrid CFF explains. “When you’re training, fitness work is the least fun, you have to do it anyway but it’s never that enjoyable.
“It’s when we play football you have the feelings.”
Even if you have a back garden in which kick around a football – not something that is necessarily afforded to all professionals around the world – it can be rather difficult to find much productive to do if you’re in lockdown…