Friday, February 12, 2010


In Praise of Bimbi

In many ways, Steve Corica couldn't have timed his retirement better. Fairweather Sydney FC fans now have a twofold reason for turning up to the vital game on Sunday (not to mention the finals series); even those fans who drifted away from the fold after the 2005/06 campaign will remember who scored the winner in the inaugural grand final.

Of course, his spell with Sydney FC was only a small part of Corica's career, and it is a sure sign of his class that he so often looked the club's best player, even during his twilight years. His skill on the ball, his off-the-ball awareness and movement, and his ability to sense an opening were commodities possessed by few players indeed in the A-League.

Like so many others of his generation, perhaps the finest crop ever to come out of Australia, Corica suffered from some less-than-ideal club moves. In the early days at Marconi he was already earmarked as a star, and there were those who felt that he was worth a Socceroo shirt during the historic World Cup playoff against Argentina in 1993. The late Johnny Warren was among those pushing his claims.

Then a move to Europe at a young age, a strange departure from Leicester, five injury-plagued seasons with Wolves, and a demure retreat to Japan in his prime. It was during his time there that he rejoined his old Bossley Park comrade-in-arms, Paul Okon, for one of Australia's finest tournament performances ever: the 2001 Confederations Cup.

In hindsight, one can argue that some of the sides Australia faced at that event were well below full strength. But Australia too were missing Messrs. Kewell and Viduka, perhaps their two key players at the time, and they still managed to post victories over France, Brazil and Mexico.

Corica played the link role in Frank Farina's favoured 4-4-1-1 system, and in fact looked more effective there than Harry Kewell did in the eventual World Cup playoff with Uruguay. Showing creativity, adroitness and admirable industry, Corica was a solid contributor to a memorable Socceroo showing.

Sadly, he was barely to be seen in a Socceroo shirt thereafter. But Sydney FC provided a welcome breath of fresh air for "Bimbi", and he never flagged in his efforts for the club. Amidst the boardroom chaos, the procession of eccentric or second-rate coaches, the frequent personnel changes, Corica was always there, professionalism personified. He often ran out of energy towards the end of the season, but who could blame a man in his mid-thirties for that?

This season, in fact, he has stayed in better fettle towards the close than usual. Against Perth last weekend, the Corica of old shone through now and then: a twisting run through the midfield, or a ball sweetly laid off followed by a canny far-post run (how many other A-League players bother to keep on moving once they have completed a clever pass?).

In person, Corica has exuded a warmth and a common touch which has endeared him to the entire fanbase. Loyal, affable and dedicated, he can count on plenty of goodwill from the football fraternity in years to come...even if the inside word at Sydney FC is that he doesn't appear well-suited to an eventual senior coaching role.

Never mind. Youth development could be a fruitful area for Corica to devote himself to in the future, and I envy any young players under his tutelage.

One of the greats - will definitely be missed. If you are playing professional sports for 20+ years, you are an absolute champion.
I must has watched a different player.
his skill was shown in the A=League for heavens sake.
Yes he could run off the ball but he had no creativity at all.

When he was young and quick one would have thought he may have learnt to beat a man however that was always beyond him.

He should have been as creative as Colossimo but never got there at all.
The Alosioi of the midfield
Corica has been my litmus test when meeting a fellow football follower.

If you're Corica fan, we can keep on chatting. If you're not, then I suspect that you don't know much about the game, and I'll be looking down at my glass and wishing it was empty.

His goal against Shanghai in the ACL will always be a highlight.
To Anonymous: you clearly WERE watching a different player.

When Corica was younger he did take on and beat players. As he got older, he didn't have the pace to do that. Sure he wasn't super creative, but he still scored a goal every four games in the A-League, which is on par or better than most strikers in the League. Plus, as GG said, he played professional football for 20 years, not something to be sneezed at!
...To Anonymous: you clearly WERE watching a different player...

It would definitely seem so.
to beat a player does not take pace , ever heard of Stanley Mathews he was doing it in his 50s!

At Marconi all Corica could do was to put the ball past the defender and beat him with his pace like Peter Sharne of an earlier vintage.

If he could beat a player he could still do it now.

He couldn't do it then and he cannot do it now.

Corica was a player who merely had pace.
It would help if you actually knew something about beating players with skill.

Kewell still does it and he has lost pace
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