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Satire Saturday | Football’s remorseless schedule has cemented the records of yesteryear

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Satire Saturday - February 20th edition

Sportscafe

Satire Saturday | Football’s remorseless schedule has cemented the records of yesteryear

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SportsCafe Desk

02/20/2021

*Entertaining theme song, that you love the first time you hear it and then for the next thirty episodes you binge-watch before hating it with every bone in your body, plays as a man walks out. He’s dressed in an all-pink suit with a weird mask on his face and the spotlight is all over him.

The cameras seem to never keep him out of their sight, which only adds to the allure and mystique surrounding this man as the song slowly comes to an end* 

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the greatest show on earth. Well, the greatest show after the greatest show on earth because here we do nothing but talk, dissect and then scrutinize football games like it was the most important thing on the planet. For those who keep forgetting, it is and it’s why our superstars are paid what they are; because football is indeed more important than doctors, nurses, cops, fire-fighters and the like with only bankers sitting above footballers.

That is, essentially, since money drives this world and the richest of the rich dominate the wagon but we’re rolling away from the point. Normally, we’d have our usual guests and former failed managers, alongside a few successful ones, talking about football games or to be more specific about the VAR and how a referee can make better decisions. It tends to drive traffic so we’ve been told to focus mainly on that, but today’s episode is something else entirely.

On today’s episode, we’ve went on a quest to showcase the greatest players and records from across Europe’s big five leagues, because that is the only football that exists on this planet. We’ve traversed across the entire continent and brought back our expert knowledge of football’s greatest record breakers from all corners of this world. But for posterity, we’re ignoring the records that Pele broke simply for the fact that he himself has no clue what his grand total is.

Once he, his agent and former clubs figure that out, we’ll make an addition and put him with there with the best of the best. Because he is, after all, one of the best but moving on, so let’s get into it and our first stop happens to be Germany. Why? Because of Otto Rehhagel and his absolutely ridiculous appearance record that stands at a sensational……1,037 Bundesliga games played. That is as player and manager with him, one of only two men alongside Jupp Heynckes. 

The record for most appearances, however, goes to Karl-Heinz Körbel with 602 and nobody in the modern age even comes close to said record. That is the same across the leagues with Gareth Barry sitting atop that table with 653 appearances, Andoni Zubizarreta doing the same in Spain with 622, Mickael Landreau in France with 618 and Gigi Buffon with 653. To put all that in perspective, the closest an active player comes to any of the above records is James Milner with him only 100 behind Barry’s record.

Hilton is 117 behind Landreau’s record, while Samir Handandovic is 153 away from Buffon’s but given the amount of football they will play over the next few years, expect those records to be shattered. Sorry, it seems my information is wrong. Because apparently with the number of injuries rising, and the fact that the first real break players will get will be at the end of the 2022/23 season, that could see players shatter records across the planet. But even that break doesn’t count because of the 2022 World Cup being played in November and December.

Imagine that. We’d have nothing but consistent football on our televisions for the next three years straight with no break in the middle. Barring a few weeks here and there during the international break because who watches international football right? Back to the point, and that’s right, apparently the title of our show was all wrong.  And yes, don’t worry, we’ve fired that intern even though the mistake was made by my producer. But we can’t fire him now, can we?

Back to show and we move on to goals and that’s what we all love. It’s what makes this game of ours so wonderful to watch and guess what, it’s a list dominated by two men, especially in Spain. Because while Lionel Messi tops the list with 459 goals, for now, Cristiano Ronaldo is the closest active player with 311 even if he plays for Juventus now. That leaves Karim Benzema as Messi’s competitor and the Frenchman is so way behind, that it’s embarrassing to even talk about. Let’s just put it this way, the difference between Messi’s and Benzema’s total is three goals fewer than what Ronaldo scored.

It’s ridiculous especially when you consider the fact that Messi has made only 505 appearances with only Ronaldo scoring at a better ratio than that. Telmo Zarra, another yesteryear legend, and Ferenc Puskas aren’t far behind with a ratio of 0.9 and 0.87 of goals to appearances but their actual totals are nothingness in front of Messi’s. But what makes it even worse is the fact that of the three men, still playing in Spain, closest to the Argentine, Antoine Griezmann might have the best chance of reaching there.

At 29, the Frenchman is the youngest and could very well break into the top ten before he retires, especially when you consider the fact that he’ll average sixty games over the next two years. It’s just the added pressure that Griezmann needs to keep thriving and dancing on the field. The only question is, will he get the chance as Barcelona rebuild their dynasty? It’s the same problem that Harry Kane faces in the Premier League because he is the man who has the best chance of breaking that Alan Shearer record. 

Of course, that’s the record in the “Premier League” and not the English top flight but we’re ignoring the latter because after-all, football only started after 1992. But yes, with Shearer’s record standing at a mammoth 260 goals, Kane has both time and age on his side to try to atleast match it with him only a 104 behind Shearer. Sergio Aguero is a lot closer, with him 80 behind, but given the recent changes at Manchester City and the fact that Pep Guardiola is on a mission to play midfielders in every possible position at the club, his chances are dwindling down.

Jamie Vardy is behind the duo on the list with him followed by Raheem Sterling, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane who all have a chance despite their unprecedented work-load. France is essentially a write-off what with Kylian Mbappe a mere 60 goals away from Jean-Pierre Papin's record and that is something that not Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Edinson Cavani ever came close to breaking. The former finished 43 goals behind while the latter finished 18 goals behind but with 96 goals and time, Mbappe has a genuine chance.

The only league that where nobody has a chance, despite a relentless schedule helping their case, is the Italian league Silvio Piola's record of 274 goals will rule the roost for the comfortable future. Because the closest active player within touching distance is Fabio Quagliarella and he's got 172 goals at the ripe age of 38. Ciro Immobile has 149 but while the Italian has a few years left in the tank, not even a schedule jam-packed with games would ever help his case. 

Yet that hasn't stopped anything. So much so, that teams have been forced to play footballers despite them being in the red-zone for injuries. How does that help a footballer? Well, it effectively forces them to play football beyond what a normal athlete’s body can handle and eventually causes it to break down and ends careers faster. 

Look at Wayne Rooney, Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard and the list simply goes on and on. But with the advances in medical technology and a step up in the efforts to recover from games, careers are being lengthened to a scintillating average of just ten years at the top. It’s a stark difference from when players used to play well into their forties but this is the modern game we play. Of course, it means that the men who run the game get what they wanted, superstars to help them market the game while they try to break records they have no chance of touching.

It seems I’m running off topic now but that’s the way the wagon rolls, although what this simply does is add more mystique and bluster to what Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have achieved. It adds more magic to the fact to Kaka’s, Luka Modric’s, Andres Iniesta, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and the hundreds of other legends. Because the fact of the matter is that the modern football could not only shatter their records but do it in such a way that football will never be the same again. And that’s all we’ve got time for, so see you on our next episode, where we look at referees and wonder why they’ve started to go wild and head-butt people.

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