Are you still talking about the BEAUTIFUL game here, Twister?
Completely agree with you about so few real personalities in modern football that have a distinctive style of playing. I think the most of those bonebreakers of the 60's and 70's would have spent most of their time suspended had they played like that nowadays. But you can't really compare them, because they would have evolved as well.
My word, those names you mentioned! Some of them were real psycho's (do you hear me Gentile/Roy Keane/Gento/Vierchowod?). Most of them couldn't and weren't interested in playing football, but just in hurting their opponents. I've always despised them for they injured so many talented footballers.
Defenders that could defend well without sorting to vile behaviour are pretty limited in my book: Beckenbauer/Maldini/Frank de Boer/Roberto Carlos/ Zanetti / Ruud Krol/a couple of old style Brazilians and my favourite of all times: Franco Baresi of AC Milan. He was so clever and had such a good anticipation that he seldom crossed the line, but then, if necessary, took them out!
In defence of Cantona: I backed him in that action! :I If you see those scumbags of supporters, I think it's understandable (not approving!) that you'll lose your temper once in a while, certainly when you've got a short fuse yourself. But then again, you know that is part of the 'bad' game today. Being so close to the field has its negatives.
Then you had defenders and defending midfielders that were brilliant, but needed a bit more 'power' in their game like Hierro/Koeman/Bergomi and Thuram.
Now you have the 'be bad' wannabees and brainless idiots like Joey Barton/Balotelli/Terry/Materazzi/Mexes/ who can't even manage speaking a proper sentence. And all these nitwits earn a lot more money than your average prime-minister.
Then we have a selected group of psycho's who don't care about their fellow (team) footballers at all and, in my eyes, don't belong on the football field at all, despite being talented or not: Pepe/Ibrahimovic/Nigel de Jong used to be one/some Argentinians, Uruguayans and Brazilians and maybe you could add Suarez as well.
Well, the British press is the most hypocritical of all. They hype every inside and especially outside (private lives) element of the sport and suddenly, when something horrible happens, they stand on their most conservative and tabloid feet, avoiding the fact that they are one of the most disgusting parts of English society that cause a lot of awful behaviour in (general) sport. I wouldn't want to be a player in England, alone for that reason.
The same goes for Italy and Spain and to a certain extent Germany (Bild), but I think they have nothing on English evil 'journalists'.
For me the few real characters of today's game are: Gerrard (clubman-good player-normal) Philippe Lahm (fantastic rightback-never says nonsens) Messi (always let his feet speak, not his mouth) Xavi (the silent force) Mascherano (great defender-mean when necessary-always there) Xabi Alonso (brains-bossing midfield) Lampard (great feet-civilized).
Oh yes, a special mention for the second Johan please: Johan Neeskens !!! I bet you liked him Twister! He also has a special place in Dutch and other hearts, just because of his fighting spirit and endless tackles.
Do you remember that battlefield Brazil - Netherlands in 1974? It's just unbelievable! Today it would have ended with 14 men on the field.
I heard of quite a few baby boys that were named after him in South-America