When Artists Failed
“Winning is not important, it is the only concern”, once quoted by Bianconeri legend Giampiero Boniperti.
In the context of “The Most Beautiful Game On The Planet” Some people are inclined to play aesthetically. Many legends generations after generations graced the field with an intention to create sublime magic in front of packed stadiums. They uphold the aesthetic ideals of playing football in order to create eyegasm for the spectators, even at the cost of a guaranteed victory.
Now with the advent of heaps of modern tactics throughout the decades, “The Era Of Contradiction” arrived finally. Just take a moment & think about it, Cristiano Ronaldo gets paid 1.6 Million USD per week to win. Not to play beautiful football. Finance has suddenly become the all-important factor in football. Also, the price tag starts to bind the player’s neck like a greyhound’s chain. His performance loses the essence of joy, flair, amusement & freedom over the past few years in Madrid in comparison with those Old Trafford days. Under the Guillotine of acute professionalism, he is somehow instructed to go out on the field & win the match for Madrid at any cost. So, Why play “beautiful football” when you are able enough to bring out results & clinch the league consequently saving your job !!
Yes, Winning is a CONCERN. However playing beautiful football is not anymore the priority. Throw a glance at the EURO 2004, Greece won the tournament but we can’t say that they played a jaw-dropping football. It is a fact we must admit but not a characteristic that we can always appreciate. Playing with 10 men within your own half & scoring from corners & set-pieces is hardly something one can call beautiful. It’s like falling in love with a person whose ideals are dull or pensive. Football has a rich history over 100 years. Every generation is blessed with some legends who create Beethoven’s symphony on the football ground & turn the football into a showcase of exquisite art. Their intention was to express, liberate, create & mesmerize us in such a way that in childhood or even nowadays we try to copy their skills, moves in our playgrounds. But now winning has become a lunatic obsession. The surging demand of trophies & price tags of transfer markets making football less appealing.
In this article, we will delve deep into 4 masterminds who under the scanner of current judgment parameters will be considered as “Underachievers”. They played the game for a desire to create art where winning was an inferior motive.
Ferenc Puskas and the Magical Magyars
We all know that the FIFA Puskas Award is given to the player who scores the most beautiful goal in that calendar year.Puskas was featured as a short, stocky one-footed guy. Yet, he was nicknamed “THE FIELD MAGICIAN” for his exquisite vision & artistic left foot. He was the captain & poster boy of the Magical Magyars of 1950.
Teammate Nandor Hidegkuti later said, “Of all of us, he was the best. He had a seventh sense for soccer. If there were 1,000 solutions, he would pick the 1001st”.
On the field, He seemed to show ball-gliding witchcraft amidst of waves of tackles & then finished with a thunderbolt which usually ended up into the net. Ferenc Puskas and the Hungarian National Team of the 1950’s would go on to dominate the world for four years and a month. Between 1950 to 1956 the Magyars set up a fairytale of 42 victories, 7 draws & only 1 defeat which deprived them to be crowned with football’s greatest glory.
The only defeat came with a bang of surprise, The Final of FIFA World Cup 1954. Hungary took a 2-0 lead within 10 minutes of the game but the stubborn German side holds their nerves & made a comeback within first half & levelled the score. Meanwhile, Helmut Rahn took the lead for the German side 6 minutes from time & probably from then the proverb “Never Write Off The Germans” originated. UNDERACHIEVER, right?
Johan Cruyff and Total Football
The tactical theory of Total Football was basically no tactical theory at all. The approach was simple; no player had a fixed position in the game. If one went out of position, another would take his place to keep the structure. In the final, the Dutch were up 1-0 even before a German player had touched the ball.
