As the Stranglers once sang, whatever happened to the heroes? Is this an end of an era? Are we witnessing a changing of the guard? It seems like only yesterday that Roger Federer was sweeping his way to a 16th tennis grand slam, Tiger Woods was snaffling major No14 and Thierry Henry was va-va-vooming his way to a Champions League win.
But where are they now? Roger Federer has failed to win Wimbledon for the first time in seven years, Tiger has mislaid his Major mojo – somewhere up a cocktail waitress’ skirt – and Titi has been recast as an international villain and banished to the footballing wilderness of Major League Soccer. MLS, readers! Those words are almost as frightening as JLS.
In the case of Henry his legs have gone, in the case of Federer his back has gone and in the case of Woods, his wife has gone. Of course it’s the sponsors who are to blame. All three starred in those cheesy razor adverts and have rightly since seen their careers cut to ribbons by the curse of Gillette. In fact Nike has inflicted a similar hex on the so-called stars of this year’s World Cup. Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney and Franck Ribéry have all come home with their tails between their legs, along with various other footballers in the same ad.
It’s commercial karma. The sporting gods getting their own back for the gluttony of these multi-millionaires, who aren’t satisfied enough as it is with £100k plus their weekly wage or their prize money they win for hitting balls quite hard.
Or maybe they’re just getting on a bit. Time waits for no man and perhaps now it’s just time to bow to the stars of the future. Football is all about Lionel Messi and David Villa, tennis has Tomasz Berdych and Tsvetana Pironkova flying in from the sun and golf has the likes of Graham McDowell winning the US Open.
And, while the marketing men and the professional punters hate it when the big guys take a tumble, sport is all the better for it. It is great to watch Federer and Tiger at the peak of their powers but isn’t it boring when the same old faces win all the time? More importantly, betting has become more exciting too as anyone who backed G Mac to win at Pebble Beach, Uruguay to win the World Cup or Pironkova to win Wimbledon will agree.
Of course only time will tell whether or not Federer and Woods’ goose is cooked. I suspect Roger will win a couple more majors before his day is done and I’m sure Tiger will be back to winning ways just as soon as Elin is out of his hair, because golf is not as ageist as most sports, but it won’t be long before the new guard moves in and so much the better.