Send us a message

Interested in being a part of the team? Get in touch with us today.

The Greatest Player in the World

 Posted by on November 5, 2013 at 12:49 am  The Ball is Flat
Nov 052013
It's always a matter of argument. Who is  the greatest player at this moment. Twenty years ago it might have been Baggio or Berkamp, fifteen years ago it might have been Zidane or Suker and so on every five years with arguments about Nedved or Thierry Henry, and a score of others in that span culminating in this morass that we find ourselves in every year since 2008 whether the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi and it become a litmus test as to whether you belong to this tribe or the other tribe, and if you don't necessarily support one or the other than you feel the need to make ridiculous mental gyrations to support that argument for yourself.

"There is something wrong with Messi. He got state supported growth hormone injections before puberty and that's why he's such a great player. The Spanish government fast-forwarded his residency requirements to allow Barcelona to play him earlier. He's a cheat." You've heard that. You've probably heard worse, and about Cristiano as well, "He's a juicer, there's more steroid in him than a Major League Baseball player in the nineties. He's not a team player, he's selfish and in the end he's not a winner because really, who thinks Portugal can ever win a World Cup? Ain't gonna happen."

In the end we know what's going to happen. In two years or five we'll find the inevitable happening, that Zlatan was the real winner of the best player sweepstakes we're living with today, or that Neymar or Gareth Bale or some other burgeoning star is head and shoulders above either aging star in the next decade. It's the nature of the game. Your little brother or sister will care one iota for your Messi or Cristiano devotion and that is as it should be.

No one will ever displace Pele as the greatest player of all time for some, as Diego Maradona would be for others, or a dozen other greats over the years. Was it Zidane or George Best, Eusebio or Baggio, Platini or Cruyff or Di Stefano or a dozen others that we grew up with or swore by as fans of their clubs or their national teams. It's subjective, it can never be measured because football unlike other sports is not about easily quantifiable statistics. A player is as much a measure of the parts surrounding him as he is his own individual performance. All of them, even those we consider the greats of our hall of fame.

There would be no Maradona without Caniggia or Burruchaga. Pele needed the likes of Garrincha or Carlos Alberto in his age, as did Cruyff with Rep or Di Stefano with Kopa, Gento or Puskas? It's football for effs-sake. It's a collective game, filled with brilliant individual talent, but that would not shine without everyone else on the pitch doing their part.

So, I guess my point is rather than attaching yourself to either camp, making excuse after ridiculous excuse to enforce some external bias, just enjoy them for what they bring to the game. Neither of them can continue forever, they will leave the game sooner than you think, and someone or a group of someones will replace them in the grand scheme of things. Right now Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the game, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is probably right behind with Messi struggling to regain fitness, but that could all change in six or nine months after Brazil 2014. We might be talking about Messi's Maradona-esque performance for Argentina, the collective brilliance of Germany or the last-gasp of Spain, or frankly crowning the more likely hometown hero Neymar for Brazil.

Enhanced by Zemanta


The Ball is Flat

The Ball is Flat is a website and podcast devoted to the Beautiful Game. Football, Futbol, Fusball or whatever you call it, it is the game that divides and unites us. The Ball is Flat's mission is to cover European football with an eye open, the heart in motion, and the brain colored with the right amount of cheerful cynicism. Read more:

 Leave a Reply



Refresh Image


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>