In lieu of me writing anything this week I thought I would share a few of the aphorisms of the largely forgotten “first philosopher of football” Hosel Altobolf (affectionately known as “Hippo” to his few close friends).
Altobolf died at a tragically young age, but his collected works are still as relevant today as they were when he first penned them while watching construction workers playing hastily arranged games of soccer during their breaks from building Vienna’s Centralbahnhof in the late 1860’s.
I hope they provide at least some solace and guidance in these strange times.
“Even the inverted winger must take the wider path from time to time. Just as we must accept there are moments in life when the longer road is the one that will lead us to our ultimate destination.”
“The wise player knows that the defensive wall is not an obstruction to the free-kick but a guide. And so must we acknowledge that the obstacles we perceive in our lives do not exist to thwart us, but to act as signposts to be followed.”
“The additional time at the end of a game is both finite and infinite. Determined yet indeterminate. All time is thus.”
“A goalkeeper who is unaware of his true position in relation to others will always be beaten. We can only live the successful life if we are aware of our true place within society.”
“The defensive midfielder does not aim to destroy attacks but to create them. To create our true selves we must first destroy the “other”.
“A set piece is a moment of calm and clarity before the resumption of chaos. We must strive to make each morning our own unique set piece.”
“The False Nine can only reach his full potential by being true to the role. We can only reach our full potential in life by being true to ourselves and shunning the labels imposed by others.”
“There is neither honour nor glory in the injured player who refuses to be replaced. He simply weakens the whole. There are times in life when we must accept our own inability to act and rely on the good deeds of others.”
“A player is defined as much by the passes he does not make as those he does. And so in life, the actions we do not take carry equal moral weight to those we do.”
“The wise player knows that he always has more time than seems possible and less time than seems necessary. We must live our lives in the same knowledge.”
All of these (and more) can be found in Altobolf’s seminal work “It is always/never a game of two halves”. Which, though difficult to find, is well worth seeking out.