The Buck-Toothed Genius

God acknowledging God

God acknowledging God

 

Some players, when they are at their best can destroy entire opposition teams on their own. Few players can raze the best defenses to ashes in a matter of minutes. Fewer are the ones who can do this with a smile on their face. These are the true magicians. However, there is only one player who did all of this, and yet the opposition could never hate him for it. A rueful shake of the head, a weary smile, that would be the extent of their reaction. Then they would quietly whisper, ‘It’s Ronaldinho…’.

The Buck Toothed Genius…the Man who always played with a smile on his lips…the Brazilian Maestro …Legend…God.

The man who always played with a smile on his face, no matter the situation.

Smile, an Everasting Smile.

Smile, an Everasting Smile.

 

A pleasure to play against, and a delight to play with, he’s probably the best footballer the World has ever seen. The complete package, the guy can still change the outcome of a game in mere seconds with his brilliance, cheek and sheer audacity.

The man who brought the magic of Joga Bonito to the Barcelona side and led them to many historical victories, the man who took defeat with grace.

His finest hour came at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea, where he was a key member of the side that won Brazil’s record fifth world title – scoring in the quarter final and playing an integral role in the Brazilian midfield throughout the tournament. It is famously said that it took all the might of the 3 R’s of Brazil to come together to finally overwhelm the German Kaiser – Oliver Rolf Kahn.

Winning World Player of the Year in both 2004 and 2005, his flair with the ball, quick thinking, amazing vision and presence was a joy to watch.

ronaldinho-golden-ball-skill

Growing up in a relatively poor, hardscrabble neighborhood, Ronaldinho’s youth teams had to make do with makeshift playing fields. “The only grass on the field was in the corner,” Ronaldinho remembers. “There was no grass in the middle! It was just sand.” In addition to soccer, Ronaldinho also played futsal—an offshoot of football played indoors on a hard court surface and with only five players on each side. Ronaldinho’s early experiences with futsal helped shape his unique playing style, marked by his remarkable touch and close control on the ball. “A lot of the moves I make originate from futsal,” Ronaldinho says. “It’s played in a very small space, and the ball control is different in futsal. And to this day my ball control is pretty similar to a futsal player’s control.”

When he was 13 years old, his team once scored a ridiculous 23 goals in a single game  The best part – Ronaldinho scored all the goals!

 

Football_wallpapers_432

Nothing less than a Wizard with the ball, he is widely considered by many as the Greatest Player to have graced the Beautiful game. Though Messi may have eclipsed his goalscoring record with F.C. Barcelona, Ronaldinho’s mesmerizing skill, amazing flair and wonderful persona have lifted him above such statistics, and he is ‘God’ for numerous aspiring footballers the world over.

He says that his soccer career has been an emotional roller coaster filled with joyful highs, depressing lows and a lifetime of unforgettable moments. “For me soccer provides so many emotions, a different feeling every day,” says the great man.

Sir, you have our respect and undying admiration. May the Legend keep growing.

My Life: Football

My Life: Football

“I learnt everything about Life with a ball at my feet.”

Happy Birthday to the Buck-Toothed Genius. You made football magical for everyone.

Happy Birthday El Nino

el-nino-fernando-torres

Happy birthday to the Spanish Maestro, Fernando José Torres Sanz, who turns 29 today. The Spanish hitman, fondly known as ‘El Nino’ is currently at Chelsea F.C and struggling to recapture his form from his days at Merseyside.

Here’s an interesting anecdote from his days at Atletico wherein he reveals how he always hated the nickname ‘El Nino‘:

It’s what I learned when I was 16 and arrived in Atletico’s dressing room, nobody wanted to talk to me because they were threatened. They called me “El Nino” because nobody knew my name. I didn’t like it and it shouldn’t be like that, but dressing rooms are very complicated with players coming from different parts of the world and with different roles.

‘I was captain in Atletico at 19, playing in the same team as Demetrio Albertini who won three Champions Leagues and Sergi Barjuan from Barcelona, who had won everything, and they were 32, 33.

‘I was a kid as captain, so I wasn’t the real captain, just a kid learning from them. I wore the armband but they were the leaders and I learned a lot from them.

