Some moments in life will remain with you forever.
Those mere seconds are enough to change your life and perspective.
In the wee hours of this morning, I watched the finale of the grandest of club football (soccer) competitions – the European Champions League Final.
For those who don’t follow sports, or follow football in particular – the champions league final is the creme de la creme of world soccer.
It is watched by billions around the world and this year, two pedigree clubs – Real Madrid and Liverpool took each other on after a grueling season.
Although I don’t support either team, I still got up early in anticipation of a cracking game, full of free-flowing and attacking football (the way it should be played).
The game didn’t disappoint, with the drama and tension of the occasion showcased on the pitch.
And then it all changed.
Surely, a household name by now.
The Liverpool goalkeeper made not one, but two calamitous errors to “gift” the final to Real Madrid.
As soon as the final whistle blew, the cameras quickly panned to him.
A dejected and forlorn figure, he cut a striking image – face in the turf, streaming tears.
The goalkeeper is the loneliest position on the pitch. Errors are magnified and there is no where to hide.
Loris was certainly the loneliest man on that field this morning.
But he did a remarkable thing.
He picked himself up, walked over to the travelling supporters and apologized to them.
Some would argue that it was the very least he could have done.
But not the travelling fans.
They clapped and roared their support for one of their own.
Because you see, like you and me – Loris Karius is human.
And as humans we make mistakes.
Just because he is a professional footballer, paid millions a year, living the dreams of hundreds of millions worldwide – does not mean that he is any less so.
There are those commentators who argued that Loris shouldn’t have started in the first place, that he wasn’t good enough at this level (he’s made errors in the past) and that it was the manager’s responsibility selecting him.
Then there are those who say that too bad, he is well compensated enough to not have these moments. That he should know better, he should have performed at such crucial times.
Predictably and understandably, social media went into overdrive – the poor bastard was absolutely flamed.
But honestly, did he intentionally make such calamitous errors? Did he visualize costing his team the final pre-match? Was he looking to be humiliated in front of a global audience?
In modern society, there is an idolization of celebrities, of sportsmen, of the rich and the famous (just look at the audiences for the Royal Wedding).
People buy into the fairy-tale of “that” life.
That somehow, “their” lives are different.
That the pictures we see, the people we follow, the messages we read – are a representation of “normal”.
It makes our expectations set to impossible standards.
And also why, when your team reaches the pinnacle of its sport – you believe in the fairy-tale.
That the team can do no wrong, mistakes do not happen and the players do not fail.
Yet Loris showed us on the biggest of occasions, that everyone on this planet is human.
Made of flesh and blood, and oh – prone to making mistakes.
But he also showed us the strength of the human character.
It would have been too easy to disappear down the tunnel at full-time, out of reach of the commentators, the fans, the spotlight.
But he chose to stand up, to acknowledge his mistakes and to accept responsibilities for his mistakes – like a man.
And even though he may have cost his team the title, he may be hated and flamed on social media, he may be ridiculed for days, even weeks – he showed what it meant to be human.
Loris Karius, I applaud you.
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P.S. There is much debate about whether Loris would be around for much longer, whether this is the end of his career… funny thing about goalkeepers, their mental fortitude is something else… somehow I feel like we’ve just seen the pivotal moment in this young man’s career…