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Kicko The Ballo

04th October 2019

Are British footballers finally waking up to the value of multilingual communication?

During his eleven years at Arsenal, Aaron Ramsay endeared himself to fans by scoring two FA Cup final winning goals. After his move to Juventus in the summer he’s having to start again, and today in his first major interview since the move he made it clear that he’ll be working hard to fit in off the field as well as on it. When asked about the importance of speaking Italian in his new surroundings, his answer was unequivocal:

"It's important to speak their language and really commit to immersing yourself in their culture and understanding it"

It makes a refreshing change for British sports stars to take this view. In the mid-1980s Ramsay’s fellow Welsh international, Ian Rush, also moved to Juventus. At the time Rush was rated among the best centre forwards in the world, but his Turin experience was a nightmare of homesickness and failure to integrate. When he returned to Liverpool after one miserable season away he hadn’t learned a word of Italian.

Overseas players coming to Britain haven't always had the most constructive of welcomes. As a young fan I remember watching a training session at my home town club where a Spanish teenager was being introduced to his new team-mates and their playing style. The coach placed the ball at his feet and, in his best Mediterranean accent, urged the player to “kicko the ballo”.

Luckily this young man learned English quickly, and it’s striking how well most overseas players and managers have adapted to British football. When Jurgen Klinsmann moved to Tottenham in 1994 he spoke better English than most of his UK-born team mates. Two decades on, Jurgen Klopp’s eloquence and passion helped him build an immediate rapport with Liverpool fans that's underpinned their subsequent success. Maybe British players are finally getting the message that learning the language and appreciating the culture of your hosts isn’t just polite; it’s a very smart career move.

The importance of communicating with our social and economic partners in their native language should never be underestimated. By making an immediate effort to bridge the language gap, Aaron Ramsay is taking a leaf out of Klinsmann and Klopp's book. 

He’s also following in the footsteps of countless exporters whose prospects and profitability have been boosted by professional translation and interpreting services.

How do you want the world to see you?

Are you the person with the comical hand gestures and the indecipherable website, or the person who’s speaking their language?

We’ve all made tougher decisions that this, haven’t we?

 

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