Andy Dawson: Iniesta and Rooney’s genius flashes are reminders of their fading lights

It’s lovely to see that they've still got something in their locker. But, says Andy Dawson, they're helped by having opted out of proper footballing society...

Thankfully, all of the football is now back with us, but it seems that some people have got slightly carried with it all and have descended into the kind of frenzy you’d expect from a group of sugar-fuelled kids if you took them on a bus ride to a firework show followed by a display from some motorbike-riding sharks armed with machine guns.

There was plenty of juicy footballing action over the weekend but a disproportionate amount of online drooling has been devoted to goals involving two of the, well, let’s be polite and say ‘lesser’ leagues in the world.

Far far away, in Japan, the veritable god that is Andres Iniesta scored his first goal for his new team…  *looks at internet*… Vissel Kobe.

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There’s no denying that it’s an exquisite bit of business. Receiving the ball just inside the… erm… Jubilo Iwata penalty area, he spins 180 degrees with it, taking out the nearby flailing defender and putting himself in a prime position to slip it past the bewildered goalkeeper.

It’s a gorgeous act of trickery but let’s be blunt – it’s in the J.League. We’re not talking about Iniesta pulling this stunt against the world’s meanest defenders. At the end of the day, it’s a piss-take.

Then there’s Wayne Rooney. While we in England were sleeping, the nation’s toppermost ever goalscorer was wowing the American crowds with something that would be worthy of a knighthood if it ever happened in the Premier League.

Look at him go! Haring back to the halfway line to prevent a surefire last minute winner by Orlando City. His keeper’s gone walkabout and only Wayne can prevent a DC United ‘loss play’, as they probably call it over there.

Not only that, he’s then only gone and picked out Luciano Acosta with a pinpoint cross which the forward duly put away for his ‘personal triple score conversion’ and a dramatic late win for DC. Okay, so it’s a hell of a ball from Rooney but it should be defendable to be honest. And when Wayne Rooney is doing you for pace, well…

Yes, I’m a killjoy – and while it’s lovely to see that these footballing behemoths have still got something spectacular in their locker, they’re both plying their trade at a negligible level having opted out of proper footballing society. They’ve more than done their bit at the very summit of Mount Football and they’re hugely entitled to see out their days showboating in football’s backwaters for colossal sums of cash. But let’s not pretend it’s something it isn’t.

I’m bracing myself for feedback from football hipsters armed with stats which they claim show that the US and Japan leagues are every bit as excellent as La Liga and the Premier League and I’m more than ready to scoff at them.

It all reminds me of the ludicrous debate over George Best’s greatest ever goal. There are some who reckon Best’s slalom-dribble effort in for San Jose Earthuakes against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1981 shows the late genius at his absolute peak.

Yes, it’s a treat for the eyes and shows off Best’s mind-boggling ball control but this is the North American Soccer League. As it was beginning to wind down.

The level of opposition is only one or two stages higher than if George were practicing his dribbling with some strategically positioned bins.

Like dogs being shown a card trick, it’s nice to have a brief gawp at these flashes of brilliance from our fading favourites, but a bit of context wouldn’t hurt. Go on then – let’s scroll up the page a bit and watch them both again…

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