'In a world of ghetto blasters, iPods are a necessary evil'

Stoke's Dave Kitson doesn't like team-mates tuning out or slumping – but most of all, he doesn't like R&B
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The Independent Football

Maybe it is because he began his career playing for Hitchin Town and stacking shelves at Sainsbury's, but Stoke City striker Dave Kitson has always appeared more independent-minded than most footballers.

Two years ago he outraged traditionalists by saying he did not care about the FA Cup, and last season he boldly argued his case when Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, described him as "petulant". Kitson has not played since and is up for sale.

The latest target of his ire is the MP3 player. According to Kitson players sit in the dressing room before matches "slumped around in their own world, generally looking miserable" as they listen to their iPod (which is playing either The Smiths or Joy Division by the sound of things). He adds: "I find iPods one of the most anti-social things to come into the changing room."

It has long been known that the MP3 player, usually twinned with state-of-the-art noise-reducing headphones, is a favoured device of players wishing to avoid speaking to journalists or supporters after matches and training sessions. That players use them to tune out their team-mates is an unexpected revelation. "It is killing football," Kitson was reported to have said.

But in the original interview with Music Week Kitson said nothing of the sort. Moreover, he harked back to the days when one player would bring along an "old-school ghettoblaster in which somebody would play a mix CD", and added that the music was more often than not R&B "which I hate, so I'd go and sit in the physio room and read the prograame". That seems even more anti-social than everyone sitting together in the dressing room listening to their own music. Kitson said that "iPods are a lifesaver for me – I couldn't listen to [R&B and hip-hop] before a game, so it's best they keep it to themselves."

Nevertheless Kitson has identified another reason for the increase in insularity within squads which makes team spirit harder to foster. The influx of foreign players, whose culture does not usually extend to an old-fashioned team-bonding night out getting hammered, and who often speak little English, has inevitably weakened dressing room ties. So has the faster turnover of players. Most professionals will now tell you they have lots of acquaintances in the game, but few real friends.

So far the MP3 culture is regarded as widespread only at Premier League level. Lower down the ghettoblaster remains king. Which is fine if you like the chosen music (famously it was the Sex Pistols when Stuart Pearce was at Nottingham Forest). If not, there is always the physio's room.