Football is a global phenomenon, an emotion among its patrons. It has come to the forefront among the Indian audience in the recent years, with celebrities and football players going heavy on promoting it in a country driven by cricket in sports. Several football premier leagues are held semi-annually, across cities. Then there are the actual football leagues and World Cups we love and compromise our sleeps for, that happen across countries. It is a given that as a sports celebrity, you are bound to fly from one place to another, and practically hop on a global level. But did you know there are some favourites who in fact are phobic to flying? Here’s a list of the 3 football players who unfortunately have aviophobia:
1. Paul Merson :
Paul Merson has had an outstanding football career having played for Arsenal, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth, with more than 600 appearances and a wonderful score of 126 goals to his credit. His golden moments were undoubtedly as an Arsenal player, having won five trophies among the thirteen seasons that he played for the football club. His career, however, was not the only thing the world was privy to. His issues with alcohol, drugs and gambling have been out for the world to judge, but his fear of flying is something very few people are aware of. He would often travel via trains for his games.
2. Paolo Guerrero :
One of Peru’s favourite player and leading scorer, Paolo Guerrero began his glorious career in Europe by playing for football clubs like Bayern Munich and Hamburg SV before moving to Brazilian top-flight football, where he flourished as he kept scoring several goals, winning trophies and earning the love and respect of Corinthians and Flamengo fans concurrently. Paolo has been instrumental in leading Peru to third place finishes in 2011 and 2015 Copa Americas. He won the Golden Boot honours in both of those tournaments. He is undoubtedly one of Peru’s biggest stars, being held in the same league as Claudio Pizzaro, his teammate at Bayern at one point. He also is one among those afflicted with aviophobia, which can be traced back to his uncle’s death in the 1987 Alianza Lima air disaster.
3. Dennis Bergkamp :
When you think of magic in football, your mind shall by default direct you to Dennis Bergkamp. The former Arsenal player is symbolic of everything that is beautiful about this game. His tremendous flair, skill and vision left the audience enthralled and craving for more. He is also known to be afflicted with aviophobia. His fear of flying was so grave that he would often miss his crucial European and World Cup matches for Arsenal and the Netherlands. In an interview to an English publication, Independent, Bergkamp said, “I can’t fly. I just freeze. I get panicky. It starts the day before when I can’t sleep. I’ve got this problem and I have to live with it. I can’t do anything about it, it is a psychological thing and I can’t explain it.” Bergkamp’s fear started when a Dutch journalist joked about carrying a bomb in his bag. Consequently, the flight got delayed, the journalist was jailed and Dennis vowed never to fly again.