Mark Bresciano is to the Socceroos as George Harrison was to the Beatles

When folks debate who is the Best Beatle Of All Time (BBOAT), it’s generally a battle between John and Paul.

Typically, the argument hinges on which one was the better songwriter (Lennon’s lyrics vs McCartney’s melodies) or who had the more impressive character (Lennon’s rebellious activism vs McCartney’s clownish whimsy). The contest takes on further intensity when you consider the well-publicised animosity between the pair.

But if you ask the real connoisseurs, there is no argument: the best and coolest Beatle was George.

Languid, conscientious and cool as fuck, George Harrison was not only integral to the Beatles, but he easily made the greatest music post-Fab Four (see: Wilburys, Travelling; All Things Must Pass etc).

George was The Man. He was a pioneer in many ways, embracing eastern spiritualism, forming a Super Group (with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison) that was genuinely good, and bedding Madonna in the 80s (among other rumoured sexual daliances).

George single-handedly popularised the selfie stick AND eastern spiritualism in western culture.
George also single-handedly popularised the selfie.

But historical revisionism from Martin Scorsese and music hipsters aside, it is likely Harrison will continue to remain under-appreciated by mainstream Beatles fans – forever the second banana to Lennon and McCartney.

Equally, it seems Socceroo Mark Bresciano, who announced his retirement from international football yesterday, is destined for a similar fate. A great, yet somehow underrated component of a superb group.

There is no doubt “Bresh” is a great Socceroo. As a member of Australia’s Golden Generation, he has been an ever-present fixture in a Socceroos side that qualified for three consecutive World Cups and recently won its first piece of major silverware, the Asian Cup.

All up he represented his country 84 times, scoring 13 goals in the process.

But just as the order of the songwriting credits on Beatles songs aren’t what truly matters, neither are Bresciano’s statistics. What is important was his style. And he had it in bucket-loads.

Mark Bresciano: Overflowing with style
Mark Bresciano: Overflowing with style

Football is about many things, but at its essence it is about space and time. A footballer who can control those precious commodities the best will have the most success.

No Australian footballer has ever mastered the temporal and spatial confines of the pitch like Bresh did. A drop of the shoulder here, a feint there, a flick of the outside of the boot there, and the man could conjure room amidst a previously-crowded pitch. Enough room to turn, make a pass, and change a game.

In doing so, Bresh made the national side tick. And while his playing time diminished by the time the 2015 Asian Cup came around, his mere presence in the side no doubt inspired the younger players (including his heir apparent, Massimo Luongo) to their greatest glory to date.

But like an underappreciated Beatle, it seems likely that Bresciano won’t be regarded by the mainstream as the Best Socceroo Of All Time (BSOAT).

The media are one more headed goal away from bestowing that title on Tim Cahill (John Lennon), having only recently lost their infatuation with Harry Kewell (Paul McCartney).

Australia's McCartney and Lennon had a much friendlier relationship than the original pair.
Australia’s McCartney and Lennon had a much friendlier relationship than the original pair.

While these two are great footballers, they have both intentionally sought the lime-light (as is their right). Their goals, and the fact they played in the English Premier League, only further heighten their public appeal – and claims to being the BSOAT.

In contrast, Bresciano has seemed content to avoid fame and focus on his football. While he has never been shy of scoring goals, his decision to, until recently, ply his trade in the Italian Serie A (when the competition was genuinely one of the best in the world) has had the effect of hiding his accomplishments at the club level from Australian TV audiences.

Despite his talent, success and contribution to the national team, it appears Mark Bresciano will be remembered like George: a cool-as-fuck connoisseurs’ choice, chronically under-appreciated by the mainstream.

While his goal against Uruguay in the World Cup qualifier in 2005 may not be ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ or ‘Penny Lane’, it’s still ‘Something’.

By Ben Shine

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