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The Best Footballers of the 20th Century

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In 1998, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics created
a world team consisting of the best football players of the 20th century.  The
voting was undertaken by a panel of 250 international football journalists from
all areas of the world.  Similar teams for players from the nations of
CONCACAF, the Confederation of African Football, and the Asian and
Oceania Football Confederations were selected.  Here is a list detailing the
careers of the best footballers of the 20th century.  It is organized by country. 

17. Honduras

Gilberto Yearwood

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Gilberto Yearwood was born in La Lima, Honduras, in 1956.  He is widely
regarded as one of the best football players in the history of Honduras.
Yearwood played defensive midfield for Real C.D. España in his native
country.  He also played for Elche CF, Real Valladolid, CD Tenerife, and Celta
de Vigo in Spain.  Yearwood ended his career as a central defender in
Honduras with CD Olimpia, Motagua, and Marathón.  He scored 20 goals in
Liga Nacional, 10 with Real España, 6 with Motagua, and 4 for Olimpia.  His
incredible strength, stamina, and power led to the nickname "El Vikingo" (The
Viking). 

Yearwood played and scored at the 1977 FIFA World Youth Championship and
was part of the Honduras national football team that took part in the 1982 FIFA
World Cup.  He played his final international game in a 1993 FIFA World Cup
qualification match against Mexico.  Currently, Gilberto Yearwood is coach of
Guatemalan side, Xinabajul.

16. Panama

Julio Dely Valdés

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Julio Dely Valdés was born on March 12, 1967, in Colón, Panama.  He began
his professional career in 1989 in Argentina with Deportivo Paraguayo of
Argentina, where he scored 28 goals.  He quickly became one of the most
prolific goal scorers in international football.  He played with the Club Nacional
de Football in Uruguay, where he scored more than 100 goals and won the
Uruguayan Championship in 1992.  In Europe, he played for Cagliari in Serie A
and Paris Saint-Germain alongside Brazilian players like Raí and Leonardo in
the French Premiére Division.
  
 

He then played in Spain's Primera División with Real Oviedo for three seasons
and with Malaga for another three, before returning to Nacional.  In 1996 he
won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Paris Saint-Germain.  He finished out
his career in 2006 after playing two seasons with the Panamanian club Arabe
Unido. Dely Valdes has recently become an assistant manager with Malaga.    

15. Canada

Bruce Wilson

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Bruce Wilson was born June 20, 1951, in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He
played for the Vancouver Whitecaps from 1974 to 1977, the Chicago Sting in
1978 and 1979, the New York Cosmos in 1980, and the Toronto Blizzard from
1981 to 1984.  Wilson was a six-time all-star selection, including three first
team selections.  He was a powerful 'stay-at-home' style of defender, scoring
just 7 goals in eleven NASL seasons.  He played the second most games of
any player in the history of the North American Soccer League, 299 in total.
  
 

Wilson earned 51 caps for Canada and captained the 1986 national team that
appeared in the World Cup finals.  It is the only time Canada has made it to
the World Cup finals.  Wilson also represented Canada at the 1984 Los
Angeles Olympics where his team reached the quarter-finals, eventually losing
to Brazil.  He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and was the
only member to be named to the CONCACAF Team of the Century list.  Wilson
has been the head coach of the University of Victoria men's soccer team since
1987.  Some other notable Canadian football players from the 20th century
include Dale Mitchell, Paul Peschisolido, and Branko Segota.

14. United States

Tab Ramos

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Born in Uruguay of Spanish and Italian heritage, Ramos emigrated to the
United States with his family when he was 11.  His father played professiona
l football in Uruguay.  While living in Uruguay, Tab played for the Union Vecinal
Youth Soccer Club in Montevideo.  When his family arrived in the U.S., they
settled in New Jersey where Ramos lived in Harrison and Kearny.  He
attended Saint Benedict's Preparatory School.  In 1982, he became U.S.
citizen.  Tab was a two-time high school All-America and the 1983 Parade
Magazine National High School Player of the Year.  Ramos still holds the New
Jersey High School soccer career scoring record with 161 goals, 57 of which
he scored his senior year.  He attended college at NC State where he played
NCAA soccer for four years.  He was All ACC for four years and a three time
All American. 

