…the greatest?…Part 1.5, the Futbol Curse…

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Michael Cupples

mercenary bear for hire, all around musicologist and fan of sports. old school statistician, and number manipulator. born near saint francis but east bay fan of raiders, a's and dubs (plus sharks). adored by minions, and cool like johnny depp. but most people who really know me, will tell you i'm a punk.
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…My “futbol curse”… pt. 1.5 in “the greatest?” series of articles.

A precursor to all things Premier and European Football Leagues.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about my “Ken Griffey Curse,” which detailed the efforts of my trying to see Ken Griffey Jr. play a regular season game. Here’s the link if you want to check it out. https://thedfsdepot.com/exorcising-the-griffey-curse/

Sports, in one way or another, is a part of biological DNA since I knew what sports actually was. I wasn’t involved in organized sports for many years, as I truly was a different kind of kid in the world. I learned about baseball when I was 7, but the other sport I played at that time was futbol, or soccer to the local Americans. For around a year or so, I lived in a very sleepy town, just south of San Francisco, where there were many Portuguese from the Azores. On weekends, they played soccer, and it was quite often I was able to watch the game. As I grew older, I spent a few games in front of the net as a goalkeeper. I wasn’t the fastest or even the most skillful, so it was easy to stand in front of the net.

When I got a little older, I learned of the NASL, also called the North American Soccer League. This was the origin of today’s MLS. We even had a team, called the Earthquakes, and before each game, they would drop kick a handful of soccer balls into the stands, and there were even the cheerleaders called “the shakers,” and this other cat named “Krazy George,” who was loud and boisterous and had this drum pad he would bang on, trying to raise noise within the stands. Damn, those were the days!

Side note: Krazy George Henderson is the inventor of the wave. Blame us San Jose dudes for that mess.

Within the time of my high school years, I became more aware of the growth of the game. Names like Chinaglia, Beckenbauer, Best, Pele and our own great San Jose Earthquake player in Paul Child. I played on the JV team, and watched Chinaglia the most, as he seemed to have this “coolness” to him. It was also at this time, that I realized I wasn’t that good, and others would look down upon me. When I graduated I had the opportunity to see the New York Cosmos, with Pele, Beckenbauer and Chinaglia playing Child’s Earthquakes, and I found someone to go to the game with me. A date would sound more appropriate, to be honest. I even got the day off from work, and, that was the night that there was an inventory.

BUT, in my world, there’s always a catch. A big effen catch.

The girl stood me up, and I got fired from my job, being cast as the guy stealing from the store. (Really? Yes, it was the store manager.)

And that would have been epic to see Pele play. Epic.

Which gets me to my first considered “greatest” athlete: Pele.

Pele was an amazing footballer. He has done more the game, than probably anyone until that guy Beckham came along. Pele is, and always will be, the foremost Brazilian footballer bar none. There are 21st-century players that go by the singular name as an ego driven fan base, but, it was Pele who started it all. Would I consider him the “greatest?” Hmmm, let’s continue before I gather an answer.

As the 80’s dissipated and the lack of soccer teams in the US and the hardcore hooligan-isms in Europe, the game was steadily getting a dirty name. It wasn’t until 1994 when the US hosted the World Cup, which people to note. A few years later, the women’s team from the US won their respective world cup. There have been tons of youth leagues, and many too many soccer moms we’ve dealt with, but where are the great American players?

Unless you’re really into the game, the one name that stands out for me is Landon Donovan, who did bring a title to San Jose in the early naughts, before leaving for LA. Adu, the thirteen-year-old wonderkid burned out big time. So it’s still pretty much a difficult thing to say that the US players match up to players like Ronaldo, Rooney and of course, Messi.

And yes, I’m cursed again, with not only not ever seeing Pele play, but I’ve never seen Ronaldo, Rooney or Messi score in a live match. And my former Czech students would never forgive me if I didn’t mention Cech as a goal keeper. Not one, and I was in Europe for both of the past two World Cup Finals, have I had the chance to see any of these scores. I’m cursed when wanting to see the “greatest” players of futbol play.

And there are those that would argue that Beckham, Messi, Rooney or Ronaldo are the greatest ever. Again, my argument is that these players would not have the skills or abilities that they have today, was it not for players like Pele, George Best, Chinaglia and Beckenbauer. I’m still not that easily swayed, but I’d put Pele as one of the best, ever.

I’d also definitely draft Cech as goalkeeper and Rooney as a striker. I’ll continue this discussion in one of my next write ups.

Cheers then,

GCB


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Michael Cupples

mercenary bear for hire, all around musicologist and fan of sports. old school statistician, and number manipulator. born near saint francis but east bay fan of raiders, a's and dubs (plus sharks). adored by minions, and cool like johnny depp. but most people who really know me, will tell you i'm a punk.

Michael Cupples

mercenary bear for hire, all around musicologist and fan of sports. old school statistician, and number manipulator. born near saint francis but east bay fan of raiders, a's and dubs (plus sharks). adored by minions, and cool like johnny depp. but most people who really know me, will tell you i'm a punk.

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