Sunday, March 27, 2011

The greatest players of all-time

How can you define who the greatest footballer of all-time is? Is it the player who’s won the most medals and trophies? Is it the player who’s won the world cup the most amount of times? Maybe individual awards? Or most goals scored? How about creative skills? Longevity and loyalty? Best haircut? Reputation?

We claim some players are among the greatest players ever by believing the hype the media feeds us about some players (ex: David Beckham). But for example, how is it possible to compare the great Brazilian Pele with current Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo?

Back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the grass was rougher, the boots were weaker, the referees were poorer, the offside rule was weak, the level of football was low, the money in the game was pitiful – do these factors mean that a player like Pele had it easy? Or that it was tougher back then? Would a player like Ronaldo succeed under those conditions?

Nowadays, players in the modern game are privileged to be playing on the best cut grass in the world, wearing the most developed football boots known to man, having referees officiate at the highest level possible when fouls are so easy to concede, playing when the competition is much more intense, gaining recognition and financial rewards that are beyond unrealistic – so, as with Pele, we could ask ourselves whether a player like Ronaldo has got it easy? Or is it tougher now? How would Pele fare if we transported him to our era?

If the game has changed so much over the years, how can we define who the greatest players of all-time are? This discussion can go on for hours, and we will all have different opinions and I am looking forward to hearing yours. However, in my opinion, to fall in the category of "greatest players of all-time", whatever the era and whatever the conditions, the player must have succeeded at both – club level and international level - and not just one of the two. I believe that is the true measure of being among the greatest players of all-time. No matter the competition, no matter the opponents or team-mates, the player always shines.

Very few great players have been able to do that during their careers. I think of a player like Ryan Giggs, as a prime example of a player who did it all on the club level of football, but never made it on the international stage. Whereas, I can also think of a player like Miroslav Klose, who performed miracles during World Cups for Germany, but was unable to reproduce such heights at the club level.

This brings me to the players I heap praise upon because I believe they are the elite players in the history of the game. These are the players who, when their country or club needed someone to lift them and take them that little bit higher, they were able to do it. Players like Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Del Piero…they are a rare breed of players who did it both on the club level and the international level and for long periods of time.

In today’s game, can we still find that? Are there any of these geniuses left? I find that there are very few players who can go through the different competitions while keeping the highest standard and achieving all the success. In my opinion, there are currently two players who have consistently proved in all competitions for the past few years that they will and they should be considered among the very best players ever: both are small in stature, both have been almost injury-free their whole careers, both dictate the midfield and create things out of the ordinary for their team-mates, both keep their feet on the ground, both have been with the same club since the start of their careers, both are not in the media spotlight, both have been the heartbeat of victorious sides over the past few years that will be written in the history books…they seem almost like the perfect footballers and they play alongside one another.

Of course, I’m talking about Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, both of F.C Barcelona. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m really hoping F.C Barcelona’s bubble bursts real soon because I can’t stand reading or hearing about them being called the greatest team of all time and what not (that will be for another time by the way). However, credit has to be given to these two maestros. They are, in my opinion, among the greatest footballers ever and are the main reason why this Barcelona team are doing so well and why Spain's national side have been so successful lately.

You might wonder why I wouldn’t give Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi a mention of being among the “greatest ever”. Even though I do believe they are both incredible players, I wouldn't think of them among the "greatest" just yet. I believe they will deserve to be considered among those household names anything only once they have achieved everything at club level AND at international level. So far we’ve seen them do everything at a club level, but let’s see if they will ever be able to reproduce that success for their national countries.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why The Football Supernova?

A football blog called the Football Supernova? Doesn't sound right. For those who know me well, they can tell you, if there's one thing I'm capable of talking about for hours (while boring their brains out about it) relentlessly - it's football.

The great thing about it is the fact that I know about another thousand people who are also looking to listen, talk and debate about "the beautiful game"; a thousand other people like me who would cancel all their plans not to miss games and would go quite far to watch their team play live.

How many times have we heard endless discussions about who the better player is: Messi or Ronaldo (worst debate ever)? Or about whether a goal was actually offside or not? Or about bad referees? Or about which league is better? Now you'll have somewhere to vent you anger at some of these topics as well as display your love for them (keep your hands where we can see them).

The reason I'm writing this blog is to simply discuss with fellow football fans out there about various topics that we find in our game. I love the game. I've spent hours in my lifetime watching it, reading about it, playing it and even playing it on the playstation (I bet there are quite a few out there who believe they are great at Fifa or P.E.S)- it's almost embarrassing sometimes how obsessed some of us are with football. I've been obsessed since I was pretty much 5 years old. I've met countless other people out there who are just like me and probably love it as much as I do, or even more. This blog is where we meet. This where we'll discuss the game. This is where we can bash each other.

Of course, being Lebanese, means that our opinions don't count for much in the world of football since our league is pretty mediocre and our national team has always been considered a failure, so we don't really get international recognition for being a nation that loves football or even follows it. But, here is where the Lebanese people (those that will read and contribute to this blog) will prove the outsiders wrong because I'm  pretty sure there are lots of us that know as much about the game as our European counterparts, and probably more.

I'll try and not be biased given that I'm a United fan to the core (20 years and counting - don't ask which United I'm talking about because there is only one out there) but I'm pretty sure my topics and opinions can be as fair as a referee at a friendly game (or something that's fair) for charity and as debatable as a Real Madrid player moving to Barcelona.

The title of this blog isn't about me. It will never be about me. I'm no supernova. This blog and your views are the supernova. I'll write the topics, you can discuss with all the readers about them. Everything that surrounds the game is the supernova.

Enjoy it...