10 Footballers Who Will Define The Next Decade.By: The Offside | January 5th, 2010
Last week Daryl offered up his 10 Footballers Who Defined The Decade – you may remember it as the post featuring that stunningly cinematic photo of Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo 1.0 – looking back on the oh-oh’s and the footballers who made it what it was. They weren’t all the best players of the decade – though most were – but rather the players who made the biggest impact on one portion of the game.
Looking back at a sure thing is easy. Now we’ll try to predict the future. We’ll fail, and do so miserably, but we’ll predict the 10 players who will define the teens.
And remember: not a “10 Best of the Teens” list. You should be able to tell immediately because Nicklas Bendtner isn’t on the list.
The Media Mogul
Past: David Beckham
Future: Sergio Ramos
Some might immediately point to the Greasy One, already in Madrid, but we already know that not to be true. And while one would think the big money transfer would be required, which Sergio has already had, in order to sell shirts, how can you watch this video and think it’ll be anyone else but Senor Ramos?
Just wait ’til he marries/impregnates a pop star.
The Trail Blazer
Past: Samuel Eto’o
Future: Takayuki Morimoto
Africa is hardly an unknown anymore. Everyone who’s anyone has scouts everywhere on the continent trying to lure the latest greatest. Asia isn’t quite an unknown, but it’s easily the next continent on the list to make The Leap and begin the production line with a direct connection to Europe. Heading the Asian pack is Japanese phenomenon Takayuki Morimoto, who’s being compared to Ronaldo by anyone and everyone. He won’t assail El Fenomeno’s incredible records, but he’s a star in the making.
Past: Luis Figo
Figo gave us a hint of things to come – the Parma/Juventus fiasco in which he signed for both teams before joining Barcelona – which leaves us searching for someone with a red flag flaring. Call it a hunch that the city of Manchester will somehow be involved in this one. Carlitos has already done it, but he never really reached the status that Figo held in Barcelona. It’s too bad that other Portuguese winger from Sporting has already left town.
Will Robinho ever enjoy a similar status with another club? Maybe, maybe not, but he does seem likely to not quite care how his newest employer feels about the previous one.
The Crossover Artist
Past: Thierry Henry
Future: Fernando Torres
Easily the most difficult to predict due to the various criteria:
i. Must be brilliant at this football thing. (Torres: check.)
ii. Must be BFF’s with someone famous for something non-footballish. (Torres: check – his wiki says he’s BFF with some famous band.)
iii. Must be involved in a transfer from England to Barcelona. (Torres: che….I kid, I kid.)
iv. Must be involved in an epic moment of controversy, but most importantly: must be someone you’d never expect. (Torres: check.)
Number iii damn near nominated Cesc. (I…don’t kid.)
Past: Paolo Maldini
Future: Carles Puyol
The comparison is too easy: both born and bred club legends; two of the greatest defenders of their (overlapping) generations with their primes one decade back; both with trophy cabinets that’d make most clubs blush; both nearly universally respected by friend and foe alike.
Will Carles play until he’s 40? Wouldn’t advise betting against it.
The Chosen One
Past: Lionel Messi
Here, pick one of the greatest players of all time off the top of your head, and he can’t be older than ten, simply to showcase the ever increasing pressure to sign younger and younger. No pressure.
Fortunately YouTube obliged, and the new name, if you haven’t heard, is Gato. A grizzled ten years old, he’s already a fixture on the video highlight scene and has enjoyed some time with Milan, if he isn’t already on the books despite being Mexican. There are enough failed prodigy stories to kill a…gato…but this one has skills. And he’ll be all of 20 when the next decade arrives.
The Video Game Player
Future: Mesut Ozil
If we were to tab the true ‘next Ronaldinho’, The Offside would instantly become the greatest scout in the world. This probably will not happen anytime soon. The thing with Ronaldinho is it went beyond skills; it’s the foray into the audacious – achieving the unachievable. A vision that very few players possess, and hardly those at what would now be a tender age. But we might be able to look at a player and say, “at one point, those things could only be conceived on a video game“. Ronaldinho was/is that player. Mesut Ozil does incredible things at pace and has the vision with a bag of tricks to regale the YouTube generation.
Not like-for-like, but then that’s what made vintage ‘Dinho so damn special.
Future: Lukas Podolski
They each burst out on the scene as a goal scoring youngster, taking the world by storm and becoming their country’s next big thing. Everything pointed to Podolski putting his name atop the goal charts but the Bayern stint stunted his career at club level and not even a hometown return has kicked him back into domestic form. Ronaldo’s injuries mandated a comeback, but Lukas has talent which is just as ineffective these days. Don’t call it a comeback – but it will be.
The Love/Hate Relationship
Past: Cristiano Ronaldo
Future: Mario Balotelli
The comparison is begging: they are two exquisitely talented footballers with a flair for the spectacular on the pitch and an equal flair for coming off as giant female cleansing products. It’s incredible difficult to stay neutral on either and both typically generate some sort of extreme feelings in one direction or the other, often dictated by your team of choice.
The Lasting Legacy
Past: Zinedine Zidane
Future: Wayne Rooney
The good-to-great player with the possibility/likelihood for trophies and a penchant for hotheadedness that could lead to his team’s downfall at the most important moment? Wayne’s gotten better, but he’s undoubtedly one of the top candidates in the today’s world of football for a similar run to madness.
Factor in the hair, or lack thereof, and it’s simply no contest.
How wrong? So wrong. But accountability is a beautiful thing when it only enters into the picture ten years in the future.
In entirely unrelated news, practice safe sex.