Celtic's Brendan Rodgers hails Andy Murray as ideal role model
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has urged talented young Scottish footballers to forget fish and chips and model themselves on Andy Murray.
The Scot has reached the pinnacle of tennis through hard work and dedication and Rodgers pointed out the contrast with some young footballers.
The former Liverpool manager and Chelsea youth coach said: “I’ve had one player in here [at Celtic] and I hope he sees the light,because he is a] big, big talent.
“A kid with massive talent. Talent to play Champions League football and the agent wanted to know when he was getting a professional contract. The kid was fat. I said: ‘What? You want to know that? I’ll tell you when’.
Rodgers added: “A kid who had all the tools, all the talent, but fat. Couldn’t run. Couldn’t last a game. Not eating right. Fish and chips all the time. “So we’ve organised a plan for him, to sort him out. If he wants to do it. But I don’t worry about it. It doesn’t break my heart because some other kid with less talent that commits to it, will make it as a player.
“The key thing is the boy’s a talent but it is whether they want to devote their life to it.”
If they want to see how it is done, youngsters only have to look at Murray for inspiration.
“What an example that boy is. Unbelievable,” said Rodgers. “You’ve got great sportspeople and he’s the biggest example for everyone.
“A guy who when he started everyone said wasn’t strong enough. So what does he do? He changes his diet, gets stronger, more powerful, devotes his life to it. He’s not there to pick up an award [for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year two weeks ago] because his training means everything. It’s not the glitz and the glamour with Andy, it’s about being the best he can be.
“If you want to get to the top of your sport and be the best, there’s your example there. I know one of his coaches, Jamie Delgado, who has been close with him for years. His father was my Spanish tutor. I know his sports scientist and he trains like a trooper. There’s no stone left unturned. That’s what it’s about.When you have that mentality, as a footballer and a football nation, then you’re part the way there. Then if you have talent, which the country will still clearly have, you have a chance. Worst case scenario, you’re going to be athletes.
“I haven’t been up here long enough; I don’t know the culture so well of junk food or whatever, but what I know is if you want to operate at the level of Champions League, be a world-class player or the very best player you can be, you have to develop technically, tactically, socially, and in terms of your lifestyle.
“Nutrition is a serious business in football at the highest level, and some of our senior players have seen that. They have seen what it does to your performance. So you have to do it, and that’s a choice. The culture, if it is that, then fine, but you can never be a top country, or have top players.
“The biggest thing is responsibility. I have spoken to enough players and they blame everybody else. They blame the coach, they blame never getting the chance. They don’t take responsibility. It’s everyone else’s fault. And this is what I have been very, very clear coming in here, with the kids: 16s, 17s, 18s, 19s, 20s: You have any opportunities here, with some of the best facilities in the country, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, in order to be the best player. You need to commit to it.
“We will have a plan for you to get into the first team, but the crown is on your head. You’re the king of you’re own destiny; you’re responsible for it. Stop taking short-cuts, stop blaming everyone else and get on with being an elite player. And if you just fall short of an excellent level, you’ll still have a career.”