This post is going to get me into a lot of trouble…. I realise and accept that Pele and Diego Maradona are or were the greatest players of their time. But other than a few clips on YouTube, I have never seen their greatness. The famous clip of Maradona probably sums up the totality of what I know about his skills. There is no doubt that he is/was great. The same goes for Pele.
I especially enjoyed the Guardian’s tweet on Maradona during the Copa America opener.
So, at the risk of sounding contrarian, but being completely honest, I followed Italian football very intermittently in the 1980s (Juventus has always been my favourite team), mainly because I either never had cable or satellite service – or no TV at all, my “football greats” emerged after, say, 1994. Twenty five years later, I can honestly say that I am more impressed by playmakers which means people like Zinedine Zidane, Andrea Pirlo, Denis Bergkamp, Mesut Ozil, Xavi, Iniesta, Xavi Alonso and David Silva are the players I rate the highest. Lionel Messi and Ronaldo (the original) and Ronaldo the peacock are, of course, in a league of their own. But my favourites remain, Zidane, Pirlo, Bergkamp, Ozil, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva and Alonso. I’m afraid Steven Gerrard (one dimensional like a galloping horse), Paul Scholes (too many fouls and second in-line after Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona) and Frank Lampard (meh) do not make this list.
Then again, I will accept that I don’t know the beautiful game, or watch it as often as I should.