Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Five Players I wish I'd seen play live

These are in no particular order.

Johan Cruyff.

I started to become obsessed with football during the 1974 World Cup. My seventh birthday was on the day of the final-and my birthday party revolved around watching the game. From that point until I was about 13 or 14- the only team that I really supported was the Dutch national team- though that support really only consisted of watching them lose in the final again in 1978 and having a Dutch Subbuteo team.

Anyway here's a video.

Brilliant Orange is the best book I've ever read about Dutch football-(and is probably one of the best books I've read about football).

George Best

I remember seeing him on the telly towards the end of his career when he was at Fulham- (I can clearly remember seeing the match when he and Rodney Marsh, who was his own team mate, starting tackling each other). However the only time I saw him in a football ground was towards the end of his life when he was a regular visitor to Fratton Park. One of the times I have felt most proud about being a Pompey fan was when, after he died, instead of a minute's silence the fans at Fratton Park spontaneously started to give him a minute's round of applause and started singing his name.


Of all the people on this list- Garrincha is probably the player I would have most liked to have seen. I guess my interest really started after reading the chapter on Garrincha in Alex Bellos' book- Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life. My impression is that he was every bit as important as Pele in laying the foundations of everything that the Brazilian team was and still is today.

Stanley Matthews.

The main reason why I've included him is because my Grandad told me about 740 million times what a good player he was and my Grandad was a great bloke who knew more about football than anyone else I know.

His biography The Way It Was: My Autobiography is a good read. It's certainly better than Ashley Cole's.

Jimmy Dickinson.

Probably the best player ever to play for Pompey- you can find a short biography here. The footage is not brilliant- but the song is fantastic- much better than most of the music people put on YouTube clips.