Ever since the dawn of time, players have been compared to each other. Teams have been compared to each other. Players have been described as great, brilliant, poor, and average. But when it boils right down to it, what do you look for in a player?
A few years ago, there was been a plethora of David Beckham articles, and the core of each of these articles centred on whether he should win his 108th cap…or not.
The argument for Beckham seemed to centre on his great service for club and country.
The argument against focused on whether he deserved to be treated as a legend, an honour that the cap would undoubtedly bring.
Many felt that as a great player, Beckham deserved the status as England legend too.
Recently, the shift has moved towards Lionel Messi and whether the little maestro should be held in the same breath as the likes of Pele, Maradona, and the likes.
But when you get right down to the nitty-gritty, what are the elements that make a player, never mind a great player?
Skill, technique, strength, speed, stamina, tactical acumen, desire, belief, drive, and these are only a few of the elements needed to make it as a professional footballer, the list is endless.
These days, in our media driven age (and us on the Internet are guilty too) greatness is a term that is used too often (in my opinion, anyway).
To me, there have been two truly great players. Pele and Maradona. No-one else comes near. Messi might someday but for the moment not. But how do you describe them?
If Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham are viewed upon as being “World Class”, how do you rate Pele and Diego?
Universal class? Out of this world? The point is (again my opinion) that Pele and Maradona were the greatest players to ever play the game, so I view them as being World Class. (Legends if you like).
You can’t keep inventing terms to describe a players ability.
The way I look upon footballers could be construed as being strange but to me there’s a logic there.
Pele and Maradona were “World Class” ***** (five stars) (or Legends), they had all the attributes necessary to make it in any league.
Cruyff, Puskas, Charlton, Beckenbauer, Platini to me were what I’d call “Continental Class” **** (four stars), they had the attributes to play in most leagues, but not every league.
Beckam, Giggs, Guardiola, Totti, Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Matt Le Tissier are “Premiership Class” *** (three stars) these are players who usually only excels in one major league.
Players like Gerrard and Lampard would also figure in here, in my reckoning, because part of what makes a footballer great is his desire and drive to prove himself in other climates. And while these two players are brilliant players, they have chosen to stay in the comfort of home rather than ever move abroad.
Now I know that Bobby Charlton only ever played in England, but when his career is analysed, he was just a phenomenal player, and is deserving of the legend status.
When Gerrard and Lampard have retired, their careers will have to be forensically analysed to see if they reach this status too, for some they might. For others not.
“Lower Premiership Class” gets ** (two stars), players like Danny Murphy, Kevin Davies, really good pro’s who have dined at the top table but aren’t exactly what you’d call great.
And finally “Championship Class” * (One Star), your average Crystal Palace player, or Ireland player for that matter.
Being “anal”, I further break these allocations down again, from 5* to 1*.
For example, Roy Keane is a five star premiership player, but Jermaine Jenas is a three star premiership player. Beckham would be a four star premiership player, in case you are wondering.
Anyway, I’ve shown you how I rate players. How I begrudgingly recognise their greatness, because let’s face it, even Kevin Davies is Pele when compared to us writing here.
But how do you rate players? Am I being too harsh? Am I not harsh enough? Are there more terms to describe our idol’s that I haven’t thought of?
Some are just better than others. And everyone views it differently.