An honest pro is a description given to players who have a reputation for working very hard and playing at a decent level, often for a plethora of unglamorous clubs, whilst not having enough talent for a commentator to give them some actual praise. Once in a while an honest pro will have a good game and some will say he should be in the England squad 'on current form'. He generally never is, and rightly so.
They tend to stay in the game well past their peak, prefering to drop down the leagues in order to stave the inevitable call of the guest presenter spot on the Match of the Day 2 couch. They are generally considered to make decent pundits, although this is due to their ability to state obvious truths with a level of bluntness that can sometimes pass for insight. It rarely is.
Honest Pros are almost certainly not That Kind of Player , and commentators are quick to opine that they'd still be playing down the park every Saturday were they not being handsomely paid as professional footballers.
1) A lack of finesse, grace and technique
2) A predilection for scoring unfortunate own goals
3) Tremendous workrate
4) Ironic veneration from fans
5) Likeable, if dull, personas on and off the field.
6) Long, lucrative but ultimately uninspiring careers, usually spent entirely in Britain or Ireland.
7) Looking like someone you could conceivably have seen on the tills at Tesco.
Famous Honest Pro's
Honest pros can be found at all levels of English football, but since the late-90s only the luckiest have managed to carve out a decent career in the Premier League. Illustrious names include Matty Holland, Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora and Neil Redfearn. They are ruled by the king of honest pros, Dean Whitehead.
Heskey is as close as one can find to the dictionary definition of an honest pro, whilst also at times being the exception that proves the rule. Key aspects of Heskey include
1) His tireless workrate and the assertion that he brings more to the team than just goals
2) His inability to score
3) His unerring ability to tantalizingly just fail to get on the end of crosses.
4) His attempt at a stepover in the tawdry England - Algeria game at the 2010 World Cup
5) The level of ironic veneration that has seen his teachings become the basis of several minor religions. This is best highlighted by Newcastle Jets' 'Heskey Cam' and also by the fact that he was approached to play abroad.
6) A long career that has seen him start as a decent young talent in a decent team to clearly the least talented member of a top-team back to a decent player in his late-20s/early-30s in a decent team before becoming the star player in a team in a joke league.
Heskey's ability to make the England team semi-regularly despite never being any good represents the greatest achievement of an honest pro since Djimi Traore won a Champions League medal in 2005.
The Honest Pro - A British Phenomenon?
Whilst any player from the British Isles decent enough to play for say, Norwich, has the potential to be an honest pro given the right application, foreign players of similar ability and personality are simply known as shit and are universally despised. Highlighting the inherent unfairness of the system, whilst Danny Murphy and Robert Green are honest pros, the Fulham trio, Steve Marlet, Moritz Voltz and Carlos Bocanegra are simply shit. Interaction with other footballing traits
An important distinction must be made between Honest Pro's and No-Nonsense Players. While there is some overlap, and Honest Pros often 'know what they're doing there', this is never done with the malice or the primeval hatred of anything pure and beautiful which characterises the play of No-Nonsense Players. That Kind of Players like Joey Barton and Lee Bowyer, despite filling much are the criterea, are not eligible for Honest Proity on account of their inherent dishonesty.