Being a childhood Liverpool fan, I couldn’t resist watching the Champions League Final on Saturday night. Happy memories of parties in front of the TV in the late 70s and early 80s as Liverpool enjoyed their early successes in European Finals. I still remember clearly the pulsating atmosphere when Kenny scored to take the European Cup in 1978. Istanbul was another eventful evening, as Stevie G led his faithful team to a miraculous win in 2005 when Jersey Dudek became the unlikely hero with a fantastic penalty save. I even made it to Athens for their narrow loss against AC Milan in 2007.
Sport throws up so many life lessons and seemingly amplifies them, often in a public cauldron to create heroes and villains. Loris Karius being the villain of a tempestuous Saturday night in Kiev. What is it about the way we view the world that we create these labels for people. In 20 minutes, 24 year old Karius went from being feted and adorned as one of the Liverpool team to being public enemy No. 1 (well if you’re from the red half of Liverpool).
He made 2 errors to let in 2 goals and Liverpool’s hopes of a 6th title were dashed.
‘That’s the end of him’ – many said; ‘he’ll never play for Liverpool again’ others advised.
It brought to mind when on a similar public stage and the stakes were high a certain David Beckham lashed out against Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup and humiliatingly was sent off to spend the rest of the match in the dressing room. For those of you that can’t remember – England lost their quarter final on penalties and Beckham was blamed by fans, the public and the media. He too like Karius received death threats.
And yet just a week ago the same David Beckham was seen enjoying the most amazing spectacle and feel good event of the year – Harry and Meghan’s Royal wedding. It strikes me in hindsight that Beckham must have learned some amazing lessons in resilience. What can Karius learn from him?
Admitting your mistakes is a great first step – perhaps Karius is getting some good advice. His apology has been well publicised and seemingly is heartfelt. Admitting this is the first stage of acceptance as life (and football) goes on.
His capacity for resilience will be sorely tested. It’s not as if he can get back on the training ground and put all his energy into playing. The season has ended, he wasn’t selected to play for Germany in the World Cup – in other circumstances he’d be recovering, recuperating and preparing for the season ahead. Instead, he will have plenty of space and time to relive every moment of the final.
Here are some well-proven tips to bouncing back quickly and with more strength.
A good friend of mine regularly reminds me ‘if it doesn’t kill you it will only make you stronger’ – how will he choose to show his strength?
- Focus on what you do well – what are your passions and what gives you energy. Find this out and invest your time in these and your energy and strength will grow.
- Continue to learn (whatever your age) – take some time out to reflect on what will make you even better. Find a space and time to practice. Many commentators are suggesting Karius should move clubs, so he can rebuild away from the public spotlight. Beckham didn’t move – he didn’t get selected for England though for another 3 years and then amazingly went onto captain his country.
- Surround yourself with people who care. Karius, with so much negative press around, needs to find those people who will have his best interests at heart.
- Get perspective – I know Bill Shankly said that ‘football was more important than life and death itself’… however…
So where are the lessons for us lesser mortals who are not destined to play sport on the world stage? They are just the same. As ever our actions speak louder than words.
If you’re suffering from a setback, try some of the above…. you’ll be amazed by the results. Recovery doesn’t happen instantly it is a long process and there will be highs and lows along the way, however recognising each step will bring the goal closer. And as for Karius, time will tell. Wouldn’t it be amazing though if he turned hero in 5 years time (or sooner) with a spectacular save in the Champion League final?