Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

It’s time to leave Troy Deeney alone

Posted on 21 May 2020 by Inam Yaphi

There’s something about outspoken athletes that irks a section of sports fans, especially in football. Often branded as boring, predictable, and robotic  – whenever a footballer speaks up, it is often countered with reminders of how fortunate they are to be in a position to be earning “hundreds of thousands of pounds a week”. 

There is a trend though (and you know it). Danny Rose, Raheem Sterling, now Troy Deeney are just a few to have become a victim of this. 

The players mentioned above have worked tremendously hard to reach the pinnacle of English football, which is the Premier League. Deeney knew growing up in a low-income house in Birmingham with his four siblings meant he had to go out and put in the work to change his life.

Deeney spoke on Talk The Talk, a show with Eddie Hearn and retired former world champion, Tony Bellew about his current stance. 

“Within the meeting, I asked very simple questions. For Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and twice as likely to have long-lasting illness. Is there additional screening? Heart stuff, to see if anyone has a problem?” he said.

These are questions that could not be answered according to the Watford captain. The main reason for his concern is because of his 5-month-old son that suffers from breathing problems.

After losing his father, his grandmother, and grandfather, people that are very important to him, he is not prepared to take that gamble with his newborn because of football. It’s not because he is ungrateful of the position he is in.

In addition, The Athletic reported that Watford had three of their players or staff testing positive for the virus, after the first round of testing. Those infected will have to have to self-isolate for the next seven days. This has prompted a couple of Watford players into saying they won’t be coming into training because of coronavirus fears. 

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Deeney knows the sentiments are that if he doesn’t want to play then he should not get paid and added, “I don’t want to go back to being broke none of us do, but I have been broke before and I made it to this point.” To him, his desire to keep his son safe is higher than his desire to play football, which would be putting the infant at risk. 

More than most, Deeney has experienced first-hand the hardships of not knowing when the next meal will come from. Why is his own opinion less valuable than that of Dominic Raab or Jamie Carragher? It’s as if his salary (that has been deferred for time being) automatically fixes the tribulations he goes through. This “I’d rather cry in a Ferrari than a Fiat” type mentality is not healthy nor acceptable. 

This is also a deep-rooted problem in society that suggests that money is the most important thing because a lot of it is being lost as this pandemic continues. To some people, football is not more important than their families. 

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People need to understand, Project Restart is not about “increasing the morale of the country”. It’s about the millions that are lost every passing Saturday when there’s no one to kick-off at 3 pm, no one to buy the merchandise in the club shop, and no one to put money on a Harry Kane anytime bet.

This project is to restart a £4.5bn business. The longer this carries on, the more uncertainty will brew around training grounds whether certain clubs will survive at the end of this. Many clubs live home game to home game and without that revenue, who knows how many Bury cases we will have at the end of 2020. 

The decision-makers of English football have to look at Germany and maybe adopt their model into what steps (safe ones) need to be taken in order to get the ball rolling again. Football has to carry on when it’s safe and if that’s without Deeney and then he’ll have to sit out. It’s important to respect his decision.

Any player or club that has concerns about Project Restart is assumed to have their own agenda. Watford and Brighton trying to stay up, Liverpool trying to win their first Premier League in 30 years. Maybe some do, but it is sinister to think Deeney does after explaining his reasoning.

The guy simply doesn’t think it’s safe to do so and hasn’t been satisfied with the information put in front of him that proves otherwise. And that’s ok.

Feature image credit: @T_Deeney Twitter