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From Pele to Ronaldo; 7 best players ever to grace the sport of football

Sourjya Bhowmick | Updated on: 10 July 2016, 11:27 IST

We are just a day away from the UEFA Euro final. Before we watch Portugal lock horns with hosts France in a lively encounter, let us revisit the top seven legends the beautiful game has ever produced.

01
Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), Brazil
  • Played from 1956 to 1977.
  • Played 92 matches for Brazil and scored 77 goals.
  • Has won the World Cup three times.
  • Was conferred "Athlete of the Century" by International Olympic Committee in 1999.
  • ''My name is Ronald Reagan, I'm the President of the United States of America. But you don't need to introduce yourself, because everyone knows who Pele is."- Ronald Reagan, former president, United States.

02
Diego Maradona, Argentina

  • Played from 1976 to 1997.
  • Played 91 matches and scored 34 goals.
  • Won the World Cup in 1986 and was runners-up in 1990. He helped Italian club Napoli win Serie A in 1987 and 1990 and the UEFA Cup in 1990. Before Maradona, Napoli had never won any title.
  • Was a favourite child of controversy. Failed dope test in 1994 World Cup, was addicted to cocaine, scored a goal with his hands during 1986 World Cup.
  • ''When Maradona ran with the ball or dribbled through the defence, he seemed to have the ball tied to his boots. I remember our early training sessions with him: the rest of the team were so amazed that they just stood and watched him. We all thought ourselves privileged to be witnesses of his genius" -Lobo Carrasco, Barcelona teammate.

03
Zinedine Zidane, France

  • Played from 1988 to 2006.
  • Played 108 matches and scored 31 goals.
  • Won the 1998 World Cup, Euro Cup 2000, and was runners up in the 2006 World Cup.
  • His final match was marred with controversy. Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final and was shown a straight red card.
  • ''Give me Zidane and 10 pieces of wood and I will win you the Champions League"- Sir Alex Ferguson, legendary football coach.

04
Johan Cruyff, Netherlands
05
Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, