"intelligent and useful posts on many of the key legal issues"

- Adam Wagner, UK Human Rights Blog

Monday, 29 March 2010

Natural ability scores every time

Letter 14

Ironically, I don't actually like football. But I can't let them get away with illogical arguments ...

From http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article7077859.ece

Sir, Patrick Coffey (letter, Mar 24) objects to Diego Maradona being placed above Pelé in the greatest football player rankings on the ground, among others, that Pelé played in more successful teams and scored more goals. With respect, that is a reflection of the quality of their respective team-mates rather than their individual talents. Without Maradona the Argentine sides of his era would have been a footnote; without Pelé it is unlikely that Brazil would have been anything less than a great side.

Certainly Pelé’s conduct both on and off the pitch has been more commendable; but there is the old saying that nice guys finish last. The likes of Mike Tyson, George Best and Alex Higgins, for example, indulged in a fair bit of questionable conduct over the years, but their sporting greatness has not been downgraded as a result. If anything, Maradona’s astonishing natural ability is highlighted by the fact that his lifestyle was less than conducive to international sport.


  1. I agree with this although you might make the contrast too great. There were great players in the '86 and '90 Argentina teams besides Maradona, but cant' remember their names now. Arg did win the WC in '78 without Diego (he was in the squad but hardly played). You think Brazil would have done just as well as they did without Pele?
    Further support for Maradona is to look at their club playing. I don;t think Pele played in Europe. Maradona played for Naples and they actually won the league with him something they've never done before or since. He almost single-handedly did that.
    For what its worth, I think Maradona was the best.

  2. I also think Argentina would have won it in '94 if it weren't for the drug scandal. Which reminds me: players should be allowed to use performance-enhancing drugs, think how much more entertaining sport would be.

  3. It's a bit of an exaggeration I'll concede but I do remember the 1986 WC and it was the Maradonna show from start to finish (the original letter to which I was replying made the ludicrous claim that Linekar was almost as good that year - no he wasn't. He hung around in goal and finished a few). Every Argentine game revolved around Maradonna; even the final when the others won it because the Germans spent 90 minutes trying to shut Maradonna out of the game. But yes I probably overstated the case somewhat.

    As to your second point, not sure about that but I do think that Guiness book of records' times etc should stand even for drug cheats. This is because even though, say, Ben Johnson was rightly stripped of his medal at Seol he was, then, the fastest runner ever over 100m - so should have been in the Guiness Book of Records accordingly.