Our Brazilian football expert argues that Romario was a better player than Lionel Messi will ever be and discusses his rationale for selecting his compatriot.
Warning: May contain strong bias. Actuallly, a truckload of bias.
Discussions on who is/was the best football player of all times are endless. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the beauty of this sport is that there cannot ever be a universal, definite truth.
It all depends on what type of game each person prefers, what their views are on the importance of a player’s relationship with the media and even how many beautiful women or expensive cars their idols have had.
Following a heated discussion in a pub this weekend, here’s my take on why Romário was ten thousand times better than Lionel Messi is. In this case, though, this is already a settled matter, since here I’ll be providing footage evidence and proof that the Brazilian little guy has contributed more to the sport than the Argentinian flea.
First and foremost there is the natural talent. One might say (and I would not disagree) that Messi also has it, but unlike the 21st century celebrity Romário’s skills weren’t forged on an academy that looks more like a laboratory built to produce football superstars.
When Romário was 14 years of age, instead of being coached by scientists at La Masia the Brazilian bad-boy was roughing the soles of his feet — and especially his temperament — on pitches of dirt alongside even dirtier adversaries.
This developed in him the trickery and rascality necessary to face opponents and adverse situations in creative and, more often than not entertaining ways. It applies not only to his goal scoring proficiency (as can be seen on the video below, where Romário humiliates the ruthless, technique and comically ugly center-mid Amaral), but also to his feisty and fisty adventures off the pitch.
Romario’s Off Field Antics:
Messi, on the other hand, is accused by some of being mechanical in his movements, of going for the exact same play, a sharp and quick flick from right to left ending on a clinical finish in goal, every single time.
It is effective, as the numbers can prove, and certainly skillful, for he gets it right most of the time, but it’ll hardly ever produce beauties such as the magical stuff Romário delivered for PSV when he was in his early 20s.
Secondly on this passionate and extremely biased defense of the Brazilian center-forward is his comportment off the pitch. Again unlike Messi, Romário was prone to giving interviews and back-talking on polemic subjects, and these very often created gems that will last forever.
For the politically correct folks his opinions might sound foolish and disrespectful, but for those who agree that football is a gentleman’s game played by barbarians Romário is the epitome of it.
Here are some of his famous quotes:
— “When I was born, God pointed at me and said ‘You’re the man’,” after a match he once again decided.
— “I’m weighing 72 kg now, yes, and so what? The elephant is fat, but when the forest is on fire nobody beats him on the run,” when accused of being slightly overweight.
— “I can speak Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch. But I can also speak the language of the women, by far the best one,” somehow justifying having six kids with three different wives.
— “The way I took this penalty even my mom would have saved it,” because a true genius is also human.
— “Retire? Never! When I see on the pitch these boys of 19, 20 years of age… They’re just awful! I won’t stop playing anytime soon,” in 1999, eight years before retiring at the age of 41.
— “Pelé when silent is a poet. He should shut up. On the field, he was our Father, our King; outside it, he should put a shoe in his mouth,” on the Athlete of the Century.
You will never hear Messi saying anything like that. He’s too polite, and more importantly too well trained not to do so. He plays with his shirt untucked just because he wants to be part of the gang. Nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as he’s delivering what is expected from him on the pitch.
However, in a sport where primitive instincts are the base for everything, being extremely sanitized like the Argentinian is plainly boring.
A last point on the superiority of Romário over Messi is the aftermath of their career. It is impossible to know what will be of Messi when he retires since he still has at least five years on the top flight ahead of him and things do change in this period of time, but as of now the odds of him doing anything other than finally flying back to Rosario and living a well-deserved life of peace around his family seem very low. Provided Barcelona ever allows him to do so, that is.
Romário, following his promise not to pursue a career as a coach (“I would never be able to put up with someone like me,” another one of his besties), became a politician, and after a surprisingly accomplishing first spell at the Chamber of Deputies he is now running for the Senate.
His projects vary from the fomentation of the sport as an activity of inclusion to the public battle against what is called “revenge porn”. Specialists say he’s got a bright future ahead of him.
Once again this is the kind of discussion that takes us nowhere. It might be considered more of an excuse to watch over and over again these geniuses in action, doing things we, mere mortals, can only dream of imitating.
Romário and Messi are two beasts who played in different times and will be forever remembered for their own reasons. Comparing the two of them is only an exercise of self-demeaning.
When it comes down to it, however, the real truth is that I, as a Brazilian, would never, ever, under any circumstances, not in a million years, admit that an Argentinian player is better than a Brazilian one.
Maycon Dimas, Pundit Arena.