Author Topic: Overpriced firecrackers  (Read 632 times)

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Offline Bitter

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Overpriced firecrackers
« on: February 14, 2011, 10:55:58 AM »
Overpriced firecrackers
By Fazeer Mohammed
Story Created: Feb 13, 2011 at 11:50 PM ECT
http://www.trinidadexpress.com/sports/Overpriced_firecrackers-116138279.html

Not even Keith Smith, in his glorious goalkeeping days, would have been able to stop that one.
In three months' time, we may look back on the moment as the one that effectively clinched yet another English Premier League title for Manchester United: Nani's looping cross triggering the striker's instinctive reaction, twisting and taking to the air, catching the football on the sweet-spot of the right instep. The spectacular bicycle kick, like a majestic Lara cover drive or a fizzing Federer forehand, eliciting a roar of combined wonder and exultation even before the consummation of the moment as the ball nestled into the top corner well out of the reach of the helpless Manchester City goalkeeper.

Emphatic confirmation, if any was needed, that Wayne Rooney is an International Pot Hound (IPH).

Indeed, as he was dejectedly retrieving the ball while pandemonium reigned all around him at Old Trafford on Saturday, England custodian Joe Hart may very well have been asking himself why the so-and-so doesn't do anything like that playing for his country when it really matters?

But the English striker (26 goals in 67 internationals, none in two World Cups) is not alone as a major under-achiever in national colours. In fact, it is probably confirmation that, given all the massive money associated with it, club matters more than country in our time when the likes of supposedly illustrious names as Lionel Messi (16 in 54, one in two World Cups), Kaka (27 in 82, one in two World Cups) and Cristiano Ronaldo (26 in 80, two in two World Cups) are all eminently qualified to join Rooney in the elite IPH listing.

By the way, I say "supposedly" because, in my obviously old-fashioned way of looking at things, playing for your country at the World Cup finals is the summit of football, so all the glorification over club achievements is significantly tarnished if you fall way short when your country really needs you.

Ironically, the sport's governing body, having repeatedly emphasised the primacy of national representation and international tournaments, goes and names Messi as "World Footballer of the Year" for 2010 ahead of two of the Argentine's Barcelona teammates–Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta--who just happened to be key members of the Spanish team that lifted the World Cup in South Africa seven months ago.

So are the eminent former players and media personnel who comprised the adjudicating panel acknowledging that club achievements are worth more than national ones, even in a World Cup year? How can that be? Isn't the measure of the quality of a player his or her ability to deliver for the national side at critical moments, especially as most of their time is spent as the sole property of the clubs, living and breathing the game with Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid or whoever else?

Clearly there is the issue of a comfort zone here as well, for as we see in American sport where the franchises in baseball, basketball, American football and ice hockey are the be-and-end-all of most star players, it appears that national duty for the modern footballer is more of a burdensome obligation than an eagerly anticipated call to glory.

Well, if that's the way of the world, so be it. However I would just like to mention three of the very best of all time–Pele, Diego Maradona and Gerd Muller—who delivered for club AND country at the very highest level, and as such, there is no way–—look, no way—that people should be comparing Messi and company with these giants until and unless they come really good at a World Cup finals.

Pele, the legendary Brazilian, scorer of more than 1,000 goals in all recognised competition, but more to the point, scorer of 77 goals in 92 internationals, including 12 in World Cups, and a member of three World Cup-winning teams. Star striker of Santos, the club that won everything that there was to be won in Brazilian and international club football at the time.

Maradona, scorer of a relatively paltry 34 goals in 91 internationals, but five of them came in the 1986 World Cup finals where, even allowing for the "Hand of God" t'iefing thing, he was the fulcrum of a successful Argentine campaign. Scorer of 258 goals in 494 games for seven different clubs, including transforming Napoli from a run-of-the-mill Italian Serie A side to champions twice in four years (they were runners-up for the other two).

Muller, "Der Bomber" of then West Germany, with an astonishing record of 68 goals in just 62 internationals, 14 of them coming in two World Cups, capped off by the winner in the 1974 final against Holland in Munich, after which he immediately retired from the international game. That same year he spearheaded Bayern Munich to the first of three successive European Champions Cups when the tournament was a real champions-only event with knockout rounds from the word go, not the elaborate, bloated, money-spinning mamguism that we have today where clubs that finished a hundred points back in fourth spot in their national league qualify for the "Champions League".

They may yet achieve greatness and appear to have years on their side, but the present crop of "galacticos" are overpriced firecrackers by comparison.

We concurred on the greatness of zaboca and Liverpool Football Club, but I don't know if Keith would have agreed with me this time. I suppose I can only imagine what the column would have been in response.
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Offline Tallman

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Re: Overpriced firecrackers
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2011, 11:47:32 AM »
We concurred on the greatness of zaboca and Liverpool Football Club, but I don't know if Keith would have agreed with me this time. I suppose I can only imagine what the column would have been in response.

I concur with your concurrence.
The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline Bakes

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Re: Overpriced firecrackers
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2011, 01:49:37 PM »
We concurred on the greatness of zaboca and Liverpool Football Club, but I don't know if Keith would have agreed with me this time. I suppose I can only imagine what the column would have been in response.

I concur with your concurrence.

I concur with the concurrence of their concurrence.