Apart from soccer, I think all other ball sports are superfluous – especially basketball and handball games bore me to death. I may be accused of ignorance, but in my perception players only run from one end zone to the other. There they stand around the basket / goal forever, playing the ball back and forth, and at some point someone finally shows mercy and throws the ball. The holy soccer is completely different there! The last third of the pitch is also crucial for success here, but the way to the last third is more demanding and aesthetic! Soccer matches are won in midfield – the control centre on the soccer field. Only the clever pass or the daredevil dribbling make it possible to advance into the last third of the pitch. The midfield is the linchpin. Everything that makes a football game beautiful and aesthetic comes from the midfield.

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe for Super Nintendo may have exaggerated the importance of midfield as described above. The midfield was not the linchpin to get into the last third of the pitch to get into a good position to score a goal,… instead ISS Deluxe had this one special place in the midfield, which immediately decided about victory or defeat. A few steps behind the midfield line and a few steps from the touchline: the special place for the “big kick”.

To this day I still play soccer simulations with the Italian national team. Not because I’m such a big fan of Italian soccer, but just out of old solidarity. As a child, I really spent countless hours with ISS Deluxe and at some point I discovered that the Italian fantasy national player Carboni makes me unbeatable. Carboni had tremendous shooting power. To take advantage of that strength, he had to be moved from his actual striker position to the right midfield before the game. After kick-off it was all about passing the ball to Carboni and getting him to the right place in midfield. I can still recite the movement pattern in my sleep: Sprint over the midfield line (depending on the side to be played) just below / above the touchline, then a quick dodge diagonally down / up and shoot. The commentator shouted “It’s a big kick!” and from now on there were only two possible scenarios: If position, shooting power and spin were perfectly matched, the next commentary was a loud “Goal! Goal!” Otherwise, the ball was parried by the opposing goalkeeper, but was clapped forward so centrally that the striker only had to push the ball into the goal. Although goals could be scored from other positions on the pitch in ISS Deluxe, this was actually more difficult compared to the “Big Kick”. The result was that, as a human opponent, you had to adjust your tactics and line-up to keep Carboni out of the midfield in the first place. And so the biggest part of the game was all about this one place in midfield. Soccer in a nutshell. Boring and monotonous one could think! Maybe. But for me still more exciting than any handball or basketball game.

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe is a soccer video game and published by Konami in 1995 for Super Nintendo. The game includes 36 national sides. However, all players have fictitious names, due to licensing restrictions.

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