There is a saying in Belfast:
Pele good, Maradona great, George Best.
As I am quite new to this site, I was filling in my public profile and came across the question:
“Pele or Maradona?”. Naturally, I opted for Maradona but it got me thinking: What about George Best?
What is that the sign of a truly great player: the ability to put a ball in a net? Or the ability to run past ten men before doing so? That is something both Maradona and George Best could do.
Manchester United have a philosophy that goes something along the lines of: "Play entertaining football, because that is what the people who have worked all week to come to the stadium on a Saturday afternoon have paid to see."
For the most part, fans don’t want to just see goals scored. Granted, that is an important factor. But they want to be entertained above all else. They want to see the Beautiful Game played in a way that befits it’s name.
There is no doubt that Pele is one of the greats. He’s probably the greatest goal-scorer, but is he really one of the greatest players of all time?
Pele could put the ball in the back of the net, and he did so on a record number of occasions.
Diego Maradona and George Best could do things with the ball at their feet like people could not even dream.
They could win or lose a match in an instant.
They could bring joy and sorrow to thousands of people at the same time.
Their genius was in their simplicity and their legend can be found in their flaws.
Pele was a great player. But so was Johan Cruyff and so is Thierry Henry. But what separates these from Maradona and Best is their attitude to want the game to be played their way: The Beautiful Way.
They and they alone stand at the pinnacle of world football.
They are the greatest. They are the entertainers.