Zidane or Messi 4

Who is the best in the last 20 years?

Zidane or Messi

Zidane or Messi

In recent months, with the continual incredible accomplishments of Barcelona and Argentina’s Lionel Messi, the talk of Messi being the “best of all time” is everywhere. And with Messi, also, recently eclipsing Pele’s record for the number of goals in a calendar year, the talk is endless.

Obviously, without question, Lionel Messi and his counterpart, Cristiano Ronaldo, for that matter are both recognized as the two top players currently in the game today. And as great as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are; are they truly in the conversation for the ” Best Player of All Time”?!?!

In fact, as good as Messi and Ronaldo are, there is a good argument that they may not even be the best players in the last 20 years.

That honor, I would have to bestow on the one and only Zinedine Zidane. And not only would I consider him the best, but I would also say that he is undoubtedly the most accomplished player of our generation.

He is truly one of the few players that can say, without a doubt, that they have won everything there is to win, both from an individual or from a team standpoint. He has won for club and country, picking up Domestic league Titles, Champions League titles and for his native France, European and World Cup titles. On an individual standpoint, Zidane was voted as FIFA World Player of the Year on three occasions (1998, 2000 and 2003), and also won the Ballon d’Or in 1998
In addition to the facts and figures, there is a more important reason why I give the edge to Zidane as the best. Granted Messi and Ronaldo are great players, but I think we are blinded by the fact that they are great dribbles, they have the ball at their feet an awful lot of the time, they are exciting to watch and they score fantastic goals. They are practically human hi-light reels, the kind of player you would pay money to go and see play.

But that doesn’t make them the best. It makes them the most exciting, but not necessarily the best. There’s more to it than thrills and spills.

There are multiple things that differentiate Zidane, and what he brought to the game that the other two currently do not.

First off, Zidane was literally the man. He played smack dab right down the middle of the field, in the thick if things. He, like Ronaldo and Messi, possessed incredible technical ability. He could make great passes, had unbelievable, albeit, unorthodox dribbling technique, could shoot with either feet, (as witnessed by the great left footed volley in the Champions League finals), could score goals, create goals, take free kicks and penalties. All the great players share these qualities. But what separates him from the others is the “X” factor.

Zidane had a huge X factor. That massive intangible, that extra edge. The edge that made him perform consistently well, at the highest level, at the most critical point.

He never shrunk. There were never any stories about him not playing well for his country. (Ronaldo, Messi). He never missed penalties in big games, (Ronaldo, Messi).
Plus, he was undoubted leader of his teams. When the game was out of hand and needed a valiant warrior to come and win it. Up stepped Zidane.

If you were going into battle, going to war, Zidane is who you would want down in the trenches with you.

And when the game’s on the line and there’s a final shot to be taken, Zidane undoubtedly would be the one to take the final shot.
And not only would he take it, he’d score. Messi hasn’t shown that and neither has Ronaldo. Messi has in fact missed two crucial champions league penalties, while Ronaldo with his team in a similar position, didn’t take one.

There is a reason that Zidane wore the captains armband. And Trust me, It wasn’t talent alone. It’s because he was the best. Zidane was the undisputed leader. When the going got tough and the game was on the line, other players looked to him for leadership. And he never hid from it, he always stepped up to the table.

At the end of the day, it’s no different from when you were a kid playing in the park, or in the street, or on that patch of space. The best player did it all, took the pk’s, the corner kicks, the free kicks, he even picked the teams. The best player led the team through thick and thin. He didn’t hide, he didn’t shy away, they were always up for the challenge.

Zidane has all of these qualities which is why he is the best. The best player of the last 20 years, is Zinedine Zidane.