‘I remember when I first came to Liverpool, Pepe Reina helped with everything and he made it easy for me. When I was Atletico Madrid captain I tried to help everyone. These are the basics in football, you need to create an atmosphere and try to create a group of friends. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always happen but you have to try.

 

Here’s a video from his days at Liverpool where he used to be the terror of opposition defenders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-ZSuAU03Bs

 

May he continue misfiring for the Blues but regain his form for the Spanish team 😛

Happy Birthday Sire.

50 ‘Gunned’ Down

BBWFlVDCQAEHOOd

 

Liverpool’s Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, fondly known as El Pistolero, got his latest Goal for the Red Half of Merseyside in a crucial encounter against Tottenham, scoring the equalizer for he club. This goal takes his tally up to 50 for Liverpool F.C. and he completes a half century of goals for the KOP in only his third season with them.

Here’s a picture dedicated to this spectacular feat packed with stats about every individual goal.

El Pistolero

Here’s to an amazing achievement and hoping that he crosses many more milestones for the Scouse (Unless it’s against The Arsenal 😛 )

Sir, congratulations.

Suarez Poster File

A Story Told Through Numbers

I was having a conversation with my buddy Gavin about jersey numbers while discussing formations for our Football team. We were arguing over the number 10 shirt when I had a flash of insight and told him that some of the best upcoming players and play makers have the number 19. Santi Cazorla wears it for The Arsenal, Nasri wore it last year for City, Wilshere had it in Arsenal and even Messi once graced it for Barcelona. Thus, I managed to convince him andgot the coveted number 10 jersey. That conversation got me thinking and I began wondering about why do certain footballers wear some select jersey numbers. I did a little research and what I found out, I have put in here. It’s quite an intriguing tale and also throws light upon the development of the Beautiful Game.

 

When professional football was in its infancy (1910-1930), the most common formation used by teams was 2-3-5. It went something like this.

the-2-3-5-formation-players-jersey-numbers

 

Now in early 1930′s there came a (iconic) manager in Arsenal called Herbert Chapman. In the era where football was all about attacking and scoring goals, He was the first one to realize that since only the slow and clumsy players seemed to play as defenders against the quick and agile forwards, the goalkeeper needed more protection.

Herbert Chapman

 

He was the first one to push the center half i.e. the number 5 back between the two full backs. His formation 3-2-2-3 was fondly called the W-M.

Herbert-Chapmans-W-M-formation

 

When his team played the standard 2-3-5, the erstwhile center half (now centre back) would mark the opposing center forward (9), the two full backs (2 & 3) marked the opposition wingers (7 and 11) and the two halfs (4 & 6) marked the opposition inside forwards (8 and 10).

Until this point of time, it wasn’t mandatory for the players to wear numbers. Eventually, in 1939, the English FA made it mandatory for players to wear numbers on their shirts. Moreover FA made the numbers mandatory with respect to the positions i.e.

Right Back –> 2
Left Back –> 3
Right Center Half –> 4
Center Half –> 5
Left Center Half –> 6
Right Winger –> 7
Right Inside Fwd –> 8
Center Fwd –> 9
Left Inside Fwd–> 10
Left Winger –> 11

Eventually as football progressed, the left center half (6) was moved to the left full back position to mark the opposition right winger. Left back (3) was tucked in as the second center back. The right inside forward (8) was pushed back to occupy the space vacated by the left center half. This left the left inside forward (10) alone upfront. Eventually he was moved to a bit more central position and the team’s creative burden fell upon him.

With this the type casting was complete.

players-jersey-numbers-wrt-their-positions

 

1 being the goalkeeper,
2 and 6 being the right and the left backs,
5 and 3 being the right and the left center backs,
4 and 8 being the central midfielders,
10 being the attacking midfielder and the creative fulcrum of the team,
7 and 11 being the wingers,
and finally 9 being the center forward.

Credits: Jonathan Wilson’s wonderful book “Inverting the Pyramid”.

 

P.S. – Now Gavin thanks me for giving him Jersey number 19.

All’s Well That Ends Well.

Of Gary & Ryan

The two United stalwarts had a discussion about Ryan Giggs, his age, his game, retirement and more. Here’s a copy of what transpired between the two.
Gary Neville: Do you have days at the age of 39 when you think: ‘This is fast’?

