The FIFA World Cup 2010 is underway as we speak. Being an absolute football fan, me took to the idiot box as soon as the first whistle was sounded. But as it progresses, there is a very uneasy feeling of boring settling in about the whole thing. Something, no, many things are missing. And it is not only the Ales, Oles and Anthems which once used to resound in stadiums with it pride and spirit, have now been drowned out by a constant headache-inducing drone produced by thousands of plastic horns sounding like a million pissed off bees and mosquitoes.
However, that is not the only thing. No, its just not the goal draught and drab matches also. No one is crazy anymore!! There are no more brash and colorful characters, no maverick strikers, no moppy hairstyles, no goggle wearing midfielders, no striking goalkeepers, no over the top celebrations and so on.. Where have all the flamboyance, the badassery, the garish colors, the fearless spats, all the Life and Passion for the game gone??? Everything today seems too organized, orchestrated, engineered and corporatized. There is no magic. Even the goal score celebrations are so dull. Everyone is decent! And decent is boring.
Many hugely talented players were equally watched, loved and respected for their brashness, outspokenness and flamboyance, on and off the field. Sadly, what World Football today is missing is exactly these kind of characters, who make following the game more exciting and beautiful. What we need is the craziness of the Higuitas, Chilaverts, Cantonas, Garrinchas, Gullits, Edmundos, Gascoignes, Millas, Maradonas and others back! I, growing up in the 90's, have taken the game to heart seeing their antics..
For instance, take a look at the nutcase exploits of one of Football's most colorful characters ever, the legendary crazy Colombian goalkeeper Rene 'El Loco' Higuita. Known for his 'Scorpion Kicks', this eccentric goalie used to try to take the ball upfield himself trying to dodge opponent players, leaving the goal wide open. Prone to blunders, it was one such that cost him his job, as his team was kicked out of the 1990 WorldCup. Watch!
Oh and in case you might want to have have a close look at the 'Scorpion Kick':
Roger Milla was the first 'African Superstar' of Football, who led forever underdogs Cameroon to the Semis of Italia '90. He was the first one, yes, the first player who started dancing on the pitch after he scored a goal. He is where goal celebrations started! As the Coca-Cola ad puts it, "This man taught the World how to dance.. And how to Live!"
Compared to these players, current stars who idolize their own appearances above the game, even if talented, are sort of insipid to watch. Christiano Ronaldo, for example, looks like he was afraid his hair would get messed up if he played too well, and looks more suited to be in a Gucci ad rather than on a Football field. Maybe all this is because today's stars are always in the limelight, have to carefully plan and pre-regulated 'bubble' live in public and private where they cannot afford to be mavericks.
Maradona never cared for his public image. Neither did Garrincha, Eduardo, Gascoigne, Eric Cantona or Roy Keane. And these are players who are near immortal, legacies left behind which will never die. They went all out! Played their hearts out, lived as if life is a never ending party, embraced Crazy with both arms, heart and soul. That is why we still remember them. And many of my generation fell in love with Football. Dont get me wrong, they were not role models. They were a reason why the game became all the more attractive. And that is what is missing today with corporatized 'proper' football. Please let us have Crazy back, with it all the magic that Football today seems to have lost!
Till then, I will watch with the TV on mute hoping it will be a good game.
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