By The Spotter
Happy New Year all. If you managed to emerge unscathed from some of the unbelievably bad driving I saw over the break, then thank goodness you’re here.
The following is solely due to a great YouTube video I came across: The basement dwellers of A-League football, the Phoenix are no doubt be happy to see Nathan Burns back in the yellow and black again. And he has had an immediate impact. But just imagine if the guy coming in was someone like the player who scored wondrous goals for the first-ever team from this country to play in the Australian national football league; the Football Kingz. The man in question being Wynton Rufer.
What is brilliant is that basically every goal of Rufer’s for the Kingz was a gem. No sitters amongst them. Every one a striker’s dream. Marvel at the balance, control and radar-like accuracy on goal. Some deadly headers in there too -I’d forgotten he could do that. The first strike on the video has to be one of the best goals you will ever see, and the effort at 1m 15 brings to mind a not half bad player called Dennis Bergkamp and his extraordinary ability to caress a ball back to earth with one subtle touch of an outstretched foot.
The perfect example of Bergkamp’s sublime control being his feted late winner versus Argentina at World Cup ‘98- a goal judged by many to be the second-best World Cup finals goal of all-time; just behind Maradona’s second goal against England in ‘86- the one without the hand. (Brazilians might disagree however, and go for Carlos Alberto’s goal against Italy to make it 4-1 in ‘70.). Here’s Rufer then:
And this was Bergkamp:
Yes; different stage and opposition, but similarly divine skills.
When Wynton was setting European football alight for the German club Werder Bremen in the early 1990s, you would hazard a guess that he was never formally considered for Halberg Sportsman of the Year- though that would hardly be surprising considering the doldrums the sport was in at that time here. Indeed, that is all the more reason why we should never forget just what a prodigal talent the Rongotai College whiz-kid was.
Wistful, symmetrical and almost mythical in some way also, that when Rufer was only nineteen and charging the latter stages of the legendary 1982 All Whites’ World Cup qualifying campaign like a lightning bolt striking a radio mast, another nineteen-year old and master of his craft had also made the highest team in the land in his chosen sport earlier that very year- one Martin David Crowe.
1982 really was a kind of retro sporting year in excelsis. The All Whites getting to Espana ‘82 after a virtually impossible 15-match qualifying campaign. Coupled with the beginning of Crowe and the New Zealand cricketers in beige versus national sporting enemy number one, Greg Chappell and Australia; playing with chilly bins encroaching over the boundary rope of Eden Park in the mayhem of 43,000 at the one-dayer in February (still the record crowd for a cricket fixture in this country).
Would the All Whites have negotiated Kuwait and Saudi Arabia away (when they needed to win 5-0) and beaten China in the play-off in Singapore to reach Spain if they hadn’t had Rufer? That is hard to answer and in some ways is best left unanswered. However, just imagine if Rufer had been born Dutch or German. His innate natural ability could well have taken him into the pantheon of the greats.
And just quickly- Adam Cameron reckoned I may have been channelling his Dad in a piece on Steve Smith just on Xmas. That felt unreal because DJ Cameron was a hero of mine growing up. I’ll naturally never get anywhere near the standard of that jedi knight of prose, but thanks so much for the ‘encouragement’ if you’re reading this, Adam. Blimin’ heck, what a weird surprise, thanks!
-Paul M at: email@example.com