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Finney, 1960: Best players in the world

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-02-27 13:57:02

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
— Tom Finney | 09/01/1960 —

We were playing that old, old game. A group of us were picking the greatest team of all-time, the greatest players, and so on. Yes, it's a fascinating game, but on the other hand, many of us have never seen those old time "greats." But what about to-day's players? Here, for you to argue about, is my list of the eight greatest players in the world to-day.
DI STÉFANO (Spain): The most complete player of the day, a schemer and a scorer. He covers an amazing amount of ground during a game and has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time.
The game which I thought put the seal on his greatness was the European Cup Final in which he rallied Real Madrid when they were trailling to Milan. In a match filled with talent, he stood out high above the rest. VERSATILE.
KOPA (France): Perhaps the easiest way to recognise his ability is to look at the positions he has filled in international football.
For France he has played in every forward position and today, when football is so specialised, that's a remarkable achievement.
Although small, he is powerfully built, fast, and has a great shot in both feet. I particularly like the speed with which he gets the ball under control. The day he touched the heights was when France beat Germany in the play-off for third place in the 1958 World Cup. On that day, I doubt whether any defence could have held him. SCHEMER.
DIDI (Brazil): Have you noticed, no matter how closely marked he may be, that Didi always seems to have all the time in the world? He never appears to hurry — one of the differences between the good and the great. Watching him, you always gain the impression that the man marking him is playing badly, which is another hallmark of greatness.
To me, despite the all-round brilliance of the Brazilian attack, it was always Didi who stood out as the schemer-in-chief. He made himself into the perfect foil for Pele, and whenever I remember Gothenburg, I remember Didi. CONSISTENT.
BILLY WRIGHT (England): In my opinion, has been terribly underrated. He is the most consistent player I have ever known and the perfect model for youngsters everywhere. He has played at full-back, wing-half, centre-half and inside-forward and could have held down an England place in them all.
The game which left no doubt as to his true place in football was against Wales at Wembley when Jack Froggatt was injured. Switching from right-half, Billy changed the whole pattern of the match by blotting out Trevor Ford, who hitherto had looked almost unstoppable. PANTHER.
GROSICS (Hungary): One of the best criterions for judging a goalkeeper is the way in which he copes with cross-balls. Here Grosics is superb. In many ways, his play reminds me of Frank Swift. He always seems to know exactly when to come out of goal and his handling is uncanny.
The "Black Panther," as he is known on the Continent, makes the job look very easy and his style is far from flashy. I doubt whether I shall ever see a better display than the one he gave against England at Budapest in 1954. WORLD-CLASS.
JOHN CHARLES (Wales): Has a rare combination of giant physique allied to delicate ball control. He is a world-class performer at centre-half, centre-forward and inside-right. In the air, he merits comparison with Tommy Lawton and Dixie Dean.
JIMMY MCILROY (Ireland): He is a player who has mastered all the arts of football. He has speed, wonderful ball control, and a powerful shot in either foot. There is near-genius in his scheming. With one move, he can transform the whole pattern of a game.
His true ability was clearly spotlighted at Wembley two years ago when, with Danny Blackflower, he inspired Ireland's 3-2 victory and scored the match-winning penalty in the most nonchalant way. GOAL-SNATCHER.
PELÉ (Brazil): He is the great goal-snatcher. No man playing to-day is better able to convert half-chances into goals. Very fast over the vital 10-15 yards, he can strike before a defence has even sensed the danger.
At no time was this better demonstrated than in the World Cup Final against Sweden. Few top-flight players would even have reached the balls from which he scored. I doubt whether the young inside-forward will stay at number eight on anybody's lists for long.
I suppose, in terms of hard cash, one could say that these eight men would fetch at least half-a-million pounds on the open market. But personally I don't like assessing talents such as these in pounds, shillings and pence.
To me, they are priceless.