In the new Hector Bellerin, we see not just the fashionista, philanthropist or footballer, we see the human.
It was one of those days we all look forward to, for Hector. The day of plucking the fruit of success from the tree of hard work had arrived. Months without football left Bellerin, as he’s commonly referred to, hungrier than ever before.
Almost a year after the snap of the knee which told him his career may never be the same again, the stench of fear riddled him no more. Fears of not returning to the football pitch, of harvesting less than he was destined to, had abated. Now it was about proving himself right, about making the best of a bad situation. His enthusiasm, as cherry-red as his jersey, he stepped out and began to step up.
But no matter how hard he tried, no matter the subjective improvements, there were doubters. “He’s lost his speed,” “he needs a haircut”, “he should focus in his football instead of modelling,” “he’s slow because he’s vegan” “he’s a pace merchant without pace” were among the criticisms he received from fans of a club he represented since the age of 16. Worse yet, those not saying it, feared it may be true.
A lot had happened since the last time he stepped on the pitch. A lot that made this injury a blessing in disguise. A lack of gametime and a lack of training meant he was forced to find something else to fill his time with. Modelling was out of the picture, so he focused on mental health.
Advocating for mental health awareness among men was always on the top of his agenda. Discourse at Oxford Union and his conversations with the media have shown his interest in the topic. However, his and the comments of others in his industry were always met with the same criticism. “Oh I’m sure you’re just fine with your thousands of pounds a week, save us the lectures on mental health.” The hordes of doubters were enough to send anyone back into their shell.
This injury did something different though. It allowed him to document his journey and to focus, to show others what celebrities may go through but most importantly, to focus on himself.
Months spent speaking about his tribulations have led to a person who doesn’t need football, who doesn’t need the fans’ approval. Professional sport and stardom in general comes with one key constraint – you’re not allowed to fail, no matter what.
Finally, he’s showing a sense of belief, not in who he could be, but in who he is and who he’s working to be. His is the story that proves that planting the seeds of self-belief results in fruit like none other.
Muhammad Adam is a digital marketing, branding and logistics lecturer at Rosebank College, Varsity College and Vega School in South Africa. Having completed his masters in supply chain management at the University of KwaZulu Natal, he is passionate about understanding people and using technology to improve their lives. A Durban native, Muhammad is passionate about football. He spends his free time pretending to be a baker, thinking of new ways to spread knowledge and dreaming of behavioural economics. An open-minded individual, he would love to hear your thoughts on branding, business, football and life in general! Catch him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/moehadam