Playmakers are undoubtedly my favourite type of player and I believe their innate subtlety and creativity are the foundation for my love of football. Nothing resonates with me more than a player carving through a well organised defence with an intricate pass that curves around a line of defenders, judged and executed to perfection so that it arrives at the precise place, optimum time and exact speed to ensure it effortlessly slides into the path of the on-coming striker, whose only option, to show the gratitude the pass deserves is to score, a miss would be disrespectful and show the exquisite pass a disservice.
Playmakers refuse possession, are eternally composed and are never fazed by a nearby defender who want to steal their ball. They have a deep affection, appreciation and love for the football that others are afraid to show. They will momentarily grant others their ball, but often resent having to do so, as others rarely give the ball the care and thought they themselves show it. Playmakers are selfless, they tell others “here, have the ball, take the glory and acclaim” They offer the platform for others to shine and feel the ecstasy of personal glory and the adulation of the fans.
Considering England are one of the most advanced football nations, I always find it confusing why we fail to create many orthodox play-makers. Is it because English coaching focuses towards strength and pace rather than technique, why do other nations produce play-makers at will? Lampard and Gerrard are two great goal scoring midfielders, but they lack the flair and invention that I adore and the invention that is synonymous with traditional play-makers. They are ruthless and workman like, but they are not players who appreciate the value of retaining possession and biding their time, before releasing the correct pass when the right opportunity arises. They prefer to play the numbers game, launching endless passes and shots towards goal and hoping one sticks. Basically they lack the artistry, patience and astute decision making of a traditional play-maker.
Some of my favourite play-makers, past and present would be:
Everyone shouts from the rooftops about Messi and Iniesta but the real conductor at Barca is Xavi, he allows the others to take the glory while he plays in the shadows, releasing gem after gem and suffocating the opposition of the ball.
In-fact he had a staggering 29 assists last season, and is the conduit behind two of the greatest teams in modern history, if not all-time.
His decision-making, vision and passing accuracy are unrivalled in world football.
A dedicated Youtube video of all of Xavi’s assists in 08/09 is here:
Let’s hear it for the playmaker…
- Always playing the game 3 moves ahead of the opposition, possessing the foresight to play out all eventualities in their head in an instant.
- Can visualise a potential opening or passing opportunity in the blink of an eye. They see the opportunities that the rest of world are blind to.
- Unlike the scorer, he does not flaunt and scream after that pinpoint precise pass that leads to a goal, but is quiet, modest yet at the same time prolific.
- Dictates the whole game creating openings for team-mates to exploit and allowing goals to be scored.
- Cruyff stated “Football is a mindgame, you play with your brain”. Well playmakers are the Einsteins of football, they see things others can’t even contemplate, thinking faster than the speed of light in the form of abstract shapes.
- They are the beauty behind the beautiful game.