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After graduation Tab quickly signed with the United States men's national
soccer team.  He began his national team career playing at the U-20 level in
1982, just after gaining his U.S. citizenship.  After playing for the US in the
1990 FIFA World Cup, he was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.  In
1990, the United States Soccer Federation agreed to loan Ramos to Spanish
Second Division club Figueres for the 1990-1991 season.  In his first season
with the team, he played 38 games, scoring 5 goals.  Two years later Figueres
sold Ramos to fellow Second Division club Real Betis.  In 1994, Ramos was
chosen as the CONCACAF Player of the Year.  In 1995, he went to play for
the Mexican First Division club Tigres.  He became the first American player to
appear for the Tigres.
  
 

Among his career highlights were his two assists in the June 9, 1993 2-0
World Series of Soccer victory over England.  Later that year, he was also a
member of the U.S. team which went 1-1-1 at the Copa America.  In 1994, Tab
once again played in the World Cup as a starter, but late in the round of 16,
Ramos had to be replaced after suffering a skull fracture caused by a vicious
elbow to the head by Brazilian leftback Leonardo during the first half of the
game.  He retired in 2002 as one of the greatest footballers in U.S. history.

13. Costa Rica

Hernán Medford

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Hernán Medford was born May 23, 1968 in San Jose, Costa Rica.  He played
in several different international football leagues during his career, including
Serie A of Italy (Foggia Calcio), the Yugoslavian first division (Dinamo
Zagreb), the Austrian Bundesliga (SK Rapid Wien), La Liga in Spain ( Rayo
Vallecano), and the Mexican premier league, with C.F. Pachuca, León and
Necaxa.  In Costa Rica's first division, he played for Deportivo Saprissa, were
he won three national championships and the 1993 CONCACAF Champions
Cup.  Medford also represented Costa Rica's national squad 89 times, playing
in two World Cups, Italy 1990 and Japan-Korea 2002.  He scored a goal
against Sweden in the 1990 World Cup, which resulted in qualification for the
second round, and Costa Rica's best World Cup performance to date. 

He also scored the winning goal at the Azteca Stadium against Mexico in the
qualification for the 2002 World Cup, it was the only home World Cup qualifier
game that Mexico has ever lost. 
After retiring from professional football in
2003, Medford entered coaching. Hernán Medford Is currently the head coach
of Club León in the Primera Division A of Mexico.  He was known for his ball
handling ability and speed, Medford is routinely ranked as one of the best
forwards of the 20th century. 

12. El Salvador

Mágico González

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Jorge Alberto González was born in the Luz neighborhood of San Salvador, El
Salvador.  He began his professional career in 1975 with the Administración
Nacional de Telecomunicaciones
(ANTEL) team.  In 1982, he became a
member of Cádiz Club de Fútbol and scored 57 goals in 183 games for the
Spanish side between 1982 and 1991.  González was an incredible striker
with superb ball-control skills.  He received the first of his 48 international caps
on May 1, 1979, in a friendly match against Mexico. 

González was also instrumental in leading El Salvador to the 1982 FIFA World
Cup, where he appeared in all three group stage matches, including the 1-10
loss to Hungary. It was El Salvador’s second appearance in the World Cup.
There is little doubt that he is the best footballer in the history of El Salvador
and has been labeled El mágico (the wizard).  Many critics and journalist say
that if González had been Argentinian or Brazilian, he would have ranked
amongst the best in the world, alongside Pelé and Diego Maradona.   

