Tony Romo retired from the NFL for television duty. He has a fascinating career to look back on (or not so fascinating). Romo was a very good quarterback for a marquee franchise for a decade. But, he never won a Super Bowl. He didn’t even really come close, going just 2-4 in six career playoff games. One could term him, positively or negatively, the NFL’s greatest loser.
Sports on Earth sought out comparable “Romo” careers in other major sports. We’re doing the same thing for soccer. We narrowed it down to three candidates.
Romo’s defining feature for many is his lack of postseason success. So too for Michael Ballack. He’s one of Germany’s greatest ever players. He had great regular seasons, winning five league titles with Kaiserslautern, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea. But, he’ll be best remembered for coming up short in major tournaments.
At club level, Ballack lost the Champions League Final twice (Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 and Chelsea in 2008). He featured for Germany teams that lost the World Cup Final (2002) and the Euro Final (2008). He was also on the German team that was eliminated at home by Italy in the 2006 World Cup semifinals.
Steven Gerrard did have the magic night in Istanbul, where Liverpool came back to beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final. That’s fortunate because his career would be remembered differently if they had not. Gerrard was sort of in the Romo zone of great-ish player. He was never the best midfielder in Europe but was consistently among the top five or ten.
Gerrard never won the Premier League with Liverpool, one of England’s most storied clubs, in 17 years. He was also among the poster boys for a “golden generation” of English players that flamed at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
The accomplished Brazilian playmaker was a hard-drinking intellectual and left wing political activist who also had a medical degree. He’s without question one of the coolest players ever. Romo, while no intellectual, had his own bit of charm and dated Jessica Simpson.
Socrates was among FIFA’s Top 100 players. He just never won anything beyond a state league title in Brazil. Socrates captained the famed 1982 World Cup team, eliminated by Italy in the second group stage. He missed a penalty for the 1986 World Cup team that lost to France in the quarterfinal. At Copa America, his Brazil teams lost in the final (1983) and semifinal (1979).