Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Messi vs Maradona

Over the festive period I have been reading Messi by Luca Caioli and the inevitable comparisons were mentioned almost every other page. I was too young to see Diego Maradona at his best but have read, seen and heard enough to know he was one if not the greatest talent the world has ever seen. It struck me that we are so pre-occupied with comparing new greats to players of the past; any young, diminutive, left footed Argentine will always be compared to the great Diego – is this fair? More importantly is it even something you can compare?

In every sport there are modern players who are likened to players we have seen in the past but is it possible to ever establish whether they are as good. I don’t think it is possible to compare them. Things are so different in modern sport to how they were even 2 decades ago. The players need to adhere to the correct diets, fitness regimes and exposure that many didn’t experience in previous generations. When comparing the 2 great Argentines it is almost impossible to ignore the goals they scored against England and Getafe. Both beat 5-6 players before beating the keeper and scoring but was it easier to accelerate from Fenwick and Reid or the Getafe defence. There is no way of ever proving one over the other which surely makes the comparisons pointless.

Maradona guided Argentina to World Cup glory and Messi is yet to do so. It is said that unless Messi can deliver a World Cup trophy he will not be considered as good as the former Argentina coach. This is rubbish! Messi represents everything that is good about football and just watching him play for Barcelona or Argentina is enough to demonstrate that he is one of the most exceptional players to have ever played the game.

We do not need to be so obsessed about finding the next Cruyff, Maradona or Pele when at the moment we have players to watch like Iniesta, Messi and Xavi. Great players will always be remembered but do not need to be duplicated. Sport is about innovation and should not merely be about imitation.


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