Monthly Archives: September 2011

The 100 greatest players of all time

In a team sport, it can often seem obscene – even absurd – to reward a single player ahead of the collective.

But, equally, every match is no more than an accumulation of individual moments. Games are secured by unlikely saves, defined by timely tackles, unlocked with visionary passes and settled by important strikes.

Some players undoubtedly perform these specific tasks with greater consistency and to a higher quality than others. So, as difficult as it is for any player to perform in isolation, some are clearly more important to glories than their teammates.

Indeed, depending on their position and style, certain players form the building-blocks of great teams, others provide the spine and an elite minority complete teams – lifting them to greater levels.

There can be no denying, for example, that Pele and Garrincha’s irreverent excellence removed a half-century of fear from Brazilian football in 1958. Or that Argentina would not have won the 1986 World Cup without Diego Maradona.

Yet the counterpoint to that, of course, is that the otherwise fixed Argentine formation was specifically designed to maximise his contribution.

It’s the eternal debate in football, really, when it comes to assessing the exact abilities of any player. We see it raging today about Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Xavi.

Does the system make the players or do the players make the system?

The answer, naturally, depends on the individual situations but can still usually be found somewhere in between.

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