Robert Bayly, from footballing prodigy to a life of crime in the space of ten years.
Football can be a ruthless sport at times, it really can. When we turn up on Saturdays to watch our favourite players strut their magic, we don’t give much thought to the many thousands of players who dreamt of the moment they would step out onto the turf of their respective stadiums to the sound of their name reverberating around the terraces, only for it to never happen for one reason or another. Indeed, we rarely consider the anonymous majority who never realised their dream, and the fact that every moment they spend after being dumped from the cruel grasp of the sport is as painful as last, as they recount the moment their ambitions slips through their fingers like water through cracks in the floor.
For Leeds prodigy Robert Bayly this harsh reality was all too relatable.
Leeds United were still mourning the loss of their Premier League status when they handed the budding midfield ace his first professional contract and a chance to shine. At the tender age of 18, the Republic of Ireland man carried the hopes and dreams of the battered Elland Road faithful, who more than anything wanted something to hang their hopes on for the future.
Unfortunately, their faith was misplaced, and the moment Bayly put on the famous white shirt, he was doomed. Following a forgettable substitute appearance against Southend United in the League Cup on October 24, 2006, the youngster landed himself in trouble during his league debut for attempting to headbutt a Derby player. Couldn’t even do that properly, says it all.
Bayly was released by Leeds in August 2008, and after an unsuccessful trial with Darlington, returned to his home nation a defeated man.
Burdened with broken dreams and unfilled potential, he first joined club Sporting Fingal in March 2009 before linking up with Shamrock Rovers a year later. He remained with the club long enough to collect their first ever goal in a European club competition, scoring against Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv. Who, you may ask? We have absolutely no idea. But hey, what an achievement. It sure beats what happened next, anyhow.
We say that because, following a string of ten transfers around the Irish domestic leagues, Bayly was jailed for two-and-a-half years in March 2018 for transporting almost €200,000 worth of cannabis across Ireland. Yes, that’s right – Bayly went from “child prodigy” to a wannabe Pablo Escobar in a matter of ten years.
The former Republic of Ireland youth international claimed that he had pursued a life of crime because of a gambling addiction that had been harrowing him since joining Leeds all those years ago, and while we have no reason not to believe that, we can’t help but wonder if their were greater forces at power to leave him in such a state.
Without going into too much detail, it’s about time clubs take responsibility for their former players and stop treating them like spent commodities.
Leeds United fans, what are your standout memories of Robert Bayly (if any)? Let us know in the comments below!
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience