Best Wow Players Of All Time

(Paradigm credit: Future)

When a manager has to cull between two excellent players in the same position, theBig Book of Football Cliches says we must always refer to this “selection headache” equally a “good problem to have”.

Having weeks trying to narrow down every male footballer ever into a list of 100, we atFourFourTwo now realise just what nonsense that is. Selection becomes near-impossible puzzler as yous realise just how many outstanding footballers there have been, across continents and across decades.

Frankly, we could practise another list of 100 great players not to even make the cut. Simply in the end, we’re had to selection the players nosotros feel were the most influential in their detail era, the near memorable, the players who awed us with their talent and their achievements. In brusk, the 100 greatest footballers always. Feel complimentary to permit us know your thoughts @FourFourTwo
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100. Gheorghe Hagi

Gheorghe Hagi of Romania during the FIFA World Cup 1990 Round of 16 match between Republic of Ireland and Romania at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy

Gheorghe Hagi of Romania during the 1990 Globe Cup

(Epitome credit: Ray McManus/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

With one of the odder career trajectories among modern-24-hour interval greats, Hagi spent the best part of a decade as an impossibly prolific attacking midfielder in Romania’s top flight, earlier two hit-and-miss years at Existent Madrid and later a similar spell at Barcelona.

Sandwiched between his time at the 2 Spanish giants was a heartwarming 2 years in Italy, where he was office of Mircea Lucescu’south ‘Little Romania’ contingent at Brescia. He endured relegation in his showtime season but stayed loyal to the social club despite amend offers, and fired them back into Serie A.

Aged thirty and supposedly winding down towards retirement, he joined Galatasaray, where he spent a laughably fruitful one-half-decade cementing living-legend condition and hoovering upward some other 10 medals.

Career highlight:
The states 94, when Romania reached the quarter-final of the World Loving cup (knocking out Argentine republic on the manner), inspired by Hagi and his magical left human foot.

99. Mario Kempes

Mario Kempes in action for Argentina at the World Cup

Mario Kempes in action for Argentina at the 1986 World Loving cup

(Paradigm credit: BONGARTS)

Only four Argentines take been crowned as superlative scorer in La Liga, and Kempes is one of them. He was feared as a burly and effective striker for Valencia, scoring at will, especially in 1976/77 and 1977/78. Kempes besides led the club to a European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1980.

Withal, he is best known for his explosive finishes during the 1978 World Cup on home soil. He nabbed vi goals and was elevation scorer of the tournament.

Career highlight:
How about scoring two goals in a Globe Cup final for a highlight? Kempes netted twice confronting Holland, including the all-important winner in extra time.

98. Kaka

Midfielder Kaka #22 of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan v ACF Fiorentina held at Stadio San Siro on January 17, 2009 in Milan, Italy.

Kaka of AC Milan in action in Serie A against Fiorentina in 2009

(Epitome credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Kaka is the only player in the globe I would pay coin to watch. Some of the things I take seen him practice on the pitch amaze me.

Frank Lampard

The baby of Brazil’s final Earth Loving cup-winning squad without getting onto the pitch, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite grew up in the shadows of samba superstars before emulating them on his own path. He won the terminal Ballon d’Or before the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly dominated football and dazzled with his unbelievable vision and typically Southward American dribbling skills.

Milan fans adored him. There was zippo that Kaka couldn’t do with the brawl at his anxiety, every bit he danced his way through defences and led this great club to summits. Injuries ravaged his time at Real Madrid but the mystique of this man is articulate: he’due south simply one of the most talented footballers of the modern age, with iconic moments across his career.

Career highlight:
An era-defining brandish against Manchester United in the Champions League semi-finals, with the whole world watching. Violent apart one of the greatest-e’er England sides singlehandedly was as shocking as it was captivating.

97. George Weah

George Weah

George Weah while playing for PSG

(Epitome credit: Getty)

So far, Africa’south but Ballon d’Or recipient, George Weah is at present president of Republic of liberia. He’s always led from the forepart.

King George was a tornado of a footballer and one of the most thrilling footballers in total pelt ever to play the game. He could take on swathes of defenders and smash by them with electric pace, while his finishing, technical power and creativity were all superb. He lit upwardly Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, winning titles and plaudits a plenty to get one of the most influential and beloved African footballers ever to play the game.

Career highlight:
A fabled solo goal confronting Verona in which Weah barely looked similar he was breaking a sweat while frolicking through the entire opposition backline. It typified his grade, bluster and frightening individual ability: practice you know how difficult that was to practise in 1990s Italy?

96. Javier Zanetti

Javier Zanetti

Javier Zanetti celebrates for Inter Milan

(Image credit: Getty)

If he’s not the finest right-back the world has seen, he may have remained a globe-grade performer for longer than any other individual on this listing.

During nineteen years at Inter, which followed his early club career in Argentina and came amongst some of the Milan side’s about volatile years, he made a club-record 858 appearances and won 16 trophies before retiring aged 40. The stamina and footballing brain that made him such an outstanding full-back were complemented past a technical power that meant he also afterward excelled in midfield.

Career highlight:
Captaining Inter to the Treble in 2010, which ended their 45-year wait to regain the European Cup.

95. Djalma Santos

Three footballers of Brazil's national team - (from left to right) - Djalma Santos, Zito and Pele - at their hotel at Selsdon Park. The players have recovered from injuries received in a road accident at Hamburg and are in training for a forthcoming match against England.

