“World Cup-The Beautiful Game”
It starts today, in Russia, 11-cities…12-stadiums….32-teams…64-games.
It’s the World Cup of Soccer, futbol to the purists, the ultimate global sporting event, surpassing all the things here in the US, and even the Olympics worldwide.
Close your eyes, and listen to names, and you will recognize the greatness of those who graced the pitch for the better part of the last 75-years since the end of World War II.
And the names come rolling back like a tidal wave of super stardom.
Soccer today is about Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo and Neymar. But those who proceeded them made the game great.
Pele took the sports to never imagined recognition, helping Brazil win 3-Cups in a 16-year span. His Brazilian sides have included legends like Carlos, Dunga, Cafu and Ronaldo…
When you think Germany, the names include Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Miller, Lothar Matthaeus and Miroslav Klose.
France’s contribution involves near recent legends Michel Platini, Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zedane and Patrick Viera.
Argentina has given us Diego Maradona and so many others
Portugal was led by the icon Eusabio.
The Netherlands was all about back in the day star Johan Cruyff..
Hungary gave us a hero in 1954-legend Ferene Puskas.
England’s heart is in the game, and its history includes Sir Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Gary Linekar, George Best, Steve Gerrard, and goalie Gord Banks.
Team USA’s arrival was triggered by Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda, John Harkes and Claudio Reyna. But purist will never forget others who wore the colors, Ramos, Balboa,Tim Howard, Brad Friedel and the original star Walter Bahr.
It must be an empty feeling starting today for those on Team USA, for the American side captured the summer fancy of sports fans in past two decades. But this time, they did not qualify, but then neither did the Dutch, the Italians nor Chile.
Soccer is going thru an explosive growth in the states, the emergence of MLS, and the importation of the English Premeir League. The Fox Soccer Channel started it all, and now NBC has picked up the flag too. And of course, the Men-in-Blazers TV show.
You’ll see flair, passion, end to end rushes, grinding offenses, violent tackles, yellow and maybe red cards, tremendous saves, players taking dives, arguments, handballs, corner kicks, bicycle kicks and more.
It’s a summer samba of noise from the fans, and fierce pride in the flag.
The World Cup, it all starts Thursday morning. Something special, the beautiful game. It’s soccer at its global best.