He’s not as handsome as Baggio. But who is?
Like Baggio, Ribéry has the close dribbles. The unexpected changes in speed and direction.
Like Baggio, Ribéry chops the ball past hairy ankles and mud stained socks. And accelerates past hapless fullbacks.
They both play with 5-a-side joy.
They both leave memories for the fans.
But Ribéry has healthier knees.
We must close with Eduardo Galeano on Baggio:
In recent years no one has given Italians better soccer or more to talk about. Roberto Baggio’s game is mysterious: his legs have a mind of their own, his foot shoots by itself, his eyes see the goals before they happen.
Baggio is a big horsetail that flicks away opponents as he flows forward in an elegant wave. Opponents harass him, they bite, they punch him hard. Baggio has Buddhist sayings written under his captain’s armband. Buddha does not ward off the blows, but he does help suffer them. From his infinite serenity, he also helps Baggio discover the silence that lies beyond the din of cheers and whistles.Eduardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow , pg 226