By John Cartwright
Prior to the game between PSG and Barcelona at the Parc des Princs stadium, the ITV presenter Adrian Chiles, against a background of the Eiffel Tower said, “ there you see the second most famous edifice in Paris tonight, the other is David Beckham starting for PSG”………!
In the first game against Barca. he did very little of any consequence other than receive a Yellow Card before being subbed and in the return game at the Camp Nou he was not selected to start but on his late inclusion to the game he again did nothing and received a second Yellow Card. In comparison, a true football great – Messi, scored in the first game and although still recovering from an injury received in Paris, still came on late in the second game and was instrumental in Barca’s equalizer that qualified them for the semi-final of the Champions’ League
The pedestalling of Beckham as a football ‘great’ by all sections of the media here is a slap in the face to all of the truly great players over the years. George Best, was more to the point with his famous quote on Beckham when he said, “ he cannot kick with his left foot; he cannot head a ball; he cannot tackle and he doesn’t score many goals. Apart from that he’s all right.” Yes, as Best so accurately describes Beckham ……… he’s all right!
Those of us who have been fortunate to see real greatness on the football fields around the world stand amazed at the ‘hyped’ euphoria surrounding Beckham; from – Matthews, Finney, Puskas, Garrincha, Pele, De Stefano, Platini, Beckbauer, Moore, Cruyff, Best, Maradona to Ronaldo and Messi today – it is their all-round, outstanding football ability that sets them above all others; this is not the case with Beckham, where supplementary adornments have elevated his basic football ability to unrealistic heights. To place Beckham, alongside the true immortals of the game is a clear indictment of the huge level of mis-information and ‘hype’ that infests our game.
It seems as though anyone who questions Beckham’s playing ability is deemed an idiot; what is even more disturbing is that there seems to be a concern by many to question Beckham’s playing quality for fear of losing ones credibility. There is a guise in marketing – ‘promote something often enough and eventually it will be believed; one has only to see the use of advertising today where the use of constant repetition eventually brings automatic acceptance irrespective whether correct or not by people in general.
The use of ‘hype’ in various forms to project a personality or a product etc. is rampant in all areas of life today; from politics to football ‘hype’ moulds mediocrity and pronounces it as good or even great. The use of ‘hype’ in football to cover mediocre standards and then to suggest that they are extra special can only lead to a demise in the achievement levels sought by others. True quality must be recognized and promoted for what it is no matter what the product, – be it the performance of a furniture polish or the ability of a footballer! Our young players who see ordinary ability and are told this is good or even great, are being mis-lead to such an extent that mediocrity has become their vision to achieve.
I applaud Beckham’s inspirational, off the field qualities and I agree that he has become a fine ‘ambassador’ for the game in general, but that does not mean that public relations should outweigh playing ability when it comes to qualifying as one of football’s greats. I stand up and say, like George Best, Beckham was an ‘all right footballer’, but don’t try to convince me that he’s special and certainly not a ………football legend!