Standing alone. The one true genius.

by Noel Draper

There has been a lot of words typed over the last few weeks, even on this very website, which have been dedicated to the delicate subject of who is a better player. Is it Messi or Ronaldo? Is it the short bloke with a penchant for mesmerising runs and fantastic finishes or the taller bloke with a penchant for mesmerising runs and fantastic finishes? Well, if you asked me, then I would say that seeing that both players have scored loads of goals this season, both players have loads of assists to their names and both players have really rubbish hair cuts it would be very hard to stick a cigarette paper between them.

Of course, with the internet being the internet the discussion doesn’t stop there as comparisons are then made with fantastic players of old, such as Pele, Maradona and Charlton (J). This is, of course, a discussion that is a complete waste of time for one reason and one reason only. The fantastic players of old were far from fantastic, in fact, they were a little bit rubbish. There, I said it. The so called fantastic players of old were rubbish. I’ve said it again. Sorry, but they were. I’ll explain.

Maradona has always been perceived as one of the greats. Mainly due to a fantastic run and goal against England. The rest of the time he was cramming coke up his South American hooter. John Barnes did this as well, the run not the coke, against Brazil and he isn’t on anyone’s greatest players list. Pennellone, the Forest reject, would have out scored Maradona at Napoli if he had taken all the penalties. Pele might have scored over one thousand goals in his career but most of the time he played in two bit leagues against two bit players. Sure he won the World Cup three times but I think I could have done that playing alongside that team and against the opposition he faced.
So what about English greats? Take Stanley Matthews, the wizard of the dribble. Now, I have watched online clips of him doing his “thing” and to be honest I’m impressed. He picks the ball up, stumbles around for a bit, which fools the full back, and then crosses the ball. Genius. A complete genius. There is another clip of him showing a cigarette manufacturer how to dribble and run with the ball. It’s fantastic and will make you laugh for ages.

In the majority of cases the modern footballer is an athlete.

Tom Finney? The “Preston Plumber” has, apart from quite possibly the worst nickname ever, some quite impressive statistics to his name such as 210 goals for Preston in just under 500 games and 30 goals for England. He was also never booked or sent off in his career. Excellent stuff you might think and you will carry on thinking this right up until you look at clips online and see the standard of goal keeping he had to beat. O’Reilly, the rubbish builder from Fawlty Towers would have done better and he had only one arm.
I will also point out a few other things about famous players from the past. They smoked, they drank alcohol. They had cups of tea at half time. In other words they were very unfit compared to modern standards. They also wore heavy boots and played football with a medicine ball. Rubbish, completely rubbish the lot of them.
Let’s contrast this to modern footballers who are provided with individual diets to follow that have been scientifically worked out. Their clubs have fully trained fitness professionals that also work out individual routines just for them. They train on different aspects of a modern footballer’s game, week in and week out. Their boots are also scientifically designed to get the best out of the player on the pitch. As is the kit they wear. In fact every aspect of a footballer’s life is controlled as much as possible to get the best out of their highly tuned bodies. Sure, there are some exceptions as there always are, but in the majority of cases the modern footballer is an athlete.

So there you go, so called fantastic old players were rubbish, completely rubbish, but I don’t care about this because modern footballers, due to being athletes, are completely boring, soulless and uninteresting. I would rather have crap footballers who are interesting than the great footballers we see today who are boring. Oh, the answer to the first question is Messi. End of.

Is Messi The Greatest Of Them All?