Hector Bellerin is not your typical footballer. For one thing, he’s vocal on politics. He also wears federas and other coloruful clothing in stark contrast to the usual jeans and plain sweater than most footballers don. The former Barcelona defender was born in the Catalonian city and moved to Arsenal as a teenager. His time in London has not only impacted upon his style and political opinions, but has also resulted in a rather unique Catalan/ Cockney hybrid accent.
Most footballers use their social media plalforms soley for pictures of training with motivation captions accomanying or the same, meaningless posts after a game such as the ‘Disapointed not to get the result we wanted today but thanks to the fans for making the trip’ sort of thing that we see far too often. I should emphasise that this is not an attack on the modern footballer who probably have little control over what gets posted on their Instagram or Twitter accounts. Rather, this article simply intends to highlight the power and influence they have and the responsibilies that come with that power. Of course, players are somewhat restrained by their clubs and should not be expected to be polticians but they should be more vocal on issues that are rife throughout the game.
A quick scroll trough Bellerins Twitter account will tell you that he is different and not afraid to speak his mind. To trolling Boris Johnson to highlighting the threat of Climate Change, Bellerin uses his platform as a force for good. While many colleagues and sports symbols remained silent when Mesut Ozil was blatantly discriminated against by the German Football Federation, Hector made a stand for his team mate-
‘Surreal that someone who has done so much for his country on and off the pitch has been treated with such disrespect. Well done Mesut Ozil for standing up to this behaviour’.
It is a testament to Bellerins character that he’s willing to make such a public stand in such controversial circumstances. It’s one of the things which many have cited as a reason to make him an Arsenal captain in the future. He may not yet be the vocal leader, demanding of his teammates that Tony Adams was but his conduct on and off the pitch has put him in good stead for contention.
Bellerin is one of the very few Vegan footballers and is also very vocal when it comes to animal rights. Whether you agree with this lifestyle or not, his dedication to the cause of animal welfare is admirable. Bellerin’s stance and lifestyle is a long way from the pint drinking and carnivorous footballers of the 80s and 90s but even in todays more liberal, tolerant society vegans are still subject to silly and outdated jibes. For someone who is so prominent and in the public eye to make such a strong stand takes some, what Troy Deeney might call ‘cojones’.
Back in 2017 after the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster Bellerin was one of the first sports personalities to speak out and donated €50 for every minute he played at the Under 21 European Championships which amounted to £19,050. His genorisity inpired former Spurs striker Gary Linekar to match the donation. This is a perfect example of a young footballer using his platform as a force for good. It proved that footballers can have a huge impact on social issues and in genuinely making a difference in tragic circumstances.
Bellerin has been ivolved with a number of charites and launched the ‘HANDSOFF’ campaign back in 2017, which aims to raise awareness for domestic and child abuse. This isn’t just a footballer following the instructions of his club. The annual club visits to children’s hospitals should absolutely be commended but Hector has gone above and beyond the call of duty and has been a leader rather than a follower when it comes to charity. He’s also been known to give away free tickets as well as football gear which is aways nice to see.
Hector has also proved that footballers do have a sense of humour by poking fun at Donald Trump and Piers Morgan , which I think, is something that everyone should appreciate. Piers Morgan put up a pretty vomit inducing picture of himself holing aloft an Arsenal jersey with Trump 45 on the back and the caption ‘The moment I invite President Trump to be Arsenals new manager’. Bellerin responded with a simple yet brilliant ‘I hope he said no”. This is just one other example of Hector going against the grain and not being afraid to be different.
He openly speaks about mental health and racism and did so very elogquently in an interview with the Oxford union. Mental Helath has been an issue in the game for some time now and it was refreshing to someone speak so openly about the issue. Robert Enke and Gary Speed were all too stark reminders that depression in football is a very real thing. It’s vitally important that footballers use their platform to highlight the issue of mental health in football and beyond. On Twitter, Bellerin has also expressed his support for the vilified Raheem Sterling and called out the blatant racism that unfortunately still blights the game. If we are to rid the game of racism then more players will need to take Hectors lead.
To some tabloid newspapers, Hector is the oddly dressed liberal vegan who sums up the millennial generation but tabloid newspapers generally don’t like famous people who stand up for what is just and right, or anyone who has the audacity to dress differently or live a different lifestyle. Hector should be cherished for his style and his decency and should be viewed a fantastic role model for young players and fans alike.