Pele’s rise to widespread fame and popularity grew in the potency of his clutch performances; he scored in important moments, which as a result ascribed him a pedestal seat among football greats. Pele mastered the art of creating some moments, many of them helped by the struggles of his teammates, but he lived the memories until eternity, possibly.
Football, as every other sport, derives its meaning from the rush of momentum. Most of the time, its adherents lose the reality of the sport being a team game; that of a collective unit. From every adrenaline of ecstasy and orgasm, football adherents are oftentimes mistaken to think that the individualistic feats of special players are what drive the game. In all fairness, that’s a sound reality. The best moments of football in our saturated memories are the ones where the individual qualities of players took us to a heavenly feeling: Maradona’s legendary run against England in ’86, Cryuff’s trademark turn in ’74, Messi’s fleet-footed run against Getafe in 2006, Ronaldo’s worldie freekick in 2018… we could recount a lot more. For this fact, Maradona’s 2002 goal against England was voted the Goal of the Century. A similar effort, Messi’s goal, was also voted Barcelona’s Best Goal in the club’s 121- year history. The criterion was ‘probably’ the degree of talent that might have been involved in the execution of these goals, and not necessarily the calibre of their teammates that aided the execution, or perhaps, the relevance of their managers’ tactical orientation. They were considered fairly, a point is made; the beauty of such exemplification overclouds the quality of talents they are surrounded with. We are inclined to believe Maradona ‘won’ the world cup for Argentina, Ronaldo was a demi-god in Madrid’s 16–19 and that Messi was Barcelona.
One common trend is pronounced here: the intense exhortation of their individual excellence overrode the significance of the system and players that enabled the fluency. Perhaps, it is a true reflection of life in its entirety, an unfair world where there is no proportional standard to equal outputs. Ronaldo’s theatrical touchline dramas at the 2016 Euros were much exalted than Guedes’ decisive goal. Indeed, that’s a vital case in point. Football, like every other social agent, thrives on the extent of its irrationality than objectivity. Even the best of decision makers have fallen into this hoop. The desperations of Juventus and Barcelona in winning the Champions’ League have ended up in utter failure and ridiculous humiliation. Juventus splurged 100 million on a 33-year-old player in a bid to win the Holy Grail, at the expense of an unproductive midfield and a stretched finance. Barca, on the other hand, delegated fat sums to an ageing player amidst spending profligately on overpriced players. Both clubs are like every football adherent: they formed their figment of rational thinking on the past memories of the players, without respecting the context. In their imaginations, the illusion was that the players could still win the UCL ‘single-handedly’. With age being a somewhat affective factor, the players struggle to recreate those moments, largely due to the present calibre of players and tactical system
The Ronaldo-Messi era seeing its end is a product of the irrational and unfair standards of every football adherent for selfishly attributing their peak moments solely to their individual capabilities. Football is played by players and fastened by a system; a unit forming to create a whole. An attempt to invalidate the whole by an obsessive fascination of some individual moments runs arbitrarily against the true notion of the sport being a team game. It goes further to suggest that they were products of a devised system, just like every other player, but with a consistent level of efficiency. With the memories that keep vanishing, the true notion of the sport is coming to the fore. Played by eleven players attempting to win a competition, one cannot tag football-related trophy wins to a player’s illusory omnipotent ability.
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