Djalma Santos (left), Zito (eye) and Pele (right) at their hotel at Selsdon Park in training for a friction match against England.

(Paradigm credit: John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images))

Nominated by former team-mate and compatriot Pele in his listing of the 125 greatest footballers, the ii-time World Cup champion was the first Brazilian to collect 100 international caps. He started but one game in the 1958 Earth Loving cup but was notwithstanding chosen as the best full-back of the tournament. So that must take been some display.

Along with left-back Nilton Santos, Djalma Santos rarely held back, starting the Brazilian tradition of attacking defenders and providing a template for the position’s futurity.

Career highlight:
In the final of the 1962 World Loving cup confronting Czechoslovakia, Santos set up the final goal scored past Vava for Brazil.

94. Luis Figo

Luis Figo

Luis Figo during Euro 2004 for Portugal

(Image credit: Getty)

1 of the well-nigh idolised and despised players in history – even past the same set of fans at dissimilar points in his timeline.

Luis Figo was the archetype of what a Galactico should be, and then it shouldn’t exist a surprise that Real Madrid moved heaven, Earth and the laws of nature to larn him. Deft, fragile and graceful, while capable of unpredictability – as England institute out from his long-range stunner at Euro 2000 – Figo was a player of brilliance and consistency. His 106 assists are the second-most in La Liga history, behind Lionel Messi.

Career highlight:
Landing the 2002 Champions League alongside his star-studded mates against Bayern Munich. Encounter: paying big money for your rivals’ players works.

93. Sandor Kocsis

Hungarian forward Sandor Kocsis (L) celebrates as the ball rolls past Uruguayan goalkeeper Gaston Roque Maspoli into the net for a goal as defender Jose Santamaria looks on 30 June 1954 in Lausanne during the World Cup semifinal match between Hungary and Uruguay. Hungary advanced to the final with a 4-2 victory in extra time.

Sandor Kocsis (left) celebrates as the ball rolls by Uruguayan goalkeeper Gaston Roque Maspoli at the1954 Earth Cup

(Paradigm credit: STAFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Arguably the greatest header of a ball ever, Kocsis scored at incredible rate. He found the cyberspace 75 times in 68 games for his national side, winning the Olympic tournament in 1952, and averaged more than than a goal-per-game in his seven seasons at Honved, winning 3 league championship titles.

Kocsis moved to Barcelona in 1958 and won La Liga in his first ii seasons in Catalonia, although his spell there was sadly interrupted by injuries.

Career highlight:
Kocsis was the top scorer with eleven goals at the 1954 Earth Cup, where a majestic Hungarian squad should accept won the trophy, but lost to West Germany in the final.

92. Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel Denmark Euro 92 legend

Peter Schmeichel in action for Denmark at Euro 92

(Paradigm credit: PA)

Of all the keepers I accept played against, Peter was easily the best. Y’all tin can’t be a great by simply being a good shot stopper, you accept to take information technology all – and he did.

Michael Owen

Before new-fangled tactics compelled goalkeepers to dash towards the halfway line and behave as ersatz playmakers, Schmeichel was the king of the keepers, the prototypical elite-level goalie. Everything that contributed to preventing a goal he had in abundance: size, presence, assailment and the unyielding ability to bellow his back iv into shape.

Most of all, though, he was just then hard to score by. His ‘starfish’ method became famous and was responsible for countless point-blank chances going inexplicably unconverted. Besides as but being huge, his reflexes were astoundingly quick – and not just once a shot had been taken but before, too: he’d smother the ball at a striker’south feet earlier the player had even realised he was through on goal.

Career highlight:
Hoovered upwards medals every bit a stalwart of Alex Ferguson’southward first great Manchester United side, merely none will accept meant as much or been as spectacularly improbable as his European Championship win with a hastily assembled Denmark side in 1992.

91. Giacinto Facchetti

Pele of Brazil shankes hands with Giacinto Facchetti of Italy during the Final Mexico World Cup 1970 match between Italy and Brazil in Citta Del Mexico on 21-06-1970. Mexico

Pele (left) shakes hands with Giacinto Facchetti of Italian republic before the 1970 Globe Cup final lucifer betwixt Italia and Brazil

(Paradigm credit: Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

In the 1970 Earth Loving cup Final, Brazil saw the future. He was playing at left-dorsum for the opposition, whoO Canarinho were busy chirapsia 4-ane at the fourth dimension.

Italia’southward Giacinto Facchetti invented the mod full-back. Converted by Inter coach Helenio Herrera from a centre-forward into a right-footed left-back, Facchetti provided the deep-lying attacking thrust in a defense-first catenaccio system which dominated Italian football from the mid-1960s for 3 decades.

“Those who copied me copied me wrongly,” Herrera later said of his Inter side. “I had Picchi equally a sweeper, yes, but I too had Facchetti, the offset full-dorsum to score as many goals as a forrard.”

In an 18-flavor career comprising 629Nerazzurri appearances and 75 goals, Facchetti won 4 Serie A titles, two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and Euro 68 with Italy. Forget Carlos Alberto, Roberto Carlos or any other buccaneering Brazilian: this is where the full-back as a weapon began.

Career highlight:
Being part of the first Italian side to defend the European Cup in 1965.

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Marking White has been a staff writer on
since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has as well been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for
and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson’due south season at Barcelona to Robinho’southward career. He one time saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.