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Saturday, 03 December 2011

Manchester City: A Bronx Tale Of . . . Simon Colosimo

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In one of my first articles for Square Football I argued that, after seeing Chelsea’s Torres lumber around the pitch, there really isn’t a sadder sight in football (short of obviously death and destruction). 

It is, after all, a Bronx tale. Torres is a wonderful footballer but his performances have been erratic for the last 18 months now. Diluted, misfiring . . . just not the player he was. And it seems as though he may never be the player he was. A clear reminder to all of us that the footballer’s life is not always as sweet as Champagne or as fulfilling as it could be.   

The failure of Freddy Adu to live up to the heights he promised us he could reach, seems to back up this statement. It could have been a brilliant career. Could have. And those words make it all the more painful for the player and for the fan of the club he is playing for. It’s not as if they weren’t any cop to begin with – they had everything going for them. These are football’s forgotten men. After all, Adu is talented but it seems he just cannot put that talent to good use – though part of the trouble surrounding him was indeed the ridiculous amount of speculation put on his shoulders from a young age. It really is enough to make a man turn nuts. 

And today let me nod you in the direction of another man who seemed to promise so much but has given us so little. You may or may not have heard of him – he actually spent a little time with Man City back in the early noughties. His name is Simon Colosimo. Ring any bells? Most probably not. But the bells should be ringing all across the football world when his name is mentioned. They should be; but as fate would have it the grandest career was not to be for Colosimo.

Back when he was a younger man, destiny and the football Gods seemed to be being kind to him.

In 1997 Colosimo had completed the Australian Institute of Sport Program and passed with flying colours and signed with National Soccer League team Carlton. Some promising performances meant that the large European teams came swooning down to pluck him away from Australia: these teams being Panathinaikos and, more startlingly, German giants Bayern Munich. It was not to be.

In the 1999/2000 season Colosimo was called up to the Socceroo’s side. They played a game against Manchester United. And then Andy Cole happened. He lunged in with a two-footed challenge and took the young Simon out of the game within a blink of the eye. A friendly, a mere friendly, has had a profound effect on a career which looked to be set for stardom. He suffered severe tears to his anterior cruciate and medial ligaments and had to undergo a complete knee reconstruction – exactly the type of medical work which would put the larger teams off his purchase.

After his injury he was never the same again and did not kick a ball for six whole months; a hell of a clog in a career which was just starting to rise.  

Since then Colosimo has been a bit of a journeyman. He moved to England and played for Manchester City; he managed just six appearances and went back to Australia yet then seemed to turn stale in Asia – while no disrespect to Asian football, it’s certainly not as attractive as the Champions League. He then went to Turkey yet has now ended up in Australia again. The chance of playing for a top, prospering side never really came into fruition.

Sure, there are many positives to Simon Colosimo’s career. He will never need to work again after his football days are over. He’s won league titles in Australia and Malaysia. He has earned 26 caps within the Australian national team set-up. But is it what was promised when he was in his late teens? Is it the European glory he had dreamt of? No. It sure as hell isn’t. 

At age 32 Colosimo will probably never get his chance to fulfil a career which had so much going for it but then ended in tears. Footballer’s are criticised so very often; and sometimes rightly so. They earn too much money, they can be disrespectful...they piss in nightclubs. But there is something to be said, just like the erratic career of one Freddy Adu, for a player who has to suffer the indecent anti-climax of being promised the Champagne highs and then having to settle for the Tesco brand wine that goes a bit flat after an hour of it being uncorked. It must be truly awful.

Simon Colosimo could have had a brilliant career. He’s had to settle for a mundane one.

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Colin Illingworth



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