Of all the inane platitudes football announcers fall back on when describing a player they like or dislike but lack quantifiable basis to explain why, referring to a player’s character is among this author’s least favourite. Entirely unknowable, the phrase is typically a mere reflection of the announcer’s inherent biases and does little to describe the events taking place on the pitch.
The notion of ego is similarly hairy, if not as upsettingly transparent. The idea that a human being who is labelled a bargain at 30 million pounds and gets judged by an audience of thousands every time they touch leather with their feet can become successful at that task without some inflation of their perceived self-worth seems unlikely. Furthermore, whether the presence of said ego is a positive or a negative depends entirely on the situation — more precisely, the outcome of the situation — and holds no discernible objective value.
For Liverpool’s Alisson Becker — the Reds’ deeply religious yet somehow Jair Bolsonaro supporting goalkeeper — ego is a bad thing, and the absence of said bad thing has been a good thing for his team.
“In football generally there can be a lot of vanity,” the 26-year old told Liverpool Echo. “Some players only look to themselves and can be selfish in only focusing on their own interests.
“At this club I don’t see that, I see everyone looking for the same goal and working to achieve it (...) We can describe the club as being like a family with some differences as we don’t fight too much – less than a lot of families do and that’s a good thing!”
The messy drama queen in me would like to know which Roma players Alisson is referring to here, but the most important thing — not only for Liverpool’s success this season, but their squad coherence and subsequent progress in the years to come — is the fact that every player at the club is enjoying their time at Anfield. That is how you build for continued success and a chance of trophies down the line.