RIP Nelson Mandela.
PS: As a sports fan, I have found this video to be one of the most moving videos ever.
PS: As a sports fan, I have found this video to be one of the most moving videos ever.
When Tendulkar goes out to bat, it is beyond chaos - it is a frantic appeal by a nation to one man.Sachin has been trying to answer this frantic appeal by a nation for a long time. And by doing that - he enriched my life enormously.
|Sachin batting: The closest to a spiritual experience for me.|
Andrea Pirlo might be the only player in football whose presence negates the idea of the highlight clip. He’s so subtle, so finely tuned, that he seems to become more invisible the more brilliantly he plays, as though football for him were the equivalent of keeping a secret. He moves through the match like the eye of the storm, like a center of low pressure, and is to the complex automation of other footballers like a machine with no moving parts. And his genius for remoteness is such that it turns a highlight reel into nothing more than another bit of noise for him to slip through. Pirlo makes glory look crude.To capture him, really to capture the way he plays, the camera would have to follow him without the ball, with the ball not even in the frame. It would have to show the way he drifts and watches, judges and glides, the way he moves as if movement were thinking. If would have to show the angles as the angles appeared to him, and to him alone of everyone watching the match. It would have to show openings three seconds, four seconds, before they opened. And then, perhaps, as he backed into a defender and slipped free, the ball could roll into the picture, and he could pause over it, hover for a beat, and make the astonishing pass while all eyes in the stadium were turned toward the run of the striker.The camera wouldn’t need to show the goal. By the time he made the pass, the goal would already have happened. It would just be a few more seconds before anyone else could see it.
So what should we make from Pirlo’s golazo?Well, at the emotional level, pure joy. He struck his shot like a pre-divorce Tiger Woods’ swing. While some players run to a game’s external rhythm and accelerate at key moments, Pirlo has always reminded me of a staccato laden soloist. In his heyday, Andrea worked the ball out of the back with aplomb, zipping around his own box and completing five yard passes until opposing forwards capitulated. But in the opposing end, his passes often fooled cameramen and caught the eye off guard. While some may confuse a slide rule pass for cunning, Pirlo’s use of eyes, head, and hips to wrongfoot an entire defensive back line (and fool a few of his own teammates) always took my breath away.
"I feel a little Brazilian" he revealed in his autobiography Penso Quindi Gioco [I Think Therefore I Play] even referring to himself as Pirlinho. "When I take free-kicks I think in Portuguese, then at most I celebrate in Italian."He spends an entire chapter of his book discussing the inspiration behind them, namely the former Lyon playmaker Juninho Pernambucano, who is compared just as he so often is to the conductor of an orchestra only "with the baton between his feet," a player who, Pirlo jokes, "makes an 'OK' gesture with the big toe, not with the thumb."Completely fascinated by Juninho's ability to "invent extraordinary trajectories" and how he scored so many free-kicks, Pirlo felt compelled to learn how to do it himself. It enthralled him. "I collected CDs, DVDs even old photos of his games and eventually I came to understand. It wasn't an immediate discovery. It took time and patience."Pirlo's less talked about defensive side of the game is no less effective, and here in this article titled "The Humanity of the Defensive Midfielder on IBWM", the author in the below paragraphs writes about Pirlo and another contemporary great midfielder Xabi Alonso :
He (Xabi Alonso), along with the great Andrea Pirlo, is the epitome of the concept of the deep-lying playmaker: a stoic yet vital piece of an organic machine, giving direction and control to the boat lain before it. They can tackle (Pirlo is especially underrated defensively), but are most exceptional at turning defense to attack in an instant, starting counterattacks with incisive long-range passes from a place that allows them to follow the play and offer themselves as an outlet for under-pressure attackers up ahead.To be sure, there are other talented players out there who fulfill this particular role. But Pirlo and Alonso share a particularly unfazed demeanor that makes it easy to imagine one of them in a captain's hat, chinos, and boat shoes (red socks), silently steering a lifeboat through the night. They make their passengers feel relaxed enough to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa while swaddled beneath wool blankets to protect against the chill of the icy waters. They are distinct because they offer more than a mere able hand. They offer imagination, warmth, and incisive passing without sacrificing defensive prowess or positioning. More than anything, they offer an aura: Look, I know I'm a badass. You know I'm a badass.The more one reads about Pirlo, the more one realises that he is part of a very select, rare group of beautiful, ball playing, creative central midfielders. And often the pieces involving Pirlo also talk about his contemporaries: Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Juninho, Paul Scholes, Juan Roman Riquelme. This piece (again from Michael Cox), written at the time of the Euros, before the Italy-Spain group match, celebrates the three amigos, Xavi, Xabi & Pirlo and the beauty of their game.
