Memphis Depay has absolutely no interest in adhering to stereotypes when it comes to life as a footballer in the 21st century – and now he is coming for Manchester United‘s big wigs.
Unwritten rules have been in place for the world’s most elite sportsmen since the turn of the millennium: they must focus only on football, they must be polished public figures on social media and they must not ruffle any feathers.
But Depay* does not give a solitary shit about what you and your forefathers expect of a modern-day footballer. If he wants to interact with tweets linking him with a move back to Manchester United, he will. If he wants to distract himself from life on the pitch by picking up a microphone, he will. And if he wants to slag off the Glazers in his latest song, you guessed it, he will.
The release of Big Fish, a song featured on the Lyon winger’s new album, Heavy Stepper, takes aim at the owners of his former club.
“I be planning to make some statements, I need money like the Glazers,” he raps on the track, doing more to win over the Old Trafford faithful in one bar than he did in his entire time on the pitch in Manchester.
The topical punching-up adds another loveable feather to the cap of the 26-year-old.
"I need money like the Glazers"
Memphis Depay is taking shots at the Manchester United owners in his last song "big fish" 😳 pic.twitter.com/oY3dTaJVOZ
— 🇳🇱 (@BrazyMemphis) November 29, 2020
United announced earlier this year that the club’s debts had risen by 133% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving them with over £474million to pay off. Read the room, lads.
Thousands of the club’s fans were having to make sacrifices, shouldn’t they do the same? Of course they should. Did they? Of course they didn’t. Dividends worth £20million were still paid out to the family.
Because of the norms by which 21st-century footballers are expected to abide, however, many feel they are not in a position where they can challenge such behaviour. What would really happen if Paul Pogba or Nemanja Matic expressed disgust at the Glazers taking a fat chunk of cash from the club in the middle of a pandemic? It is hard to see any serious repercussions, given the public relations nightmare that would ensue as a result.
But sadly they and the majority of professional footballers in the top flight have had it drilled into them that they cannot talk about such issues. So they don’t.
That is why it is so easy to love Depay. He is a man who is unapologetically himself every day of the year. Sometimes it lands him in trouble, but more often than not it wins him huge amounts of respect.
Considering what Depay has experienced in life though – his father deserted him as a child and his grandfather died the day before his 15th birthday – it is perhaps no surprise that he is not at all concerned by the prospect of being viewed slightly negatively by a man in a pub or his former bosses.
Footballers are so much more than what we see in 90 minutes on a pitch. They all have opinions, they all have fears and they all have other passions.
With an album released in the same week in which he took his season tally to five goals and four assists in Ligue 1, Depay has smashed perceptions that footballers must stick to football.
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