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Karius elicited no sympathy because we all walk alone

PUBLISHED: 10:37 29 May 2018

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius reacts after the UEFA Champions League Final. Picture Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius reacts after the UEFA Champions League Final. Picture Nick Potts/PA Wire.

PA Wire

Watching the Champions League Final on Saturday night was a reminder that our national game has the ability to tell stories about life and love more eloquently than any writer.

The match had everything.

High hopes, and their ultimate destruction.

The Hero, Salah, who, like Icarus, fell, spectacularly, to earth.

The Villain, Ramos, who seemed to laugh on the sidelines at the hero’s destruction.

And the Fool, Karius, who represented the world’s sense of impotence and self-loathing, his failure to succeed in his quest, and ultimate abandonment by all but the raging Twittersphere, representing our inability to recognise and take ownership of the weaknesses in ourselves.

I did not feel sorry for Karius on Saturday night.

I found, in that moment, that I despised him.

His spectacular incompetence was excruciating to watch.

Who hasn’t failed, been humiliated, let other people down?

But who wants to be reminded of it either?

That’s why Karius struck such a chord.

No one wanted to be near him afterwards. The fear is that the failure will rub off; the impulse is to get as far away from the disaster as possible, even as the commentators, paid to be balanced and fair, conscious that they must do nothing to fuel an extreme reaction, attempted to redeem his soul.

“At least he had the guts to go and say sorry to the fans,” they said.

But it wasn’t enough.

It was papering over the cracks and we all saw through it; just as we saw through their insistence that what Ramos did to Salah couldn’t be deliberate or planned.

We will never know if it was, or was not, only Ramos himself can know that and he denies it, but the commentators, as always, constructed the narrative that there could not be even the remotest possibility of foul play; just as they always insist that no match is ever thrown, no referee capable of being corrupted.

To admit otherwise would be to break the wheel on which runs a mountain of money beyond human comprehension; theirs, the game’s and ours.

Yet, such perfidy must happen on occasion, because where there are people, there is always darkness; where there is money, there is always the potential for gluttony, and any other of the seven deadly sins.

To hear that Karius has received death threats is disgusting, contemptuous.

He is a 24-year-old man who made two mistakes, that’s all.

He deserves to live out his life in peace and to hopefully find redemption, which will come, as David Beckham found, if you are stubborn enough, and determined enough to rise again.

Your moment to make it right, as Beckham did against Greece, will arrive in the end and if you seize that chance, the fans will love you even more, because it will make them love themselves.

Yet, right now, that will be small comfort to Karius as he sits in the eye of the bleakest storm.

“It’s only a game,” of course it is. But it is also the game of life, Karius lost, reminded us that we will too, and for that, his path, for the moment, will be a lonely one, walked alone.

When the world stops

Speaking of moments when the world stops, I was caught up in a car accident last week, travelling from one of our regional offices to another.

I had raced to complete my work in one place, before hastening to another to do some work there.

But life had other ideas. The accident must have happened just minutes before I got there and the traffic had completely stopped.

Nobody moved for a good hour, probably longer, while various fire engines and police cars drove past, and there was nothing to do but sit and wait, and hope that the people involved would be OK.

A strange quiet descended.

There was no one to talk to. Nothing to do and I realised that now I would never make it to where I was going; that my life was no longer within my control, that I had to let what was happening, happen, and not try to fight it any more.

An old quote came into my mind. The earth has music for those who listen, I thought.

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