By Sam Elliott
PROFESSIONAL footballers. It’s all about the size of their pay packets and their Louis Vuitton washbags, isn’t it?
More interested in their X-box than their jobs, if you listen to any football phone-in on the way back from a match.
But two of the Football League’s finest have shown money is certainly not the only thing on their minds.
Leyton Orient legend Dean Cox had it all a year ago. Sitting on a fantastic contract as one of Brisbane Road’s last surviving members of their good old days, life was pretty good.
But, told he wouldn’t be playing as much this season, the winger, 29, was forced into an August re-think.
His O’s contract was then terminated by mutual consent – but not until after the transfer window had closed. It meant he could sign for another pro side, Crawley, but not play for them until January.
What next? Cox put the feelers out in the part-time game. Eastbourne and Whitehawk were keen, and getting £300 a week would at least keep things ticking over.
He ended up going lower and last Saturday pulled on the shirt of Burgess Hill Town, a side scrapping to stay in the Ryman Premier.
Not only that, he has told them he doesn’t want paying. As he’s not receiving a penny from Crawley until he kicks a ball for them, this is all about giving something back.
“I love football. I love the game in this area and I wanted to do something to support it I suppose,” Cox said. “Burgess Hill is around the corner from me.
“They say footballers have it easy but I’m training every day at Crawley and then on Tuesday and Thursday nights I’m in with the Burgess Hill boys at 7pm until gone nine.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way, really. They are helping me keep sharp and get ready for January 3 when, finally I’m allowed to play.”
Cox is not alone. Jamie O’Hara last week left Gillingham a month after signing a two-year deal, but the details shed important light on the supposed ‘greedy footballers’ tag.
The midfielder’s foot injury was worse than first feared and the former Wolves star, 30, told them he wouldn’t take a penny more, forgoing a six-figure sum in the process.
Gills owner Paul Scally said: “He came to me directly and asked not to be paid. He felt it was wrong to take any money. It’s safe to say I have never had a situation like this before.”