These three are the true greats: physically unremarkable yet outstandingly talented. Quiet off the pitch, yet leaders on it.All are now into their thirties, yet remain as influential as ever. This season, across Europe’s major five leagues, no player passed the ball as often as these three: Xavi did so 94 times per match, Pirlo 86 and Alonso 78. It shows their constant impact upon games – they’re permanently available for a pass in the center of the pitch, never content to hide behind an opponent, always dropping deep, drifting sideways, anything to find a pocket of space and launch an attack.For further insights (including perhaps learning about weaknesses in their games), read this from the same author writing this time about Xavi, Scholes and Pirlo
That is the fascinating thing about these players – they need a calm, patient feel to the game, or they can be completely overrun. The difference between the almost-great players of this mould (Carrick, Riccardo Montolivo, Néstor Ortigoza) and Xavi, Pirlo and Scholes is that the former are forced to accept it is not their type of game, while the latter can actively create that type of game. That is extremely difficult against sides wanting to be powerful, energetic and chaotic – it is easier to hijack a meditation session and turn it into a rave than vice versa.Finally, to end with another masterpiece, Jonathon Wilson pays a glowing tribute to Pirlo in this very recent piece of his. And as I mentioned earlier, the person getting compared with Pirlo is Riquelme, yet another amazing regista:
A great career is perhaps drawing slowly to a close as James Horncastle writes about his current predicament at Juventus. But for me - he will remain a quite unique and special player, that we were privileged to watch as Jonathon Wilson concludes: He’s 34 now and as his career perhaps at last is slowing to a halt, Pirlo remains an anachronism. Possibly, though, he is less a hangover of a golden past than a herald of things to come.There is something rather beautiful about Andrea Pirlo—or at least the idea of Andrea Pirlo.He is, as Jorge Valdano once said of Juan Roman Riquelme, a player who preserves the spirit of another age. To watch Pirlo at his best is to see a game in sepia; to drift into a gorgeous nostalgia in which football was played without rush by debonair men who stroked the ball about.Like Riquelme, Pirlo seems an anachronism. He is not quick. He doesn’t charge about the pitch, and he is not one for conspicuous effort.His effectiveness, rather, lies in his intelligence, his ability to conceptualise the pitch in its entirety, to know where teammates and opponents are and where they will be, allied to a sumptuous ability to craft a pass.We call him old-fashioned because he doesn’t quite seem of our age, and we presume there must have been a time in which he fitted, but there never was such a time. Read match reports of the 1890s or the pioneering tactical columns in the SheffieldGreen'Un, and you’ll find just the same complaints about football’s emphasis on speed as you find today.But it’s nice to believe there was, and it’s a mark of Pirlo’s greatness that he can awake nostalgia for a golden age that never existed.
It's official… @MesutOzil1088 is an #Arsenal player. Read the full story, with quotes from Ozil: http://t.co/sFtrKrcOaG #OzilIsAGunnerIt was beautiful. It was audacious. And finally after a completely unnecessary, ill timed - interlull which was following a most exasperating and frustrating transfer window, when the dude stepped on to the pitch yesterday, it was well worth the wait. For the Faithful.
— Arsenal.com (@Arsenal) September 2, 2013
|Eyes on the ball|
|OZILS in ARMS !|
|A LEAP OF FAITH !|