Rivaldo, Sergio Busquets and how one dive can tarnish a world-class player’s career forever

This week's 'The Take' encourages you to consider the worth of players you probably don't like...

I am not about to advocate diving — I’ll leave that to Mauricio Pochettino.

But last week we published a video in appreciation of Sergio Busquets on our Facebook page and I was shocked at how quick many were to dismiss his career because of THAT dive against Inter in 2010.

You know the one; Thiago Motta brushed the Barcelona midfielder’s face without any intention of causing harm and Busquets hit the deck.

AP:Associated Press
Oh dear…

Cameras caught him peeking through his hands to check the reaction before Motta was unjustly sent off for violent conduct.

It was disgraceful and you would hope that Busquets felt embarrassed and ashamed when he watched the replays.


I understand why many would be put off by this behaviour, but to let his propensity to hit the deck distract from his ability is a great shame.

His dive against Inter is not the only time he’s gone down easy, and I too roll my eyes whenever he tries to con the ref, but that doesn’t mean I don’t purr when plays his way out of a tight situation.

His simple yet effective style is a joy to behold and I’m inclined to agree with Xavi’s opinion that he’s perhaps the most tactically aware player to ever grace a pitch.

Getty Images - Getty
This is what retaining possession looks like

However, I can’t help but feel his diving will prevent him from reaching the level of respect afforded to Xavi and Andres Iniesta from non-Barca fans.

It’s possible to dislike him while also appreciating him.

To deny yourself the enjoyment of Busquets the player is a tragedy.

Something similar could be said of Rivaldo.

Upon hearing his name, many people’s first thought would be the image of him clutching his face after being hit in the knee by a ball against Turkey at the 2002 World Cup.

Again, it was a ridiculous dive and he deserves to be mocked for such outrageous simulation.


But to let that error in judgement define his career is unfair.

Rivaldo is a World Player of the Year winner, a key figure in Brazil’s legendary crop of 2002, and one of the greatest talents of the modern era.

And yet you’ll be hard pressed to find a mention of him on social media not met with GIFs of his tumble against Turkey.

The tarnished legacies of Busquets and Rivaldo should act as effective deterrents.

No player wants to become a meme.

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Arjen Robben, Jurgen Klinsmann, Dele Alli… the list of talented divers goes on.

Anything that leads to a reduction in diving gets my vote but I’ll never feel wholly comfortable with world-class players going underappreciated.

You don’t have to like them, you don’t even have to respect them as people, but at least consider their worth from a purely footballing perspective.

Ultimately however, the blame lies with those who dive and, ironically, they don’t really have a leg to stand on.