Where have all of the bad asses gone?
I’m being serious. I’m not saying soccer is without any tough players – not the case at all. Actually, it can be argued that soccer players are even more bad ass than ever right about now. Fitness, equipment, and the quality of the game continue to improve all of the time, forcing players to reach new levels in all aspects of the game.
What I’m asking is where are those larger-than-life bad asses? I miss the Vinnie Jones’ of the world.
While I was growing up, Vinnie Jones was the cat. Seriously, if the opponents weren’t crapping themselves at the possibility of playing against him, then they had ice in their veins. He was (and still is) brash, outrageous, and could usually back it up on the pitch. If he couldn’t back it up, he would at least grab your testicles and remind you of his presence, just ask Gazza.
I think we need more Vinnie Jones/Dunga type guys.
Dunga was a master of intimidation. Brazil has always had a “soft” reputation. Their teams play with unparalleled skill and beautiful fluidity. Traditionally they didn’t have “hard asses”. Dunga changed that. Hell, he didn’t even have to do anything. That buzz cut and scowl said it all. The fact that he was a damn good defender was just icing on the cake. Even now, closing in on 50, Dunga still looks like he could play the lead villain in any “Die Hard” film. Seriously.
Then there is the enigmatic Eric Cantona. That crazy Frenchman is still considered by many to be the best player to ever don the Manchester United jersey. That’s a bold statement. But “The King” brought a physical presence coupled with unbelievable skill and unparalleled confidence to the pitch. Everyone knew where he was on the field, and every one knew not to mess with him. He was always on the verge of something amazing (or bat poop insane.) Ultimately, it is not every day that you see a star player run and successfully land a flying ninja kick on a taunting supporter.
Flying drop kicks aside…
Today we are challenged to find those types of personalities. Don’t get me wrong, we are in a hay day of excellent, physical players. Ferdinand, Terry, Vidic, Pique, Lahm, and more are all world class and then some. However, with the exception of maybe Ferdinand in his ill-advised corn row phase, none of these guys strike fear in to the hearts (and genitals) like a Jones, a Cantona, or a Dunga.
Now, I’m not the final word here. Drop us a comment and have your say. Any up and coming tough guys we should be watching?
Finally, on a sad (and serious) note, American soccer lost an icon this past week. Harry Keough passed away at the age of 84. You might know Harry as the gentleman who scored the famous goal in the 1950 World Cup game that saw the Americans beat the heavily favored England team. I can tell you, Harry and his family are all household names in the St. Louis area. They have done so much to grow and promote the game. It is a shame to see him pass on. So, wherever you are this week, toss one back for Harry.