Maradona or Pele?

People prefer absolutes in life, of course. Binary decisions and outcomes. But life is often more complex than this and becoming ever more so.

Who crossed the finishing line first? This is fine when measuring the fastest sprinter on earth but less satisfactory when the finishing line happens to be in an election as we witnessed recently in America.

Sports that don’t need judging are always on more solid ground. Football (soccer) is one such sport but only considering a team’s outcome and not how individual players have fared. Which explains the eulogies and arguments that accompanied the premature death of the magnificent Diego Maradona.

The best football player to have ever played the game, or not?

A question that is impossible to answer because so many factors need to be accounted for and too many of these are not absolutes.

Maradona or Pele is usually the first round. Their extraordinary prowess and accomplishments measured and compared before the political, nationalist and racial implications are then factored in. No answer is right or wrong. All subjective and impossible to agree on.

What about Messi or Ronaldo? It depends on our experiences. How old we are and whether they played in our era. Where we are from…

Usain Bolt is indisputably the best sprinter to have ever lived because he has the fastest time. No one would argue with this although John McEnroe recently was in trouble for omitting Serena Williams from his list of Borg, Federer and Nadal as his potential best tennis player of all time. An example of how the world is becoming more complex?

But much more complex than sport are the arts.

The arts are notoriously prone to politicking, patronage and favour and will always be contentious. Scroll through the Academy Awards for an array of anomalies and decisions where political pressures of the day are borne out.

So too with literature. Last week on the radio I heard a very famous author being interviewed. His introduction was arresting, or at least it made me stop and listen. Countless books published. Translated in to over 40 languages and with over 130 million copies sold.

Like everyone else listening, I felt compelled to do the maths on his income – or because he is American, the math.

By any reckoning, this guy is a writing titan and fleetingly, I wondered how it must feel…

I had an idea that we have one of his novels in the house and I went to seek it out. With so many millions sold, presumably most homes have at least one of his books.

Indeed, I found the novel and quickly got started but almost as quickly, I got finished. I lasted only a couple of chapters. Far too painful to read on. Boys own guff. Risible stuff, in my opinion but on this, I must be wrong?

Unless 130 million people have been somehow hoodwinked in to buying his books just once and then never again. Which is nonsense of course. He must have legions of fans who love his books. And they are not wrong for doing so.

But my point is this…

That the ‘best’ and the ‘most successful’ are not always so. There are thriller writers right now toiling at their computers and writing books far superior to this guy writing and yet monstrous sales will elude them.

This Christmas, hundreds (thousands even) of non-fiction comedic books will be published and mine included. I would never claim that my book (Takes on Life) is the ‘best’ or the ‘funniest’, but I do contest that it will be more readable and more entertaining than many of the books that feature on the bestseller lists.

And this is not hard lines. It is just life.

It is often said that life is not fair. But it is not supposed to be. And the quicker we realise this, the happier we are.

I write this blog because last night I watched a film and the notion of fairness really caught up with me.

1917, Dunkirk and ’71 are three films in a similar vein.

Set in wartime. Taught dramas. Historical interpretations of famous events. All are award winning films. But only one I found completely gripping and entertaining.

Two directed by household names, with star studded casts and enormous budgets and studio support.

And one by a debutante director with almost an unknown cast and I imagine a budget stretching at the sinews – and yet it this film that had me rapt.

Dunkirk and 1917 both featured large at the Oscars, which is the ultimate gauge of a movie’s success.

I expect that most of my readers today have heard of these two films and that many of you will have seen them also.

And that too few of you have seen ’71.

This is a shame and I urge you to seek it out. You can thank me later.

And just for some context, to the imponderable question posed above, I am Maradona.

The greatest football player of all time but likely to be eclipsed by his countryman, Lionel Messi.

In my humble opinion, obviously.



Takes on Life was published last week. Thank you to all the blog readers who have taken a punt and purchased a copy. Paperbacks are available at online retailers. Hardbacks are available through this site and these can be signed and dedicated as gifts if you wish. 

Not the best book that will be published ahead of Christmas – but way better than some of the shite that will be!





9 thoughts on “Maradona or Pele?

  1. Sydnee Coleman says:

    Lovely blog Mr. H, I am now curious of whom the Author is and what book, to see if I own any or it. The way I see it, everyone has their own opinions, see I have two authors I love to read a lot recently, one is the Famous Neil Gaiman, I love his work and writings. And the other is Dominic Holland, lol, an amazing author, who writes a beautiful blog every Sunday. I love interacting with his blog, I read them every Sunday, and try to comment on all of them. I kindle read, his book Only in America, and fall for his writing styles. I still would love to find that book. As a real book, you know A physical book,lol.

  2. Lorraine says:

    The best at anything is always subjective I feel. I might like a different style than another Dover need to respect each other’s opinions and hopefully still get along. I’m not too interested in football do don’t really have an opinion but that I too like Sydnee would love to have a copy of Only in America in my hands and not just virtually – please and thank you, maybe someday??

  3. Mashaal Awan says:

    Great start to my morning! Lots of laughs
    You’ve mentioned this briefly on your chats before and I completely understand and agree.
    It’s also so hard to make a name for yourself when these other authors are constantly on the bestseller lists even if they don’t deserve to be there.
    Nonetheless, love this blog and hope you can feature it on Takes Vol. 2!

    • Marisa Nieva says:

      Gracias Dom! Cada domingo disfruto de tu blog desde Argentina y el de hoy te lo agradezco en especial Todo en esta vida es subjetivo, pero los poderosos distorsionan los objetivos, al menos por un tiempo Habrá q esperar por la traducción de sus libros!!! Buena Semana!!!!

  4. Jenny says:

    I really enjoyed this today. Personal filters are everything, aren’t they? My dad is a diehard Pele guy. He grew up admiring him and watching him and, later, telling us about him. That makes me smile and brings back great memories when I hear the name.

    However, in 1990, I sat at my Oma’s dining table in Stuttgart as Germany played Argentina in Rome at the World Cup finals (and won!). Never had I seen her so animated! It was like I’d only ever known Dr. Jeckyll, but Ms. Hyde had shown up to the World Cup table. The name Maradona was revered, spoken with respect in spite of being the competition, and spoken as a curse word BECAUSE he was the competition. I got so much enjoyment out of watching her watch that game.

    Those two players, whilst incredibly talented, mean a lot to me not for what they accomplished, but for how they made my loved ones feel. It’s personal, and I think the arts are very much the same. A book, song, or painting may speak to one person more than another, not because it’s bad or good, but because of how it makes THAT person feel. I’m very much looking forward to reading Takes and I thank you for the warm fuzzy trip down my memory lane today.

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