Even without much of an international career, George Best, Manchester United’s mercurial winger, is still considered among the greatest players of all time and rightly so. He only played for Northern Ireland 37 times over the course of 13 years, scoring 9 goals, but for Manchester United, where he played for the majority of his career, he enjoyed more success, including a European Cup title, won in 1968. Best, it is argued, is one of the greatest dribblers in the game’s history, the winger consistently displaying unmatched skill, balance, and a knack for scoring goals to boot. Scottish sportswriter, Patrick Barclay, found no comparison to Best on the field in his time, or ever. "In terms of ability, he was the world's best footballer of all time. He could do almost anything – technically, speed, complete mastery of not only the ball but his own body. You could saw his legs away and he still wouldn't fall because his balance was uncanny, almost supernatural. Heading ability, passing ability, I mean it goes without saying the dribbling – he could beat anybody in any way he chose. For fun, he'd play a one-two off the opponent's shins."

In an article titled ‘Was Georgie the Best?’, BBC journalist John May spoke about the impact Best had on the game, saying his performances never failed to bring joy. "People were transfixed, bewitched and delighted by the impish, cheeky skills of Best that invariably brought a smile to all except the defenders who had to face him," the article read.

Best would end up being a well-travelled player, racking up 586 games for various clubs, though he devoted 361 of those appearances to United. In total, Best would score 207 goals in all club appearances, a remarkable feat given two things. Best was a notoriously unselfish passer of the ball, as well as the fact that he was never the focal point of attacks.

Playing Career

Full name: George Best

Date of birth: 22 May 1946

Place of birth: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Date of Death: 25 November 2005 (aged 59)

Place of Death: London, England

Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75m)

Playing positions: Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Club Career

          Years           Team                             Apps         (Gls)

  • 1963–1974     Manchester United          361         (137)
  • 1974              Jewish Guild                       5            (1)
  • 1974              Dunstable Town (loan)        0            (0)
  • 1975              Stockport County               3            (2)
  • 1975–1976     Cork Celtic                         3            (0)
  • 1976              Los Angeles Aztecs           23          (15)
  • 1976–1977     Fulham                            42            (8)
  • 1977–1978     Los Angeles Aztecs           32          (12)
  • 1978–1979     Fort Lauderdale Strikers     28            (6)
  • 1979–1980     Hibernian                        17            (3)
  • 1980–1981     San Jose Earthquakes       56          (21)
  • 1982              Sea Bee                           2            (0)
  • 1982              Hong Kong Rangers           1            (0)
  • 1983              Bournemouth                   5            (0)
  • 1983              Brisbane Lions                   4            (0)
  • 1983             Osborne Park Galeb            1            (1)
  • 1983             Nuneaton Borough             3            (1)
  • 1984             Tobermore United              1            (0)
  • Total                                                586       (207)

Club Honours

  • Manchester United - Football League First Division: 1964–65, 1966–67; Charity Shield: 1965, 1967; European Cup: 1968

International Career

  • 1964-1977 Northern Island 37 (9)

Individual Honours

  • Football League First Division Top Scorer: 1967–68
  • FWA Footballer of the Year: 1967–68
  • Ballon d'Or: 1968; Third place 1971
  • PFA Team of the Year Second Division: 1977
  • Football League 100 Legends: 1998
  • Honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast: 2001
  • Freeman of Castlereagh: 2002
  • Inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame: 2002
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: 2002
  • UEFA Jubilee Awards – Northern Ireland's Golden Player: 2003
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #19th
  • FIFA 100
  • Golden Foot: 2005, as football legend
  • PFA Merit Award: 2006
  • PFA England League Team of the Century (1907 to 2007):
  • Team of the Century 1907–1976
  • Overall Team of the Century
  • FWA Tribute Award: 2000
  • European Hall of Fame (Player): 2008
  • FIFA Player of the Century:
  • FIFA internet vote: #20
  • FIFA Magazine and Grand Jury vote: #5
  • World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th century: #8

Jair Ventura Filho (Jairzinho) was not a striker per say, but was used as a winger. What he did have was a striker’s instinct for goal though and from his right-wing position, scored a remarkable number of goals. The quick, skillful and certainly powerful winger was part of the Brazil 1970 team that many believe constitutes the greatest XI in the history of football. Jairzinho, outside of his physical prowess, was brilliant and could be used in any of the attacking positions on the field with a seamlessness that would have to be seen to be believed. Idolizing Garrincha, who held the position at right wing for Brazil, Jairzinho became just as important to Brazil and led to a long-held belief that you had to be Brazillian to play that position well. He replaced Garrincha in the Botafogo XI before doing the same in Brazil set up and ended up at three World Cups, 1966, 1970, and 1974. In 1970, Jairzinho made history when he scored in every game of the World Cup. In most World Cup years, scoring seven goals would be good enough for the Golden Boot award, but in 1970, another great from this list was not to be undone, Gerd Müller.

