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Professional footballers should behave like role models, says Gordon Taylor, honorary president of FIFPro, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. But he strongly wants to dispose of the image portrayed that all professional footballers are rich men behaving badly.


Gordon Taylor is the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association of England. He is also a honorary president of FIFPro, after having been president for many years. In the interview with The Daily Telegraph he talks about the situation in English football, but his words also reflect the situation in other football countries.


‘The image of footballers is of massively well-paid, big celebrities who are out for a good time and get in trouble with girls’, Taylor said. ‘The image takes no account of the fact that we, the English PFA, lose 60 players a year with permanent injury and the players have an average career of eight years. And they are all expected to have old heads on young shoulders.’


The PFA helps young footballers to mature. ‘I don’t want footballers to think being a celebrity is more important than your quality as a human being. That’s why we spend money with the British School of Motoring; we say to players the car is a dangerous weapon, please be careful.’


Taylor gets bemused by excessive criticism of his players’ wealth. ‘It’s my job to allow players to capitalise on their ability in a limited time-span. I played in the age of maximum wage and signing on for £12. It makes me appear very old when these days one player can earn in a week what some of the greats like Ronnie Clayton and Nat Lofthouse, earned in their career. Through our Social Responsibility Programme we try to make players appreciate how fortunate they are.’


‘People say what have the PFA done that is altruistic? I can’t believe it! I go up hill and down dale helping people out. Each player agrees in a contract to give six hours for community activity a week. Edwin Van der Sar talks to local schools about food and diet. Fabio Aurelio helps disabled youngsters play football in a big hall in Liverpool. I went along and one mother said: This has saved my life. My son absolutely loves coming here.


‘Phil Neville does so much work. Ryan Nelsen was straight away looking to organise something for Christchurch to help victims of the recent earthquake. Jason Roberts is always organising something back home for Grenada. I went with Kevin Davies and Chris Kirkland to a young offenders’ place. Kevin had broken his arm but he came. He wouldn’t go back on a commitment.’


Taylor takes issues with the manner of the frequent drug-testing of his players. ‘Why visit my members at home, at night, when their privacy is invaded enough? I went down to Chelsea to see their lads, one of whom had been tested 16 times that year and it was only January. It’s not exactly brilliant having to urinate with a stranger next to you but players put up with it.’


Click here to read the entire interview in The Daily Telegraph