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Martin Johnson - legend!
A gentleman. Intelligent. Insightful. A leader. An England legend.
Posted Sep 19, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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We often get confused by what constitutes a legend in sporting terms. We often throw the tag at people who don’t deserve such praise. We often forget about the people who are truly legendary. And one I have overlooked so far is world cup winning England captain Martin Johnson.
This guy was the reason England were so successful in the early noughties. His drive, his leadership, his ability in the second row and his shear colossal stature made him an imposing figure on the rugby pitch. And off it for that matter!
I was lucky enough to meet the now England coach when I was a journalist at a local newspaper in Leicestershire. He was playing for Leicester Tigers at the time. It was in fact at his press conference when he announced his retirement from the game. It was a monumental day in my fledgling career and one that I remember so clearly.
Dressed in a suit, this giant of a man was impeccably dressed and spoke with intelligence and insightfulness. I was expecting a beast. I got a gentleman. I was in awe of his presence. He owned the room like he owned the rugby pitch.
Admittedly, I didn’t get to see Johnson much as my interest in rugby didn’t develop until the early noughties and the Six Nations in 2002 and the World Cup in 2003 were the only time I really got to see the man in full flow. It was inspiring.
He wasn’t a player who could change the game with a burst of pace or a moment of genius. He was a player who could bring the best out of those around him and this is where he excelled.
Taking that into consideration, it makes sense that he made the transition into coaching, although he couldn’t have taken on a bigger first job. Not content with gaining experience and then walking into one of the biggest jobs in the sport, Johnson was happy to challenge himself with the task of leading England once again, this time as coach.
Although it didn’t start too well for him, he has slowly improved the squad and the way they play. They are getting better. The one thing he has instilled in the team is passion and pride. Two traits he has in abundance.
And although I wrote that I don’t think we’ll be able to compete with New Zealand in the autumn Tests, starting in November, I do believe that we have the best man for the job and he understands what needs to be done to win.
The one thing you can be sure of is that this England team won’t lie down for anyone now and that is Martin Johnson all over.
If he has a coaching career that’s half as successful as his playing career then us England fans are in for a treat. A legendary player, hoping to be a legendary coach – Martin Johnson.