Playing Career

Full name: Jair Ventura Filho (Jairzinho)

Date of birth: 25 December 1944 (age 75)

Place of birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Height: 1.73m (5 ft 8 in)

Playing position: Winger

Club Career

          Years                    Team                    Apps   (Gls)

  • 1959–1974          Botafogo                    413    (186)
  • 1974–1975          Marseille                     18       (9)
  • 1975                   Kaizer Chiefs                 3       (7)
  • 1976                   Cruzeiro                
  • 1977                   Portuguesa                  10       (2)
  • 1978–1979          Noroeste                       2       (0)
  • 1979                   Fast Club                     19     (17)
  • 1980–1981          Jorge Wilstermann          
  • 1981–1982          Botafogo               
  • 1982                   9 de Octubre

Club Honours

  • Botafogo - Torneio de Caracas: 1967, 1968 and 1970; Taça Brasil de Futebol: 1968; Rio-São Paulo Tournament: 1964 and 1966; Campeonato Carioca: 1967 and 1968
  • Cruzeiro - Copa Libertadores de América: 1976

International Career

  • 1964-1982 Brazil 81 (33)

International Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 1970
  • Taça Independência: 1972

Individual Honours

  • FIFA World Cup Silver Boot: 1970
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1970
  • South American Player of the Year: Bronze award 1972
  • World Soccer: 27th Greatest Player of the 20th Century
  • IFFHS Brazilian Player of the 20th Century (19th place)
  • Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame

Hugo Sánchez Márquez was a prolific goalscorer and between himself and Rafa Marquez, one must find themselves using the term ‘the greatest player Mexico has ever produced’. In 684 games between 1976 and 1997, Sanchez scored 400 goals, better than one in every two games. But he isn’t just regarded as one of, if not the greatest players Mexico has produced, he was one of the greatest of his generation. To this day, only three people have scored more goals in La Liga history than Sánchez, with some massive names in that list. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Telmo Zarra are the only players to have scored more. Sánchez played 58 times for Mexico, scoring 29 goals along the way, but was famous for the nature of some of those goals. It was not unusual for Sánchez to finish with a volley from some unlikely body positions. Diminutive, but athletic, Sanchez would even score headers above taller, stronger defenders, and had exquisite kicking technique that led to a powerful shot with very little warning.  

Playing Career

Full name: Hugo Sánchez Márquez (Hugo Sánchez)

Date of birth: 11 July 1958 (age 61)

Place of birth: Mexico City, Mexico

Height: 1.75m (5ft 9 in)

Playing position: Forward

Club Career

         Years           Team                             Apps      (Gls)

  • 1976–1981   UNAM                                 188      (97)
  • 1979–1980   San Diego Sockers (loan)       32      (26)
  • 1981–1985   Atlético Madrid                    111      (54)
  • 1985–1992   Real Madrid                        207     (164)
  • 1992–1993   América                               29     (11)
  • 1993–1994   Rayo Vallecano                     29     (16)
  • 1994–1995   Atlante                                 31     (13)
  • 1995–1996   Linz                                     20       (6)
  • 1996            Dallas Burn                          25     (11)
  • 1997            Atlético Celaya                     12       (2)
  • Total                                                   684    (400)

Club Honours

  • UNAM - Primera División: 1976–77, 1980–81; CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1980; Copa Interamericana: 1980
  • Atlético Madrid - Copa del Rey: 1984–85
  • Real Madrid - La Liga: 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90; Supercopa de España: 1988, 1989 , 1990; Copa del Rey: 1988–89; UEFA Cup: 1985–86
  • América - CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1992
  • Linz - First League: 1995–96

International Career

  • 1977-1994 Mexico 58 (29)

International Honours

  • Pan American Games: 1975
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup: 1977

Individual Honours

  • European Golden Shoe: 1990
  • La Liga top goalscorer: 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90
  • Don Balón Award – Best Foreign Player: 1986–87, 1989–90
  • Mexican Primera División top goalscorer: 1978–79
  • CONCACAF Champions' Cup top goalscorer: 1992
  • Best Sportist of Mexico of the 20th century
  • IFFHS Best footballer of Mexico of the 20th century
  • IFFHS Best footballer of CONCACAF of the 20th century
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2010
  • FIFA XI: 1982
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Marca Leyenda: 2018

Mario Alberto Kempes Chiodi, just known as Mario Kempes, was a good goalscorer before he cemented his name in history by leading Argentina to their first World Cup title in 1978. Kempes would score two goals in that World Cup final against the Netherlands and lead all scorers. He would become just one of three men in history to not just lift the World Cup, but also to win the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards at the same time. The other two are also considered all-time greats, in Brazil’s Garincha and Italy’s Paolo Rossi. Kempes would also lead the LaLiga goalscoring charts on two occasions during his playing days with Valencia where he scored 95 goals in just 142 games. That kind of performance earned him the nickname El Matador. Kempes was difficult to mark because he chose to operate like the modern-day false nine, arriving from outside the box with surging runs and rangy drives.

"He's strong, he's got skill, he creates spaces and he shoots hard. He's a player who can make a difference, and he can play in a centre-forward position," said César Luis Menotti, Kempes’ 1978 coach. And his description of Kempes was spot on.     