Ryan Giggs: If I’m playing on the left against Rafael…

Gary Neville [laughing]: You tuck in?

Ryan Giggs [laughing]: I just tuck in! Tom Cleverley and Carra (Michael Carrick) in the centre of midfield are saying: ‘What are you doing here?’ So I just tuck in next to them!

Gary Neville: There are some days when you have to manage yourself in those sessions…

Ryan Giggs: Yeah. You have to. Training sessions are full on. I’m playing left-wing probably against Antonio (Valencia) and Rafael. When are you going to get that in a Premier League game? The intensity of those two? So it just steps you up a notch. You know what I’m like, if someone takes the ball off me. It’s: ‘You can’t do that!’

Gary Neville [laughing]: The eyes go!

Ryan Giggs: Yeah, the eyes go! It just fuels you. Then you just get stuck into tackles and it steps you up. It’s that natural progression.

Gary Neville: I remember clearly when I knew I had to quit. That game at West Brom on New Year’s Day, 2011, when I felt I was a liability to the team at the age of 35. Where’s your West Brom moment? What’s going to make you stop?

Ryan Giggs: When I stop affecting games, really, when I stop contributing. I’ve got to be careful. You speak about your West Brom moment but I’ve had a few of them…

Gary Neville: Really?

Ryan Giggs: This year, against Cluj, against Tottenham at home. I came off at half-time against Tottenham. The team were awful but I was awful. Cluj at home this year, I was shocking. Once I get into a rhythm, and it’s usually around Christmas time, when it starts getting a bit colder and the games are coming and probably a lot of players are going backwards, I come into a peak then so that’s a massive plus for me. And the manager knows when to use me.

Gary Neville: At those points, when everything gets on top of you and you think: ‘This could be it.’ Do you have those moments?

Ryan Giggs: Yeah. But it doesn’t last for long. I was down after those two games.

Gary Neville: How do you get yourself up? Do you listen to the media, people saying: ‘Oh, he should retire now’?

Ryan Giggs: No. It doesn’t have any influence on me whatsoever. It used to, because you’re young.

Gary Neville: At what point did that change?

Ryan Giggs: Well, a watershed season for me in that respect was around 2002 when I was getting a bit of stick. Only for a few games, I think it was slightly exaggerated. But probably then, I was 28, 29. It affected you but I was sort of surprised how well I came through it. It was like: ‘Oh, it’s not that bad, is it? It doesn’t really matter.’

Gary Neville: So earlier in the season, you were having those doubts – not to the point that you did what I did and decided to quit – but what are you thinking?

Ryan Giggs: My thinking is: ‘What you going to do about it?’

Gary Neville: And what do you do?

Ryan Giggs: It’s just stupid things, like saying: ‘Right, I’m not going to have butter on my toast. I’m going to make sure I go to bed an hour earlier. I’m going to make sure I go home after every training session for a couple of weeks and rest my legs. I’m going to do extra running.’ There’s no alcohol, certainly. My weight doesn’t really fluctuate but I make sure I don’t eat late at night. It’s about making sure I’m right physically because mentally I’m okay.

Gary Neville: Did the 1,000th competitive game on Tuesday night mean anything?

Ryan Giggs: I don’t want to sound dismissive, that it didn’t matter [laughs] but, no, it didn’t. When I retire I’ll look back at it and I’m really proud of getting to 1,000 but it all built up to the Norwich game and I just wanted it over with. That doesn’t really matter to me, that stuff.

Gary Neville: You’ve done your coaching badges and are now doing your pro licence, so where do you see yourself in three years? Coaching?

Ryan Giggs: I think so. That’s why I’m doing the badges, to prepare myself as best I can. As a footballer, you don’t look too far ahead. So I’m going to have to change my mind-set when I finish. I’ll have to say to myself: ‘Where do you want to be in two or three years’ time?’ You have ideal scenarios, where you might be going on the coaching staff at United to learn how everything works at a football club and then take a manager’s job.

Gary Neville: Man United is obviously the dream job. I don’t want to pin that on you but can there be another job for Ryan Giggs other than managing this club?

Ryan Giggs: Yeah, I think there can. We’ve talked about it on the pro licence course, that ideally you want to get that bit of experience, two or three years on the pitch coaching, organising. That’s your apprenticeship. Now that might not happen. I might finish and get offered a decent manager’s job.