11. Russia

Lev Yashin

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Lev Yashin was born in Moscow into a family of industrial workers.  By age 12,
he was sent to a military factory in Moscow, where he played goalkeeper for
the local football team.  In 1950, he was spotted and invited to join the Dynamo
Moscow youth team.  Yashin ended up spending his entire professional football
career with Dynamo Moscow, from 1949 to 1971.  He won the USSR football
championship five times and the USSR Cup three times.  In 1954, Yashin was
finally called up to the national team, and would go on to gather 78 caps
(starts).  With the national team he won the 1956 Summer Olympics and the
1960 European Championship.
 
He also played in three World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1966. In the 1958
World Cup, played in Sweden, Yashin put forth some amazing performances.
The Soviet Union advanced to the Quarter-finals.  He was selected to the
All-Star Team of the 1958 World Cup.  In 1962 he once-again led the Russians
to a Quarter-final finish at the World Cup, losing to host country Chile.  He
suffered two concussions during the tournament.  Yashin led the Soviet team
to its best showing at the 1966 World Cup, a fourth place finish.

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One of his best performances was the 1963 FA Centenary match, when he
appeared in the ‘Rest of the World XI’ against England at Wembley Stadium
and made a number of breathtaking and almost unbelievable saves.  He is
known all over the world as the “Black Spider.”  Lev Yashin is the only
goalkeeper to ever win the European Footballer of the Year Award (1963).  He
is also believed to have stopped around 150 penalty kicks during his career;
far more than any other goalkeeper in history.  He is considered by many to
be the greatest goalkeeper to ever play the game.  Yashin was known for his
superior athleticism, imposing stature, amazing reflex saves, and he also
invented the idea of goalkeeper sweeping.  Some other incredible goalkeepers
from the 20th century include Antonio Carbajal from Mexico and Ubaldo Fillol
from Argentina.

10. Germany

Franz Beckenbauer

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Franz Beckenbauer was born in the post-war ruins of Munich.  He was the
second son of postal-worker Franz Beckenbauer, Sr. and his wife Antonie.
Beckenbauer started playing football at the age of eight with the youth team
of SC Munich '06 in 1954.  He made his professional debut with Bayern in the
Regionalliga Süd (Regional League South).  In his first year with the club they
won promotion to the recently formed Bundesliga, the national league.  Bayern
soon became a force in the new German league, winning the German Cup in
1966–67 and achieving European success in the Cup Winners' Cup in 1967.
During Beckenbauer's tenure at Bayern Munich, the club won three league
championships in a row from 1972 to 1974 and also an astonishing hat-trick of
European Cup wins. 

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In 1977, Beckenbauer accepted a lucrative contract to play in the North
American Soccer League with the New York Cosmos.  He played with the
Cosmos for four seasons up to 1980, and the team won the Soccer Bowl on
three occasions.  In his domestic career, Beckenbauer made 587
appearances and scored 81 goals.  He won 103 caps and scored 14 goals for
West Germany.  He was a member of the World Cup teams that finished
runners-up in 1966, third place in 1970, and World Cup Champions in 1974.
Franz Beckenbauer is strongly regarded as the greatest German footballer of
all time and one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game. 

He revolutionized the position of sweeper and was selected as the European
Footballer of the Year on two separate occasions.  Beckenbauer also coached
the West German national team to a World Cup Championship in 1990.
Today he remains an influential figure in both German and international
football.  He led Germany's successful bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup
and chaired the organizing committee.   

9. The Italian Defence

Paolo Maldini

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Paolo Maldini was born on June 26, 1968, in Milan, Italy.  Maldini made his
league debut in the 1984-85 season, at the age of 16, against Udinese.  He
spent 25 years of his career playing for A.C. Milan.  During that period, he won
seven Italian Serie A championships, five UEFA Champions League Cups,
one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana, five UEFA Super Cups, two
Intercontinental Cups, and one FIFA Club World Cup.  Maldini has participated
in eight UEFA Champions League finals.