Playing Career

Full name: Mario Alberto Kempes Chiodi

Date of birth: 15 July 1954 (age 65)

Place of birth: Bell Ville, Argentina

Height: 1.84m (6ft 0 in)

Playing position: striker

Club Career

           Years           Team                    Apps   (Gls)

  • 1970–1973 Instituto                        13     (11)
  • 1973–1976 Rosario Central            107     (85)
  • 1976–1981 Valencia                      142     (95)
  • 1981–1982 River Plate                    29      (15)
  • 1982–1984 Valencia                       42      (21)
  • 1984–1986 Hércules                       38      (10)
  • 1986–1987 First Vienna                  20        (7)
  • 1987–1990 Pölten                          96       (34)
  • 1990–1992 Kremser SC                  39        (7)
  • 1992–1993 Fernández Vial              11        (5)
  • 1993–1994 Pelita Jaya                    18       (12)

Total                                                    555    (300)

Club Honours

  • Valencia - Copa del Rey: 1978–79; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1979–80; UEFA Super Cup: 1980
  • River Plate - Primera División: 1981 Nacional
  • Pelita Jaya - Galatama: 1993–94

International Career

  • 1973-1982 Argentina 43 (20)

International Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 1978

Individual Honours

  • Argentine Primera División top scorers: 1974 Nacional, 1976 Metropolitan
  • Pichichi Trophy: 1977, 1978
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Boot: 1978
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1978
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1978
  • Ballon d'Or: 1978 - Le nouveau palmarès (the new winners)
  • Onze d'Or: 1978
  • Olimpia de Plata: 1978
  • South American Footballer of the Year: 1978
  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup top scorers: 1979–80
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • South American Player of the Century: Ranking Nº 23: 2006
  • Golden Foot: 2007, as football legend
  • AFA Team of All Time (published 2015)

Michel Platini’s claim to fame comes from being one of the finest passers the game has ever seen. His efforts from the penalty spot and from free kicks are legendary but he was also quick and elegant on the ball, combined with being a very intelligent reader of the game. His technical ability was also renowned during a period where South Americans were believed to be the masters in this arena. Platini also had an eye for goal from his more withdrawn role behind the strikers and was prolific as a midfielder, winning a number of top goalscorer accolades throughout his career.

Playing Career

Full name: Michel Platini

Date of birth: 21 June 1955 (age 64)

Place of birth: Jœuf, France

Height: 1.79m (5ft 10 in)

Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club Career

           Years                Team                    Apps      (Gls)

  • 1972–1979          Nancy                    181        (72)
  • 1979–1982          Saint-Étienne         104        (58)
  • 1982–1987          Juventus                147        (68)
  • Total                                              432    (224)

 

Club Honours

  • Nancy - Coupe de France: 1977–78; Division 2: 1974–75
  • Saint-Étienne - Division 1: 1980–81; Coupe de France runner-up: 1980–81, 1981–82
  • Juventus - Serie A: 1983–84, 1985–86; Coppa Italia: 1982–83; European Cup: 1984–85; runner-up: 1982–83; European Cup Winners' Cup: 1983–84; European Super Cup: 1984; Intercontinental Cup: 1985

International Career

  • 1976–1987 France 72 (41)
  • 1988 Kuwait  1   (0)

International Honours

  • UEFA European Championship: 1984
  • Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup third place: 1986
  • 1976 Pre-Olympic Zone European

 

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Argent: 1977
  • IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1983–84, 1984–85
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 1984, 1985
  • UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Top Scorer: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1984
  • French Player of the Year: 1976, 1977
  • French Player of the Century: 1999
  • L'Équipe French Champion of Champions: 1977, 1984
  • FIFA XI: 1979
  • Guerin d'Oro: 1984
  • Capocannoniere (Serie A Top Scorer): 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85
  • European Cup Top Scorer: 1984–85
  • Intercontinental Cup Most Valuable Player of the Match Award: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1982, 1986
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • World Team of the 20th Century: 1998
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame member
  • English Football Hall of Fame member (voted All-Time Greatest European Footballer. He is only the second person outside the English game to be honoured by the Museum.)
  • Artemio Franchi Prize
  • Golden Foot: 2004, as football legend
  • FIFA 100
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #9
  • Premio internazionale Giacinto Facchetti: 2011
  • Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2012
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Juventus Greatest XI of All Time: 2017

Marcel ‘Marco’ van Basten played for Ajax and A.C. Milan, as well as the Netherlands national team as a striker. He is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, having scored 300 goals in a high-profile career.

However, he played his last match in 1993 at age 28 due to an injury which forced his retirement two years later.

Playing for the Netherlands, van Basten won UEFA Euro 1988 where he was named player of the tournament, scoring five goals that included a memorable volley in the final against the Soviet Union.

At club level, he won three Eredivisie titles and the Cup Winners' Cup with Ajax, and three Serie A titles and two European Cups with Milan.

Known for his close ball control, attacking intelligence, impeccable headers, and spectacular strikes and volleys, van Basten was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992 and won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1988, 1989 and 1992.

 

Playing Career

Full name: Marcel van Basten (Marco van Basten)

Date of birth: 31 October 1964 (age 55)

Place of birth: Utrecht, Netherlands

Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)

Playing position: Striker

 

Club Career

Years                    Team   Apps   (Gls)

1981–1987          Ajax          133     (128)

1987–1995          Milan         147     (90)

Total                                  280    (218)

 

Club Honours

  • Ajax - Eredivisie: 1981–82, 1982–83, 1984–85; KNVB Cup: 1982–83, 1985–86, 1986–87; UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1986–87
  • Milan - Serie A: 1987–88, 1991–92, 1992–93; Supercoppa Italiana: 1988, 1992; European Cup/UEFA Champions League: 1988–89, 1989–90; European Supercup: 1989; Intercontinental Cup: 1989, 1990

 

International Career

  • 1983-1992 Netherlands 58 (24)

 

International Honours

  • UEFA European Championship: 1988

 

