30 April 2012
Those untrusted English mavericks of the 1970s; even they could be put into a pecking order. And of them all, the most gifted was Tony Currie. Beyond that, he was also probably the closest to a player that the overly-pragmatic system of the decade would allow to flourish. Raised at Sheffield United after three clubs in his native London cast him aside, he became the biggest of fish in a small pond at Bramall Lane, soon acquiring plaudits as a true visionary, whose capacity to control a football, seek out its target and aim it conclusively all in quick succession rendered him unique in the early 70s. Unlike the other players who eschewed any brand of work ethic in favour of flair, Currie wasn't a runner or a dribbler; he was a releaser of the ball, it was always his friend. Occasionally capable of beating five men, he nonetheless did so by patient wearing of defenders into the ground, making them dizzy, exhausting their spirit, rather than using pace or force. He was a phenomenon who was in the England team early via his most unglamorous South Yorkshire route, and only misguided coaching priorities and Currie's own injury record stopped him from running the midfield for the whole of the 1970s. A hero when he moved to Leeds United, who scored ridiculous goals and maintained a craftsman's ethic as the team around him declined, he kept an element of mystique as his career reached its twilight in the 1980s, and was still making foes look fools until he retired.