American Soccer’s Greatest Players: When Football Went Disco
NEW YORK COSMOS have had a bewildering array of fantastic players, and the latest in the club’s bumpy history is the Spanish legend, Raul. The Real Madrid superhuman decided to come out of retirement to play for the club made famous by Pele.
As well as being a player, Raul is all set to take on the role of technical adviser to the club’s soon-to-be opened youth academy, which he’ll look after when he’s retired.
“Everyone throughout the soccer world knows the Cosmos name and the legacy of the players that played for this team previously,” Raul said in a statement. “They helped establish soccer in America and I’m honoured to follow in their footsteps. I believe in this club’s vision and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Of course, moving to New York doesn’t hurt either, and no doubt, he’ll be on fantastic amounts of money. You’d be mad not to!
Likewise, back in the ’70s and ’80s, footballers from all over the world saw the footballing goldrush of America. When the NASL started to become more popular and investors started throwing their money around, everyone started taking notice.
It was the arrival of Pele at NY Cosmos that saw the floodgates open and a huge number of footballers going Stateside for a huge paycheck and all the coke and champagne they could stomach in America’s disco clubs.
So with that, let us look at some of the true greats that moved to America, just like David Villa and Frank Lampard are doing in the winter of their careers right now.
And be sure to watch all the videos because there’s a corker tucked away in there.
The mighty Cruyff left Europe to play in the sunshine, ending up playing for the Washington Diplomats and LA Aztecs. He, of course, scored one of the most memorable goals in the league’s history.
The player that really opened America up was Pele when he moved to the NY Cosmos. Little needs to be said about that, other than it must’ve been absolutely brilliant in New York with all those superstars dossing about the place.
Post Manchester United, it feels like Georgie Best played for just about everyone. Somewhere in there, he managed to sup his way around America, working on his tan at Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes. Between one-night stands and hangovers, he managed to score the NASL’s greatest goal.
Also at NY Cosmos was the technical brilliance of Der Kaiser. You can imagine he took it all quite seriously, which must have been borderline hilarious to everyone else there.
Eusebio left his beloved Benfica and decided to get one last payday. America beckoned and he found himself lording it up with the Boston Minutemen, Toronto Metros-Croatia and Las Vegas Quicksilvers. Openly in it for the money, but no-one minded. He’s Eusebio. He can do what he wants.
Napoli legend, Chinaglia rocked up at the New York Cosmos like he owned the place, regardless of who was there. Arrogant, bullish and egocentric, Chinaglia was the disco strut of that famous team and he knew it. However, he wasn’t Pele, which drove him mad. Cue: sporting soap operas galore!
World Cup winner Geoff Hurst buggered off to play for the Seattle Sounders. He banged some goals in and picked up his money. Below, you can see his debut. He must have wondered what he’d let himself in for.
Pele’s captain, Carlos Alberto also went to the NY Cosmos. It doesn’t matter what he did or didn’t do, because he’s Carlos Alberto who scored perhaps the most perfect goal in World Cup history.
The brilliant Munich hitman, Gerd Muller, went to Ft Lauderdale and thrashed a load of goals in while growing an absolutely magnificent beard (as seen above with a disappointingly clean-shaven George Best). 38 goals in 71 appearances, and then he rightly put his feet up.
Peter Withe made his way to America, playing for the Portland Timbers. The best record of his time there is getting involved in a tussle the a player and squaring up to a referee just after a cameraman gets taken out with a thunderous clearance from close range. Bravo lads. Bravo.