I may be in the smallest group on earth, consisting of people that think Jermaine Pennant’s football yarns are about as amusing as a final tax demand.
His stories of drunkenness and sharing females with Ashley Cole can’t disguise the fact that Pennant was once regarded as a genuine prospect with genuine natural talent.
Sadly, the promise of talent doesn’t always reach the surface and Pennant’s career which started with Notts County and ended at the mighty Billericay Town, was a simply a road to nowhere , brimming with disappointment and unfulfilled ambition.
Pennant joined Arsenal in 1999 for £2 million pound at 15 years of age but struggled to establish himself or gain Arsene Wenger’s trust because of his attitude and unprofessionalism.
Pennant may now raise a smile and a wink with his tales of bawdy behaviour and sexual prowess with the lads but for every person that admired his adventurous lifestyle, there are twenty more that think he was a dick.
The general perception is that he could have reached the heights that average players like myself could only dream of.
Yet, he decided to live the lifestyle without developing the talent, believing that his arrival at Arsenal meant success and signalled game and fortune but he was mistaken.
He played for the gunners for 7 years and scored a hat trick on his debut in 2003 against Southampton but after that, he only ever had five starts.
His time keeping was poor and his fitness became a problem from late nights spent in various London clubs.
No doubt looking for notches for his bedpost.
Wenger grew tired of trying to motivate and inspire Pennant and after a couple of loan spells, he shipped him off to Birmingham City in 2005, making the club £1 million profit and reducing his own dependency for headache pills substantially.
In that year, Pennant was disqualified from driving without insurance, served 30 days in prison and played against Spurs with an electronic tag around his ankle. Pennant was becoming the risk that wasn’t worth taking.
Not a fraction as talented as a George Best or Paul Gascoigne but in the belief that he was, Pennant managed to spurn each opportunity he was given until finally everyone in football circles realised that he was impervious to change.
Best and Gascoigne enjoyed a night out and let themselves and others down in the process but you can’t deny their genius.
Even if Best spent the night on a casino table unconscious or in the arms of some Brazilian beauty until the wee small hours, he managed to put his boots on, play and entertain.
He loved the game, not something we can accuse Pennant of. He seemed to use it as an excuse to get plastered and get girls.
He can write a thousand books, reveal his sordid sexploits in the media and recount his minor glories under the influence of drink to anyone that will listen, but I’m sure he wishes life had been different.
Of course he’d much rather talk about having a threesome in a hotel room than talk about winning the premiership or going on a 49 match unbeaten run because by that time he had run his course.
Wenger once bemoaned the difficulties in developing homegrown talent in this Country. He basically said that first and foremost the price was too high and more importantly he made reference to the pitfalls of emerging talent within the British culture.
On his arrival at Arsenal in 1996, he discovered that two of his senior players already had alcohol problems and the rest of the team weren’t adverse to soaking the sponge.
Pennant has become a cliche, the stereotypical footballer with more sperm than brain cells, perhaps he’s satisfied with everything he achieved, which wasn’t much.
His latest revelations are nothing new, he is out of step with young aspiring footballers who have found more committed and talented role models in the likes of Rashford, Alli and Trippier.
Young players, who have already achieved more and will continue to raise the bar for themselves and their clubs.
Perhaps Pennant should have been called Penance, after squandering all that he had, he has paid a heavy price.