Valencia evokes memories of the legendary Garrincha

Antonio Valencia of Manchester United

Only Pele is regarded by Brazilians as a greater player than the legendary Garrincha was; and that, as we all know, is no bad thing. Antonio Valencia still has a long way to go before being recognised as anything close to him, but there’s no disputing the striking resemblance between him and the bandy-legged maverick from Rio de Janeiro. United’s summer recruit, at £16m, looks a good bit of business, perhaps even the signing of the season —  remember, the Ecuadorian has made the most outings for a United player this season. It’s fairly clear why he’s almost always the first name on the teamsheet.

Although he hasn’t replaced Cristiano Ronaldo in the goal department, he certainly has more assists than the Portuguese international ever managed in a season (revised: this was slightly bold, factually-incorrect statement which I’m happy to retract) and his impact is nearly as huge. He certainly appears to work harder. His understanding with his United team mates has also played a part in his success, most notably with Wayne Rooney. Valencia has created a formidable partnership with the England forward which seems to be coordinated telepathically, much like David Beckham did with Ruud van Nistelrooy many moons ago. Or more fittingly, like Pele and Garrincha.

He’s not bad in front of goal but, like Garrincha, it’s his passing ability that catches the eye. Both are skilful and intelligent on the ball and their crosses are not just used as part of standard tactic or policy, it’s a weapon. At least that’s what it seems like. Rewind back to autumn time where United were struggling, ‘in decline’, Valencia was one of the few standout performers, or consistent performers.

It’s not just Rooney who’s leading the team on his own like many pundits insist. This is not a one man team. Pele needed Garrincha like Rooney needs Valencia. He has been the unsung hero, doing his job and slowly he is earning the recognition. To name him Man of the Match in the Carling Cup final was a pretty straightforward choice. It was his assist that brought about the winning goal.

With all the wingers the club have, it speaks volumes that Valencia is playing nearly every week and has made more appearances than anyone else. Nobody else was ever going to replace Ronaldo, for sure. How could you replace a player whose value rose from £12m to £80m in the space of a few years? We know who the better player is. Yet, both are so different to the other that it’s just unfair to compare them. However, he holds similarities to Garrincha, one of greatest players the footballing world has ever seen. Whether Valencia will reach such lofty heights is another matter, though.


This post has gone through an edit, or two, due to a minor inaccuracy. I say minor. Damn you, Ronaldo-based statistics!


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17 responses to “Valencia evokes memories of the legendary Garrincha”

  1. mark says :

    Now comparing him to Garrincha. Lets be realistic. He is very good. But simply just another Andrei Kanchelskis. Nothing wrong with that and I am pleased with that but lets not go overboard

    “has more assists than the Portuguese international ever managed in a season”

    Maybe so but Ronaldo did get 51 assists in 6 years.

    I am glad though that you don’t want to compare valencia to ronaldo. there seems to be an obsession with some people that we need to compare anyone who is doing well i.e. nani/valencia/rooney to ronaldo. none of them need to be. ronaldo should be remembered for his achievements. other players should be judged on theres alone

    • The Gaffer says :

      I wasn’t exactly comparing him with Garrincha but saying they have similarities.

      Ronaldo 51 assists over 6 seasons? I think I need some evidence of that, amazing!

  2. elvido says :

    I support United and I think Valencia is a fantastic winger and a great acquisition for us but he is definitely no Garrincha!!

    • johnpanda says :

      I love Valencia. I think he is a fantastic player and a United legend in the making. But he is known for his directness, power, pace, aggression and crossing. Garrincha was a small, slight player known for his trickery, close control, dribbling and creativity. More in the George Best mould. I don’t get the Garrincha/Valencia comparison at all. Is it just because Rooney is known as the White Pele?

  3. rob says :

    yes valencia is looking good atm but why do people keep trying to make out he’s better at creating chances or giving assists than ronaldo. ronaldo scored 17 goals and provided 14 assists in 06/07 with many other chances he created missed by the likes of rooney. lets enjoy valenica’s good form at the moment and leave it at that.

  4. elvido says :

    I understand what you are trying to say, but as always with football, any comparisons to legends are argumentative. I have to agree though, the way the season has gone, he is becoming an important cog in the team!

    • The Gaffer says :

      Yes, I do agree.

      I don’t think Valencia will ever be as great as Garrincha, of course not, but Rooney is constantly compared with Pele. Plus, I think Guardian have written an article comparing him with Sir Stanley Matthews!

  5. mark says :

    RE: The Gaffer

    I saw it somewhere at the end of last season when he left and they were showing his stats and they displayed something like 50 or 51 for his assists. So I just had a look round the net and this seems to back it up

    go to 2003/04 and obviously exclude the ones dont internationally. it was actually 50, not 51 as i had remembered but still..

  6. rob says :

    re: Mark

    you were right first time, 51 assists. I just counted it.

  7. Jay says :

    Let’s be honest, Ronaldo was not an assist and Tony is. Noone is saying he is better than Ronaldo but he is one of the most productive wingers in world football right now. That makes him a better creator though not a better player.

  8. rob says :

    so if ronaldo is not assist maker how did he get 14 assists in the league, 5 in the Champions league, and 1 in the FA Cup (20 ASSISTS in total) while also scoring 23 goals at the time in 06/07 then? people forget so easily. read the stats in the link mark provided then go back and watch some of the footage like the rooney and ronaldo combination goal against bolton from one end to the other with ronaldo giving rooney the assist for yet another goal that season. he didnt win every award going over the last few years for no reason.

  9. mark says :

    I do agree with your point about not being a one man team. Rooney is getting the goals which is great but players like Valencia, Fletcher and Evra have got no credit this season despite being very important as well, arguably just as important as Rooney

  10. Hakan says :

    Cheers, Gaffer. You probably pushed it a bit even mentioning Garrincha and Valencia in the same post. Having said that, I’m absolutely delighted with Valencia’s performances throughout the season. Berbatov – Valencia – Rooney seem to be our Route 1 to goal at the moment.

  11. Zareef says :

    its amazing how pople here are still comparing him to Ronaldo?!? they’re to seperate players, two different players?
    This is just Valencia’s 1st season, he came from a small time club like wigan and now he’s being compared to the worlds most expensive and one of the greatest players of all time?
    Valencia has been absolute class this season, he’s got loads of assists, and he came in with preasure such as playing in the same wing as Ronaldo did.
    its just amazing what he has done…

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