 

He was part of Milan's undefeated "Dream Team" from the late 1980s to the
early 1990s.  The Dream Team was a name given to Italy’s back four,
consisting of Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Mauro
Tassotti.  Maldini became the first defender ever to win World Soccer
magazine's annual World Player of the Year Award.  He spent 14 years with
the Italian national team, making his debut in 1988 and retiring in 2002.  He
gained 126 caps and 7 goals.  Maldini retired trophyless from international
competition.  His key strengths as a player were his electric pace, the ability
to execute precision tackles, his strong leadership, and his influence on and
off the field.  Prior to his retirement, Maldini expressed that he would not be
moving into a coaching career.

Franco Baresi

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Franco Baresi was born on May 8, 1960, in Travagliato, province of Brescia,
Italy.  Baresi led A.C. Milan and its defence for the best part of a decade.  It
was a period during which Milan's defence was considered by many observers
to be one of the best back fours in the history of football.  He is one of few
players to spend their entire career with one club.  Baresi played for A.C.
Milan in 532 games, scoring 16 goals.  He retired from football in 1997 at age
37.  With Milan, Baresi won six scudetti (Serie A league titles) and three
European Cups.  He mentored defensive partner Paolo Maldini in his later
years and his #6 jersey was retired by the club, a rarity for Italian football.
  
 

Baresi played in two World Cups for Italy.  He was part of the 1982 World Cup
squad in Spain as a substitute of another great defender, Gaetano Scirea, but
didn't play.  He made his World Cup debut in 1990 where the Azzurri lost to
Argentina in the semi-finals, but went on to beat England in the third place play
off.  In the 1994 World Cup Italy lost to Brazil in the final.  Baresi missed the
first penalty in the shootout after the 0-0 full-time and extra-time score.  After a
short spell as Director of Football at Fulham, Baresi returned to Milan as a
youth team coach and has since retired from coaching.  Franco Baresi is
widely acknowledged as one of the greatest defenders ever to play the game.
He was colloquially called "piscinin", Milanese dialect for "little one".   

8. England

Bobby Charlton

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Bobby Charlton was born on October 11, 1937, in Ashington, England.  After
the end of the Second World War, Matt Busby set out a plan to rebuild the
Manchester United football program.  Bobby Charlton became a member of a
group known as the Manchester United Busby Babies, who was a group of
players recruited and trained by the club's chief scout Joe Armstrong and
managed by Matt Busby.  If I was going to make a list of the greatest football
coaches in English history, Busby would climb to the top.  Charlton quickly
became renowned for his attacking instincts and his ferocious long-range
shot.  He began to play for Manchester United's first team in 1956, and over
the next two seasons gained a starting position.  He also survived the Munich
air disaster of 1958. In 1963, Manchester United beat Leicester City 3–1 in
the FA Cup final.  In 1968, he captained the Manchester United team that won
the European Cup.  In that match Charlton scored two goals in the final to help
his team be the first English side to win the competition.
 

In his career Bobby Charlton made more appearances for Manchester United
than any other player (758).  His record was surpassed by Ryan Giggs at the
Champions League Final in Moscow on May 21, 2008.  In 1966, Charlton
helped lead England to its only World Cup title.  It was one of the greatest
achievements in English football history.  The squad defeated West Germany
4-2 in the final.  Bobby Charlton has scored more goals for England and
Manchester United than any other player in history.  At the time of his
retirement from the English national team in 1970, he was the nation's most
capped player, having turned out 106 times. This record has since been
eclipsed by Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton and then David Beckham.  He is a
member of Manchester United's board of directors and was knighted in 1994.
Bobby Charlton is widely considered one of the greatest football players in
English history.

