How do you know you are a Premiership player?
Who said Premiership means glamorous life style, faster cars and beautiful women? Iím sure it was not a footballer. It must be just a myth. What I donít understand is why does these things have anything to do with football! Surely Premiership is not about achieving material heights. Many people tries to make it look like so. Everyone keeps telling me that my whole life is going to change because I became a Premiership player.
After the victorious play-off final my body was in bits like after every game. It didnít feel like Premiership body and feeling. So there is little the new league status can do to your physics. You donít become bigger, stronger and faster over night. Neither does your lifestyle. I was still renting the same two bedrooms flat with eat-in kitchen like in my ugly past as a division player. There were not a bunch of glamour girls queuing outside my flat, I was not recognised on the street and my Renault Megane was clamped again. Parking attendant and normal people must not have known that Iíve become a Premiership player.
My life looked and felt pretty much the same as it used to be. I didnít understand what the fuss was all about. Until I saw the fixture lists for next season. Before I had had to try to find my club Crystal Palace somewhere between Burnley and Walsall. It wasnít there anymore. We had changed the page! We were now in the main page with the main stories. It gave me chills to read that the first home games were against Everton with Wayne Rooney and Chelsea with half the football world. Man Utd, Arsenal, all these big names were divided from us by only a little line.
You can definitely feel Premiership in your stomach. Normally after a long season Iím so tired of football that I try to blank it whole summer. Holidays used to feel too short and there were no massive eagerness coming back to work. Now I was anxious, I wanted to start immediately. The excitement of Premiership was too much to just relax so at the rainy parks of Helsinki I had my first games against Makeleles and Keanes. I couldnít wait the season to begin the minute the last one had ended.
Neither seemed others. Phone kept ringing. Media wanted to inquire about Premiership; everyone wanted to inquire about tickets. In the first division I was often left with spares even though I sometimes tried to force my mates to come to the games. Now people I hadnít heard since high school were my good buddies. And they all happened to have free when we were playing Arsenal or Liverpool. I had received Premiership friends.
You know you become a Premiership player when you know you got to be better. It is the main league in the world. It means only world-class players and standards. Our squad list has not changed a great deal. Iím sure for example Riihilahti does sound more like whatever-Mr Jones than a World Cup winner to football supporters. We donít have World Cup winners, we have First Division winners. Our chairman is not a Russian oil tycoon and Vieiras agent probably wonít make an initiative to offer his clients services to our club. Lot of things is about money but promotion to Premiership has to be done with economically lasting standards so there wouldnít be a danger for boom and bust. That means you have quite unknown names. However we have got ourselves a change to make our names known, even world-class.
Obviously having a squad of 18 players, which also include young South-American trialists wonít make you a favourite to win the trophy. Bookies and bundits are quick to state this. We are given no hope. I heard them say the same about Greece and Porto though. You know you have come to Premiership when in every paper there are things said and written about you. Mostly weíve been written off. So it was also last season. Thatís why they write. And we play. They can make me the cheapest player in their fantasy football league. But they canít help the most expensive ones from my hardest tackles.
However the fact is that we got to be better than last season. We canít spend an endless amount of money but we can spend a lot of extra hours at training ground. Planning and executing training have been tremendous. It certainly has felt our training has promoted to the Premiership quality. I feel fitter and better than ever before. We have stepped up a level as individuals, as a team and as a club. We are as ready as we can for this unknown adventure. Iím sure we can be the unknown card and surprise a lot of people. We have done it before. And itís been done also in this level before. We believe we can be this seasons Starsky and Hutch and ďDo it!Ē
The Premiership brings you attention and acquintances. It brings you pressure and harder times. It brings you bigger challenges and better opportunities. It brings you to places you have always dreamed of. It gives you the change to test yourself against the best in the world. You know you are in the Premiership when you canít wait the season to begin. However you are still waking up by yourself from rented two bedrooms flat and you still have to park your car properly. Premiership is not about glamour and all the extras in the life. When you are at Anfield having a duel with Steven Gerald then you know you are a Premiership player!