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d'Or: 1988, 1989, 1992
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 1992
  • UEFA Best Player of the Year: 1989, 1990, 1992
  • European Cup Top Scorer: 1988–89
  • Serie A Golden Boot: 1989–90, 1991–92
  • Eredivisie Top Scorer: 1983–84, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87
  • European Silver Boot: 1983–84
  • Dutch Footballer of the Year: 1984–85
  • European Golden Boot: 1985–86
  • World Golden Boot: 1985–86
  • Bravo Award: 1987
  • Onze d'Argent: 1987, 1992
  • Onze d'Or: 1988, 1989
  • IFFHS World’s Best Player: 1988, 1989
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 1988, 1992
  • UEFA Euro 1988: Top Scorer and Best Player with 5 goals
  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1988, 1992
  • FIFA 100 (List of the greatest living footballers picked by Pelé): 2004
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #4
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2012
  • UEFA Euro All-time XI (published 2016)
  • C. Milan Hall of Fame
  • IFFHS Legends

In his prime, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima was known for his dribbling at speed, feints, and clinical finishing. In the 1990s, he starred at club level for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, and Inter Milan.

His moves to Spain and Italy made him only the second player, after Diego Maradona, to break the world transfer record twice, all before his 21st birthday.

By 23, he had scored over 200 goals for club and country. After almost three years of inactivity due to serious knee injuries and recuperation, Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2002, which was followed by spells at A.C. Milan and Corinthians.

Ronaldo won the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996, 1997 and 2002, the Ballon d'Or in 1997 and 2002, and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 1998.

He was La Liga Best Foreign Player in 1997 when he also won the European Golden Boot after scoring 34 goals in La Liga, and he was named Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1998.

One of the most marketable sportsmen in the world, the first Nike Mercurial boots–R9–were commissioned for Ronaldo in 1998. He was named in the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living players compiled in 2004 by Pelé and was inducted into the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame and the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Ronaldo played for Brazil in 98 matches, scoring 62 goals, and is the second-highest goalscorer for his national team, trailing only Pelé.

At age 17, Ronaldo was the youngest member of the Brazilian squad that won the 1994 FIFA World Cup. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup, he received the Golden Ball for the player of the tournament, helping Brazil reach the final where he suffered a convulsive fit hours before the defeat to France.

He won a second World Cup in 2002 where he starred in a front three with Rivaldo and Ronaldinho. Ronaldo scored twice in the final and received the Golden Boot as the tournament's top goalscorer.

At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo scored his 15th World Cup goal, which was a World Cup record at the time. He also won the Copa América in 1997, where he was player of the tournament, and 1999, where he was the top goal scorer.

 

Playing Career

Full name: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima

Date of birth: 18 September 1976 (age 43)

Place of birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)

Playing position: Striker

 

Club Career

 

Years                    Team           Apps   (Gls)

1993–1994          Cruzeiro         14     (12)

1994–1996          PSV                 46     (42)

1996–1997          Barcelona         37     (34)

1997–2002          Inter Milan  68     (49)          

2002–2007          Real Madrid         127         (83)       

2007–2008          Milan           20     (9)

2009–2011          Corinthians         31     (18)

Total                                       343    (247)

 

Honours

  • Cruzeiro - Campeonato Mineiro: 1994; Copa do Brasil: 1993; PSV Eindhoven; KNVB Cup: 1995–96; Johan Cruyff Shield: 1996
  • Barcelona - Copa del Rey: 1996–97; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1996–97; Supercopa de España: 1996
  • Inter Milan - UEFA Cup: 1997–98
  • Real Madrid - La Liga: 2002–03; Intercontinental Cup: 2002; Supercopa de España: 2003 
  • Corinthians - Campeonato Paulista: 2009; Copa do Brasil: 2009

International Career

  • 1994-2011 Brazil 98 (62)

 

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 1994, 2002; runner-up: 1998
  • Copa América: 1997, 1999; runner-up: 1995
  • FIFA Confederations Cup: 1997
  • Summer Olympic Games bronze medal: 1996

 

Individual Honours

  • Supercopa Libertadores top scorer: 1993–94
  • Supercopa Libertadores Team of The Year: 1993-94
  • Campeonato Mineiro top scorer: 1993–94
  • Campeonato Mineiro Team of The Year: 1994
  • Eredivisie top scorer: 1994–95
  • FIFA World Player of the Year (3): 1996, 1997, 2002
  • Trofeo EFE La Liga Ibero-American Player of the Year: 1996–97, 2002–03
  • Pichichi Trophy: 1996–97, 2003–04
  • European Golden Shoe: 1996–97
  • World Soccer magazine World Player of the Year (3): 1996, 1997, 2002
  • Don Balón Award La Liga Foreign Player of the Year: 1996–97
  • Copa América Final Most Valuable Player: 1997
  • Copa América Most Valuable Player: 1997
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Bronze Boot: 1997
  • FIFA Confederations Cup All-Star Team: 1997
  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final Most Valuable Player: 1997
  • Copa América All-Star Team: 1997, 1999
  • IFFHS World's Top Goal Scorer of the Year: 1997
  • Bravo Award: 1997, 1998
  • Onze d'Or: 1997, 2002
  • Ballon d'Or: 1997, 2002
  • UNICEF European Footballer of the Season: 1996–97
  • European Sports Media ESM Team of the Year: 1996–97, 1997–98
  • FIFA XI: 1997, 1998
  • Serie A Footballer of the Year: 1998
  • Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year: 1998
  • UEFA Cup Final Most Valuable Player: 1998
  • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 1997–98
  • UEFA Club Best Forward: 1997–98
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1998
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1998, 2002
  • FIFA World Cup top assist provider: 1998
  • Inter Milan Player Of The Year: 1998
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe: 2002
  • FIFA World Cup Silver Ball: 2002
  • FIFA World Cup Final Most Valuable Player: 2002
  • Intercontinental Cup Most Valuable Player: 2002
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2002
  • BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year: 2002
  • Laureus World Sports Awards Comeback of the Year: 2003
  • FIFA 100 (2004)
  • FIFA World Cup Bronze Boot: 2006
  • Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame: 2006
  • Golden Foot award: 2006
  • France Football magazine's all-time starting XI: 2007
  • Association of Football Statisticians (AFS) Top-100 Players of All Time: 2007. #2
  • Sports Illustrated Team of the Decade: 2009
  • Real Madrid Hall of Fame
  • Marca Leyenda: 2011[289]
  • L'Équipe's top 50 South-American footballers in history: #5
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2015
  • International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) Legends
  • Inter Milan Hall of Fame: 2018
  • Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2018

