Who is the true Football Legend?
A debate rages on nowadays on whether star players from previous eras were ever good enough to be called ‘Legends’ compared to players of the current era and who might just have the higher coefficients when compared.
It’s a question that asks itself. The likes of Riva, Puskas, Di Stefano, Garrincha, Pele, Cruyff, Cubillas, Gerd Muller, Beckenbauer, Kempes, Maradona, Platini, Van Basten, Zico and Socrates; would they have fallen under the category of ‘Legends’ having played in the such an advanced modern era? And if they have, would they have had the same impact?
There’s no doubt about the difference of training facilities between then and now, and how it play a huge role in player development. We have high-tech equipped clinics, advanced medicine, pitches of better quality and the list goes on and on. All of those factors have stepped up since then and have given physical endurance and mind stimulation a whole new perspective for football players.
If we take Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who are arguably the icons of football at the time being, and compare them to Puskas and Pele who once were icons in their time. People nowadays would simply laugh about such comparison, stating that footballers of ancient times could never match the likes of Messi and Ronaldo and that the contributions made by the last two are by far greater and more noticeable. Some might say, Puskas and Pele for instance, have never encountered fierce competition; they have never had any defenders that were actually good enough to make them work harder at attaining the title ‘Legends’. Maybe it was a matter of Greatness vs. Humility.
If we have to take into consideration the numbers Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi have broken over the past years. Wouldn’t it be somehow identical to what Puskas and Pele have done in their prime? In years to come, will we also say that Ronaldo and Messi were also ahead of their times and by that disregarding their achievements. Although they do have that sort of tough opposition in their way, they’re still breaking records.
Now that everything has been pointed out, from facilities that help in development, to the competition they have encountered to the road of greatness. Who gets the higher coefficient, Old or New era?
Footballers nowadays have grown up watching Legends of the likes of Maradona, Cruyff etc. and by that were able to build on something, they had somewhere to start; the developed what they had learned watching, took it to the pitch, and implemented it with style. As for players of the old generation, whom I believe deserve the higher coefficient, should be regarded as pioneers and visionaries, who unlike players of this advanced era, they had nowhere to start from, they took the first step towards modern football, challenged by their low level training facilities and bad pitches, yet were still able to present football of the highest magnitude.
Writer: Jamal Zaarour