Friday, July 14, 2006

All-time greats: Remembering Enzo Francescoli

If we regard Zinedine Zidane as the guru, then I wonder what most of us must think of the guru’s guru?

That man is Enzo Francescoli. A fler so spectacular, Zizou was not just influenced by his playing style, but even named his first son after him.

Francescoli was one of the best footballers to have ever graced the planet. More importantly, he helped us understand why Uruguay could once have been a footballing powerhouse.

If the Netherlands can be regarded as “the best country to never win the World Cup”, then I think I’d call Francescoli “the best player to never actually win anything we can recall without a quick reference to the Internet”.

It’s a long title, I know... but it fits him well.

Francescoli was the complete striker. He could get past a defender with maximum ease and minimal fuss. He was also an extremely accurate passer, and like all good strikers, could hold the ball on his own in the opposition’s half as his teammates set up shop for attack.

Twice he was voted South American Player of the Year, and such was his durability that he won those titles 11 years apart (in 1984 and 1995). An immensely likeable individual, he is still known as el principé (the prince) in River Plate, a moniker that stuck when the Olympic Marseille fans christened him le prince.

It is fair to say that anyone gifted with the guile of Pelé, the ruthless efficiency of Shearer, and the timing and positional sense of van Basten must have been one helluva striker indeed.

What I really respect about him is that he was a highly graceful individual, who aspired to give his best in whichever club he played for, and took enormous pride in what many modern players would consider mediocre accomplishments. In his own words...

"The truth is that I achieved much more than I ever thought I would when I turned professional. I played at two World Cup finals, and I'm proud to say that I gave my all every time I took to the field. I know I didn't play for clubs like Juventus or FC Barcelona, but it would be wrong of me to complain about that after everything football has given me."

I scoured through YouTube, and found this clip from a River Plate game:


Those are just three reasons why Enzo Francescoli is number 10 in my list of all-time great footballers.

19 comments:

Soccer Lingam said...

Keropok Saab, I didn't think anyone still remembered Enzo Francescoli.

Good playa.

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

Haven't seen him play...who are the rest of your top 10 players keropok?

Keropok said...

Soccer Lingam, Daniel: I was one of those mad football kaki during Italia 1990 who - having been bitten by the Maradona '86 bug - caught almost every game in 1990.

I was lucky because I had chicken pox then, and stayed home from school and somehow managed to bluff my mummy into letting me watch late night football.

Enzo was brilliant. Even games against UAE pun tengok.

Daniel, except to see names like names like Butragueno, Careca and Cantona. And my favourite Englishman Bryan Robson.

Anonymous said...

So nice this Mr 'Coli, re: wrong of me to complain (about not playing in big clubs) after everything football has given me.

It's nice seeing real statesmen in sports.

Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

Yes, I remember Careca, Cantona and Robson....my favorite - Lothar Matthaus. :-)

Kucing Gatal said...

Football is so boring. Can you write about something more exciting? Like yourself for instance.

Keropok said...

Daniel, I got a lot of respect for Herr Matthaus; in fact he was next on my list (bugger you, pre-empted me!)

Kucing Gatal: something more exciting = myself???

You have got to be kidding me. Firstly, I'm not very exciting. The only person who found me mildly interesting married me. I wonder if Mrs Keropok feels the same way still :)

Secondly, ain't nothing more exciting than football, my friend...

Mamabola said...

Football is interesting enough, Kucing Gatal.

lilyliverbird said...

No George Best in your list?

Keropok said...

Thank you Mamabola, all power to you!

Lilyliverbird... aiyoh, 2nd time I'm being pre-empted. Patience, my people, the top 9 shall soon be upon you.

Anonymous said...

friggin' poser. i bet u know no hoots about franciscoli.

K.M.Phang said...

I vaguely remember Francescoli. He was very, very good. Together with his two Uruguay buddies Ruben Paz and Ruben Sosa.

You seem to have an anonymous gremlin after you, Keropok

Metria said...

Dollah Salleh better be in that list, otherwise you're obviously not patriotic :P

kickciggys said...

i actually do remember dat enzo flear..saw him in one of those football dvds i bought from some ah beng near pj.deserves more recognition.i'll have to say van basten, baggio n rush are definately in my list of top players.

Mr D said...

You are definetly an old man Keropok if you remember names like Enzo F. hehehe

11 more sleeps till we hit Malaysia!!

Mong said...

Certainly Mr D is right..... I know it's probably only as recent as the 90's, but you could seriously remember this fella would mean you seriously are old, my Keropok friend.

Or an old soul... :)

Keropok said...

Mr D, even my young cousin Kickciggys evidently knows about EF...

If he was good enough for Zizou... he's good enough for me, mate!

We ought to catch up with Daniel when you're down. When are you arriving.

Metria... make your own list and be as patriotic as you want!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who recognizes the genius of Enzo Francescoli. If this man had played for Argentina or Brazil I'm sure he'd be even better known than he is. One of my favourite players of all time (Zizou) names one his sons after one of my other favourite players of all time (Enzo). His overhead kick for River Plate remains my favourite goal of all time.

D

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who recognizes the genius of Enzo Francescoli. If this man had played for Argentina or Brazil I'm sure he'd be even better known than he is. One of my favourite players of all time (Zizou) names one his sons after one of my other favourite players of all time (Enzo). His overhead kick for River Plate remains my favourite goal of all time.

D