Probably one of the most underrated and over looked aspects of the game of football is the pass before the assist. Even a defender’s last ditch tackle or a goalkeepers fingertip save receives more recognition that one of the key aspects of the game – the killer pass which was made just before the assist which contributed to the goal.

What the pass before the assist essentially does is it opens the play up completely for the attacking team putting the defending team on the back foot immediately. This ultimately leads to a player passing the football to the goal scorer (the assist) who then slots the ball home into the opposition net.

Not to take any credit away from the assist or the goal itself (and the players responsible for each respectively), but the pass before the assist always tends to stay in the shadows even though it deserves credit. At the end of each season, the assists and goals stats are racked up and compared. But, no one bothers about the pass before the assist. A player making such a pass is contributing as much to the team as the goal scorer and the assister.

The pass before the assist is made by players who can play in any position on the pitch. Quite often it is made by the goalkeeper or a defender when a team is launching a counter attack. In such cases the pass before the assist is the most crucial pass in determining the success of the counter attack. Even in the case of team goals which involve heavy link up play between several players, the pass(es) before the assist contribute as much towards victory as the assist and the goal.

Just as I write this, the Greece national team gives proof of the importance of the pass before the assist. Greece are 1-0 down at the quarters of the Euro 2012 against a German team who are running them ragged. Theofanis Gekas manages to get possession in the middle of the park and sends a fabulous through ball (the glorious but much ignored pass before the assist) to Salpingidis who makes a simple pass to Samaras to slot it home into Neuer’s net. Of course, Samaras and Salpingidis will be the name on everyone’s lips, but the brave and valiant efforts of Gekas, which in fact created the entire attack, will never be remembered. The pass before the assist will always remain in the shadow. (P.S.- Khedira just equalized for Germany, so the goal may be irrelevant, but the pass before the assist will remain beautiful.)

However, I repeat, we have stats only for the number of assists and goals. As a result, many, in fact most, viewers of the beautiful game tend to ignore the pass before the assist. As a result, many quality players with raw talent have been touted as overrated or unworthy. Definite examples would include Luka Modric from Spurs, Michael Carrick and from Manchester United, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing from Liverpool FC, Matthew Etherington from Stoke City, Seb Larsson from Birmingham City and many more (these are just a few from the English Premier Division). Admittedly, some of these players like Steward Downing have underperformed over the last season (0 Premier League goals and assists says it all). But, many of these players are instrumental in contributing towards the goal by making the pass before the assist on several occasions thereby ensuring the success of the team in the league/cup.

True appreciators of the game will be able to fully understand the value of the pass before the assist and the fact that it remains as important and as beautiful (if not more) as the assist and the goal.


The famous English football manager Bill Shankly once said – “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”


Football – It’s more than a game. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. Officially, more than 250 million players play the game in almost all of the roughly 200 countries of the world. Not to mention those who play the game unofficially or simply spend their time watching the beautiful sport of football. The FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships are in the list of top 5 sporting events of the world, as published by Forbes magazine. On a regular basis, many football players are on the list of most influential people in the world, as published by Time magazine. Such is the extent of the influence of football and the people as well as bodies involved with the sport. It has touched the lives of people of all demographics and influenced countries all over the world. It has become much more than a sport in the world today. It has become a global movement for change and improvement.


Football has had a massive influence on individual nations all over the world. The instance in this case is the most significant and substantial contribution made by a single player/sport anywhere in the world. I am talking about none other than the Chelsea legend and the African King – Didier Drogba. Turmoil and civil war was large in the Ivory Coast. In October 2005, after leading his country to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Didier Drogba fell to his knees in front of the camera and begged the warring parties to lay down their arms. The result: within a week, his wish was granted and the leaders of the two sides were standing side by side proudly singing the national anthem. One football player managed to glue his country together. Such is the massive influence of the game and the people involved with it, all of whom are idolized to great extents. However, the remarkable contribution is that these same players, who are idolized, are all eager and willing to give back and contribute as individuals for the welfare of the world and society. We all are aware of Didier Drogba’s antics and shenanigans on the pitch. Many a times his integrity is called into question. On being asked why he did not defend his character with such examples of his contribution he replied: “Honestly, it doesn’t bother me what I get accused of. The people who mean most to me know what I am really about. I know what I stand for and that is all that matters”.  Even though I am a die-hard Manchester United fan and the rivalry culture makes me intuitively boo and jeer at the opposing team players I have only the following to say to you King Drogba – Respect, we bow down to you and your contribution!


Racism is a global issue today and it is a shame to see how prevalent it is in the world. Football as a sport has been working diligently to eliminate racism and discrimination entirely, branding it as a social evil which must be ousted. Various movements have been initiated to oust the social evil of racism. And these movements have been clearly working. The demographically diverse players involved in the game and its anti-racism movements are a clear indication of the fight against racism. The organization has launched a movement whose banner says “let’s kick racism out of football”. This campaign has been supported and funded by various governing bodies such as the PFA, the Football Association and the Premier League as well as players who advertise for the campaign and the spread the social message to boot racism out. Similarly, UEFA as well as FIFA have launched their own anti-racism campaigns and FIFA has now declared anti-racism days to be held annually. We may have our issues with Sepp Blater, the president of FIFA, the governing body of football around the world, but kudos to him for fully supporting the movement and give it the push it required.


Anyone heard of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation? The Craig Bellamy Foundation? The Didier Drogba Foundation? The Stiftung Foundation by Franz Beckenbauer ( The UK Football Foundation funded by the Premier League ( Jason Roberts, Stephen Ireland, Christoph Metzelder, Roque Santa Zruz and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst are just a few other football players with similar charity and social foundation for the welfare of the not so fortunate. These foundations aim to develop education, training and employment support programs for communities which lack resources and opportunities all over the world. The impact that these foundations are having on individual lives cannot be underscored using any words. The magnanimous nature of these football players fills us all with a sense of pride and restores our faith and belief in humanity. Pele once said – “Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man.” Today’s footballers are truly making the world a better place to live in. Even the much maligned Joey Barton visited a school on behalf of a charity and told pupils not to repeat his many mistakes. In addition to all this, FIFA also is responsible for global charity and social work with their Football For Hope and 20 Centers for 2010 movements which are both successes so far, all in partnership with the streetfootballworld organization. They have greatly helped disadvantaged communities all over the world, especially in Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In addition football has also brought about many positive influences such as international co-operation and sustainable development of the environment to name a few. Football has worked closely with many global organizations such as the United Nations as well as individual football governing bodies. For example, FIFA teamed up with the International Labor Organization to stop child labor and child abuse as well as with the UNICEF to promote human rights and education for children around the globe. Football is also helping raise awareness for the environment and ensuring that our world is a cleaner place to live in with each day. FIFA had launched its green goal and now has its governing body based in a building which has absolutely zero emissions of harmful gases. The football world has been engaging with several institutions to find sensible ways of addressing environmental issues and mitigate the negative environmental impacts linked to its activities.


Football and the people involved with the sport have truly given back to the world much more than could be ever asked of them. I am sure the football Gods around the world are smiling down at the contribution of the game and the individuals associated with it. I will leave you with a few lines from Jurgen Griesbeck, the man behind streetfootballworld: “The beautiful game itself is part of the solution. And it has teamed up to further the cause of development – a huge opportunity and an immense responsibility!” I must say, so far, it has been fulfilling the responsibility.