Bobby Moore

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Bobby Moore was born on April 12, 1941, in Barking, London, England.  He
joined West Ham as a player in 1956 after advancing through their youth
league.  He played his first game on September 8, 1958, against Manchester
United.  Moore became admired for his ability to anticipate the opposition’s
movements.  In 1963, the 22-year-old Moore became captain of the English
national team in just his 12th appearance.  He was the youngest man ever to
captain England at the highest level.
  
 

In 1964, West Ham won the FA Cup, defeating Preston North End 3-2,
courtesy of a last-minute goal from Ronnie Boyce.  In 1965, West Ham lifted
the European Cup Winners Cup after defeated 1860 Munich 2-0 in the final.
Moore was the captain of the English national team that won the 1966 World
Cup.  His performance in the tournament was amazing.  Moore became a
national icon and sports legend as a result of England's mass success.  He
won a total of 108 caps for the English national team and is considered one of
the best English football players of all time.  Pelé called Moore the fairest
defender he had ever played against.

7. Mexico

Hugo Sánchez

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Hugo Sánchez was born on July 11, 1958, in Mexico City.  As a teenager,
Sánchez played for the Mexican national football team in the 1976 Summer
Olympics.  He signed with UNAM Pumas when he was 18-years-old.  Two
years later, he became top-scorer in the league.  After five successful
seasons in Mexico, with 99 goals, Sánchez drew the attention of several
Spanish sides, and signed with Atlético Madrid in 1981.  He went on to play for
four European clubs.  At the height of his career he signed with Real Madrid
and played with players such as Camacho, Butragueño, Gordillo, Schuster,
Valdano and Míchel.  This team won five consecutive league titles (from
1985-86 to 1989-90).  They won the Copa del Rey in 1989 and the UEFA Cup
in 1986. During those five years, Sánchez garnered four consecutive Pichichi
trophies (given to the most prolific scorer).
  
 

He played twelve seasons in the Spanish Primera División and is the second
highest goalscorer in the history of that league.  He scored 207 goals in 283
games and 47 goals in 45 European Cup matches.  In 1992, Sánchez returned
to his native Mexico for a season, before playing for a variety of clubs in
Spain, Austria and the U.S.  He played 60 matches and scored 29 goals for
the Mexican national team, but his prime years coincided with a difficult period
for the nation's football.  Mexico did not participate in the World Cup of 1982
and 1990.  In 1999, the IFFHS voted him the 26th best footballer of the 20th
Century, and the best from the CONCACAF region.  Hugo Sánchez is a sports
legend in Mexico. 

6. Hungary

Ferenc Puskás

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Ferenc Puskás was born on April 2, 1927 in Budapest, Hungary.  He made his
professional debut for Kispest in November 1943.  Kispest was taken over by
the Hungarian Ministry of Defence in 1949, becoming the Hungarian Army
team and changing its name to Budapest Honvéd.  As a result, football players
were given military ranks.  Puskás eventually became a major, which led to
the nickname "The Galloping Major".  During his career at Budapest Honvéd,
Puskás helped the club win five Hungarian League titles.  He also finished as
the top goal scorer in the league four times.  In 1958, two years after the
Hungarian Revolution, Puskás emigrated to Spain where he played for Real
Madrid.  While playing with Real Madrid, Puskás won four Pichichis and
scored seven goals in two European Champions Cup finals.  In 1995, he was
recognized as the top scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS. 

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During the 1950s, Puskás was the captain of the legendary Hungarian national
team, known as the Mighty Magyars.  He made his debut for the team on
August 20, 1945 and scored in a 5–2 win over Austria.  He went onto play 85
games and scored 84 times for Hungary.  Together with Zoltán Czibor, Sándor
Kocsis, József Bozsik, and Nándor Hidegkuti, he formed the nucleus of the
legendary team that went unbeaten for a then world record 32 consecutive
games.  During this run, they became Olympic Champions in 1952.  In 1953,
the team stunned England with a 6-3 win and became the first non-UK team to
defeat the English national team at Wembley Stadium.  In 1953, they also
became Central European Champions. 

