Footballers as fantasy characters

This blog is meant for my ecological and football analysis thoughts, but its also going to be a place to put my wild theories and strange comparisons, and this will be one of those posts. Feel free to comment or tweet me datarobbie1 to suggest your own.. but here we go, footballers as fantasy characters!

The first one is very easy, and it comes from one of the best books I’ve read in a long time (perhaps ever?) - Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Gideon is a badass lesbian swordswoman, who acts as a cavalier for her necromancer boss in a gothic mansion in space (seriously, read this book!). She’s buff, she’s the best fighter in the place, she’s not scared of anything and she stands up for what she believes in. Therefore Gideon Nav is (obviously) Megan Rapinoe! This might seem a lazy comparison given their sexuality and general aweseomeness, but it really comes down to how much they care about doing whats right combined with their raw talent and work ethic. Megan Rapinoe is the target of hate from a lot of men, because she is what they fear most - she isn’t attracted to them and she could run rings around them on a football pitch. Gideon Nav gives off the exact same energy.

The next one is a duo, from Scott Lynch’s popular Gentleman Bastards series. The books follow a thieving crew from Camorr (which is essentially renaissance Venice), run by scamming genius Locke Lamora, and his sidekick Jean Tannen. Jean is soft spoken, enjoys romantic fiction but also kills many, many people with his two hatchets - named the Wicked Sisters. Locke tends to dictate the plans while letting Jean and the rest of the crew do most of the dirty work, which leads to the comparison of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano. You could also say Scholes and Keane, but as Locke is definitely the charismatic leader in this situation I lean more toward Alonso Mascherano.

A similar character to Locke is Kaz Brekker, from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse - specifically Six of Crows and The Crooked Kingdom. Kaz is cold, calculating and brillant, overseeing one of the most elaborate heists in history. Kaz puts together a diverse team and keeps them on track to achieve incredible things together. He isn’t afraid to play dirty, and this really reminds me of Sergio Busquets under Pep Guardiola. An incredibly skilled player, far from the most talked about player from that team, but he isn’t above getting involved in the nitty gritty and will do whatever it takes to win. Kaz Brekker would 100% have done the same thing to get Thiago Motta sent off in 2010, but Kaz would have out-Mourinho Jose and have gone on to win!

When discussing pop culture comparisons in La Liga we simply can’t forsake Sergio Ramos. Ramos plays dirty, we all know that, and he’s also won absolutely everything in the game. He keeps adding new skills to his game, and despite playing at centre back has 70 goals for Madrid in 465 appearances. He will sacrifice everything and everyone in his desire to win, and therefore Ramos has to be Prince (spoiler alert - also King/Emperor) Jorg Ancrath, from Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series. Jorg isn’t a nice protagonist to follow. He is cruel, murderous and borderline physcopathic in his desire to gain as much power as possible. Jorg isn’t just a vicious thug though, he is cool and calculating, and knows how to play up to his reputation. All of this gives very strong Ramos vibes, couldn’t you just imagine his face under that cowl?

A series I would thoroughly recommend to any fantasy reader is the First Law series by Joe Abercrombie. This is a fantasy series with very human, realistic, flawed characters, which I am all about. One of these characters is Jezal dan Luther, a cocky vain captain, who goes through a tough journey to eventually become highly successful, much due to the behind the scenes manipulation of an old mage Bayaz. This is perhaps an unfair comparison as I really rate the career of this player, but this gives me some Nani energy, with Bayaz as Sir Alex Ferguson. He is talented, he is charismatic and had some excellent moments over the years, but despite winning everything he never really fulfilled his potential.

As anyone who I have ever spoken to you will tell you, I am a huge Brandon Sanderson fan. Sanderson isn’t that well known in general life as his works have yet to be turned into a movie, tv show or video game, but in the fantasy world he is a big deal! His first full series was Mistborn, and the central character in this series is a very small, but very powerful, assassin, called Vin. Vin goes through A LOT in her 17 or so years, she’s lost almost everyone but still keeps fighting and ends up becoming the most powerful person on the planet. When I think of Vin, I think of Fran Kirby. Partially because of the frame, with Kirby often described as a “pocket rocket” by commentators, also because of their subtly and skill as Kirby drifts around finding space and punishing teams to devestating effects. Fran Kirby is also one of the bravest people in football in my opinion, she has been very open about the loss of her mother when she was 14, and the impact that had on her, and missed most of last season after being diagnosed with Pericarditis. Doctors told her she may never play again, but she has started both WSL games for Chelsea this season despite the intense competition in the Chelsea attack, and has been a key performer with 1 goal and 1 assist so far. Both Vin and Fran have been through a lot and have worked through it to become incredibly successful in their respective fields, and on a surface level they’re both also very short!

Finally we go to a very popular series that is unfinished, and has left fans waiting for years and years. Nope, it isn’t Game of Thrones - it’s the Kingkiller Chronicles by Pat Rothfuss. The first two books in the series have been a huge hit, and Rothfuss’ prose is legendary. Kvothe was a child prodigy, but grew up with immense challenges and turmoil after his parents were killed by a semi-mythical group called the Chandrian (which drives the central plot). He is very talented and hungry to learn, becoming the best at whatever he does . However in the present day (this isn’t a spoiler, as the books are told through flashbacks) Kvothe is depressed, hiding out at the Waystone Inn, “waiting to die”. Kvothe’s story is far from over, but it is currently in a bad place after his prodigal start in life. I’m sure you can see where this is going, but yes the Waystone Inn is definitely the Camp Nou and our Kvothe, excelling at music, magic, swordplay and politics, is unquestionably Lionel Messi. Messi is almost the best in the world at whatever he tries, he began his career at the best dribbler we’d ever seen (see Kvothe and his music), then became a clinical finisher (Kvothe learning magic as a teenager), before turning his talents to free kicks and set plays (Kvothe as he travels the world and helps out a very rich Duke) and finally playmaking (as he learns swordplay). However this isn’t enough for Kvothe or for Messi, and they are both currently in a place where they no longer want to be, but only time will tell if their story will end on a positive note.

Robbie Still
Robbie Still
Data Scientist

I am a data scientist, I work in ecology and enjoy looking at football statistics in my spare time, mainly in R. I also love reading and watching anything fanasty, and I currently live in Brighton with my girlfriend, Coral.

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