How can you be legend with more than one name? Get real! You've either got to have an 'o' or an 'a' on the end of your name and really be labelled a 'Brazilian, Samba wonderkid!' and have endless slow motion shots of you with Samba music and shots of beaches. It's all tosh!
Ask most fans who they would regard as the greatest players of all time and they will say Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo, Messi and a score of other people who have become known purely by their surnames - or names carefully picked to suggest some mystical aura. It's all tosh really! There are some English players who have crept into the pantheon of greats - Best and Charlton stand out, but flippantly one can ask if it's necessary to have just a fancy name ending in a vowel to make it big in the legend game. The other gripe is the casual use of "of all time." Nobody told me time had ended! When did that happen? Do they mean in the history so far?
But let's leave the pedantic for the moment and consider that one of the top three players in the history of the game is sometimes referred to by his surname, but is also overlooked when it comes to trickery and invention. The man who invented twists and turns and had them named after him and proved that he could manage as well as play the game. We are all biased when it comes to thinking about (with care here ...) - 'the greatest' players', but I make no apologies for saying that Johan Cruijff will be remembered by some in the same breath as Pele and Maradona. The real issues with 'greatest' and 'sensational' and all the other hyperbole is we forget that time moves and on and so do the memories. When the votes for "Greatest 100 Films of all Time!" are cast, "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter" come in around 12 and number eight as the people who usually vote in these polls are younger than I am. Same with music - greatest singers of the 20th century - betya Justin Beiber would get a mention.
Cruyff (to give him his English spelling) remains one of the most charismatic and inventive footballers of the past 50 years. Chain smoker, rebel, forward thinker and beligerent - all that and yet an inspirational player and with more style and class than most of the current 'heroes.' It's all subjective and there'll be plenty to shoot me down in flames. It's more to do with my total disdain for the hyperbole and jargon-laden tosh that permeates the professional game. Everything has to be 'sensational', 'brilliant' or 'amazing.' Alan Hansen would describe the kitman for Brazil lifitng the bags out of the bus as "doing an utterly sensational and amazing job that nobdy else could ever do in this country!" And you buy into that! When everyhting is so 'brilliant', 'fanatstic' and 'utterly sensational,' what do you say when every once in a blue moon someone comes along like Messi or Cruyff and really does something amazing? Check out SKY - no teams ever play each anymore. They go 'head to head' or 'toe to toe' and sometimes even 'face to face' in a growling Andy Gray style voiceover as they ramp up even the most dire games. It's all tosh really!
When Cruyff was strutting his stuff (forgot that one - "in his pomp!") in Spain and Holland in his heyday, we didn't have the verbal hype we have now. Players were revered and lauded. Now, they are rushing out biographies at 20-odd (Walcott, Owen and Rooney) and telling us how the game should be run! In reality their names will live as long as the game flourishes and people can be bothered to look back further than 15 minutes. Johan Cruff is in my opinion, one of the top three players there has ever been in the history of the game so far. Or should I put it in the words of Alan Hansen and SKY:
"John Cruyff - an utterly brilliant and sensational player of amazing skills who is one of the greatest living legends of all time, now and into eternity who went head to head and toe to toe with the other sensationally amazing, brilliant Samba wonderkids who have made this game the greatest spectacle in the history of this weekend's fixture list!" I rest my case.