Soccer great says fewer outstanding players now

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Soccer great Eusebio believes top-tier players were more plentiful when soccer was less commercial.

The former Portuguese star was the top scorer at the 1966 World Cup with nine goals and is considered as one of the game's best ever players. Asked to rate the sport now and when he was playing, the 68-year-old Eusebio said it was difficult to compare.

"The only answer I can give you is that my generation, of the '60s, we played football," Eusebio said Thursday. "There were many good players all over the world. Every country had great players.

"You can't compare with today. Today football is commercial. You can count the good players on one hand."

Eusebio's joint news conference with former Germany striker Gerd Mueller, who scored the most goals at the 1970 World Cup, was hosted by Adidas, which sponsors the Golden Boot award for the tournament's top scorer.

Eusebio predicted that strikers Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina or David Villa of Spain would win the award, but wasn't impressed by the number of goals scored in the tournament so far.

"Did you say there have been many goals in this tournament?" Eusebio asked. "I haven't seen many goals so far in this tournament. The top scorers in this tournament have four goals, but there is still a lot of time left."

Villa, Higuain and Robert Vittek of Slovakia share the scoring lead with four goals.

The 65-year-old Mueller said his namesake in today's German team, Thomas Mueller, would win the top scorer award. The 20-year-old midfielder has scored three goals so far.

"He's a good player," Mueller said. "At 18, he was already in the squad. He's a very valuable player. On top of that, he's a very decent person, a good person and that's important, too."

Regardless of who scores the most goals, Eusebio predicted that Argentina forward Lionel Messi would be remembered as the best player of the tournament.

"As we all have seen on TV and in the stadiums, I have no doubt that this little player, who plays for Argentina ... will win this title," Eusebio said.