OSCARS WEEK: And the Oscar for Best Actor goes to...
With the Oscars this weekend, Sports Gazette takes a look at the greatest thespians to grace the Premier League boards.
Winner - Robert Pires
Robert Pires is undoubtebly the deserved winner of this esteemed accolade. He is so entrenched in the tradition of diving that, although it obviously preceded him, he is often considered the father of simulation.
It’s only in retrospect that fans have recognised Pires as a diving genius, the likes of which we were lucky to have witnessed - he even invented the ‘wrap your foot around the defender’s leg’ move.
It’s a move that we see in the below video. One nil down to Portsmouth and in danger of blowing an impressive unbeaten run, Pires took the match by the scruff of neck and dived over the leg of Dejan Stevanovic so expertly that Pires looked like he even fooled himself.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a more accomplished actor in the Premier League - we can only hope that the artistry of Pires will live on and inspire future generations to come.
Runner Up - Jurgen Klinsmann
Jurgen Klinsmann is probably the only Premier League player that could hold a candle to Pires when it comes to acting prowess.
It could be argued that Klinsmann’s thankless graft in the mid-nineties, before diving became popular, shaped the stage on which Pires was able to flourish so magnificently.
The German’s simulation was so iconic that it even inspired one of the most famous celebrations of all time - the Klinsmann dive.
He was a truly astounding performer - seemingly able to contort his body beyond the generally accepted boundaries of modern biology and fool even the most hardened of referees.
Klinsmann, though, only spent two seasons in the Premier League and it’s for this reason that he’ll have to settle for playing the bridesmaid.
Special mention - Ashley Young
Breaking through the ranks while Pires was in his pomp, there’s no doubt that an emerging Ashley Young was heavily influenced by the imperious Frenchman and looked to follow in his footsteps.
The two even spent a season as teammates at Aston Villa before Young secured his dream move to Manchester United.
Young has been an established Premier League diver for over ten years now and its this longevity that has been a crucial factor in him getting a deserved special mention for the award.
Ultimately though, Young got caught more than he didn't and therefore I don’t think that it can be said that he ever quite reached the heights of the peerless Pires.
Special mention - Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba burst on to the Premier League scene when he made a £24 million switch from Marseille to Jose Mourinho’s unstoppable Chelsea.
The Frenchman was 6 ft 2 in tall and built like a wall so it was even more impressive when he, completely superfluously, turned out to be a dab hand at the simulation game.
Defenders didn’t know whether Drogba would run straight through you or fall gracefully to the floor at the mere hint of contact - making the striker incredibly effective.
After a few seasons though, after inexplicable criticism, Drogba started to dive less and less frequently and therefore cannot really be considered among the greats of the art.
Special mention - Adnan Januzaj
The one thing that you cannot criticise Adnan Januzaj for is a lack of compete commitment to his craft.
Season upon season it seems as though Januzaj has spurned the opportunity to improve his footballing ability - instead choosing to focus on the real skilfulness in football.
There’s still a long way to go for the Belgian and a fair criticism that could be levelled at him is his lack of creativity in fooling the referee - sometimes it feels as though he doesn’t truly believe his own dives.
However, at just 22 years of age there’s plenty of time for Januzaj to hone his diving skills and hopefully a breakthrough season is just around the corner.
Special mention - Gareth Bale
Between the years 2008 and 2015, Gareth Bale picked up seven yellow cards for diving, a full four more than any other player.
It’s plain to see then that Bale was one of the Premier League’s most talented actors - so what went wrong?
Money? Fame? Women? Who knows. But what’s often cited is his unfortunate level of footballing talent.
It’s one of the great shames that Bale’s tendency to beat three players before smashing the ball in from 30 yards overshadowed his incredibly promising career - potentially robbing the public of a rightful heir to Pires’ crown.