By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent
Young sportsmen will always make mistakes. It is often the fallout from such an error that helps a young man to quickly mature into a person of great standing both professionally and personally. If anything, that is all part of the process. But Inter’s Mauro Icardi seems to be at the start of that cycle right now, with his very public affair with the wife of former Sampdoria team-mate Maxi Lopez causing a huge stir in Italy in recent weeks.
The 20-year-old Argentine, who is currently out of action with a hernia problem, has hit the headlines during the international break following revelations regarding his relationship with Wanda Nara, who was previously married to Lopez.
The story goes that Icardi made moves on Nara upon hearing about the breakdown of her marriage with his close friend, who he had spent much time with when they both played at Sampdoria – often with Nara in tow.
|@wanditanara Te Amo, nunca me sera sencillo decir lo Q siento, PorQ descubri que esas 2 palabras llevan consigo 1 Sentimiento sin Limites!
- Mauro Icardi via Twitter
Now Icardi has taken to Twitter to profess his love for Nara, who herself has made no secret of the relationship on the social media site. "I love you, it will never be easy to say how I feel, because I discovered that those two words carry the same limitless feeling as one!" he stated. The striker has even had a tattoo of his love interest’s first name inked on his left forearm, posting a photograph of it on Twitter too.
It is perhaps normal that a young, impressionable man who in the last 12 months has hit the big time in his professional life should find the attention a little overwhelming. That it seems to have gone to his head is disappointing but also understandable. However, his blatant disregard for a close friend and former colleague does not sit so easily.
One of this writer’s particular bug-bears in regards to social media is the allure that some couples feel to shun the traditional verbal option or even the possibility of speaking on the telephone in favour of sharing intimate greetings with the rest of the world. Obviously, this comes down to personal preference to some extent, but the opportunity for innocents to be caught in the crossfire of the ebbs and flows of somebody else’s relationship is far too great when social media is involved in such exchanges.
Wesley Sneijder has become a figure of fun to some Twitter users in light of his regular statements of undying affection toward his wife Yolanthe Cabau, and while they began a relationship in somewhat notorious circumstances, they are at least a married couple who are leaving no third party open to ridicule as a result of their tweets.
Icardi, however, is making Lopez look more and more ridiculous with each tweet he sends. Moreover, he is subjecting himself to the same portrayal. His tweet on Thursday ("I've washed it 10 times already and it won't come off!") including a picture of his new tattoo with Nara’s name covering the length of his forearm had to be seen to be believed.
|@wanditanara Ya me bane 10 veces y no se Borra!
- Mauro Icardi via Twitter
One almost cannot wait for the relationship to turn sour since it is often the fallout of such an eventuality that strengthens people emotionally, and to the public eye that appears to be what Icardi needs right now. Perhaps the break-up of this modern day ‘dream romance’ will help him to see what his former friend and team-mate is feeling at this moment in time. That might go some way to bringing the Argentine back to earth and realign his focus on his career.
On the other hand, the perfect scenario would be that two people between whom there is mutual love are able to get on with their lives in private without feeling the need to rub it in the face of someone about whom they both once cared, but now don’t seem to give two hoots about. However this story plays out, it is now Inter’s job to try to get Icardi off the front pages and back to the top of his game.
Icardi is not the first footballer to hit the tabloids over such a scandal, nor will he be the last. John Terry’s affair with the girlfriend of Wayne Bridge made huge headlines in 2010, even robbing the Chelsea defender of the England captaincy, but at least Terry had the good grace not to boast about it in public.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter laughed off Terry’s misdemeanour at the time, claiming that he would have been considered a hero in some countries, but the behaviour of Terry, Icardi and others seems to be just the latest blemish on football’s increasingly loose moral code. Exactly what impressionable young minds make of these indiscretions is a frightening consideration.
“The heart has reasons that reason itself can’t explain,” said Nara in a tweet this week which was immediately retweeted by Icardi. If that was meant as some kind of explanation as to why the two should be allowed to act with such emotional brutality, it failed to hit the mark.
“There are no friends in football,” says one oft-used cliché to describe the intensity at which matches are played, but it sums up an all-too familiar story about the goings-on in the sport’s dressing rooms too these days. Honesty and discretion are things of the past in a footballing world increasingly bathed in scandal.