Martin Keown has admitted that being a defender, no matter how much you do for your team, is usually a thankless task.
Recalling some of his experiences on the pitch for Arsenal in his column for the Daily Mail, the former defender spoke about one match in particular where Ian Wright was lauded for his goal but Keown was never mentioned for keeping a clean sheet.
“One experience still stands out,” he said.
“An Auxerre midfielder, Corentin Martins, who pulled me all over the pitch in a Cup Winners’ Cup match for Arsenal in France in 1995.
“In the first minute, Martins, a little playmaker, took the ball off the goalkeeper and looked at me as if to say, ‘Come on then…’ So I went after him and he ran 50 yards from right to left with a glint in his eye.
“The message was clear: ‘If you are going to track me, then be ready for one long ride’.
“I ran and ran, covered every blade of grass and tried to stay with him. We kept a clean sheet, Ian Wright scored the only goal, which the French media described as ‘sensational’ — and I barely got a mention! It was a thankless task.”
Although it sounds as if Keown is complaining about his lack of personal recognition during his playing days, knowing what we know about him, this isn’t what he’s doing at all. He’s merely shedding light on the fact that, for the most part, defenders aren’t covered in glory like their attacking team-mates are. Keeping goals out isn’t nearly as spectacular as slotting them in at the other end, unless you’re a goalkeeper who pulls off an amazing save.
He’s also trying to explain how man-marking isn’t the best way to deal with Gareth Bale in England’s match against Wales.
No matter how unreal a tackle it, it’ll be forgotten in the next second a striker scores a worldie. And that’s the sad truth.