Puskás scored three goals in the first two matches Hungary played at the 1954
FIFA World Cup. They defeated South Korea 9–0 and then West Germany
8–3.  In the latter game, he suffered an ankle injury after a tackle by Werner
Liebrich and did not return until the final, which Hungary lost to West Germany.
Ferenc Puskás scored 514 goals in 529 matches in the Hungarian and
Spanish leagues.  He is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of
all time.

5. Portugal

Eusébio

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Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was born on January 25, 1942, in Lourenço
Marques, Portuguese East Africa (
now Maputo).  He moved to Lisbon in his
late teens and in 1961 joined Sport Lisboa e Benfica.  In 1962, Eusébio won
the European Cup with Benfica, scoring two goals in the final against Real
Madrid.  He was the 1965 European Footballer of the Year and in 1968 was
the first winner of the Golden Boot Award, as Europe's leading scorer.  He
was the Portuguese First Division's top scorer seven times from 1964 to 1973
and helped Benfica win 11 league championships.  He also had five cup wins.
Eusébio scored 727 goals in 715 matches for Benfica, including 317 goals in
301 Portuguese league matches. 

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He made his debut for the Portuguese national team against Luxembourg in
1961.  Eusébio was the all-time leading scorer for the Portuguese, with 41
goals (in 64 matches), until forward Pauleta surpassed his record against
Latvia on October 12, 2005. Eusébio helped the Portuguese national team
reach third place at the 1966 World Cup.  He was the top goalscorer of the
tournament with nine goals.  Eusébio was internationally known for his speed
and his powerful, accurate right-footed strike.  He is considered Benfica's and
Portugal's most renowned player and the first world-class African striker.
Eusébio was elected the 9th best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the
IFFHS.  He is a true Portuguese sports legend.  

4. France

Michel Platini

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Michel Platini was born on June 21, 1955, in Jœuf, France.  Platini made his
league debut with Nancy on May 3, 1973.  In 1978, he led Nancy to victory in
the French Cup, defeating Nice and scoring the only goal of the game.  Platini
won the French league title in 1981 with 'Les Verts', but was on the losing side
of two French Cup finals, against Bastia in 1981 and against Paris Saint-
Germain in 1982.  The following season he joined Juventus.  He won the
Italian championship with Juventus in 1984 and 1986, the European Cup
Winners' Cup in 1984, the 1984 European Super Cup, the European Cup in
1985, and the 1985 Intercontinental Cup.  Platini finished as the top scorer in
Serie A for three consecutive seasons and won a hat-trick of European
Footballer of the Year awards (1983-1985). 

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The 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool at Heysel Stadium in Brussels
should have been the crowning moment of Platini's Juventus career, but was
instead overshadowed by the Heysel Stadium disaster in which 39 people
died, and 600 more were injured.  Platini participated in the 1978, 1982 and
1986 World Cups, reaching the semi-finals in ’82 and ’86.  He is widely
regarded as one of the best passers in football history, as well as one of the
greatest free kick specialists and finishers.  Platini holds the record for most
goals (9) scored in European Championship finals tournaments.  He was
named Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour in 1985 and became
Officier in 1988.  Platini was the French national team coach for four years,
and was the co-organizer of the 1998 World Cup in France.  He is the current
president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).   

3. Netherlands

Johan Cruyff

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Johan Cruyff was born on April 25, 1947, in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  He
joined Ajax youth system on his 10th birthday and made his team debut on
November 15, 1964.  In the 1966 season, Ajax won the league championship
and also won the KNVB Cup.  Cruyff ended the season as the leading
goalscorer in the Eredivisie with 33.  Ajax won the league for the third
consecutive year in 1968 and Cruyff was also named Dutch footballer of the
year for the second successive time, a feat he would repeat in 1969. 

