It was claimed of the Danish footballer Michael Laudrup that good luck cost him greatness. With a “ghetto instinct”, said Johan Cruyff, not the ease of a Frederiksberg childhood behind him, he might have pushed himself beyond the merely sublime.

There is some vulgar determinism here. There is also the reputational fleecing of a man who enriched both Real Madrid and Barcelona. But the jibe would be easier to forget if it did not contain trace elements of plausibility. Why did such a lavish talent not make a deeper mark on the game?..

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