As an avid soccer fan, one who yearns for the beautiful game to be played in a beautiful way, I have come to appreciate the role of the playmaker. In the words of Galeano, “Years have gone by and I’ve finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world,hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead:”A pretty move, for the love of God.” And when good soccer happens, I give thanks for the miracle and I don’t give a damn which team or country performs it.” To soccer, the playmaker is what a point-guard is to basketball, he`s the quarterback of the soccer world. He is the signal caller and he ‘runs the show’. Without the defense being linked up well with the offense, then we will only hope for but never get the exciting brand of soccer we live for. Without Iniesta and Xavi ‘doing their thing’ in the Barcelona midfield, we would never have been witnesses to the exciting `tiki-taka’ brand of soccer we all fell in love with.
In the article linked below, the author makes a case for Toni Kroos, the Germany defensive- minded playmaker formerly of Bayern Munich but currently playing for Real Madrid. Toni Kroos won the domestic double with Bayern Munich and went on to win the World Cup, world`s biggest trophy in which Ronaldo was a no-show. He added the Club World Cup and European Supercup with Madrid to make him the `winningest` soccer player in 2014( a total of 5 trophies) but did not make it to the final list for consideration as the world`s best. The last time a playmaker won the trophy was in 2006 with the rest of the wins going to offensive players. The world has not lacked in great defensive players or playmakers but the game of soccer seems to have very little appreciation if any, to players who make things happen in the pitch. While in the past players like Zinedine Zidane managed to win the best player award without having scored the biggest number of goals(He only scored 24 goals between 1996-2001 and won the award twice, Ronaldo scored 49 goals in 2014 alone), today the only way to win the award seems to be scoring goals.
I believe for the good of the game, we need to reward players who are not necessarily scoring the goals but facilitating the goals. If the dream of a beautiful game is to come true, then lets appreciate the playmaker because it is in the pitch where the best moves happen not by goals.
Edouardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow (New York: Verso Press, 2003)