Every single one of us has, at some point in our lives, done something which we only realise in hindsight was calamitously stupid. It may even have been that our reckless selves ploughed on ahead with that thing even though folk in our circle told us that it was madness.
You live, and you learn. Some of the time you do so too late.
Listening to Leigh Griffiths these past few weeks, it is blatantly obvious that he now recognises all the paths not taken and the stuff he failed to do.
He didn’t take his craft seriously. He stopped looking after himself properly. He didn’t have the mentality of the professional athlete, of clean living and staying sharp. He failed to moderate his off-field behaviour.
The thing is, Griffiths was warned about these things over and over again.
From different people, people who genuinely cared about the direction of his career and the consequences of not treating it seriously.
We’ve all seen players his age completely washed up when they ought to have had years left in front of them in the sport … you wonder if he’s not there.
He was first told to sort himself out by Ronny Deila, and then by Brendan Rodgers. He was certainly warned by Neil Lennon who gave him a proper pasting over it in the mainstream press.
That led to the public fall-out between them, which Celtic needed at that point like a detonation inside the walls. But for once, Lennon was right to be pissed.
In spite of it all, Ange was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, but even if his personal issues hadn’t swamped him his general lack of fitness and sharpness would have done it.
I cannot imagine him coming up to the standards our current team demands.
Leigh gets it now. He understands that these guys were all trying to give him good advice, and offer their guidance, so that he could get the most out of his career that was possible. He realises too late, because he’s 31 now and no longer at the top level. A guy with his record should have walked into a new club the minute Celtic let him go.
Yet the reluctance to take him on is perfectly understandable. Clubs simply don’t know what they are getting with him, either on or off the pitch. These should be the peak years of his career, and instead he faces a period filled with regret for what might have been.
It is sad to see it. But Leigh Griffiths thought he knew better than some of the smartest people he’s ever met in the game.
That was a mistake. One of his many.
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