Moments in Football
Richard Swarbrick is back. This time he’s taken his work off the screen, literally mending the art of football with the sound that surrounds the beautiful game. On an old record player, naturally. From Zlatan’s bicycle to Higuita’s insanity to Baggio’s disbelief, those legendary moments have been brought into a new light. Check out Richard’s Fantasista project and watch the video here.
World Cup Legends by Neil Stevens
"As the countdown to the World Cup in Brazil 2014 begins, I’ve created a handful of illustrative portraits of the legends of the tournament. These are the players who lit up the world with the performances at football’s biggest stage.
Here we have Maradona, Bobby Charlton, Pelé, Johan Cruyff, Gary Lineker and Michel Platini.”
This is only volume one. There are more legends coming. If there’s enough interest (nudge nudge), Neil’s going to make these available to purchase. You can find more of his excellent work here. [Posted by Eric]
What we’re reading this week
We’re always freshly squeezing plenty of articles and content by our talented network of writers and contributors at AFR; but we also read quality work which is being written throughout the football world. Here’s a selection of articles we’ve been reading, in no particular order:
The virtuoso Brian Philips (@runofplay) is a favourite of ours (and many others), and this time he writes about the life of Maradona as a player and in the present, which transformed into a rollercoaster of affairs. After many years, the 1986 World Cup champion returns to Italy to dispute tax issues. And now is the ideal time to read about one of football’s most iconic characters.
Our friends at The Football Ramble have been thinking deeply, contemplating the effect cheating has on football. The author, philosophy professor Charlie Robinson, poses an excellent question: When players cheat to gain an advantage in a game, are they even playing a game at all?
Maradona vs England: An animation made from magazines and newspapers
Our good friend Richard Swarbrick is at it again. This time he’s not only created a new Maradona-centric animation made from football magazines and sports newspapers, but he’s also brought a project with him. It’s called Fantasista, a site dedicated to art and the beautiful game.
Fantasista (the playmaker): 1. (n) A symbol of creativity and invention, of imagination and entertainment, of artistry and magic
Richard is behind Fantasista, but our very own Senior Writer Amy Eustace (writings) is also one of the main contributors. Have a look, spread the word, and - of course - enjoy this beautiful animation focused on one of the most creative men ever to play the game. [Posted by Eric]
Happy Birthday, Diego! / Feliz Cumple, Diego!
After a brilliant Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate at El Monumental in Buenos Aires this past weekend, it only seems natural to keep the love in Argentina going strong. Today is all about El Diego, Señor Maradona, the man with the hand of god (La Mano de Dios), who turns 52. Messi’s son is expected to be born any day now, and we can only hope the tradition of Argentine brilliance in the form of the prolific #10 camiseta lives for another generation. Even if Messi Jr turns out to be a magician with the ball at his feet, it’s safe to say there will never be a player, or a man, quite like Diego.
“Si yo fuera Maradona, nunca me equivocaría…”
Messi and Tevez beating Maradona in Soccer Tennis
It doesn’t exactly solve the “Who’s better?” debate, but it’s certainly a nice Friday Flashback. There’s nothing like seeing El Diego put the old boots on and duel with the best. With Enzo as his partner, Maradona took on Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez. Not an easy task. Unsurprisingly, Leo and Carlos swept their competition aside, but not without witnessing a few classic flicks (and complaints) from Maradona.
By Eric Beard
“Pelé doesn’t know sh*t.”
That was Sid Lowe’s response to James Richardson’s teasing statement on The Guardian’s Football Weekly Podcast. Richardson, of course, was referencing Pelé’s opinion that Neymar is better than Lionel Messi. With Pelé getting up there in age, Sid might be on to something. But that’s neither here nor there. The fact is that Neymar couldn’t do sh*t to stop Barcelona from winning the Club World Cup.
Player comparisons are far too often full of intangibles that draw upon the weak base of power that language possesses. Language is expected to casually unveil a dramatic truth when poetically expressed. However, according to Pep Guardiola, “there are no adjectives” to describe Messi. Language is sh*t next to Messi.Words are sh*t, next to a 24-year-old from Rosario. He is “extraordinary” in dozens of matches every year, and yet his brilliance is invariably unique from one match to another. But if you describe dribbling nine players and chipping the keeper with the same superlative as a hat-trick at the Bernabeu, you need not fear the wrath of Señor Guardiola.
Rather, Pep should understand the deficiencies of human linguistics. But this is not about Messi. It’s not about Neymar, either. The question we’re faced with is the power of an individual, even a phenomenon. Before we go any further, let’s recognize that “phenomenon” is a word football fans can comprehend and associate with Neymar and Messi. But let’s also recognize that it’s a word that doesn’t mean sh*t in defining Neymar or Messi. The subjectivity of definition is clouded by the illusion, the false formation of a collective consciousness. If this were the case, if we could adequately identify the essence of brilliance of another through millions of opinions, then we would not be left speechless listening to Messi being described as a “wonderful salmon [rising] out of the stream.”
By Sam Blakeley, writing from London
To the uninitiated, the ‘number 10’ in football is that archetypal player who links midfield with attack, floating between the two and becoming the playmaker of the side. He must be blessed with vision, composure, awareness, and an incredible range of passing, culminating in an almost extra-sensory ability to control the game and be within and without everything that happens going forward for the team. Historically these players have also been ground-breaking skill players, popularising and even inventing their own incredible pieces of flair, from the ‘Cryuff Turn’ to the ‘Flip-Flap/Elastico’. The ‘number 10’ moniker is due to the fact that this positon was traditionally given the number 10 shirt - in the days when a number would denote the position in which the player would operate.
Notable examples are Zidane, Pele, Ronaldinho, Cryuff, Maradona, Bergkamp, Messi, Cantona…essentially those players who are seen as the best of all time. Very rarely will you find a player from any other position winning the prestigious awards. Fabio Cannavaro (a central defender) made waves in 2006 by winning the Ballon D’or (basically the world player of the year). I would submit that the only reason Zidane didn’t win that year was becase of that headbutt, but nonetheless the point is there: we love the number 10, and we fully appreciate their generous talents.
Many argue that England doesn’t really produce this kind of player, and really this is a lamentable omission. I can’t help but hear the distant cries of ‘Paul Scholes?’, ‘Matt Le Tissier?’, ‘Steven Gerrard?’, ’Paul Gascoigne?’, ‘Wayne Rooney?’. Frankly they were my own cries, distant because I’m currently sat on a mountain (for illustrative purposes). They perhaps do raise a good point however. There isn’t really a big name that springs to mind as easily as the Ronaldinhos and the Zidanes. Maybe this is because we have lumped those five examples (and many others besides) into either a midfielder or an attacker. Somewhere in our English conception of football there must be two central midfielders and two strikers; whoever plays in that general area of the pitch who isn’t a striker must be an attacking midfielder, and those who aren’t midfielders are just a striker who plays a bit deeper but who is still essentially a second striker - more on this later. Whether this is still the case in ten years time, once Rooney has fully established himself as one of the best number 10’s, not to mention best players, of all time is up for debate. Moreover, perhaps the reason we overlook these players is simply that none of them fulfill the real attribute that singles out the number 10 from an attacking midfielder or a second striker: the flair.