Football to me

The latest installment from US blogger Jonathan Sager.

As Major League Baseball hits its midseason point annually, players are invited to one of the American pastime's neatest events: the Home Run Derby.

In many ways, the Home Run Derby is like having a free kick challenge in in football. Well, maybe not. It's hard to compare it to football.

The Derby is brash and bold, it's eight guys against each other, even though they call them teams. They use words like bomb and bash and mash, not to mention hammered.

They talk about how far you can hit the ball, not where you can place it.

Big, strong powerful guys slamming a wooden bat against a small round ball to see who is more dominant.

It's slow motion replays of that bat and ball.

It's an individual exhibition of skills.

It's not at all football.

A few years ago, I got a tattoo to commemorate my love for the game. Around the ball there were four words, passionale, practice, money and desire.

Passionale because the game is so intensely passionate. From the roar of the crowd as the team takes the field before the game. To the emotion of a derby like Newcastle-Sunderland.

No one can get better at football without practice, so it goes without saying that it is one of the things that is important in football.

One of the biggest factors in deciding where a player will go is money. Whether it is the cost of a transfer or the salary per week, finances play a huge part in football.

And finally, if you don't have desire, you are never going to get anywhere. You will never win a World Cup without talent and desire. If you want it badly enough, you will do anything to get it.

But there are other words that you could use for football, be them amazing, incredible, the best or even the best sport ever.

All those words are great and they do encompass a lot of what football means to me, but as cheesy as it sounds, football is life.

Football is the sport I love. It's looking at a game for something more than just a game. When my heroes in red and white step on the pitch at the SoL, I am compelled to stop and watch.

It doesn't matter what game it is, I have to see it.

To me, they are more than footballers, they are artists. Crisp passes that find a cutting player. Andrea Pirlo's 'Panenka' during the Euros. Stephane Sessegnon and Ji Dong-won against Man City.

But they are also musicians. The sweet sound of Seb Larsson's volley against Liverpool hitting the net. The hard hitting sound of two players going up to head a ball.

They are authors. The writers of history. They create tales of adventure, mixed in with the highs and lows of drama, and at times, moments of humour.

It reminds us of life. At times it feels like nothing is going right and then one day everything just all fits into place.

There is no other game or sport that can be called the beautiful game. No matter what it is, it's not as beautiful as our game. Quite literally summed up by the word bellissima.

The game that I love. The game that is my favourite.

I need to add two words to that tattoo - bellissima and love.

What does football mean to me? Passionale, money, desire, practice, bellissima and love.