Lets talk “Olivier Giroud a perfect example of Mental Resilience in modern football”:- a player who is not highly rated nor supremely talented but has enjoyed a career upheld largely via mental strength.
Arturo Vidal. Sergio Ramos. Chiellini. These are the type of names linked with mental resilience in football. Emotional stories abound of recovery from career threatening injuries. Examples include, Petr Cech, Arjen Robben or Aaron Ramsey’s. Additionally, there are “mentally tough examples” of people who had difficult beginnings from Carlos Tevez to Van Dijk to Luis Suarez amongst others.
All three groups count as illustrations of mental strength but what all the aforementioned examples have in common is the fact they are exceptionally talented players in their respective roles.
The type of mentality this article seeks to acknowledge is that of a player who is not highly rated nor supremely talented but has enjoyed a career upheld largely via mental strength.
A prime example of this is the current Chelsea striker-Olivier Jonathan Giroud. Arsene Wenger, had him during his prime years. And tried time and time again to replace the Frenchman yet he kept fighting to prove his worth whenever push came to shove.
Giroud spent 5 years at Grenoble’s academy prior to signing his first ever professional contract at age 21. At that same period, a 21-year old Messi has just finished 2nd in Ballon D’Or voting and had won it by the following year. That’s not to compare both but to state how much a player can achieve by the time they hit that age.
The towering target man continued to linger in the lower divisions of French football before eventually signing for Montpellier in 2010. He won the league in his second season and finished joint league top scorer with 21 goals. He soon moved to Arsenal, a club accustomed to the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. It has been a mixed bag since then.
With the Gunners, at first he had to fight for a starting berth against Lukas Podolski(A German International starter at the time). Admittedly not the fiercest of challengers but he came out on top. After a season as a main striker, it was clear Wenger didn’t want him.
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The club linked with many strikers during that summer including Demba Ba, Gonzalo Higuain and the infamous £40M + £1 for Suárez episode. All proved unsuccessful. Giroud continued fighting
Subsequently, Alexis Sánchez was bought to play as a main striker. It looked unfeasible after a few games, Danny Welbeck tried, and so did Theo Walcott. Lucas Perez was bought for the same reason, until Sanchez proved successful the second time around. Yet, Giroud clawed his way back into the first team.
Giroud went to Chelsea during his first season as a substitute to compete with the likes of Batchuyayui and Abraham. Fought his place through by becoming a Europa League starter. Became champion of that tournament and to crown it as the highest goal scorer. Last season he was quite vital to Chelsea’s 4th champions league spot coming from the bench quite often to deliver crucial goals in cup competitions.
It’s the same with the French National Team as he seized his opportunity when Karim Benzema was banned. His mental vigor has carried him through. Despite the negative chants he has received at both club and national team level, he has persisted.
With 9 goals left to equal Thierry Henry as the highest goal scorer in France’s history, this has only proved how mentally strong he has been. Taking critics from all corners but Olivier Giroud kept his head down to even be named Chevalier d’or(A recognition given by the French state to acknowledge your services for the country), after winning the World Cup for France.
Giroud remains when many have come and gone. Especially, when he finds himself on the bench, he gathers momentum like no other and gives the manager a sweet headache. Sometimes all you need is a good head on your shoulders.