That is the worst word in football. If you support a team, you will know this word — it is a heart breaker. It is football-speak for ‘I’ve been tapped up’. ‘I’m flattered about Arsenal’s interest’ really means ‘My agent has been secretly talking to Arsenal for months and I’m desperate to play for them, so I’m letting you and your club down gently, but in code’.
Rubbish players in your team never use the word flattered, only the best ones — this is why it’s the worst word. As soon as you read it you know that the best player you have had in years is mentally out of your club and the swines who he’s flattered to be linked with are going to benefit from his talents next season.
At some point after reading the word flattered in a quote there is bound to be a negative effect on your wellbeing. It’s like a super magnet hovering over your moral compass. Bad thoughts will slowly start to turn you from ‘optimistic about the new season’ into a dark brooding wish sociopath. ‘Well they can have the ungrateful git’ will turn into ‘I hope he breaks his legs, painfully’, especially when every newswire carries the same story in a continuous stream of gut punching headlines.
As soon as one journalist carries the ‘flattered’ quote you can bet your season ticket (if you haven’t already ripped it up) that within eight hours the story will have been mashed up into a dead cert signing for the club it is flattering to be linked with. Your club is old rubbish. There is nothing flattering about it, not even the 80k a week and the adulation of thousands of sad fools who thought their star man loved them.
The word itself doesn’t really fit in football, does it? Flattered is what your aunt is when you lie about her age or her new hairdo. International strikers, midfield schemers or brick outhouse defenders shouldn’t be flattered. It’s a word that is used to deceive and as we all know, that has no place in the game. When a player says he is flattered he is attempting to trick you, the fan. It is the transfer equivalent of diving in the penalty area and should be punishable with a yellow card or a night in the stocks.
It’s a cliché in match commentary that all young players at home should copy some skill a player has just shown. If you are a young player, by all means copy his skill with a ball, but if you read that he is flattered to be linked with a club somewhere else, use his poster as a dartboard. He is a rubbish role model.
Of course the day after everyone in the world has read that he is flattered there will almost certainly be the ‘I never said that’ protestation. This is just a tactic to reduce any booing he will suffer when he returns to your club. If he is really barefaced then the old classic ‘I love the club and those great fans, I’m very happy here’. You are his footballing auntie, don’t buy it.
Keep an eye out for ‘flattered’ players. Make a mental list of their names. These are players who you don’t want at your club, even if they do average 25 goals a season and get on goal of the month every month. As soon as Real wolf whistle from over the street, they’ll be flattered, buttering you up like you were their ugly aunt and then breaking your heart.
Oliver Fowler is the brains behind Next Soccer Star, set up to offer an opportunity for the next stars of football to showcase their skills and offer the very best a road into the professional game and possible megastardom.