14 touches on the ball and a solo run by Johan Cruyff led to a penalty which Johan Neskeens executed with ease. The Dutch oozing with confidence toyed with Germans for the next 20 minutes & their blind arrogance of playing artistic free flowing football paid a price. But this German side was enriched with Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Gerd Muller etc. The Dutch received their first blow when Paul Breitner equalized through a penalty. They gradually came back into the game & led by half time through a Gerd Muller strike (His Last Ever Goal ).Then in the 2nd half, The Dutch side put immense pressure into German defense but somehow they survived & then Johan Cruyff was marked out of the game by Berti Vogts and with his influence limited the Dutch lost the midfield to the ever dominant Kaiser and the Germans snatched the crown. Hence, Cruyff’s art was put to an end in a heartbreaking way in the final match. UNDERACHIEVER, right ??
Mr. Alcoholic Never Won World Cup
As the man puts it himself, “Someone who thinks doesn’t run, someone who runs doesn’t think”.
The tall, bearded, charming player brought revolution in Brazil side with his crazy back heel pass, graceful running & jaw-dropping vision of passing. The cigarette & alcohol lover Socrates with his club Corinthians he practiced “ Corinthian Democracy” in which every person associated with the club had an equal say in day to day running of the club. He was the captain of the 1982 Brazil squad. In a match where Italy needed a win to go through into Semi Final whereas Brazil only needed a draw, The Azzuri took lead with Paolo Rossi’s brace. Meanwhile, Socrates & Falcao equalized for select 2-2. Then, brazil did a blunder. As this scoreline favored them to make their spot at semi-final, they paid no heed to defense & started to play a free-flowing attacking football in order to clinch the victory. Hence, the outcome was obvious. In the 2nd half paolo Rossi registered his hat trick & at the dying moment, Italy’s goalkeeper Dino Zoff denied Oscar’s strike with a miraculous effort.Once again the tactics & organization triumphed over fluidity & elegance. Later Brazilian press described it as “Sarria Stadium tragedy”. Socrates later said “ May have been the last side that represented brazil in world cup in which they epitomized their country. It was creative, joyful & free flowing.” UNDERACHIEVERS, right ??
The Heartbreak of 1994
He came from the land which produces outstanding defenders & goalkeepers generations after generations. Yet, Roberto Baggio put an impact of attack-minded midfielders in Italy. The spectators were in awe when he used to touch the ball & dazzled along the ground. In Italy, he was often compared with the painter Raffaello for his royal elegance in passing, dribbling & play making. Playing in a position known as 9, Baggio ventured into “Free Role “ or “Trequartista” in Italian dialect, He excelled in 1994 world cup & dragged an aging Italian side to the final by playing artistic football along the way. Baggio was at his supreme best form as he scored 5 goals out of Italy’s 9.
But on the other side, there was Carlos Alberto Parreira’s Brazil team who chose a more sensible effective approach. Emphasizing on the defense (though they have player like Romario) coach Carlos restricted the game with limited attacking scopes & finally, the match went down into penalty shoot out.That penalty shoot out already witnessed 3 missed kicks (Brazil 1 , Italy 2) . At last Baggio’s turn arrived & he walked a long way from the centre circle to save his motherland from the deciding kick . The exhausted Italian Mozart kicked his shot & his effort sailed over the bar. Claudio Taffarel stormed down with joy. The stunned, devastated Baggio stood silently with head down as the World witnessed one of the most greatest heartbreak in football’s history. The man who saved Azzurri again & again throughout the tournament just couldn’t make it out when the team needed him most . The romantic saga of Flamboyant Baggio ended dramatically with just a penalty miss that day . UNDERACHIEVER , right ??
So at the end which is more important ……winning at any cost or playing exquisite football? The debate will go on & on forever. Trophy, glamours all matter yes, definitely! But sacrificing the beauty is just like a smartphone without Wi-Fi or a poet without a pen or a gladiator without a sword whatever. From Puskas to Cruyff & from Socrates to Zico all they delivered pure ecstasy with a ball at their feet, they never achieved the ultimate glory, the World cup but History will always remember 50’s Magyars, 74’ s total football of Oranje’s & that is those guys’ biggest success. So, UNDERACHIEVERS left some incredible marks in this history of “The Most beautiful game” which will never be eroded.