North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

The Beautiful Game, Part two: English Gretzky

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David Beckham – what is there to say that hasn’t been said to absurdity already? The guy is known all over the world, from places where football gods have names like Pele, Ronaldinho or George Best and in places where football gods have names like Montana, Sayers or Manning. He doesn’t just kick footballs into nets, he bends them past a goalkeeper and a line of players like Pedro Martinez hitting the lower corner with a sinking fastball, only on a scale that Pedro could never do. He runs more then Bo Jackson did, he scores with a better touch then Mario Lemieux and he more dominant then Michael Jordan ever was.

He’s pretty much an English Wayne Gretzky.

No other player has dominated his sport on the same level (and for as long) with maybe, maybe, the exception of Jordan. No other player scores like these two do: If they don’t deke past you and tuck it in the net, then they just blow it by you before you even notice it heading past you. They’re driven, talented to the nth degree and fuelled by a desire to win it all.

Granted, Beckham may not be the greatest single player ever – or even the best player in this year’s World Cup. That’s fine; after 1986, Gretzky was never the single best player in the playoffs – not after people like Patrick Roy, Mario Lemieux or Pavel Bure came along. But that’s fine; Gretzky’s job was to win, not to be the best – and he did that in spades. Which is what Beckham has done. After dominating in England, he went off to Spain – where’s he’s dominated once again.

They’re both eponymous with their sport: Just as how Gretzky was the Oilers or the Kings, David Beckham is the face of England’s soccer team. He’s tied, perhaps moreso then Pele ever was, to soccer – almost to the point where his #7 is at the same level that Gretzky’s #99 is to hockey.

It even goes to winning on the World Stage – Gretzky never won a Gold Medal as a player (though he won the Canada Cup in ’87, which is sort of counts) just as how Beckham has never won a World Cup. As talented as these two are, they’re almost on a different stage then anyone else is – and as a result, they can’t play the same game that the rest of the team is.

This could be the year, though, where Beckham passes Gretzky – if he wins England the World Cup, he’ll find himself on a stage where very few from any sport are…

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Written by M.

June 25, 2006 at 3:38 pm

Posted in soccer

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