In a modern game where super-athletes are the norm and everyone runs (and runs fast) till they drop, in a world where Gegenpressing and its various Bieslaesque variants are the order of the day, no one seems to remember the simple fact that sometimes, you dont really need to run all that fast to play good football. Like the chain-smoking, long-haired, tactical genius Csar Luis Menotti once said, Since when do you need to run to play football?Here we take a look at 10 players who have (or had in some cases) made great careers without as much as sprinting the length of a football field at anything resembling decent pace.Note: the list is neither in any specific order nor is it definitive
#1 Per Mertesacker
In the world of unparalleled imaginative brilliance that is Roald Dahl’s literature, the BFG – Big Friendly Giant – is a 24-foot tall individual (good) dream collector-cum-distributor, blessed with superhuman hearing abilities and immense speed. In the almost equally colourful book of hymns that is passed around at Arsenal Football Club, the BFG – Big F***ing German – is a more homo sapien-ish 6 and a half foot tall master defender, blessed with superhuman aerial-duel winning abilities and absolutely no speed whatsoever.
With the turning speed of the Queen Mary 2, it is natural that Mertesacker has had to suffer jeers of “Too slow!” and “Not mobile enough!” from armchair football pundits and ‘expert’ football journalists across the board. Ever since he put on the German shirt for the U-16s, he has heard the same accusations being thrown at him by detractors wherever he has gone but that hasn’t stopped the humble, self-deprecating German giant from becoming one of the great defenders of his time.
His height allied with a powerful jump make him a terrifying prospect in the air – at either end of the pitch – while his immaculate sense of positioning and ability to sniff out danger more than compensate for his inadequacy in the pace department.
An almost finished career – spent dominating the air, trying to chase annoyingly zippy forwards, putting in brilliant sliding tackles, winning over skeptical fans and winning the World Cup – lies as a testament to the great character and the not inconsiderable skill of the big man.
Titles – 1 x World Cup, 2 x FA Cup, 1 x DFB Pokal, 1 X DFB Ligapokal