Loyalty. It’s a trait that we value over almost any other when we judge someone’s character. Perhaps this is because not only is it a rarity to find true loyalty these days, but it’s also a hard trait to show in an outward way. That’s why the story of Daniel Agger and the tattoos on his hand is so remarkable.
When rumors started swirling in August 2012 that some major football clubs were fixing to throw a boatload of money at Liverpool to lure the defender away, Agger showed his loyalty to the club in a bold way by getting the letters YNWA tattooed across his knuckles. Four simple letters inked onto his knuckles spoke louder than any statement to the press could. Simply put, his message to Liverpool supporters was crystal clear — You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Before we continue our story here’s a little background information about why the tattoo was so significant to Liverpool supporters. “YNWA” stands for “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a Rodgers and Hammerstein number from the musical Carousel. In 1963, a Liverpudlian merseybeat group, Gerry and the Pacemakers covered the song, and it was soon afterward adopted by fans of the team who still sing it moments before kickoff. So when Liverpool fans saw Agger with those letters across his knuckles they knew it was a sign that he was truly one of them.
In the fickle world of sports it’s a rarity to see an athlete stick with one team for his or her entire career. Sports is becoming more and more of a business, and when the business side of things start to take over, business decisions are made.
Players and teams cut ties more often than ever. Tenure doesn’t matter, abilities don’t matter, all that matters is the bottom line. Players switch allegiances at the drop of a hat, and a player that you grew to love on your favorite team can be gone in a flash.
Which is what makes Agger’s commitment to Liverpool so uncommon. At a time when players are going into business for themselves more and more, you hardly ever see one stick around so loyally to one team. Staying with Liverpool wasn’t a decision made with his pocketbook in mind, it came straight from the heart. It takes tremendous courage to show your loyalty in such an audacious manner.
There is a long and rich history of tattoos symbolizing loyalty to certain cultures, subcultures, and organizations. This makes sense when you think about the symbolic potential of the art form. The permanence of tattoos, alone, has a connotation of commitment, and what is loyalty other than the utmost expression of commitment. When we see individuals collect body art that is representative of belonging to a subculture, gang, or in this case a football club, we are observing a proclamation of allegiance in the form of body art. Whether it is a heart with “mom” scrawled across it or a team’s song and crest, tattoos such as these are capable of communicating a connection between their wearers and the communities to which they identify with or belong.
Of course, loyalty is often not a two way street. When Agger sat down to have Liverpool’s beloved song tattooed onto his knuckles there was no guarantee that management wasn’t going to accept the big payday and ship him elsewhere. Showing loyalty in such a manner can be reckless and, if that loyalty is rebuffed, heartbreaking.
Which is what makes Agger’s case such a unique parable. When a player wishes to stick with one team, and the management listens to and respects their decision, it can make that player more endearing to the fans. It can make their loyalty pay off in ways no one can possibly understand except a Liverpool fan, or Agger himself. He means so much to the club, to the fans, to the city, and to the owners of the team because of his unwavering devotion to his team.
In the video below you’ll be able to watch as Tattoodo Founder Ami James adds two Liver Birds to Agger’s existing piece. The mythical bird has been associated with the city of Liverpool since the early 1900’s. The myth says that there are always a pair of the birds, one male and one female. The female looks out to sea in order to keep all of the sailors safe and to be sure they return, while the male looks in on Liverpool to make sure that all of the pubs are open when those seamen do make it to shore. Speaking of pubs, it should go without saying that with his tattoo, and his years of service to LFC, Agger will never have to pay for a pint in Liverpool for the rest of his days.
With his tattoo Daniel Agger shows us the strength that a bold gesture can have for both a professional athlete and the supporters who live and die with their team. Agger took a step that few others would dare to by getting his team's song and logo tattooed into his skin, and by doing so he taught us all what true loyalty is.
Article by @Powerton , @BMoreJoe and @CharlieConnell .