Friday, May 04, 2007


More Odious Comparisons

Those of us with even a passing interest in football have probably seen about a dozen split-screen Maradona v. Messi comparisons in the last week or so.

It's always interesting to compare goals from different eras, although there is an unfortunate tendency to confuse the quality of individual goals with the overall quality (or contribution) of the player in question. With reference to the present case, Lionel Messi is an exciting and highly talented young player, but he's got a very long way to go before he can even be compared to Diego Maradona, in a broader sense.

Now for another odious comparison.

Clarence Seedorf's superb goal in AC Milan's trouncing of Manchester United on Wednesday reminded me of one scored by another great Milan inside-forward, Nils Liedholm. It was scored in the 1958 World Cup final, a dream opener for the Swedish hosts (before their opponents, the Brazilians, woke up).

As with Seedorf's special, Liedholm received the ball from the right, on the left of the penalty area. He then subtly played his way inside two Brazilian defenders before firing a precise shot into the corner of the goal. (This is the best link I could find for the goal, although the build-up is, unfortunately, left out. The goal can be seen about a minute and ten seconds in).

Liedholm's strike, admittedly, appears to have been scored in slow motion by today's standards.

And there are some similarities between the two players. Both hailed from abroad but became mainstays of the Italian game. Both have excelled at international level as well (although Seedorf has been left out of the Dutch side of late...much to its detriment). And both have represented the rossoneri in the final of the European Cup.

Liedholm's appearance therein, in 1958, was unsuccessful. Seedorf has already tasted success with Milan in 2003; and if he can find the sort of form he displayed on Wednesday night, with Kaka beside him just behind the forward-line, I fully expect him to lift the Cup once again in Athens.

Seedorf, much like a number of Dutch internationals, was always an ego and part of the Ajax clique in the national team and didn't do too much for team harmony. While his club record is impeccable, his attitude at international level left much to be desired.

Cracking goal to see in person, even though it was against my beloved Red Devils.
...Seedorf, much like a number of Dutch internationals, was always an ego and part of the Ajax clique in the national team and didn't do too much for team harmony....

Yeah, I've heard that. Still, he was pretty impressive at France 98. Apparently Hiddink found a way to get the Surinamese prima donnas (Seedorf, Davids etc.) to gell with the rest of the team at that tournament, after the ructions of Euro 96. But van Basten clearly felt he couldn't deal with any overly strong personalities...
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