Zidane was an elite playmaker renowned for his elegance, vision, passing, ball control, and technique. He received many individual accolades as a player, including being named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003, and won the 1998 Ballon d'Or. He was voted Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 1996, Serie A Footballer of the Year in 2001, and La Liga Best Foreign Player in 2002.

Playing Career

Full name: Zinedine Yazid Zidane

Date of birth: 23 June 1972 (age 47)

Place of birth: Marseille, France

Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)

National Team

  • 1994–2006 France   108 (31)

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 1998; runner-up: 2006
  • UEFA European Championship: 2000
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 2006

 

FIFA World Cup appearances: 3

  • Winner - 1998 France
  • First Round - 2002 South Korea
  • Runner-up - 2006 Germany

 

Club Career

  • 1989–1992 Cannes  61   (6)
  • 1992–1996 Bordeaux 139 (28)
  • 1996–2001 Juventus 151 (24)
  • 2001–2006 Real Madrid 155 (37)

 

Honours

  • Bordeaux - UEFA Intertoto Cup: 1995
  • Juventus - Serie A: 1996–97, 1997–98; Supercoppa Italiana: 1997; UEFA Super Cup: 1996; Intercontinental Cup: 1996; UEFA Intertoto Cup: 1999
  • Real Madrid - La Liga: 2002–03; Supercopa de España: 2001, 2003; UEFA Champions League: 2001–02; UEFA Super Cup: 2002; Intercontinental Cup: 2002

 

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d'Or: Bronze award 1997
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: Bronze award 1997, 2002
  • Ballon d'Or: 1998
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 1998, 2000, 2003
  • Ballon d'Or: Silver award 2000

Xavi made his competitive debut for FC Barcelona on 18 August 1998, going on to win numerous honours. He is known for providing crucial passes that set up the play. He spent 17 years with the club. He won 8 La Liga titles, 4 Champions League, 3 Copa Del Rey.  Along with Andres Iniesta and Xavi Alonso he made up possibly the greatest midfield of the modern generation while on duty for Spain. He won two Euro Cups and a FIFA World Cup with Spain. He is regarded as one of the greatest players Spain has ever produced. 

 

Playing Career

Full name: Xavi Hernandez

Date of birth: 25 January 1980 (age 40)

Place of birth: Terrassa, Spain

Height:   1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

National Team:

  • 2000–2014 Spain 133 (13)

Honours:

  • FIFA World Cup: 2010
  • UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
  • FIFA Club World Cup Silver Ball: 2011
  • FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2009
  • FIFA World Cup appearances: 4
  • Quarter-finals - 2002 South Korea’
  • Round of 16    - 2006 Germany
  • Winner -  2010 South Africa
  • First Round 2014 Brazil

Club Career

  • 1997–1999 Barcelona B 55   (3)
  • 1998–2015 Barcelona    505 (58)
  • 2015–2019 Al Sadd 82   (21)

 

honours

  • Barcelona - La Liga: 1998–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15; Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15; Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013; UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15; UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011; FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011

Sir Robert Charlton CBE (born 11 October 1937) was a member of the England team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup, the year he also won the Ballon d'Or.

He played almost all of his club football at Manchester United, where he became renowned for his attacking instincts, his passing abilities from midfield and his ferocious long-range shot, as well as his fitness and stamina.

Charlton made his debut for the Manchester United first-team in 1956, and over the next two seasons gained a regular place in the team, during which time he survived the Munich air disaster of 1958 after being rescued by Harry Gregg.

After helping United to win the Football League First Division in 1965, he won another First Division title with United in 1967. In 1968, he captained the Manchester United team that won the European Cup, scoring two goals in the final to help them become the first English club to win the competition.

Charlton was both Manchester United and England's long-time record goalscorer, and United's long-time record appearance maker, as well as briefly England's until Bobby Moore overtook his 106 caps in 1973.

His appearance record of 758 for United took until 2008 to be beaten when Ryan Giggs did so in that year's Champions League final. 

With 249 goals, he is currently United's second all-time leading goalscorer, after his record was surpassed by Wayne Rooney in 2017. He is also the second-highest goalscorer for England, after his record of 49 goals which was held until 2015 was again surpassed by Rooney.

