Daily Echo:

I’ve spent the last week in Sheffield. You may have seen the occasion on live television at Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United.

It was the launch of the Special Olympics British Games, which are held every four years.

Unfortunately, the weather was horrendous. But, fortunately, this didn’t affect the athletes one little bit.

Altogether, 2,600 of them, representing all areas of Britain, from as far down as Cornwall, to all the way up to the Highlands of Scotland and elsewhere.

There were 7,000 families and other local people to make up a crowd of nearly 20,000. There were also 1,000 volunteers to help run the 20 sports event, which were being hosted in various locations around Sheffield.

The athletes marched in in the pouring, waving to the cheering crowd, loving every minute. Their spirits were certainly not dampened by the conditions.

Following that, I visited most of them working hard at their various sports and the football was, fortunately, able to be played the next day as staff had worked hard to remove the standing water on the pitch.

Their effort and enjoyment was a joy to see.

I was joined at the opening ceremony by a number of football legends. Older readers will remember Tony Currie, a Londoner who played for Sheffield United in the late 1960s. He was the David Beckham of his era.

He’s still living locally and acts as an ambassador for the Blades.

I was surprised to be stopped while at the judo events by, would you believe, Derek Mountfield, who was a star at Everton.

When I asked what he was doing there, he reminded me that we were both at a function in the 1990s for legend Tom Finney, during which I brought up the Special Olympics.

He told me that since then he’s got involved in the Liverpool area and become an ambassador for the games.

Another football man, Nigel Pearson, who lives in area, came up on the last day along with England manager Gareth Southgate, who gave an interview and said a talk with me 18 months ago had alerted him to the games and he wanted come down, have a look and help out - apparently they were queuing up for his signature.

This is the bright side of the game which has changed so much since some of those legends played.

Others at the opening ceremony were officials from the League Managers Association, including chairman Howard Wilkinson.

It was said how many LMA managers are now foreign, which was never the case before.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with that, of course, but we joked that for a British coach to get a job now he might have to take a course in speaking English in a foreign accent.

In a string of strange happenings in football of late, as we’ve said before with the likes of Liverpool apologising for the interest in one of ours, Mr Dijk, the latest is players coming out publicly on their desire to leave.

Last week we spoke about Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho publicly stating that they wanted Harry Kane and Gareth Bale respectively.

But to top that, we’ve now got the players speaking.

I really thought Virgil was the one off but he’s also been joined by Danny Rose.

While Virgil put out a statement through the press, Rose actually did an interview in a newspaper.

He has been at Tottenham for ten years now, and is the their longest-serving player after arriving from Leeds as a 16-year-old.

It’s fine to say that he’ll eventually go north to another club, but where he was totally out of order, in my opinion, was to criticise the club that have looked after him for the last 10 years and brought him through to the international stage by saying they are not signing top quality players.

He said that he wants Spurs to sign players from abroad that he doesn’t have to ‘Google’.

He’s saying really there that those players he’s had to ‘Google’ are not good enough, ‘the club should be doing better’ and ‘we’re not getting the same money that we’d get at other clubs’.

Apparently he got a round of applause, but that won’t be from Mr Levy, who actually runs the club.

Fair enough, have strong opinions about salaries, but go through the manager as a group for him to take to the board, which should be kept in house.

But to criticise the signings and to have to turn up each day with those players, they may be from abroad but they’re not daft. They will clearly understand a player on the field thinks they’re not good enough.

The round of applause may have come from some of them, but not all of them will be sharing the same opinion.

The biggest surprise is that this is a club that finished second in the Premier League last season and are getting criticised for not splashing out millions as other clubs are doing, as if to say Rose thinks they’re not good enough.

But the manager, Mr Pochettino, may think that his squad doesn’t need improving from what he had last time out.

From a media perspective, it’s interesting and there will be agents clapping their hands, but Mr Rose and Mr Van Dijk have been fined two weeks’ wages for their public outpouring and behaviour. Not that it will harm their way of living.

Rose has since apologised for his outburst, but also well done Saints for standing firm on this Virgil situation.

Without a doubt they won’t want any of this to have happened at this stage, as they prepare for the Premier League to begin today.

However, it would have been so easy for Saints this week to say ‘we did everything we could, it hasn’t worked, the player will have to go’.

But they haven’t done that and the ball is firmly back in Mr Van Dijk’s court.

So, does he want to continue to be fined two weeks’ wages? Or does he want to get back on the pitch and carry on improving as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League?

There’s always different sides to this scenario. There is a school of thought to say that clubs may not be queuing up as much as they might have been before his injury in January. If you’re paying this kind of money - and we’re led to believe it’s up to £70m, you surely want to see if he’s back to that kind of level of performance he'd previously shown.

Perhaps before he made any statement, he should have thought that he hasn’t played in a proper football game for nearly eight months and any manager, never mind directors, will want to know that he’s regained that level of performance before forking out for him.