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Missing Flores

by John Iannantuono on Dec 19, 2011

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I thought the heavy heart I’ve been carrying would have eased somewhat by now. A recent trip to Glenelg suggested otherwise — I still miss Marcos Flores.

I knew the writing was on the wall and that it was only a matter of time before the chiming of coins proved too loud to ignore. However regardless of that and the sound business sense that it made for both player and club (not to mention the alleged dressing room tension between player and coach), more should have been done to keep what I believe is the best ambassador the A-League has had.

While Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton are superb acquisitions for the domestic competition and have both undoubtedly lifted the profile of the local product among the mainstream, Flores was a totally different commodity.

And here’s why: Kewell and Emerton may put bums on seats, but Flores made you want to get off it and make a play for the nearest ball. He was the golden carrot for not only luring young kids to play football, but to play it with the right mentality: with passion.

For anyone who’s ever met Flores, you’ll agree when I say that his passion for the game is so infectious that you wish you had a ball right there to have a kick-about.

I was lucky enough to meet him in person earlier this year when we spoke at length about football. He openly shared his views on Australian football, his philosophy and his love for teaching young kids the art of playing.

The entire conversation was coated with his unquestionable passion and love for the game, and interestingly, he saw it as his duty to spread the word about our beautiful game — not out of necessity or obligation, but a desire to share the joy the game gives to him.

His message is also the correct one, and a message that Australian footballers — sorry, make that coaches — should consider embracing if they’re keen for Aussie players to mix it with the world’s elite. And it’s a simple message at that: respect the football.

As he told me in our interview for Football+ magazine, “You have to treat the ball like your girlfriend. I will repeat this phrase all my life. The ball is my girlfriend and I don’t like it if you touch my girlfriend. You respect the ball and you treat it with love. If one time in your life you miss one girl, you try to call her every day. You don’t have a phone when you’re playing, but you have the legs and you have the heart to run to try and win the ball again. And when you win the ball you feel all right.”

Great advice — it’s just a shame that our kids aren’t the ones hearing it on a regular basis anymore.