He was named in the England squad for four World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970), though did not play in the first. At the time of his retirement from the England team in 1970, he was the nation's most capped player, having turned out 106 times at the highest level.

Playing Career 

Full name: Robert Charlton

Date of birth: 11 October 1937 (age 82)

Place of birth: Ashington, Northumberland, England

Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)

Playing positions: Attacking midfielder/Forward

 

Club

Years                   Team                             Apps         (Gls)

  • 1956–1973 Manchester United              758         (249)
  • 1974–1975 Preston North End                38            (8)
  • 1976          Waterford                             3            (1)
  • 1978          Newcastle KB United               1            (0)
  • 1980          Perth Azzurri                          3            (2)
  • 1980          Blacktown City                       1            (1)

Total                                                           801         (261)

Honours

Manchester United - Football League First Division (3): 1956–57, 1964–65, 1966–67; FA Cup: 1962–63; Charity Shield (4): 1956, 1957, 1965, 1967; European Cup: 1967–68; FA Youth Cup (3): 1953–54, 1954–55, 1955–56

International

  • England 1958-1970

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 1966
  • UEFA European Championship third place: 1968
  • British Home Championship (10): 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970

Individual

  • FWA Footballer of the Year: 1965–66
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1966
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (2): 1966, 1970
  • Ballon d'Or: 1966
  • Ballon d'Or (2nd place): 1967, 1968
  • PFA Merit Award: 1974
  • FWA Tribute Award: 1989
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • Football League 100 Legends: 1998
  • English Football Hall of Fame: 2002
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: 14th
  • PFA England League Team of the Century (1907 to 2007):
  • Team of the Century 1907-1976
  • Overall Team of the Century
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: 2008
  • UEFA President's Award: 2008
  • Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award: 2012
  • FIFA Player of the Century:
  • FIFA internet vote: 16th
  • IFFHS vote: 10th
  • World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th century: 12th
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Orders and special awards
  • Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE): 1969
  • Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE): 1974
  • Knight Bachelor: 1994
  • Order of the Rising Sun, 4th class: 2012

It is almost a guarantee that whenever the name Diego Armando Maradona is spoken it will be in discussion about who is the greatest football player of all time. He was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award.

Maradona's vision, passing, ball control and dribbling skills combined with his small stature (1.65 m or 5 ft 5 in), giving him a low centre of gravity and allowing him to manoeuvre better than most other football players. He would often dribble past multiple opposing players on a run.

His presence and leadership on the field had a great effect on his team's general performance, while he would often be singled out by the opposition. In addition to his creative abilities, he also possessed an eye for goal and was known to be a free-kick specialist. A precocious talent, Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe de Oro" ("The Golden Boy"), a name that stuck with him throughout his career.

In his international career with Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals.

Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where he captained Argentina and led them to victory over West Germany in the final, and won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.

His second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal, a 60-metre dribble past five England players was voted "Goal of the Century" by FIFA.com voters in 2002.

 

Playing Career 

Full name: Diego Armando Maradona

Date of birth: 30 October 1960 (age 59)

Place of birth: Lanús, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Height: 1.67 m (5 ft 6 in)

Playing positions: Attacking midfielder/Second striker

 

Clubs

Years                  Team                           Apps        (Gls)

1976–1981          Argentinos Juniors           167         (116)

1981–1982          Boca Juniors                     40           (28)

1982–1984          Barcelona                         36           (22)

1984–1991          Napoli                            188           (81)

1992–1993          Sevilla                              26            (5)

1993–1994          Newell's Old Boys                5            (0)

1995–1997          Boca Juniors                      30           (7)

Total                                                      491         (259)

Honours

  • Boca Juniors - Argentine Primera División: 1981 Metropolitano
  • Barcelona - Copa del Rey: 1983; Copa de la Liga: 1983; Supercopa de España: 1983
  • Napoli - Serie A: 1986–87, 1989–90; Coppa Italia: 1986–87; UEFA Cup: 1988–89; Supercoppa Italiana: 1990

International

  • Argentina: 1977-1994 (91 Apps, 34 Gls)

 

Honours

  • FIFA World Youth Championship: 1979
  • FIFA World Cup: 1986
  • Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1993

Individual

  • Argentine Primera División top scorers: 1978 Metropolitano, 1979 Metropolitano, 1979 Nacional, 1980 Metropolitano, 1980 Nacional
  • FIFA World Youth Championship Golden Ball: 1979
  • FIFA World Youth Championship Silver Shoe: 1979
  • Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1986
  • South American Footballer of the Year: (official award) 1979, 1980
  • Olimpia de Oro: 1979, 1986
  • Guerin d'Oro (Serie A Footballer of the Year): 1985
  • UNICEF European Footballer of the Season: 1989–90
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1986
  • FIFA World Cup Silver Shoe: 1986
  • FIFA World Cup Most Assists: 1986
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1986, 1990
  • Onze d'Or: 1986, 1987
  • L'Équipe Champion of Champions: 1986
  • United Press International Athlete of the Year Award: 1986
  • World Soccer magazine's Player of the Year: 1986
  • Capocannoniere (Serie A top scorer): 1987–88
  • Coppa Italia top scorer: 1987–88
  • FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball: 1990
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • South American Team of the Year: 1995

As a player, Hendrik Johannes Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974.

Cruyff was an exponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in football history.