Gary Neville: Would you take it?

Ryan Giggs: Well, you don’t know until it’s offered and see what your alternatives are. Ideally, you would want your apprenticeship, like you do as a footballer before you get into the first team.

Gary Neville: Why do you think more players haven’t done what you do and played into their late 30s?

Ryan Giggs: I don’t know. I think there’s definitely a lot of things in my favour. If I was playing at another club, would I still be playing now? I honestly don’t know. There’s so much going for me in that I’ve got great facilities, it’s brilliant going into Carrington, training every day, I haven’t had to move house, I’ve got the same manager, I’m at Man United, you’ve got good players around you, I don’t play every week. There are so many things that go in my favour. I quickly got my head round not playing every week – and some players don’t. I knew it was for the greater good really because I knew it would benefit me playing every 10 days.

Gary Neville: You’ve achieved almost everything. In the next 30, 40 years what would achievement be for you? What would give you satisfaction, completion?

Ryan Giggs: I don’t think there is anything. There’s never been completion in my football career because I’ve always been striving for that next thing. You listen to people who have finished and nothing replaces playing, but I’m still excited about not having to put my body through what I’ve put it through. And not feeling the disappointment that I feel. I mean, I’ve got mates who are gutted (after Tuesday’s defeat by Real Madrid) but they don’t feel what I feel. They’re gutted, they’re mad Man United fans. But I’m gutted and it affects your life and it affects your mood for the next two or three days. I’m not going to miss that. I’m not going to miss putting my body through it, the sacrifices you make. My lad comes home every day and wants to play football and sometimes I’ve got to say: ‘No, I can’t. I’ve got to relax.’ I can’t wait for all that sort of stuff to end. But, professionally, I think it’s got to be something within football, something that’s going to satisfy you. But what that will be, I really don’t know.

ryan n gary

The Best of Madrid

The Best of Madrid

The Best of Madrid

Three of Spain’s finest and then, that Portuguese Maestro with the Devil in his Boots. Some of Madrid’s finest, like wine, getting better with time. Played at the highest of levels, always meeting the highest of standards. Too much Class in one picture. The addition of Zizou would make the picture complete (or maybe he was photographing it 😉 )

Los Galácticos from Madrid.

 

 

Local Player Profile : Kushank Patel

This is a series where I try and discover some of the best local talent at display in the City of Mumbai wherein a plethor of players ply their trade in the Mumbai Division Football Association, with a few absolute gems found amongst them.

Here, I question and interview Kushank Patel; my one time opponent, now, a valuable team-mate and also the joint top scorer for 5 Seals F.C in his debut MDFA Season – 2012.

Player Profile 1: Kushank

'It's all a Dance with the ball'

‘It’s all a Dance with the ball’

Preferred Position : Either Wings

  • Favourite Club: Manchester United
  • Favourite player: Ronaldinho. Now Cristiano Ronaldo, but my God will always be Ronaldinho.
  • Aim in Football: To always help the team win to the best of my abilities.
  • Since when have you been playing: Since the age of 10 years. I began playing in Singapore.
  • Current Club: 5 Seals F.C, F.C.H.F, Tuborg F.C
  • Jersey Number: 17
  • Most important asset about your game: I don’t give up and always try to motivate my team. Talking about skills, it includes taking on players one on one, my close control and running into positions for through balls. I think my finishing and composure are good as well.
  • Where can your Game improve: I need to look up more and shoot with my left leg more often. I can do it but I always try to shift to my right leg for more power.
  • The best player you have played with: There was this one guy in Singapore, everything I’ve learnt about football was from watching him play – Yan Hao. Amazing player.
  • Your views on the future of Indian football: It’s not taken too seriously. Everything is about cricket. If the people and the media gives football importance too, then there’s a really bright future. There’s talent everywhere. The FIFA World Cup remains a distant dream, but one which I would love to see the country achieve.
  •  Honours: Melville park football tournament Winner and Top Scorer (Singapore), Siglap Secondary School Football Captain, Royal Park Rangers Captain (A Local team from Kandivali, Mumbai), Scored on my MDFA debut start for Tuborg FC.

No player is bigger than the team. Win together, Lose together.