This is part of a series of blogs that focuses on the attitudes of mind, behaviours and actions that a person can use to be successful at an English course. It’s practical stuff that, if applied, will have a practical effect – success in English. The blogs can be found under the category ‘Passing Higher English’ or on Twitter at #passingEnglish.
In the past ten years, for those interested in football, there have been many outstanding individual performances to witness: Zinedine Zidane’s complete domination of teams in the 2006 World Cup; Christiano Ronaldo’s single-handed destruction of AS Roma; Messi’s virtuoso display against Real Madrid, and many more. But there’s a football player who stands above them all in one respect: Steven Gerrard. In particular, for his one-man-team assault on Olympiakos in the Champions’ League in 2004.
Steven Gerrard has never been the best player in the world. He doesn’t have the magic of Zidane or Messi. However, he has for much of the past twelve years, at different times, had to carry a mediocre Liverpool side. Unlike the above superstars, and most that you would care to mention, he has only rarely been in a team harbouring other world class players that could compete with the best – Liverpool 2009 being the exception. It is Steven Gerrard mainly, with exceptional one man performances time and time again, who has allowed Liverpool to achieve such success in the past decade or who, in later years, has stopped Liverpool from slipping too drastically and becoming an Aston Villa or a Newcastle.
Apart from his skills, what distinguishes Gerrard as a player is his commitment. He is the most committed player on the pitch. Often to the extent, when he was younger, he would run to the left back position to retrieve the ball. His positional play may be questionable, but his exertions were a sign of his commitment, and that was unquestionable.
Never was his commitment more in evidence than in December 2008. A fairly average Liverpool side had qualified for the Champions’ League in fourth position and had to pass through further qualifiers to access the group stages. The final game of the group for Liverpool was against Olympiakos. The group had already been won by Monaco and second place was all that was left to decide. Olympiakos had to be beaten by two clear goals for Liverpool to qualify. This would be hard enough when a team sets-up to defend, however, Liverpool’s lack of talent in the forward line made the desired outcome less likely and it was close to being a virtual impossibility when early pressure by Liverpool led to a goal for Olympiakos! It was close to being officially declared a lost cause.
Up stepped Steven Gerrard. The game against Olympiakos was probably one of the games of his life – probably even more so than the 2006 FA Cup Final or even the 2005 European Champions’ League triumph. Because he, by himself, made the difference. His commitment to the cause was inspiring. He was everywhere. He led attack after attack and never gave-up. Liverpool scored three goals in reply, the second coming in the 81st minute. It was left to Gerrard, in the 86th minute, to score from outside the box in the 86th minute, handing Liverpool the two goal advantage they sought, delivering the qualification they craved, and, subsequently, the Champions League glory they could only have dreamed of.
Commitment. This was the difference. 63rd minute. 77th minute. 85th minute. Anyone who has ever watched football has seen players give-up at these points in a match, sometimes before they are even on the field! At any point Steven Gerrard could have accepted the thought ‘It’s not our night’ or ‘I’m not good enough to turn this around’ or ’2-1 isn’t bad.’ I bet that he did think it. But his commitment to the cause wouldn’t allow it. He had shut the back door.
When you truly commit to a cause you ‘shut the back door’. You stop giving yourself a way out. There’s only one way out, and that’s through the front. And, you are going through that door! Whatever’s required! When you commit to an outcome, there’s only going to be one outcome – the one you’ve committed to. Commitment means that everything is that all your resources, all your focus is on making that thing you want happen. It’s a great experience, and the more you commit, the stronger your commitment becomes, the easier it becomes. A great feature of commitment.
Commitment changes the game; it changes the outcome. It can make a mockery of exam predictions. We’re not saying stay-up all night, every night and just work. Obviously you’ve got to have priorities like health, but in your heart making a genuine, honest commitment will change your future – whatever it is you commit to. If it’s a grade for your exams, then creating a strategy and committing to it fully will yield fruits.
It requires accepting then politely ignoring all doubts and doubters and doing all the things, everyday, that will take you to your goal. Even if that goal seems far away at times. Like it did for Steven Gerrard when, with 45 minutes only to play, Liverpool needed three goals.
Sign up to myetutor for more advice, free resources and to send an essay.