At the 1974 finals, he executed a feint that subsequently was named after him, the "Cruyff Turn", a move widely replicated in the modern game. He represented Holland from 1966-1977.

At club level, Cruyff started his career at Ajax, where he won eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups and one Intercontinental Cup.

In 1973, he moved to Barcelona for a world-record transfer fee, winning La Liga in his first season and was named European Footballer of the Year.

In 48 Internationals between 1966 and 1977, Cruyff scored 33 goals for the Netherlands.

At the club level, Cruyff scored 290 goals in 514 appearances for Ajax, Barcelona, Feyenoord, Levante, Washington Diplomats and the Los Angeles Aztecs.

Playing Career

Full name: Hendrik Johannes Cruijff (Johan Cruyff)

Date of birth: 25 April 1947

Place of birth: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Date of death: 24 March 2016 (aged 68)

Place of death: Barcelona, Spain

Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)

Playing positions: Forward/Attacking midfielder

Clubs

Years             Team                        Apps   (Gls)

1964–1973    Ajax                          240    (190)

1973–1978    Barcelona                   143    (48)

1978–1979    Los Angeles Aztecs          23     (13)

1979–1981    Washington Diplomats     30     (12)

1981             Levante                        10     (2)

1981–1983    Ajax                            36     (14)

1983–1984    Feyenoord                     33     (11)

Total                                              514    (290)

Honours

  • Ajax - Eredivisie: 1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1981–82, 1982–83; KNVB Cup: 1966–67, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1982–83; European Cup: 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73; Intercontinental Cup: 1972
  • Barcelona - La Liga: 1973–74; Copa del Rey: 1977–78
  • Feyenoord - Eredivisie: 1983–84; KNVB Cup: 1983–84

International

  • Netherlands 1966-1977

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 1974
  • UEFA European Championship Third place: 1976

Individual

  • Ballon d'Or: 1971, 1973, 1974; Third place: 1975
  • Dutch Footballer of the Year: 1968,1972,1984
  • Dutch Sportsman of the Year: 1973, 1974
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1974
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1974
  • IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1970/71, 1972/73
  • Don Balón Award: 1977, 1978
  • North American Soccer League MVP: 1979
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
  • World Team of the 20th Century
  • FIFA 100
  • World Soccer's Greatest XI of All Time: 2013
  • World Soccer's The Greatest Players of the 20th Century: #3
  • France Football's Player of the Century: #3
  • IFFHS European Player of the Century: #1
  • IFFHS World Player of the Century: #2
  • IFFHS Legends

Brazilian midfielder Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico, was a creative playmaker, with excellent technical skills, vision, and an eye for goal.

Considered one of the most clinical finishers and best passers ever, Zico is regarded as the best player in the world between the 1970s and early 1980s. He was a world-class playmaker and free-kick specialist, able to bend the ball in all directions.

With 68 goals in 94 official appearances for Brazil, Zico is fifth highest goal scorer for his national team.

He represented Brazil in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups but did not win any of them, even though the 1982 squad is considered one of the greatest Brazilian national squads ever. As such, Zico is seen as one of the best players in football history not to have been on a World Cup-winning squad.

He was Player of the Year in 1981 and 1983.

In 1999, Zico came eighth in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players

Between 1971 and 1983, while at Flamengo, Zico was a key player during the most glorious period of the team's history. He led the team to victory in the 1981 Copa Libertadores, the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, and four national titles (1980, 1982, 1983, and 1987).

In the 1983–84 Serie A season, Zico scored 19 goals for Udinese, one fewer than top scorer Michel Platini, having played four fewer matches.

In 1987, two years after returning to Flamengo in 1985, he led the club to the Copa União title.

 

Playing Career

Full name            Arthur Antunes Coimbra

Date of birth       3 March 1953 (age 67)

Place of birth      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Height   1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)

Playing position(s)   Attacking midfielder

 

Club Career

 

Years                    Team               Apps        (Gls)

1971–1983          Flamengo            212        (123)

1983–1985          Udinese                39          (22)

1985–1989          Flamengo              37          (12)

1991–1994          Kashima Antlers      46          (35)

 

Honours

Club

  • Flamengo - Campeonato Carioca: 1972, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1979 (extra), 1981, 1986; Campeonato Brasileiro Série A: 1980, 1982, 1983; Copa União: 1987; Copa Libertadores: 1981; FIFA Club World Cup: 1981
  • Kashima Antlers - J.League Suntory Series: 1993

International Career

Brazil: 1976-1986

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup Third place: 1978
  • Copa América Third place: 1979

Individual

  • Bola de Ouro: 1974, 1982
  • Bola de Prata: 1974, 1975, 1977, 1982, 1987
  • Campeonato Carioca top scorer: 1975 (30 goals), 1977 (27 goals), 1978 (19 goals), 1979 (26 goals), 1982 (21 goals)
  • South American Footballer of the Year: 1977, 1981, 1982
  • South American Footballer of the Year Silver Ball: 1976, 1980
  • Brazilian season top scorer: 1976 (63 goals), 1977 (48 goals), 1979 (81 goals), 1980 (53 goals), 1982 (59 goals)
  • FIFA XI: 1979, 1982
  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A top scorer: 1980 (21 goals), 1982 (21 goals)
  • Copa Libertadores Best Player: 1981
  • Copa Libertadores top scorer: 1981
  • Intercontinental Cup MVP Award: 1981
  • FIFA World Cup Bronze Boot: 1982
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1982
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 1983
  • Chevron Award: 1984
  • Serie A Player of the Year: 1984
  • FIFA Order of Merit: 1996
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2006
  • Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame: 2010
  • IFFHS 3rd Best Brazilian Player of the 20th century
  • IFFHS 7th Best South American Player of the 20th century
  • IFFHS 14th Best Player of the 20th century
  • FIFA 7th Best Player of the 20th century (FIFA Magazine and Grand Jury vote)
  • France Football 9th Best Player of the 20th century
  • World Soccer Magazine 18th Greatest Player of the 20th century
  • Placed 16th Best Player of the 20th century
  • IFFHS Legends

