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About A Week: £17,000 A Day

Peter Hinchliffe is still on the lookout for footballing heroes.

You would think that £17,000 a day would be sufficient pay for any man.

Enough there to buy a Rolex watch every seven days and keep the Bentley and Ferrari topped up with petrol.

But Cristiano Ronaldo, a young Portuguese chap, is not satisfied with that amount.

In case you are not a sports fan I should point out that Mr Ronaldo is a goal-scoring footballer who plays for Manchester United. He is currently the World Footballer of the Year.

His agent, Jorge Mendes, was quoted at the weekend as saying that his client deserved an improved wage to mark his performances on the field.

The player gets in excess of £120,000 a week and his contract still has three-and-a-half years to run.

Now I’m a football fan. I’m not one to begrudge a young fellah with extraordinarily talented feet the right to make a fortune. Football is a world game. There are millions in China, Argentina, Russia and all points in between who are thrilled by Ronaldo’s skills. He’s a young man who literally has the world at his feet.

But he pouts. He sulks. He's the very model of a spoilt kid.

Master Ronaldo, aided and abetted by his agent, spent this summer trying to leave Manchester United to join Real Madrid. But a contact is a contract, and Man United insisted that he should stay with them.

Alex Ferguson, the manager of United for the past 20 years, reminisced recently about his own beginnings in football. He was working in Glasgow as an apprentice toolmaker. Wages were so low that his family were considering emigrating to Canada.

His first game as an unpaid amateur was for Queens Park at Stranraer. The match developed into a battle and Ferguson was bitten by the player marking him. At half time his coach said “What’s wrong with you? Bite him back.’’

Tough days. But Ferguson fought his way to the top of the tree to become one of the greatest club football managers.

Alex is now past the normal retirement age, yet his enthusiasm for the game is undiminished. He’s a great coach, an excellent leader of men. Let’s hope he has the ability to change the character of a petulant young man who apparently fails to appreciate his good fortune.

Maybe I expect too much of Master Ronaldo. After following football for more than 60 years I still expect heroes. Super-talented on the field: generous and public spirited off it.

Some do fill those big boots. Niall Quinn, the current chairman of Sunderland football club, for one.

Irishman Nialll, a big strong centre forward, played for his country and a number of leading English clubs. He ended his days playing for Sunderland. His benefit six years ago raised more than £1 million.

Mr Quinn gave the bulk of the money to children’s hospitals in Sunderland and Dublin. The remainder went on helping to educate children in Africa and Asia.

He explained his generosity by saying “It isn't me standing up and deserving credit. This is my way of fighting my demons, my way of saying, `Look I am sorry for giving in to the temptations'.

"I have abused the privileged life I have had and this is me paying my debt.’’

There still are heroes in the world of football.


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