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The Gordon Hill column: From £25 a week to cry babies and prima donnas

The olden day player 

I have been blessed to be a part of football at the professional level for nearly 49 years, from being a young 11-year-old at QPR to performing for Manchester United and earning an England place.

Playing for my club and country and loving every minute of it, I would have played for nothing, that's how much I loved the game. Do I think money has changed the game? Yes!

Has it changed the players? Yes and boy are we seeing that now with the likes of Tevez, Balotelli, Suarez and Rooney all thinking they are bigger than the game.

We had one player who thought it as well, I can remember at the time. George Best was one, but the great Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby would not stand for it. George was a fantastic player, but another Manchester United manager, Tommy Docherty, also told him no player is bigger than the club.

My first contract

I did not earn a lot of money at my first club Millwall. £25-a-week plus bonuses - £20 pounds a win, ten for a draw, and nothing for a loss. I moved to Manchester United, and I was on £125-a-week with £40 for a win, £20 for a draw, and yes you guessed it, nothing for a loss.

I remember my transfer to Manchester United from Millwall. I got to Old Trafford and was shown in to the manager’s office. All the top people were there: the chairman, Sir Matt Busby, Tommy Docherty, Sir Matt’s assistant Jimmy Murphy, and Tommy Docherty’s assistant Frank Blunstone. I had no agent; I was on my own with my boots under my arm. After I signed and left the office, they were all pleased.

On my way down the stairs, I realized I had forgotten to ask them something, so I went back up. They were having a drink to celebrate the deal. I knocked on the door, went in and said: “Sorry to bother you but I forgot to ask one question”. Tommy Docherty replied: “What’s that, son?” I said: “Can you tell me how much I am going to get a week?”

To that, a reply came back saying: “Don't worry son, we’ll take care of you” and that was that. I got my first United contract of £125-a-week, and after we got to the FA Cup final, it went from up to £275-a-week plus an increase in bonuses. You only got the bonus if you were in the squad, but I thought I had won the lottery!

The modern day player

It is funny how the game and the players have changed. Today’s player can pick and choose his games. They are spoiled and very much pampered because of how much money is in the game at the top. Players today have everything at their fingertips.

You only have to pick up a daily paper, watch the TV news, or have a look on the iPad to find out what they are up to. They don't have a grasp on reality, and they think they are above the game.

These so-called players would be transferred or even sacked a few years ago for some of their antics. Tevez would have had his bags packed for him, and should still have them packed now after waiting a few months before coming up with an excuse and then wanting to apologize. And the club are thinking about it! Wow.

I have had the pleasure of playing with some of Manchester City's finest - Bell, Lee, Summerbee, and Corrigan. They never would have acted like that, they were true players. Balotelli is a cry baby and if it does not go his way, he moans.

More money

You only have to look at what Wayne Rooney tried to do at United, wanting to get a move so he could earn more money. When he got it, he apologized. It is not worth fining them because they make too much; a one-year contract and you are made for life.

Yes I think the media have become more intense and watch every move a player makes, but I have to say that in the NFL, these players know how to handle the press and do it well. Just look at John Terry. He courts that sort of press and he is a great player, but I lost all respect for him during the Wayne Bridge girlfriend saga, and now he is in the spotlight again with the racism case.

Today's player has everything at his club required for good performance. He has performance analyst specialists that know all about your football; top class medical professionals; physios; the best playing surfaces and training facilities; everything is first class.

But do we have strict guidelines for the player who will be representing the club? When players are in the public eye, they have to be on their best behaviour as everybody looks up to them, especially kids and their own fans. They spend their hard-earned money to come and watch these players perform.

So not only has money changed the game, it has changed the players too.

Gordon Hill was capped six times for England in the 1970s and made 132 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 51 goals. He scored both United goals in their 1976 FA Cup semi-final win against Derby and played in the Red Devils' 2-1 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool in 1977.

He also played for Millwall, Derby, QPR and FC Twente and has played in Finland, the USA and Canada. He managed Chester City, Hyde United and Novia Scotia Clippers in the Canadian Soccer League.

He now owns and runs Texas-based club United FC


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