A dream life to fight for – but with tears and anxiety

Amazing conditions, both on and off the pitch. You do what you love as a full time job and even though it is called a ”job”, we footballers rarely see it as one. You get to train with other talented players, chase your common goals and win titles together. Cool and flashy pictures are being posted on social media showing you have fun and enjoying your ”job”. You are living your dream. You are a professional athlete playing abroad. However, while you are living your dream, it does not come without its own nightmare. You are apart from your family – which for many is the best and most important thing in life. Making sacrifices are part and parcel of playing professionally, and even though they can hurt immensely, they can often get overshadowed by the splendor and luxury that also exist.

My departure to Chelsea and England exemplifies a nightmare present alongside my dreams. I was about to take the next step in my career to continue my development and to give myself the possibility to get better. I was about to become a professional footballer abroad, in one of the biggest and best clubs in the world. I was about to live my dream. At the same time, the anxiety began to creep in. I was approaching my nightmare – being separated from my family. The last two weeks before I was about to get on the plane was a real struggle characterized by sudden crying attacks. The anxiety even got me questioning if it was worth it, to choose to go abroad and fulfil my dream instead of staying close to my family. However I did not give myself the choice. The only thing that was going to happen was me getting on the plane and embarking on this new chapter in my life. This is what I wanted and what I had fought for. 

To reach the absolute top level it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. You often need to skip the parties, training often comes before hanging out with friends and you need to adjust your everyday lifestyle so it benefits your football in best possible way. These are sacrifices that do not hurt and that are easy to make if you want to be successful. The rewards are many if you reach the very top, not least the opportunity to do what you love with other people who love it just as much as you do and who have made similar sacrifices as you have. You get to live a luxurious life, where you get spoiled in different ways. Whilst many others struggle with boring and demotivating jobs just to earn their monthly salary, you get yours without really reflecting on what you did to get it. 

Some of you who read are probably sitting and cursing me for complaining. You might be sat there pissed off thinking that if I find the sacrifices so hard then I should just replace my luxury with your ”eight to five” job. But do not misconstrue this, I am not complaining. I am not in any way ungrateful for what I have. On the contrary, I am grateful every day and that gratitude is what helps me to manage being away from my family. It is the reason why I would never exchange my everyday life for anything else. But it is a dream, that like most other dreams, has a downside. A downside that sometimes hurts and which can cause a temporary hole that no money in the world can fill. 

I enjoy playing abroad, that is true. I love what I am doing, that is true for sure. But it is also true that I cried and had a big lump in my stomach before leaving my family in Sweden. I could not stop picturing myself missing out all these big occasions with my family and how the pandemic would take away opportunities to see each other during my time away from home and away from people I love. I am living my biggest dream, but at the same time the nightmare also exists.

Read the original text in Swedish on Fotbollskanalen

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