The 1972 season was a particular successful year for Ajax and Cruyff.  Ajax
won a second European Cup, beating Internazionale 2–0 in the final, with
Cruyff scoring both goals.  After moving to Barcelona Cruyff quickly won over
the fans.  He scored one of the most famous goals of his career during this
era, named the The 'Phantom' Goal.  In a game against Atlético de Madrid,
Cruyff leapt into the air, twisted his body so that he was facing away from the
goal, and kicked the ball past Miguel Reina in the Atlético Madrid goal with his
right heel. 

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At the age of 32, Cruyff signed a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Aztecs of
the North American Soccer League (NASL).  He has become synonymous
with the playing style of "Total Football”, which is a system where a player who
moves out of his position is replaced by another from his team, thus allowing
the team to retain their intended organizational structure.  Cruyff played centre
forward in this system.  He was named European Footballer of the Year three
times (1971, 1973, 1974) which is a record jointly held with Michel Platini and
Marco van Basten.  After his retirement from playing in 1984, he became
highly successful as manager of Ajax and later Barcelona.  He remains an
influential advisor to both clubs.  In 1999 he was named the European Player
of the Century by the IFFHS.  On November 2, 2009, Cruyff was named as the
head coach of the Catalonia national football team in place of Pere Gratacòs.
This is his first coaching job in thirteen years. 

Marco van Basten

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Marco van Basten was born on October 31, 1964 in Utrecht.  When he was
8-years-old he moved to UVV Utrecht to play youth football.  After 10 years
there, he briefly played for another club from Utrecht, Elinkwijk.  AFC Ajax
signed van Basten in 1981.  He became the top scorer in the league for four
seasons, scoring 117 goals in 112 matches.  In the 1985-86 season, he
scored 37 goals in 26 league matches, and won the European Golden Boot.
In 1987, van Basten signed with A.C. Milan and two years later he won the
Ballon d'Or as Europe's top footballer.  He scored 19 goals in Serie A and
scored two goals in the final of European Cup as Milan triumphed against
Steaua Bucureşti.
  
 

Van Basten was called up for the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship and
made his senior debut that same year, at the UEFA Euro 1988.  In that
tournament he scored a total of five goals, including a hat trick against
England, the winning goal in the semi-final against West Germany, and a
spectacular volley in the final against the Soviet Union.  He is regarded as one
of the finest forwards of all time and scored 277 goals in his career, which
was cut short by injury.  Van Basten was internationally known for his strength
on the ball, tactical awareness, and spectacular strikes and volleys.  Marco
van Basten was named European Footballer of the Year three times (1988,
'89 and '92) and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992.  In 2004, a nationwide
pool was held for the 100 Greatest Dutch People and van Basten was number
25, the second highest for a football player.

2. Argentina

Diego Maradona

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Diego Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Lanús, Argentina.  At age
10, Maradona was spotted by a talent scout while he was playing in his
neighborhood club Estrella Roja.  He became a staple of Los Cebollitas (The
Little Onions), the junior team of Buenos Aires's Argentinos Juniors.  On
October 20, 1976, Maradona made his professional debut with Argentinos
Juniors.  He played there between 1976 and 1981, before his £1m transfer to
Boca Juniors.  In 1982, Maradona was transferred to Barcelona in Spain for a
then world record £5m.  Barcelona and Maradona won the Copa del Rey
(Spain's annual national cup), beating Real Madrid.  They also won the
Spanish Super Cup, beating Athletic de Bilbao in 1983.  In 1984, Maradona
was transferred to Napoli in Italy's Serie A for another record fee, £6.9m. 

