Broich is A-League's best

Courage in football comes in many forms. We all love the commitment of a player throwing himself into a challenge with seemingly little fear for his personal safety.

Courage in football comes in many forms.

We all love the commitment of a player throwing himself into a challenge with seemingly little fear for his personal safety. There is also the courage required to run to the point of exhaustion and then go that little bit further.

One form of courage that often goes unnoticed is the player who, no matter the situation, says: "I-m here, give me the ball."

In America, these guys are called the clutch players - think Michael Jordan for those of my generation, or Lebron James as the current example, and you-ll realise the type of player I-m talking about.

The greatest fear of any athlete is failure, yet these guys stare down failure every time they walk on the court because they know their performance will be scrutinised more than anyone else. To do that game in and game out takes a special type of athlete with an unwavering self-belief. These are the players that stand above the others and the fans love to watch.

I believe the A-League has such a player in Thomas Broich. Time and again I have witnessed him take control of a game the only way he knows how - with the ball at his feet. In my opinion, he is the most influential player of the A-League era, and has been the single most important player in Brisbane Roar's period of success.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that he is also the most fouled player in the competition by some margin. I hear and read many people claiming he falls down too easily and 'dives- to earn many of his free kicks. This is the greatest load of nonsense I have heard for a long time. If a player feels contact from another player, he isn-t obliged to stay on his feet!

This isn-t simulation. It is playing the game within the laws, and I argue within the spirit of the laws also. Simulation is the act of diving when there is no contact and I, like most, despise it and the sooner it leaves our game the better. What I believe is also becoming evident in the current season is a lack of protection from officials for the creative players in the competition.

Back in the old NSL I recall playing against Sydney United in a semi-final at Suncorp Stadium. At that time Sydney United had the wonderfully gifted Kresimir Marusic in their midfield. He in many ways was their version of Broich, and a player who could win a game through his own individual brilliance. I spent the first 30 minutes of that game putting as much “physical pressure” on him as possible because he was a far more gifted player than I was and it was in many respects my only way of competing with him.

Not surprisingly, I eventually received a caution but not until the game had swung in our favour and the influence of Marusic was greatly reduced. On that night Marusic played the game 100 percent within the rules, whereas I did not. What should have happened was I should have been cautioned much earlier, and thereby forced to take a different approach.

It concerns me that we are seeing what I believe are “team” approaches to containing creative players such as Broich through constant fouling. If you don-t believe me I suggest you watch a replay of the Brisbane v Adelaide game from last weekend. By taking this approach it is harder for officials to caution a player as the person doing the fouling is often different on every occasion.

I think it-s time officials realised what is taking place and started protecting the players that people pay to watch. I-m not saying they should be a protected species, but I do believe they should be afforded the opportunity to show the unique skills and courage that they possess.

I also hope we see more and more players of the calibre of Thomas Broich grace our shores in the near future, as it is players like him that inspire the next generation.