By Ori Martins
Last Friday, the veteran sports journalist, versatile administrator, ebullient football manager and engaging columnist, Chief Fan Ndubuoke wrote a master piece with the above headline. The article was Ndubuoke’s masterful treatise on the last FIFA 2017 Best Football Awards held in London.
Deploying his wealth of experience drawn from rich encyclopedia of knowledge and obviously buoyed by facts and statistics available to him, Ndubuoke, the amiable erstwhile national president of SWAN presented a dissented discourse to FIFA’s awards, raising serious doubts on the global acceptability of world football governing body’s award decisions. I sincerely agree with him. FIFA, as a matter of fact, even before now, had made a series of questionable awards and recognitions in its choice as best performers.
Ndubuoke made a very poignant and pungent observation when he noted that the best of FIFA usually go to the players of a particular winning team. On that note, the columnist asked whether the awards are for the victorious team and its players or a particular player who is outstanding in a particular team. He backed his point with the puzzle: Had Messi won the European Champions League, and probably the La Liga trophies; would FIFIA still have voted Ronaldo the world best? Indeed, food for thought. However, I do not agree with him that Messi is better than Ronaldo.
To start with, I am not oblivious of the fact that there are certain issues either in Nigeria, Africa or in the world that are turbulent in comparison. For instance, who do you think between professors Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, is greater? Which is the first university in Nigeria – Nzukka or Ibadan? Who was the leader of the first military coup in Nigeria – Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu or Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna? Between Nigeria’s Rashidi Yekini and Abedi Pele of Ghana who was the 1993 CAF Footballer of the Year. Ultimately, there is still element of doubt on who is the greatest world footballer of all time? Some will go for Pele while others will settle for Maradonna. But FIFA, given its position, always ought to come out with an impeccable recognition and award that should be acceptable to all. But this has not been ther case.
Now, there are couple of cases where the world has stood in awe of disbelief on some of FIFA’s best footballer awards. For instance, the recognition of Ronaldhinho as the world best in 2005 rather than Thierry Henry did not go down well with most football followers. Let me quote copiously from an authority. According to a commentary on MY FOTO STORY “The year saw Barcelona beat 10-man Arsenal in the final of the UEFA Champions league in 2005. The year was such a fantastic year for the Gunner striker and many have felt that if not for the sending off of Jens Lehmann in the match that led to Barcelona coming from a goal down to beat Arsenal 2-1, Arsenal could have won the Champions League and Thierry Henry would have been credited with the team’s successful run that year. That year, Arsenal were fourth on the EPL table but Thierry led the scoring chart with 27 goals as against the Brazilian’s 26. There was the case of Canavarro vs Zidane (2006). That year’s FIFA World Player of the year award was purely based on the FIFA World Cup which was hosted in Germany where Italy emerged the winner. If it had been based on the individual performance,you would have expected top stars such as De Lima Ronaldo, Zidane, Thierry Henry etc to have won it. Surprisingly, this is one of the years with most shocking and a rare winner. Behold, it was Italy and Juventus defender, Fabio Canavarro obviously because Italy won World Cup that year.The announcement spread some shocks among football lovers. They could not believe it as Zidane was hoped to have won it. The controversy between Messi and Ronaldo over Kaka in the 2006/07 comes to play here again.
However, Ronaldo remains my first choice.
…But watch out for Neymar
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, Neymar for short, was born 5 February 1992, in São Paulo , Brazil. His father Neymar senior , a former professional footballer is his advisor and no doubt discovered the talent in the younger Neymar as he was growing up.
At age seven, Neymar Jr joined the Portuguesa Santista youth club and within a few years was one of the most highly regarded young talents in his home country. According to Wikipedia , news of his abilities spread across Europe when he joined Santos youth team at the age of 11.
Neymar made his senior debut for the club in 2009. In 2011, the dashing forward produced what would be voted the FIFA Goal of the Year and led Santos to its first COpa Libertadores championship in 48 years. Same year he emerged ‘World Soccer Young Player of the Year.
The Brazilian lived up to big expectations by winning four consecutive South American player of the year awards by age 21. He joined Barcelona in 2013 where he formed a formidable partnership with Messi and Suarez to win various titles including La Liga, UEFA champions league, Copa del Rey etc . Neymar Jr signed a $119 million contract with Barcelona. This deal earned him an average of $15 million per year in salary. He also earns an estimated $16 million per year from endorsements with companies like Nike, Konami and L’Oreal.
Recently , Neymar transferred his services from Barcelona to PSG of France and this is the breakdown of the deal: 450 million pounds for five years, 90 million per year, 515,000 per week, 246,580 per day, 10,274 per hour, 171.23 per minute and 2.85 per second. How much is your own talent worth?
PSG has been ruthless both in France and in Europe with Neymar as the arrow-head. His national team,Brazil never lost a single match on their way to picking Russia 2018 World Cup ticket. Again, Neymar is the main man. All eyes are on Brazil and Germany. Watch out for Neymar.
•Till Next week , keep attacking.