(As featured at the excellent Kick Off Asia)
Football has been described as many things. A multi-layered strategic contest in which smaller tactical games play themselves out across the pitch; warfare on a standardised battlefield, kit a replacement for military uniform, teams and supporters loyal to flag, insignia and anthem, managers assigning duties as would a general with his troops, military language synonymous with sporting vernacular; tribalism, cult, myth and religion, indoctrination into rites sacred or profane, fan(atics) singing songs in veneration of idols and gods past and present, superstitious rituals practised and performed to exacting standards day after day, week after week. It can be said also that it is a game of moments. An unforced, misplaced pass, an ill-timed tackle, a failed attempt to punch clear, a substitution and a tactical switch, a swing in momentum, these moments collectively may come to define the match, but singularly – and sometimes, admittedly, unfairly – equally they may come to define a player.