Pressing Issues: Spain, the breeding ground of soccer gods

2012-05-05 19:40

If indeed one was to be sold on the concept of the existence of soccer gods, it would suffice to say they currently dwell in Spain.

Otherwise, how does one explain that the Spanish La Liga is blessed with the best player on the globe in Lionel Messi; “The Special One”, or as colleague Timothy Molobi now calls him “The Only One”, in Jose Mourinho; as well as Pep Guardiola and Cristiano Ronaldo all at once?

The Argentine whose height is comparable to Napoleon Bonaparte’s – he is not very far from the ground – on Wednesday night broke the 39-year-old record for the most goals in a single European season – scoring for the 68th time to eclipse former Bayern Munich striker Gerd Mueller.

His third goal (his ninth ­hat-trick of the season) in the 4-1 victory over Malaga, saw him surpass the 67-goal mark Mueller set in the 1972-73 season.

Messi had banged in 46 league goals by midweek and Ronaldo’s saved spot-kick saw him trailing by two at 44 with two matches remaining for one of them to clinch the dream Golden Boot Award.

Messi’s first goal on Wednesday saw him match the 66 goals Brazil’s Pele scored for Santos in the 1958 season and Ferenc Deak netted for Hungarian team Ferencvaros in 1948-49. And he is only 24, an age we call “young” in SA soccer.

The 27-year-old Ronaldo has netted 57 goals in all contests this season.

Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory over Athletico Bilbao gave the 49-year-old Mourinho a record-breaking four titles in four different countries: Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.

He has now won seven domestic titles in 12 years as a coach – a mean feat by any standards.

Mourinho’s first Spanish league title ended 41-year-old Guardiola’s firm grip on the La Liga title that he had won three times in a row.

Guardiola is no slouch himself, having collected 13 trophies since taking over at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. His trophies include two Champions Leagues and three Spanish league titles.

Given that our leading goalscorer in the PSL – Siyabonga Nomvethe – has netted 18 goals and grabbed his first hat-trick this past weekend, no one can blame me for thinking that the soccer gods have deserted us and settled in the land of the matador.

Guardiola’s announcement that he is taking a break, will surely leave a void.

But I doubt that any coach will catch up with him soon, even if he took a two-year sabbatical rather than the single year he has announced.

However, there is already speculation that the sabbatical might just be a disguise en route to either Chelsea or Manchester United in England.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he resurfaces in one of these clubs or another European giant as nothing surprises me in this lovely pig-skin sport that the great Pele christened “the beautiful game”.

» smseleku@citypress.co.za 

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