We don’t do this because it’s easy. We do this because we have to, because it’s what the voice deep down in the darkest pits of our stomachs is telling us to do. It’s a slide tackle on a gravel pitch, it’s outdoor practice in January, it’s jumpers for goalposts and some rolled up socks for a ball.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as glorious. It’s never mattered if it’s been the goal at the Kop end at Anfield or if it’s been your parents’ garage door, the dreams have always been the same – the desire to do better next time, and to do it exponentially rather than linearly.
But none of it is worth anything if we can’t look back at it with our heads held high – whether it’s begrudgingly accepting defeat or wildly celebrating a win. We play hard when need to, but always by respecting the rules, principles and people around us. It’s something you learn when you’ve stood on either side enough times.
Yet in the end, what matters is the same today as it’s always been: getting the result. We won’t be remembered for the possession we kept or the chances we created, the nutmegs and the rainbow flicks. Points on the board or bust.