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Jørgen Juve, 1932: Best centre-forwards in the world

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-07-25 01:45:55

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— Jørgen Juve | 17/12/1932, London —

Sindelar greatest. Dixie Dean most dangerous. A comparison between the world's best centre-forwards after 12 games.

I have been more than lucky with the calculation ahead of my study stay in the middle of the liveliest of all England's football centers. In less than 14 days, I have had the opportunity to see in action the country's three big crowd favourites, as well as the continent's strongest names, in order Gallagher, Dixie Dean, Hampson and Sindelar. There are four players who are either the object of the large public's scorn, or also the result of their good heart and sound judgement. — All are centre-forwards and therefore also in contact with the new offside rule, which determines the respective teams' style of play.
A comparison between these players might therefore be of interest, and as a basis for comparison one I am basing it on two Chelsea matches with Gallagher, two Everton matches with Dixie Dean, an international match with Hampson (where he played excellently according to the critics here) and seven matches in which Sindelar has participated (two in Stockholm, two in Oslo, one in London, one in Berlin and one in Zurich). SINDELAR
I put Sindelar first in this order, because in my humble opinion he is the one who combines most of the necessary qualities as a footballer. As a boy he was weak, almost sickly. He was mocked for his weak physique and was outmatched in battle. But the years passed, his powerful and fine intelligence overcame the difficulties. His love for the game of football was founded in his young years, and on the "loop" he was soon noticed. He dribbled and wondered where the others were pushing forward with raw power, and he shied away when it concerned the man and not the ball. On the sly, he trained in gymnastics and hardened his body, and there are probably few players or sportsmen there who can act as a kindling advertisement for the sport.
His innate physical weaknesses still linger, but when one sees the small weaved figure in play, one soon discovers his vivacity, his ever-vigilant eye for all the twists and turns in the game. His goal is not always the goal, but the way to it. On it, he winds his way forward in a merry dance with side jumps, touches of the ball, then he twists himself out of a difficult position with a simple turn. An artist who makes the game an art and the most treasured of all sports in our time.
Sindelar is not the player an English league team would benefit from, his toothy body would never cope with the hard ongoing tackles, and after a few games he would tire of the game and sink down to become an ordinary forward. He belongs in Viennese football, where you always put the game first for its own sake, even if it doesn't always produce such goal-oriented results.
In Nordic football, we only have one player who loves the game in the same "virgin" way. I think of Rydell in his prime. And if I were to name three that are close to the top, it would have to be Arne Børresen, Erkuli Grønlund, the well-playing Finn and Denmark's Eyolf Kleven.
It is the inspired players who in one match can move the audience along, the sadness of a sluggish and uninteresting game, but who in the next play as if they belonged to another world. A little indulgence is enough to win them over, but they lose their temper at the slightest touch on their toes.
It's Sindelar... DIXIE DEAN
I put Dixie Dean in second place. At the moment he is not in the form of his life, but I have seen enough to immediately place him in the place as the world's most dangerous centre-forward. He is forward in the attack and is the most typical representative we have of the W-formation's execution. — He has the body for 40 tough league games in a season and he has the fighting spirit for 50. He can shoot from all positions and his handling of the ball on his head makes him twice as dangerous a man in front of goal as Sindelar. For that reason I was also on the verge of placing him ahead of this one.
He is at the top of the air on corners, he is the first on the cross, he doesn't let any chance run away from him. A ball from a halfback to him is guaranteed to be passed on — usually to the wing.
And he can shoot in the correct style. The whole body over the ball in the approach and there the leg swings in the right balance — the cannon goes off.
If I were an English manager and had to choose between Dixie Dean and Sindelar, I would without a doubt choose the one who led if it was about securing their good position in the league table.
As someone in football distinguishes between "lying down" and "upright" style of player, Dean in the upright, Sindelar in the lying down. (Gunnar Andersen lying down, Kaare Lie upright, Fritz Amundsen upright, Rydell upright, Børresen upright, but Jeia lying down, Per Helsing lying down, etc.).
Dean has a wide and beautiful athletic body, is quick-witted and calm, but does not possess Sindelar's agility in forcing the counter-plays, here he uses his strength and makes his way by giving an honest and sporty move.
Dean is the crowd favorite in front of goal, and will probably still stand as the ideal centre-forward for an English audience, even if they wanted to give Sindelar the praise he deserved after the grandiose performance at Stamford Bridge. It could be tempting to put Dean ahead of Sindelar in this ranking, because it is now the goals that count in football. If he had Sindelar's brain, no footballer in the world would be able to challenge him. HUGH GALLAGHER
I place Hugh Gallagher as No. 3. He is one of the greatest football talents England has had since the World War. A typical Scottish player, to whom nothing in the art of handling the ball is foreign, partly as learned and partly as innate, mostly the latter.
He played for the Scottish team Airdrieonians on that club's Nordic tour in 1925 and put in an unforgettable performance. His love for the game is undeniable and without it he would never have held his place as one of the 1st division's best players. But he is burdened with a temperament that makes him cross and difficult to deal with for the English managers. One month he is excluded from games due to recklessness and another he is tired with his fellow players on the team. Bad tempered is the man.
In the league match here today against Manchester City, he plays on the inside right, an attempt to use his whole game to the advantage of his surroundings, but I guess he will never settle there.
Gallagher's strongest skills are displayed when he has the ball, while other big players show their strength before they get the ball. He can stop it so that it does not move before he again gives it a short push, his shots are not the long sweeping ones, but the small, precise screw balls that no goalkeeper can manage before after longer studies, and he likes to drag the ball into the penalty area — he prefers to play into the goal.
He will never become a fully effective centre-forward, because he does not know the head game. In that he is completely lost. A defense only needs to laugh at his vain attempts to reach the ball in the height.
But if he has the ball in his power, he can show eminent cases in handling the ball, which no one else imitates and he runs faster than the wind. I don't mention him in the same breath as Sindelar and Dean, because for a team he doesn't mean nearly as much. HAMPSON
Hampson, who was England's centre-forward against Austria, is a player who, with the help of training and energy, has worked his way up to the top class. He is not a great player, but through his energy and speed and trained marksmanship, he is a dangerous man, something like the little energetic Zetterberg that Sweden had last year. He swoons around in the opponent's defense and rakes in what he can, but he can't manage any play with his inside wings or outside men.
He doesn't show in his game the things you write down and tick off in the programme, but he is always there as an imminent danger and he is a match winner of big goals. He has the same progressive style as Zetterberg, maybe a little higher, a little Zetterberg's anyway, I thought of the Swede when I saw Hampson play.
There you have the four celebrities:
Sindelar, the bright gifted, the physically weak.
Dean, the strong ideal centre-forward without Sindelar's magic with the ball, but with the simple clear vision that it is the goals that count and that one must therefore find the shortest way to score.
Gallagher, gifted, prima donna who never comes into her own.
Hampson, eager, energetic, full of danger, fully trained with a crackling temper.