Football may be the world's favorite sport — and something that people will use their spare time to learn more about on superbly written Yahoo! blogs — but that doesn't mean the professional players who entertain us actually have to have any interest in what they're doing.
As a Premier League footballer for the past seven seasons, many would say Tottenham defender Benoît Assou-Ekotto has one of the best jobs in the world, but the Cameroon international is happy to admit that he doesn't actually like the game. When he turns up at White Hart Lane on a Saturday, he often doesn't know anything about the opposition, nor the league standing of his club. In a Guardian interview in 2010, he even went as far as saying he only "plays for the money," not the enjoyment of the game.
In a new Guardian interview published on Friday, Assou-Ekotto reiterates his lack on interest in the beautiful game and even admits an astonishing lack of knowledge concerning one of the biggest recent incidents in world football:
"I don't particularly like talking about football. I don't immerse myself in it."
As if to illustrate the point, Assou-Ekotto looks blank when Luis Suárez's biting of Branislav Ivanovic comes up. "He did what?" he asks. "Il a mangé?" If he is joking, the deadpan expression is inscrutable. "Surely, Benoît ... come on." But no, it is plain. He has no idea. Assou-Ekotto has never got the fuss about football and footballers.
In some ways, his indifference to the game is fair enough. When an accountant gets home from work on a Friday night, he probably has no interest in a detailed discussion about spreadsheet formulas or proposed tax rate changes. When the person who makes burgers for British supermarkets finishes his shift, he probably doesn't want to talk about cows (and horses). But to live in England and not have any idea that Luis Saurez bit an opponent — a news story so over-saturated that the Prime Minister even waded in with his opinion — is absolutely astounding.
Interestingly, Assou-Ekotto also shuns many aspects of the Premier League footballer lifestyle. He doesn't live in the McMansion-heavy Essex town of Chigwell with the rest of Spurs' squad, he traded his Bentley in for a Smart Car and he has so little interest in socialising with his teammates that he only has two footballers in his mobile phone contacts. If he also disliked glamour models he would essentially be the polar opposite of Jermain Defoe.