Weah Not Ronaldo Is the Most Complete Player Of All-Time

Wleh Bedell

Recent statements by one time Real Madrid playmaker, Michael Owen, that  attacking ace Cristiano Ronaldo is the “most complete player of All-Time” is disputable and in fact a statement some observers believe is far- fetched. The 2001 Ballon D’or winner, Owen, noted among other things to goal.com that Ronaldo operates with both legs, can head, shoot and score goals.

no doubt the Portuguese player is a virtuoso performer as he has such qualities that makes him a classic footballer, but the two times Ballon D’or winner still lacks prime attributes that should  qualified him as the so-called “most complete player of all-time.”

Firstly, just because someone kicks with both legs and is nimble footed and is also a clinical finisher should not qualified anyone, as the “most complete player of all-time”. The all-time most complete player issue is quite a prodigious topic and spat that would draw a lot of arguments, especially as it would largely depend on how one sees or interprets a player’s qualities.

Albeit, the ex-Manchester United winger, Ronaldo,  certainly has a excess of qualities that cannot be denied, but for one especially Owen, a fellow Manchester United ex- player to insinuate that Ronaldo towers above the rest of fine players and more so, the greats who came before him—such statement must not be taken at face value!

Secondly, is Owen suggesting that, to be classified as the “most complete player of all-time,” a player does not necessarily have to be a mesmerizing dribbler, one endowed with exquisite techniques, especially outrageous dribbling skills from mostly close range which would leave spectators jaws dropping? This is something Ronaldo is a mediocre at. He is also be short of the work ethics as far as tracking back to defend. He is also accused at been deficient at playing at different positions and when he does it is at with devastating effects at  cost to his sides, other than being the wide man always with an eye for goal,.

Astonishingly, Owen’s assertion or evaluation of this scampering skipper, Ronaldo is a bit too prone to dissect, no disrespect, as he has ignored such qualities the ones listed above, which I think should also be equally important in assessing or crowning an “all-time most complete player”. Certainly, to be a most complete player in my honest opinion, a player must be able to performed most of those qualities and make use of them efficiently to great success, something Ronaldo lacks. In view of this, if one must do a comparison, then there are lots of greats before Cristiano who are befitting and this brings me to the legendary George Manneh Weah. And I make this argument, not because I am a Liberian, the record speaks for itself.
Ask me again or a million times any day and I would say, the greatest African footballer ever, George Manneh Weah, was a more complete player than Ronaldo and in-fact the “most complete player of all-time” as the Liberian was all rolled in one package, a very complete player, a polished article, a wizard dribbler, a cheetah on the hunt always due to his lightening pace in combining speed with skill, a towering figure who was endowed with aerial prowess, and also gifted finisher. He could take on a whole city with aplomb using his superb ball skills as he was also able to effectively operate with both legs and score fantastic goals while dislodging the best defenders money could buy in Europe with ease in all sort of fashion. Besides, Weah was not just a one dimensional tradesman sticking to a position like Ronaldo; he bought a lot to the game. He started as a winger from his native Liberia at clubs like Bong Range, Young Survivors and Invincible Eleven (IE) before moving to Cameroon where he styled for Tonnerre quickly moving to France where Arsene Wenger transformed him into a lethal center forward.

Ronaldo photo: theguardian.com

In an article on the FIFA website, captioned the “Iconic Weah a True Great“, the skills workshop carpenter cum box of tricks is described as “an exceptional goal scorer”, it is no exaggeration to describe [him also] as the forerunner of the multi-functional striker of today’s world. Quick, skillful and hence, boasting a powerful physique, fierce shooting prowess with deadly finishing skills.

 

What could be described as one of the greatest goals in the history of the beautiful game was scored by the iconic Weah on September 6, 1996, on the opening day of the Italian Serie A’ between Weah’s AC Milan and Verona in which the former won 4-1 with Weah scoring an unforgettable goal as he moved from post to post, combining speed with skills to score one of the best goals ever witnessed on a football pitch. Mightyblow Ronald Freemano’s mediocrity in consistently dribbling might make him never to achieve such brilliant individual feat, as a player of Weah’s caliber from sheer obscurity and humble beginnings showed, taking into account that there is no substitute for technique.

Owen must have ignored skills in judging and rating, his “all-time complete player” since the diminutive front runner was as well not the best of dribblers and all-around player.

Weah’s mentor, Arsene Wenger, nicknamed him ‘le Profeseur’ for his gift in turning dust into gold from a football perspective and was quoted by FIFA this way “Weah for me was a real surprise. For me it was like a child discovering a chocolate bunny in his garden at Easter. I have never seen any player explode on the scene like he did”.

The 1995 Ballon D’or winner, Weah, who was successful to a large extent at Paris Saint Germain particularly emerging as top scorer in the European champions league with eight goals in the ’94/’95 season and leading the rather less favored Parisian club to a surprised semi-final berth speaks a lot for an individual performance which is still fondly remembered! He put in two solid seasons at AC Milan scoring memorable goals; the African footballer of the century played a key role at Olympique Marseille also.

Weah showed he was a reliable center back as he featured in more than four competitive duels for country in such a difficult position, mainly during the 1996 African Nations Cup qualifier in away pairings on the road, taking the Lone Star of Liberia to its debut Nations Cup appearance in 1996 in South Africa. Weah’s neat tackles, good concentration and aerial ability made him an asset as well, for Liberia’s red, white and blue outfit! He also could stand between the sticks as a shot stopper, something he show case years back in Benin after his side Invincible Eleven (IE) goal keeper saw a red card in a second leg outing in an African Champions league match.

Indeed, Weah is the “most complete player of all-time” if you ask me, as he could not only head, operate with both legs, and score at will! He could also dribble ridiculously as he wished; playing in various positions at the height of his career both as a defender, winger and center forward, something Cristiano is far from capable of! Move over Michael Owen, the iconic George Weah and not Cristiano Ronaldo is the “most complete player of all-time.”

Wleh Bedell is an analyst, journalist and perhaps Liberia’s best known football commentator.

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