Liverpool used to embody everything I aspired to be.
When I first watched Michael Owen in my early years, I wanted to be like him. Young, talented, successful, and with never-ending potential. I wanted to make things happen.
When I then recognized Steven Gerrard’s importance in the Liverpool team, I found the idea of being a creator even more appealing. The energetic, creative, hardworking team player who thrives on giving others opportunities. With an unparalleled ability to handle pressure and stress. That was true leadership. Not by words, but by example. As I grew into Liverpool during my high school years and became a fully-fledged diehard in college, Steven Gerrard was the very embodiment of the kind of person I wanted to become.
When I saw Rafa Benitez, I saw an intelligent and versatile manager who could work around problems and come up with ways to get over obstacles. Someone who could make do with having less talent at his disposal, but able to make up for lost ground simply through strategy.
When I watched Xabi Alonso play, I saw someone so classy he was able to make some of the hardest tasks look routine and effortless. Someone so humble and down to earth about his abilities, and so keen to give others credit. Someone whose contribution and talent he never needed to acknowledge, because everyone would realize even more during his absence.
When I fell in love with Fernando Torres, I wanted to be effective, composed, and so in tune with a collective cause that I’d be willing to sacrifice short-term gain for a long-term vision. In Pepe Reina I saw someone who championed the value of the team so highly that he would be the first to celebrate David Ngog’s clincher against Manchester United, that he would be so selflessly professional in giving Iker Casillas penalty tips.
And finally, when I watched Liverpool, I realized and connected to the importance of never giving up. Sure, Liverpool loved to do things the hard way – extra-time goals, last-minute goals, penalty shootouts. There would be frustrations along the way, but finding everything I connected to in the team and on the pitch every week, despite some trials and tribulations, was worth rooting for to the very ends of the earth.
If you know me personally, you’ll know that I’m not one to wear my heart on my sleeve. But it was the fact that I felt so in tune with Liverpool Football Club that I’d proudly wear my Liverpool shirt to class and around campus on the day of a Liverpool game, leave lectures early and run back to my dorm for a live Champions League broadcast, and wake up at 7 in the morning every weekend for Premier League action.
It was a love affair that I never thought could end.
But now, I see my erstwhile beloved team wilt away in the face of adversity.
I see them give up when the going gets tough.
I see them continue to come up with excuses to mask over problems.
I see them stay stubborn and not address areas that need substantial improvement.
I see them freeze when there are so many options to take, when they should be ecstatic at the sheer possibilities of what they can do.
I see them lie down and be unsportsmanlike.
I see a Liverpool Football Club that, contrary to what the coaches and the players claim, is heading further and further into the foggy realms of mediocrity.
And as I watch a Liverpool Football Club that used to promise so much and mean so much in my life, I’m getting more and more disillusioned and apathetic.
Because how can you muster the commitment and passion to follow a team when they don’t reciprocate that commitment and passion?
How are you supposed to buy into a club anthem that tells us to walk on with hope and to walk on through the wind and the rain, when those associated with the club don’t have that hope, and aren’t willing to battle the elements?
The Liverpool Football Club that I knew and loved is no longer.
And until that fire within me is rekindled and my support is once again deserving of its “unconditional” status, this will be it from me for now.