It might not be very common, but occasionally you will find yourself rooting for a player who plays for a team that you don’t support, but there can be various reasons why they become likeable.
Sometimes it purely comes down to their ability and the way they play the game, while there will be occasions where charitable work off the field will earn the respect of every decent person in the footballing community.
Generally speaking these players won’t play for the most successful sides, and it’s interesting to have a look at a Premier League “most likeable” XI that the Guardian have put together.
A duo from Man United and Arsenal appear to be the most noticeable from the selection, and it’s hard to disagree with the assessment.
Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford are the United representatives, and Rashford’s recent efforts to help feed hungry kids was always going to make him the captain of this side.
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He’s done some incredible work despite the Tory party somehow trying to establish a narrative that punishing innocent children is a normal thing to do in a civilised society, and he’s persisted with his efforts despite some mindless criticism.
Mata may come as a surprise initially, but it makes total sense. There are some similarities with former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla in the sense that he’s a likeable little Spanish player who’s wonderful to watch and supremely talented.
Mata has also set up a scheme which encourages players to donate part of their wage on a regular basis to charity, so he’s well worth his inclusion here.
Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney are the two Arsenal players to feature in the team, and it’s likely that anyone who isn’t a Spurs fan will agree with that too.
Tierney just comes across as a nice guy who concentrates on his football and doesn’t get caught up in any kind of drama, while he’s also well known for the occasional classy gesture on social media.
Saka’s inclusion is justified for similar reasons although The Guardian also list his smile as a key reason, while also pointing to his ability to handle his elevation to fame with class and maturity.
It’s usually easy to come up with a negative version of this for players that you hate, but it’s interesting to stop and think about those you admire or like watching from other teams too.