Benoit Assou-Ekotto's contract was finally terminated and he celebrated by changing his Twitter avatar to one proclaiming freedom. Oh how I wish to be burdened and imprisoned by wages probably in excess of 40k per week.
The player was a maverick. At least that was the tagline and like most modern footballers money was the most important thing to him and the football less so. There was a time that I actually didn't mind Benny. Even before his decent seasons at Spurs (under Redknapp) - even when he was a bit of a liability - there was something cool about his detachment. I'm not saying I found it endearing. Just interesting. Here's someone that supposedly didn't care for the game but retained professionalism just for that wage packet. Sounds like most of us in our everyday jobs.
I was happy after Alan Hansen famously berated him on Match of the Day that he went from calamitous to consistent and for most of the time (during his single purple patch at the club) he appeared reliable (considering the left-back position is a poisoned chalice at Spurs). Whether this was an illusion of circumstance (thanks mostly to the rebirth of our swagger under Harry Redknapp) I never once gave his role a second thought. We had it covered. Benny had it covered.
Even if he had moments of recklessness (his position is likely to produce the odd heart in mouth moment due to the marauding) that whole left flank dynamic worked quite well thanks to the player ahead of him. Also, a prior injury allowed Gareth Bale to begin his journey and I do appreciate the small details of the universe and fate colliding, going about their business and creating destiny. Although maybe his performances are a fallacy that I've simply allowed time to distort further. Maybe Bale's rampant evolution vanquished the pressure that Ekotto should have faced, game in game out, thus making him look far better than he was thanks to time spent further up the field. Like I said, at the time, I wasn't that concerned. Cruyff turns included.
He got injured again. He never really got back to the comfort zone he blessed himself with. Then that detachment seemed to fester on the pitch about us much as it did off it. Professionalism was a concept that turned quickly to parody. The whole controversy over the quenelle and Anelka was unnecessary and self-indulgent (freedom of speech is altogether a different topic for discussion) but illustrated his attitude that he didn't really care and didn't really think about the backlash. The AVB goading was ugly. Pretty sure he even sat in the home end at the Emirates. His stint at QPR was mostly comical. In the end it was a pleasant surprise that the club finally let him go. Or rather they both agreed a pay off. All smiles for him, shrug of finality for us.
The life of a modern footballer. Rich if you try, rich if you don't.