Player Ratings

Note: Only retired players on the list, although a couple of oldtimers might have snuck in...

Rating soccer players is a thankless task. Unlike baseball, with a wealth of statistical data on individual achievement, there are no reliable methods of statistically analyzing soccer players. In baseball, statistics can be adjusted for opposition strength, ball parks, era etc. At least you can come up with a relatively sound statistical foundation before you start arguing whether so-and-so was crap.

In soccer, the only possible rating is really subjective, usually clouded by nationalistic and personal bias. For example, I have never met an Argentinian who did not fervently believe that Diego Maradona was the world's greatest player; Pelé couldn't even hold his jock strap. On the other hand, anyone in England believes that the Argie bastard was nothing but a cocaine snorting cheat. (In fact, the only Argies who weren't cheats where Ricky Villa and Ozzie Ardiles, and only folks in Tottenham believe that). Of course, you can rely on Abseits to objectively reveal the truth: Maradona is in fact the greatest cocaine snorting cheat ever to grace a soccer pitch.

Even subjective evaluations have to be adjusted for context. Clearly the era and level of opposition makes a big difference. Gottfried Fuchs scoring 10 goals against Tsarist Russia is certainly amazing, but impossible against today's much more sophisticated defences. And you have to consider the style of the opponent as well. An overweight Diego Maradona once gave a cocaine infused interview where he talked about his breathtaking second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, where he dribbled the whole length of the field through the whole English defense. He acknowledged (mockingly, I might add) that such a goal would only be possible against England, since the players had a inate sense of fair play. Against a team like Italy, he would have been cynically chopped down before he even reached the half-way line.

Location is also a key part of the context. The English like to toot their horn about winning the World Cup in 1966, made everybody a Knight etc. over how they vanquished the Jerries. Bobby Charlton gave an arrogant interview (in History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game)) where he stated "we were the best team, and the even Germans would admit it." Well, that Limey bastard fails to point out that England was favored by the refs throughout the tournament, the deciding "goal" wasn't, and the pressure of a German team playing in England (even today, the British generally believe that the only reason modern Germans have a left hand is to forcibly hold down the right arm from giving the Hitlergruss) gave them a huge non-playing advantage. If the match had been in some rabid English hating foreign country, like Scotland, the "Deutschland über Alles" song would have been wafting over the BBC.

So how do you rate the players? You have to rely upon a neutral, reliable, non-biased source of information, which just happens to be The Abseits Guide to Germany. So without further ado, below is my classification of players:

AAA One of the All-time greats. Among the best the world has ever seen. (e.g. Pelé, Beckenbauer, di Stefano, Argie Cocaine fiend)
AA Among Germany's all-time best, world class during his era. (e.g. Fritz Walter, Matthias Sammer, Manny Kaltz)
A Among Germany's best, marginal world class during his era. (e.g. Klaus Fischer, English example is Guy that married the Spice Girl)
B Solid player during his time, usually an international. (e.g. Karl-Heinz Riedle)
C Might have been a decent player, but no one would be paying attention if not for Abseits (e.g. Michael Rummenigge)

Now inevitably, there will be some disagreements in the ratings of players, "so-and-so was rated way too low" or "how could you possibly rate xyz as World class? My 5 year old daughter could kick his ass!" or "David Spice would be AAA+ even if he hadn't married Victoria Beckham." etc., etc. Whatever.

Just remember the basic fact of true objectivity: I'm right and you're wrong.

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany :