A look at ten players who have left their indelible impact on the beautiful game is presented below.
Pelé is the first and last name on any list of the greatest players in the history of soccer. He possessed superhuman abilities that elevated the level of play possible on the field. He was only 17 years old when Brazil won their first World Cup in 1958, and he missed a significant portion of the title defence in 1962 due to an injury. However, he led the charge with a performance that earned him the Golden Ball, and the Selecao easily cruised to their third victory in four attempts in 1970. In the meantime, he mesmerized fans at home and when his Santos club travelled the world. As a result of his outstanding efforts, he was given the nickname “O Rei,” which translates to “The King.” Even if many of Pelé’s goals were scored in less-serious competitions throughout his career, the staggering number of goals he amassed highlights his lofty position in the annals of the game’s illustrious past.
There are people who will swear on their left foot that Diego Maradona was the better talent, despite the fact that Pelé is usually considered the most famous player in the game’s history. After the small playmaker guided Napoli to their first two league titles and success in the UEFA Cup by the year 1990, the Napoli supporters in Italy are probably of the same opinion. Then there are his compatriots in Argentina, who was at a loss for words after their hero scored the “goal of the century” and the “hand of God” score on their way to winning the World Cup in 1986. Even while the fires that propelled Maradona also led to the off-the-field adventures that undermined his efficiency, there was no doubting the brilliance of his playing when he was at the height of his career.
Maradona had the opportunity to look at another legend, Michel Platini of France, while he was in Italy. “Platoche” was a do-it-all midfielder with excellent touch and a scorer’s mindset. He won three straight Ballon d’Or awards while leading Saint-Etienne and Juventus to league titles and other accolades. Platini’s performance for France in Euro 1984, in which he delivered nine goals in five matches, marked arguably the greatest individual run for a player in an international tournament. Despite the fact that he was never able to experience the thrill of winning the World Cup, Platini’s performance was arguably the best. Unfortunately, since he became president of UEFA, his formerly perfect reputation has been tarnished due to an investigation into improper payments, which led to a lengthy ban from the sport in 2015.
Marco van Basten
Marco van Basten is one of the few players who has achieved as much in a short time as he has. The stylish striker won four straight scoring titles and a bevvy of trophies while playing for Ajax Amsterdam. He then moved on to AC Milan, where he added to his collection by winning three league titles, two European Cups, and three Ballon d’Or awards during his time there. Van Basten is also known for scoring one of the most memorable goals in the sport’s history. In Euro 1988, he led the Netherlands to victory over the Soviet Union with a header that appeared to come from an impossible angle. Unfortunately, by the time he was 28 years old, injuries had ended his playing days, depriving this amazing talent and his followers of many more moments that will live on in memory.
Jürgen Klinsmann made significant contributions to Germany’s illustrious soccer history, picking up the mantle that had been left behind by predecessors such as Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller. The striker was a two-time winner of his country’s player of the year award. He led West Germany to victory in the World Cup in 1990 and a combined German team in the European Championship in 1996. In addition to his success with the national team, Klinsmann was a standout on the club level as well, as he won a combined three UEFA Cups and one league championship while playing for Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. After that, he embarked on a prosperous career as a coach, eventually leading Germany to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup and rescuing an underdog American World Cup team from the “group of death” in 2014.
Zinedine Zidane became Europe’s most recognized midfield master, following in the footsteps of his countryman Platini, who was also a legend. “Zizou” won club championships in Italy and Spain, as well as the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 for France, and he was awarded three FIFA Player of the Year awards along the road. He is a champion across all levels of competition. When it mattered the most, he had a knack for scoring goals. He stunned Brazil twice to help the United States win the World Cup in 1998 and scored the game-winning goal for Real Madrid in the Champions League final in 2002. Zidane was also known for his explosive temper, demonstrated by the headbutt he delivered to Italy’s Marco Materazzi at the 2006 World Cup. Despite this, Zidane was able to redeem himself by managing Real Madrid to great success after being booted out of the tournament for his actions.
It is easy to forget that David Beckham was once a dominant player in his own right because of his commercial appeal and his lifestyle in Hollywood. David Beckham has long since transcended the athletic realm and become a grade-A celebrity thanks to his commercial appeal and his lifestyle in Hollywood. The midfielder was a star on Manchester United’s teams that won six championships, and he twice finished as the runner-up for the FIFA Player of the Year award. He is known for his long-range shooting, particularly the trademark free kicks he used to take. Beckham later brought his celebrity to the L.A. Galaxy to help boost the game’s profile in America. He finished his career with Paris Saint-Germain in France, where he won league titles in both of his stints, making him the first Englishman to do so across four countries. In addition, Beckham was the first to win league titles in all four countries.
Cristiano Ronaldo is nearly impossible to stop on the field thanks to his lightning-fast speed, incredible athleticism, and nonstop attacking. The numbers speak for themselves, as he became the first player to win four European scoring titles and notch six consecutive seasons of 30 goals in Spain’s premier league on his way to winning five Ballon d’Or Awards. In addition, he became the first player to win five Ballon d’Or Awards. The attacker has also been a part of numerous successful team efforts, including leading Portugal to victory in Euro 2016 while serving as captain and winning a record-tying five Champions League championships with both Manchester United and Real Madrid. Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down in his historical pursuit of greatness even though he is continuing his phenomenal run into his 30s.
Gareth Bale has worked his way up to become one of the best players in the world. He began his career as a specialist in free kicks for Tottenham and has since become a prominent member of Real Madrid’s “BBC” assault. Bale and his Real Madrid partner Ronaldo are famed for their fast speed and tremendous physical strength. These talents have helped the Spanish club win several Cups, and an incredible four Champions League crowns in only five years. The talented winger was also instrumental in guiding Wales to the nation’s first-ever appearance in the semifinals of the Euro 2016 tournament. Although there is still plenty of time to improve his all-time standing, he already holds the record for his country’s most international goals and is recognized as the Player of the Year.
And last but not least, Lionel Messi, the child prodigy who performs miracles with the same ease that he ties his shoelaces. Messi is a highlight machine. In addition to an individual haul that includes five European scoring titles, five Ballon d’Or, and a record 91 goals scored in a single calendar year, his brilliance has helped Barcelona to nearly three dozen team trophies, including nine league titles, four Champions League victories, and nearly all of the other team trophies in the world. Messi is frequently named in the same sentence as Maradona and Pelé on the list of all-time greats in soccer. Still, he may eventually exceed both of them in the hearts of soccer fans if he manages to fill in the one omission from his CV and lead Argentina to victory in the World Cup.
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