By Jonathan Blaustein
I went for a long run yesterday, as it’s one of the few chances I get to let my mind wander.
It’s a great feeling, that freedom of mental movement, and it’s hard to come by these days. Most of us are accounted for, at all times, whether we’re working, cooking, Tweeting, or watching football.
But as I’m doing loops around the dirt roads of my neighborhood, I have the chance to contemplate nothing, and then see what pops into my head.
Yesterday, I began to think about my six years of football addiction. (This being the 7th season I’ve followed.) I wondered, for no particular reason, who was the most dominant footballer I’ve seen in that time?
Not the best. Nor the most consistent.
But the one player who, on his day, was truly unstoppable, in ways that were Earth-shaking, or mind-blowing, or whatever slightly over-the-top term you’d prefer to use.
My answer: Arjen Robben.
He’s the guy, back in his Bayern/Holland pomp, who did things that made me fall off my couch. I feel like Cristiano Ronaldo is all about power, pace and clinicality. And with Messi, the things he does well are hard to notice, upon first viewing.
Messi requires me to re-wind the DVR, and watch a play 3 or 4 times to appreciate his ghostly movements.
But Robben is a middle ground between the two. His quickness and speed allow him to create separation, almost at will. And his quick feet and ridiculous technical skills mean he can beat you with finesse too.
Anyone would probably say that both Ronaldo and Messi are better players than Robben, but I think that comes from the consistency angle I’m currently omitting.
Hell, I just watched Messi carve open Juventus, a few minutes ago, and the announcer said the same thing. Because Messi makes everything look so easy, it’s harder to appreciate just how rare his skills are.
But last year, now beyond his prime, I watched Robben beat half the RB Leipzig team, during Bayern’s furious-end-of-game comeback. This just a few months after we all saw him fake Coquelin out of his shorts, completely unable to stop a move that WE ALL SAW COMING. (Cut in on his left, make room for the shot.)
Many, if not most of you have watched professional football longer than I have. So I thought a mid-week post was the perfect time to ask: who’s the most dominant footballer you’ve seen?
Remember the game. It’s not the best. Nor the most consistent. It’s the guy who was essentially unplayable, on his day…