Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > Nobby Styles, Wayne Rooney – Teamwork & Leadership

Nobby Styles, Wayne Rooney – Teamwork & Leadership

The differing fortunes of two men inextricably linked by the fame of the football club for which they have both played highlight one of the teamwork and leadership issues that I was taught and which I continue to try and pass on.

Teams are made up of individuals, but the synergy that a team can generate to become far greater than the sum of its parts is what makes great teams. In the case of football, not the eleven best, but the best eleven will be the team to beat.

Not everyone reading this will remember England winning the world cup, but most will remember us failing miserably in the recent competition in South Africa. In the recent series, we took a squad of decent players and yet, on the pitch, the performances were largely pathetic. In 1966 we had a squad with a few genuine world class players; Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks and Jimmy Greaves were genuine top class internationals who would have graced any country’s side. Wilson and Cohen at full back likewise maybe, and these were backed up with experienced club pros like Jack Charlton, Roger Hunt and Geoff Hurst plus younger coming men such as Ball and Peters.

We lost Jimmy Greaves part way through due to injury and Alf Ramsey chose to leave him out thereafter. One of the finest goal scorers in the world and he had to sit on the sidelines. And yet we won. We won because the best eleven were on the pitch. Ramsey had chosen a team that worked and would not drop one of them even to allow one of the most lethal goal scorers of his time back in.

By contrast, the recent England squad also included one of the most lethal goal scorers of the current generation, but despite him being on the pitch we failed embarrassingly. That player was Wayne Rooney, in the news in the last few days for a spat with his club that saw him agree to stay after all for a massive pay rise.

At the same time another man who had worn the same club and international colours was having to sell his treasured mementos of 1966 to help him in his old age. That man, and what a man, is Nobby Styles. With all due respect Nobby was not a world class player, but he was a team player and, like the others, he played his heart out during the ’66 campaign. He played for his team mates, he played for his country, for the fans and for pride. They all did and they won; we won.

It was all about the team. Even Greavsie, grounded in the dug out in his team blazer, exploded with joy when the final whistle blew.

I think that Manchester United were absolutely stupid to bow to Rooney’s demands. No-one is bigger than the team and they should have set the example by sorting the lad out. There is no sign of leadership in the outcome of that sordid affair and it was brought into sharp contrast by the gratitude of the little man with the big heart for the sum he got for selling his treasures.

I don’t begrudge Rooney his wages. He’ll pay his tax and spend his cash so the economy will get it back in various ways, but he’ll never have what Nobby Styles has: Nobby is a World Cup Winner. No-one can ever take that away and the memory of his jigging around with the Jules Rimet trophy will live on long after Rooney’s greed is forgotten.

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