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  1. #1
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    Dec 2009

    Default Why soccer’s biggest stars failed to shine

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    Today the players are more collective, more team players,” the Argentina coach said after his own star-studded team was bounced from the World Cup. “They want to do everything with their teammates. It is a different type of game right now.”

    Such a mentality is celebrated.

    What Maradona is suggesting is that this line of thinking has become so widespread it’s actually killed the star player, who no longer acts like a star player. Rather than demanding his place in the natural pecking order of pure talent and past performance, they sink back into the pack.

    His implication is that the star needs to act like the star. That he is better than his teammates is a given. Rather than apologize for it, he must remind them of it, make them respect it. He must lead not by being one of the guys but by being above the guys. It’s the cult of personality, if you will.

    “I think we were more selfish,” Maradona said, which has to be the first time an old player said that about a bygone era. “Maybe before it was about being selfish players who [made the] rest of the team work for us.”

    Today’s players receive remarkable hype – television commercials, video games and media attention. They are single-name personalities around the globe.

    Yet you’d never hear one say that the rest of the team works for them. They’d be vilified. Instead today’s stars go out of their way to support their teammates and talk publicly about how no one player is more important than the other.

    Only some players are more important, Maradona notes.

    Consider the most competitive environments on earth – the military battlefield, the flight deck of a commercial airliner or a hospital operating table.

    When having open-heart surgery, no patient would care if the lead surgeon is friends with or helps empower the nurse. In fact, the idea that the nurse would fear disappointing the lead surgeon and would clearly defer to him at all times might be considered a positive. You’d want the most brilliant talent to be the leader.

    In Maradona’s day, he says, that carried over to a soccer team. He was Diego Maradona and they were not.

    “Time changes in life,” Maradona said.

    In this time, the star player must be humble and supportive. And not just on the field, but in all parts of team life. Obviously all players know they need others to make them better in the game. Someone has to pass them the ball. Or receive a pass. But off the field, is one for all, all for one really the best concept?

    It’s difficult to say. Maradona only knows the mentality that made him lead a country to World Cup glory. It certainly isn’t the only way.
    ...being a human...



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