Records

  • Top scorer in Flamengo's history – 508 goals
  • Top scorer in Maracanã Stadium – 333 goals
  • Japan Soccer League record for goals scored in straight matches – 11 goals in 10 matches (1992)
  • Flamengo record holder – Top scorer in a single season – 81 goals (1979)

 

It would be difficult to build a list of the greatest defenders of all time and leave out the most decorated player in the history of the game. Daniel Alves da Silva (Dani Alves) has had a career inclusive of 40 trophies in international and club football. The fact that he has played in so many of the great teams throughout his career is testimony to his quality. Often going unnoticed, Alves has gone about being one of the best defenders of all time in a very unfussy way, choosing instead to use his intelligence and tactical awareness to achieve his ends without much fanfare.

Alves seems to always be in the right place at the right time and his gift for crossing the ball is often underestimated.

Playing Career

Name: Daniel Alves da Silva
Date of birth: 6 May 1983
Birthplace: Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil

Playing Position: Right back

 

International career

  • Brazil: 2006-Present (118 caps)

 

Honours

  • 2007 Copa America
  • 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
  • 2019 Copa America

 

Individual

  • FIFA U-20 World Cup Bronze Ball: 2003
  • UEFA Cup Most Valuable Player: 2005–06
  • UEFA Super Cup Man of the Match: 2006
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2017
  • ESM Team of the Year: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12
  • FIFA FIFPro World11: 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • FIFA FIFPro World11 2nd team: 2014
  • FIFA FIFPro World11 nominee: 2019 (4th defender)
  • La Liga Defender of the Season: 2008–09
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Team of the Tournament: 2013
  • La Liga Team of the Season: 2014–15
  • France Football World XI: 2015
  • Serie A Team of the Year: 2016–17
  • IFFHS Men's World Team: 2017
  • UNFP Ligue 1 Team of the Year: 2017–18
  • Copa América Most Valuable Player: 2019
  • Copa América Team of the Tournament: 2019

Club Career

  • 1963-1966 Fluminese
  • 1966-1974 Santos
  • 1974-1976 Fluminese
  • 1976-1977 Flamengo
  • 1977-1980 New York Cosmos
  • 1981 California Surf
  • 1982 New York Cosmos

        

Honours

  • Bahia - Copa do Nordeste: 2002
  • Sevilla - Copa del Rey: 2006–07; Supercopa de España: 2007; UEFA Cup: 2005–06, 2006–07; UEFA Super Cup: 2006
  • Barcelona - La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16; Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16; Supercopa de España: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013; UEFA Champions League: 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15; UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015; FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015
  • Juventus - Serie A: 2016–17; Coppa Italia: 2016–17
  • Paris Saint-Germain - Ligue 1: 2017–18, 2018–19; Coupe de France: 2017–18; Coupe de la Ligue: 2017–18; Trophée des Champions: 2017, 2018

Carlos Alberto Torres is most famous for captaining Brazil in the 1970 World Cup and for scoring one of the greatest goals in the competition’s illustrious history. Despite being made famous for his attacking prowess, Carlos Alberto was also a brilliant defender, who was great at reading the game, tackling , and tactical awareness. Being great with the ball was an addition that was not usual in the mid-1960s and ensured that the World-Cup winning captain was always respected as being the best of his generation.

Playing Career

Name: Carlos Alberto Torres
Date of birth: 17 July 1944
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Playing Position: Right back

 

International career

  • Brazil: 1964-1977 (53 caps)

 

Honours

  • 1970 FIFA World Cup

 

Individual

  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1970
  • World Team of the 20th Century: 1998
  • National Soccer Hall of Fame: 2003
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • The Best of The Best – Player of the Century: Top 50
  • Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame

FIFA World Cup appearances

  • 6 caps; 1 goal; 6 wins; 0 draw; 0 losses

 

Mexico 1970

  • Brazil 4-1 Czechoslovakia
  • Brazil 1-0 England
  • Brazil 3-2 Romania
  • Brazil 4-2 Peru
  • Brazil 3-1 Uruguay
  • Brazil 4-1 Italy

Club Career

  • 1963-1966 Fluminese
  • 1966-1974 Santos
  • 1974-1976 Fluminese
  • 1976-1977 Flamengo
  • 1977-1980 New York Cosmos
  • 1981 California Surf
  • 1982 New York Cosmos

        

Honours

  • Fluminese – Campeonato Carioca: 1964, 1975, 1976; Taça Guanabara: 1966
  • Santos – Recopa Sul-Americana: 1968; Taça de Prata: 1968; Paulista Championship: 1967, 1968, 1969, 1973
  • New York Cosmos – NASL Soccer Bowl Championships: 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982
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