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At Napoli, Maradona reached the peak of his professional career and quickly
became an adored star among the club's fans.  He elevated the team to the
most successful era in its history.  Napoli won their only Serie A Italian
Championships in 1986/87 and 1989/1990, placing second in the league
twice, in 1987/88 and 1988/89.  They also won the Coppa Italia in 1987, the
UEFA Cup in 1989, and the Italian Supercup in 1990. Maradona was the top
scorer in Serie A in 1987/88.  He made his international debut at age 16,
against Hungary on February 27, 1977. At age 18, he played at the World
Youth Championship for Argentina, and was the star of the tournament, shining
in their 3–1 final win over the Soviet Union.  In his international career, playing
for Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals.  He played in four FIFA
World Cup tournaments, including the 1986 World Cup where he captained
Argentina and led them to their victory over West Germany, winning the
Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player.
 
 

In that same tournament's quarter-final round he scored two of the most
famous goals in football history during a 2-1 victory over England.  The first
goal was an unpenalized handball known as the "Hand of God", while the
second goal was a spectacular 60-metre weave through six England players,
commonly referred to as "The Goal of the Century".  He led Argentina to a
second place finish in the 1990 World Cup.  His performance in World Cup
play was amazing and helped propel him to international celebrity.  He is
considered by many to be the greatest player of all time.  Maradona is the
current manager of the Argentine national team.  Some other incredible
Argentinean football players during the 20th century include Daniel Passarella
and Alfred Di Stefano.
 

1. Brazil

Pelé

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Pelé was born in Três Corações, Brazil.  His father was a Fluminense
footballer named Dondinho.  Growing up in poverty stricken Bauru, São Paulo,
Pelé could not afford a proper football and usually played with a sock stuffed
with newspaper or a grapefruit.  In 1956, Pelé was taken to Santos, an
industrial and port city in the state of São Paulo, to try out for professional
club Santos Futebol Clube.  He made his debut for Santos on September 7,
1956.  When the 1957 season started, Pelé was made a starter, at the age
of 16 he became the top scorer in the league.  Just ten months after signing
professionally, he was called up to the Brazil national team.  After the World
Cup in 1962, wealthy European clubs such as Real Madrid, Juventus, and
Manchester United tried to sign the young player, but the government of Brazil
declared Pelé an "official national treasure" to prevent him from being
transferred out of the country. 

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In 1957, Pelé scored his first goal for Brazil at 16 years of age.  He became
the youngest player to score in International football.  In the 1958 World Cup
he scored two goals in the final, as Brazil beat Sweden 5–2.  He finished the
tournament with six goals in four matches played.  Brazil would go on to win
the World Cup in 1962 and 1970.  He was renowned for his excellent dribbling
and passing, his pace, powerful shot, exceptional heading ability, and prolific
goal scoring.
  
 

Pelé is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national football team and is the
only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning franchises.  In 1967,
the two factions involved in the Nigerian Civil War agreed to a 48-hour
ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play an exhibition game in Lagos.  He was
given the title of “athlete of the century” by the International Olympic
Committee.  In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero.  He has
been acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social
conditions of the poor.  Some other incredible Brazilian football players during
the 20th century include Nilton Santos, Carlos Alberto Torres, Rivelino, Didi,
and Garrincha.
 

Some More of the Best

Chile

Elias Figueroa

 

Cameroon

Emmanuel Kunde

Theophile Abega

Roger Milla

 

Egypt

Ali Shehata

Ibrahim Youssef

 

Zaire

Illunga Mwepu

 

Nigeria

Segun Odegbami

 

Ghana

Abedi Pele

 

Ivory Coast

Laurent Pokou

 

Algeria

Rabah Madjer

 

Malaysia

Chow Chee Keong

Soh Chi Aum

 

South Korea

Kim Ho Kon

Kim Joo Sang

Cha Bum Kun

 

Japan

Masami Ihara

Kunishige Kamamoto

 

Taiwan

Chen Chi Doi

 

Iran

Karim Bagheri

Khodadad Azizi

 

Saudi Arabia

Majeed Abdullah

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Sajmir Daku - September 4, 2010

The best player is Marko van Basten.

Copyright The List Blog- Top 10, All Rights Reserved, Posted November 18, 2009