Date: 29th March 2007 at 8:08pm
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Former Liverpool favourite Tommy Smith hit out at Rio Ferdinand following the defender’s comments about the sacrifices today’s top players made to get where they are.

Rio did not reveal what sacrifices he thought of and that was enough for Smith to deliver a scathing attack on the former Leeds man.

‘I can’t believe someone who is earning around £120,000 a week, has a big house, choice of cars and can go anywhere on holiday, can come out with something like that.

‘All the top players do is get up, go training, play golf or relax, and play one or two games a week. I can’t visualise where the sacrifices are, apart from time with their accountants to ensure they don’t have to pay too much tax.

‘When you see the sort of performance England gave against Israel, Ferdinand’s comments are laughable.’

So, Smith can’t ‘visualise where the sacrifices are’. Well, I suggest him to consider that footballers of present day have to put up with the malicious remarks of former players who always remind how great football was when they were playing. Especially in the case of Scousers who were always honest, professional and modest.

Do not misunderstand me. I agree that the present’s stars are spoilt and paid ridiculous amounts of money and their sacrifices can be forgotten now among the outrageous amounts of luxury they enjoy. But to be honest, I’m annoyed by the bashing they’re receiving right now. Every England player is a hero until he dares to play badly for the Sacred Shirt. From that moment on, he’s a villain, someone who is ridiculed throughout the country and he has to endure the taunts of the press. He’s told he’s in fact a mediocre, overhyped player who does not deserve the amount of money he earns.

It’s the easiest to say he did not make any sacrifices. First, sacrifices are made when young guys try to become top players. And you must make sacrifices to cut it at the top: just ask any reasonable manager about it. When they reach their goal, a lot of things change, of course. Top footballers’ life is considerably easier than most people’s but, for example, very few of us are under such intense pressure as they are. Every one of their steps are followed by the press and the media and if they happen to be English, then it’s not enough if they perform consistently well during long years for their clubs – one or two bad performances for the Three Lions and they are branded as sh**e.

Unless they play for Liverpool, let me add. You can’t do anything wrong if you happen to be a Scouser, at least not for the English media…