When fans debate the importance of world-class goalkeepers within football, it seems baffling that they simply restrict their abilities to catching and saving. Yes, obviously that’s their job, but why cut the wings off these glorious athletes? Let’s have a bit of fun, allow them to fly and we may end up with a legendary figure – say, someone like Rogerio Ceni.
When we talk about heroes in this sport the names, Diego Maradona, Pele and Lionel Messi all spring up more so than any other. Unfortunately for them, Rogerio Ceni’s achievements within the game make them all look a tad one-dimensional by comparison. Whilst that may be considered as a controversial statement, the record books back up the idea that Ceni was one of the most versatile footballers in the history of the game.
Throughout an absolutely monumental career, the man who belongs on the Brazilian Mount Rushmore spent 25 years with Sao Paulo. With more than 1,250 games and 20 major titles to his name, the bloke is right up there with the best one-club players in the history of the game. The question still remains, however, as to why this man didn’t get the recognition he deserves.
In order to properly understand Rogerio’s undeniable impact on the world of football, we must look towards the statistics. In what is still a record to this day, the 43-year-old scored 61 free kicks, 69 penalties and 131 in total. By comparison, the second-highest scoring ‘keeper of all time has 67 altogether, which is less than Ceni has for penalties. Absolutely mind-boggling.
But, it’s not just his dead ball specialities that shine through. For over two decades, Ceni was a phenomenal shot stopper, with a determined attitude that saw him give every last inch of blood, sweat and tears within his body. His distribution and ability to calm the tempo of a game from inside of his own 18-yard box is still to this day a trait that goalkeepers around the globe can’t even dream of possessing.
To put it simply, this man won games on his own. The English contingent among us may recall his performance in the 2005 FIFA Club World Championship against Liverpool, but if not just go back and dare those Reds players to say he wasn’t one of the best goalkeepers they’ve ever faced.
Ceni, who now manages his beloved Sao Paolo, is an icon. Plain and simple. The Brazilian revolutionised what was possible within the realms of the goalkeeper position, and supporters from every corner of the planet should be on their knees thanking this man for blessing us with his presence.
Hugo Lloris, Petr Cech, Manuel Neuer, whoever you are – meet your superior.
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