Football is considered as the "people's game". The game is the most popular sport in the world and is played by around two hundred and fifty million players in over two hundred countries.
Paolo Rossi (Italy)
Born in Tuscany, in 1956, Paolo Rossi was considered as the best striker during his era. The world took notice of him during a world cup match of Italy vs Brazil in 1982. Rossi scored three phenomenal goals in that match, the first one coming within just 5 minutes. He took his country to the final of the 1982 world cup where Italy met West Germany. Italy won the game 3-1, with Rossi being named the European and World Player of the Year.
Luis Figo (Portugal)
Thierry Henry (France)
Lothar Matthaus (Germany)
Eric Cantona (France)
Eric Cantona is one of the most inspirational players ever to play the game. He had a knack forcreating and also scoring important goals. He was a charismatic player and also considered as a role model for the younger generation of players. He led Manchester United to multiple trophies such as the FA Cup, League Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Blessed with searing pace and power, he is known for his clever dribbling tricks and goal-scoring prowess. He is often considered by many as the best player in the world and and also the greatest of all time. He has four FIFA Ballon d'Or awards and is the first player in history to win four European Golden Shoes. His finishing ability has earned him the record for most official goals scored in the top European leagues. He has scored more than 600 senior career goals for both club and country.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Dubbed as the "modern day Maradona", Lionel Messi has lived up to his title. He was signed by Barcelona when he was just a boy and has been there ever since. He broke into the first team of Barcelona at age 17 and soon became a fan favourite. He has brilliant vision, skill and ball control and can run at a blistering pace. Messi is the only player in history to win five FIFA Ballon d'Or awards and has scored over 500 senior career goals for club and country.
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima commonly known as Ronaldo, is widely regarded as the best striker to ever play the game. He was popularly dubbed "O Fenômeno" (The Phenomenon), due to his exceptional talent and skill. He was known for his dribbling at speed, feints and clinical finishing. He was crowned FIFA World Player of the Year three times and Ballon d'Or winner twice in his career. He played for several top clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan during his career. He was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the greatest living players compiled in 2004. His goal scoring abilities hepled Brazil to the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Zinedine Zidane (France)
Nicknamed "Zizou", Zidane is a retired footballer and current manager of Real Madrid. He had unmatched technical abilities such as ball control, vision and could control the game all by himself. Zidane played a crucial part in France's vistory of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring 2 goals. He went on to lead his country to the UEFA Euro 2000 victory, thus turning France into an unstoppable force. He was named the FIFA World Player of the Year three times, in 1998, 2000 and 2003, and won the 1998 Ballon d'Or and was also named the best European footballer of the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll in 2004.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) is probably the most influential player to ever play the game. According to the IFFHS, Pele is the most successful league goal-scorer in the world, scoring 1281 goals in 1363 games. In 1999, IFFHS voted Pele as the World Player of the Century. Pele debuted for the Brazil National team aged just 16 and won three FIFA World Cups, being the only player ever to do so. Pele was known for his ability to anticipate his opponents' movements in the field, and being able to shoot strong and accurate shots with both feet.
Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Undoubtedly one of the greatest talents football has ever seen, Diego Maradona is arguably the best player of all time. A unusual talent, Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe de Oro" ("The Golden Boy"). Maradona's vision, passing, ball control, dribbling skills, speed, reflexes and reaction time was combined with his small size allowed him to manoeuvre better than most other players. His mere presence on the pitch could impact his team's performance and he would often be singled out by the opposition team. Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup where he captained Argentina and led them to victory over West Germany in the final. The 1986 World Cup quarter final is a special memory in Maradona's career, wherein he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England one of which was a clear handling foul known as the "Hand of God", while the second goal followed a 60 m dribble past five English players, voted "The Goal of the Century".
Johan Cryuff (Netherlands)
Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff was an enigmatic player, who could dribble past defenders as if they weren't there. He would play in the most creative of ways. He had the ideal combination of vision and skill. He won the Ballon d'Or three times in his career. Under his leadership and skill, Dutch football rose from near obscurity to becoming a giant in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. Cryuff also enjoyed considerable amount of success as a manager.
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