For some strange reason the mind leads us to Cesar Cueto. The dust of oblivion was covering him like so many phenomena that delighted us on a playing field. I put Cueto on a computer, I hit enter so that the machine stirs, processes, and when it’s done, the left-hander doesn’t even appear among the first five hundred, perhaps a thousand, most renowned soccer players in history.

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Something is wrong, I think. Were there five or six soccer players in the world with the exquisite ball control of Loro Cueto…? I’m not saying a hundred, I’m saying five or six. What other left foot can be compared to that of the Peruvian…? Maradona’s, Messi’s, Tostão’s…? His ball control was catlike, velvety.

The former player and technical director Johan Cruyff died, he was the first footballer in history to add a triplet Ballon d’Or.

We are going through an era in which measurements and statistics invade football. That they are useful, even attractive, they really like to know who dominated the most, who finished off the goal the most, the valid error percentage, the speed of a shot, the kilometers a player ran… The data offers guidelines that help to analyze with more precision a match, a championship. Not all of them, of course, there are players who have the best passing averages, but most are backwards, which not only are useless, they irritate.
The same goes for titles. The World Cup is valued as if it were the only existing competition. And the other championships… what are they played for…?

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Di Stéfano, Puskas, Gento, Kubala, Gianni Rivera, Sívori, Eusebio, Spencer, George Best, Jimmy Johnstone, Zico, Teófilo Cubillas, Cruyff, Maldini, Roberto Baggio, Falcão, Sócrates, Junior, Platini, Gullit, Van Basten, Michael Laudrup, Rummenigge, Hugo Sánchez, Valderrama, Batistuta, Butragueño, Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Dennis Bergkamp, ​​Ibrahimovic, Beckham, Rooney, Neymar, Luis Suárez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Modric, Hazard, Lewandowski and dozens more did not win the World Cup laurel and were or are exceptional players. Borges did not win the Nobel either. Don’t we read it…?

The Brazilian Garrincha. He was world champion twice: Sweden 1958 and Chile 1962.

The power of aesthetics

And with the goals… Garrincha turned 115 in nearly two decades. very little Was he too bad for that…? Zinedine Zidane he barely scored 151 in his 18-year career; he won many fewer titles than dozens of other footballers, however, they always improved in the chest of our best fan memories. The mesmerizing controls of him, the poise of him, the master class of him, the precise and precious touch, the talented maneuver, the technique at its best.

the same beckenbauer. Surely there were more tenacious and strong defenders, superior in the mark; despite this, Franz is at the pinnacle of consideration. His starts from the bottom with his head up, eluding opponents, almost ignoring them, the ball at his foot without looking at it, always docile and obedient, gliding over the grass as if on skates and leading another advance by Germany or Bayern… Ahead was that human and hairy beast named Gerd Müller; he would go into the woods in the area, grapple with the defense, and drag her inside, but we would all rewind the film and stay with Beckenbauer. The same Paulo Roberto Falcão. He was the Beckenbauer of the midfield.

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It is the sweeping force of aesthetics. It seems like entering the Louvre and contemplating La Gioconda, La Libertad guiding the people… La Pietà in the Vatican, the prose of Borges, the canals of Venice, the lyrics of tango and all the manifestations of human beauty. Soccer is the ultimate universal attraction because of its beauty, not its statistics. For the players who dribble, not for those who play to the side or back. It is incomparable for Van Persie’s popcorn goal against Spain, for Pelé’s header against Italy, for Maradona’s stacked against England, for Hugo Sánchez’s Chilean kicks, Juninho Pernambucano’s free kicks, Xavi’s walls, Iniesta Y MessiPirlo’s sublime passes, Ronaldo Nazario’s runs, the definitions of RomarioRené Houseman’s brakes, Dennis Bergkamp’s feints, Michael Laudrup’s hooks, Roberto Baggio’s distinction and so many that made us love this sport.

Argentina met Brazil again in the quarterfinals of the Copa América in Paraguay in 1999. They lost 2-1, with goals from Romario and Ronaldo (photo).

Photo:

AFP / Archive EL TIEMPO

George better they received state funerals and 500,000 people surrounded their funeral procession. It wasn’t because of the number of goals and titles won, which were really few. All of Northern Ireland went to say goodbye to a genius who filled them with pride with his daring and wonderful plays. No one knows the correct passing percentage of the Belfast hero. It doesn’t matter if I win champions, that he did obtain it, but that is still a minor detail in its gigantic dimension. His dribbling made him a god throughout Britain.

‘The artistic game’

«The Romanian Dudu Georgescu was twice the top scorer in Europe in the ’70s and for that reason no one thought of giving him the Ballon d’Or, which is for the one who plays the best,» says Ricardo Vasconcellos, sports editor for El Universo. From Guayaquil. Continue: “The exquisite Michel Platini was Ballon d’Or in 1983 without winning the European Cup. Today that would be unthinkable. The Frenchman will have to have run 300 km, give 100 closed passes backwards, score 50 goals and have won the Champions League. Playing well goes in the background because they don’t have a way to quantify it, but the artistic, spectacular game, forward passes, goal passes, efficiency to win games and championships is worth more than the kilometers run in a game and the passes well done that could be recorded are what they do to progress on the pitch. This number thing goes hand in hand with the analytical frivolity that prevails today in sports journalism: if he won, okay; if he made 20 passes, no matter where, he’s the best; if he scored 30 goals, but someone else plays better, the one who serves is only the scorer; if he ran as possessed he is irreplaceable no matter how he played”.

And the sensations that a match leaves…? Nor do they count for statisticians, but they perpetuate themselves for decades. That of the ’94 World Cup is perhaps remembered as the worst final in the history of the World Cups. Brazil and Italy tied 0-0 and went to penalties. Its opposite is that of Qatar, between Argentina and France, which was also defined from the twelve steps, however, it fascinated the 1,500 million global viewers for that torrent of intensely beautiful drama, almost unbreathable that it had.

Among footballers with similar characteristics and performance, the one with the greatest elegance should always prevail, that important added value. When the years go by, nobody remembers the statistics but the great plays, the class. The best example is in the fans of Boca. He makes a cult of the claw, the delivery, the muscle, the «egg, egg, egg», but the greatest historical idol is Juan roman riquelmean exquisite.

How do you count a chest stand Pele…? She had no bones, flesh and skin, she had a cushion there. And César Cueto, in what statistics does he enter…? Beauty is an intangible good of this unique game. But it has lost ground based on statistics and success. Football is information, but it is also observation. It is result, also emotion and spectacle.

last tango

JORGE BARAZA
FOR THE TIME
@JorgeBarrazaOK

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