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Feruz A Grand Old Team To Play For?

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I am normally quite ambivalent when a player leaves Celtic.

I’m not one of those folk who wishes any player ill, nor am I the kind of person who keeps an eye out for a player once he departed.

When a footballer is no longer at Parkhead, I pretty much cease to care.

There are exceptions. One of those is Islam Feruz.

Everyone who knew Islam Feruz said he would never play for the Celtic first team. He was always going to have his head turned by a big move, they said.

He was too talented, too good to be playing in Scottish football.

He was never going to hang around once the English clubs came sniffing, and made him a good offer.

I’d been hearing about Islam Feruz for years, as many of us had, but I had a couple of personal connections.

A family friend and local councillor had gone to the bat for him in asylum interviews, assuring that he was able to stay in the UK to pursue a career in the game.

In addition, I worked alongside a guy called Maurice, who was coaching him in his spare time.

He said Feruz was the most talented footballer he had ever seen.

My mucker big Maurice was a Chelsea fan; when Feruz signed for them I sent him an email congratulating his club on stealing a fine talent, a talent he was very familiar with of course … but as an afterthought I speculated on whether or not they’d ever get to see him in their own first team.

The stories I’d been hearing about Feruz didn’t sound good at all.

I heard rumours of overwhelming arrogance, of a player who didn’t like discipline, who found training a chore, a player who would get mouthy with team-mates and wasn’t beyond slinging a bit of verbal in the direction of his coaches.

I’d also heard that Celtic were angry with his attitude, and his percieved lack of loyalty.

This was a kid we’d rescued. A kid we’d taken care of.

Celtic had invested not only time and money in this footballer’s talents … we’d looked after his family, we’d shown him the love.

In return, the club had expected that he might show some in return.

That the notion of doing so barely crossed his mind was a sign of what really motivated him.

Islam Feruz is obviously blessed with a phenomenal talent. Anyone who watched him knows this, and appreciates it.

But talent is not everything. The game is filled with stories about players who had all the ability in the world … but making it as a professional requires more than that. It requires dedication and hard work. It requires patience. It makes demands on not only your skill, but on your lifestyle and your attitude.

I always wondered, based on what I’d heard about him, if we’d ever see the best of him.

And because of that, I have kept an eye on this player’s career, such as it is.

Islam Feruz has been at Chelsea since 2011. In four years he has not made a single first team appearance in a professional game.

That, in itself, we can probably excuse him … Chelsea has a multi-million pound squad, and he would have to be super-special to get into it. Yet a kid called Nathan Ake, a 20 year old Chelsea Acadamy graduate, has played six times for the first team already … including in the Champions League.

Feruz has been on loan twice, at Crete and at Blackpool. He was at Crete for months, and made only one appearance. He made two at Blackpool.

Today, Blackpool sent him back to Chelsea, citing issues on and off the field.

One of them was certainly his public criticism of the club and its style of play.

You could have made the excuse that this is a kid who simply has to grow up, except he’s no longer a kid, but a young adult.

Islam Feruz is now 19, the age at which we should be starting to see him shine.

Players in the same age bracket (18-21) include Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj, Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, Ross Barkley at Everton, Luke Shaw at Manchester United and Spurs sensation Harry Kane. Age is no barrier to playing in that league.

Let’s put it this way; West Brom’s Saido Berahino is 21. He’s already played over 60 games for that club and over 30 on loan at other teams.

He wants a move to a bigger club, as evidenced by the way contract talks have broken down there, but few would argue that he has earned it … he’s applied himself and is reaping the rewards.

As I said earlier, when Feruz left for Chelsea I wondered if he’d ever make a first team appearance for that club.

Now I wonder if he’ll make it at all. Oh yeah, he’ll certainly have a career in the game … he’s too good not to … but the longer he takes to grow up and get a grip the more I wonder if it’ll be the sort of career that talent deserves. In short, I suspect he’ll waste it.

He will only have himself to blame.

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26 comments

  • Manuel Cifuentes Jeldes says:

    Okay, here’s some considerations no one has sought to uncover. This article has inadvertently thrown up some brutal comments in some of the Celtic pages its appeared in. The general consensus is the young man in question is just a c*nt. Even more so because he f***ed Celtic off…Stated with shallow perspective, the article proclaims “This was a kid we’d rescued. A kid we’d taken care of. Celtic had invested not only time and money in this footballer’s talents … we’d looked after his family, we’d shown him the love”??? Now here’s the thing. This young man can’t be rescued by football. We know this because he’s demonstrated his inability to form attachments anywhere he goes. WHY??? Oh yeah, because he’s a c#*t!!
    But that’s too simplistic an answer though. As stated James, you’ve followed his career and found that Feruz is demonstrating the same behavior everywhere he goes. Yeah?? As a journalist, I’d be asking the deeper questions. Not just delivering verdicts on surface information available and conclude “He will only have himself to blame”. I’d have been more interested in the reasons for the repeated harmful cycle.
    Like most, I don’t know this young man personally, but let’s begin by contextualizing what we do actually know.
    This young man was removed from his support network, culture, family and thrown into refugee/asylum status at the age of 10 years old. So what’s that got to do with anything?? You’ll have to trust me on this one OR delve into some ‘exiled child psychology’, where answers will quickly surface. Such a trauma F**KS UP the mind of a child. Across the board, there is a pattern of mild to severe attachment dysfunction issues emanating from exile (defendant on the child’s resilience). Weans from 0-5ish yrs old take to their new environment like a duck to water(eventually). The younger they are, the more optimal is the outcome from this horrible and deeply disturbing adversity. However from 7 upwards, a wean has already established who they are e.g. psychosocial functions in the environment they know best. So let’s try to give some perspective on what exile really means.

    To be thrown into exile as a child is akin to that feeling when you lost your mammy in the supermarket. Can you remember that feeling??? If you can recall the absolute terror as your world falls apart around you, until such times you’re re-united one minute later. Now, times that terror by a thousand and sustain it for years, not just one minute. That’s what exile is to a child. And with it comes feeling like a stranger, loneliness, missing, longing, guilt, shame, separation and loss, sorrow, language degradation, value degradation, inferiority, a sense of non-identity, rootlessness, bitterness, suspicion, prejudice – to be prejudiced, to feel prejudice, and the scapegoat syndrome.
    Coping mechanisms in response to the above vary. But one of them is delusions of grandeur. Keep lying to yourself and you’ll believe your own bulls*it. No one human being comes out the other end of transition, unscarred. I’ve seen it in my field of work, I’ve seen it in exiled communities. The older weans don’t fare so well, socially and psychologically. This young man is scarred by his experience of exile. He’s become emotionally stuck at a crucial developmental stage and from it now demonstrates extreme narcissistic indicators and major attachment dysfunctions. This is a common consequence of exile on a child of his age.

    Rather than give him a public flogging, maybe ask the clinical questions given that he’s demonstrating the same behaviors everywhere he goes. Celtic, Barca, Bayern or any of the world footballing giants could sign him…but he aint got the tools to change…least not until he’s been properly saved from himself. And no amount of footballing talent or opportunity will fix that, sadly. His inability to make attachments is a state of affairs that is FAR FAR from “his own fault”.
    (Written by a 42 year old man, exiled at 2 years old and who im told, cried to return home on the stairway of his new house every day for the first 6 months. Imagine I was 10yrs old like Feruz)

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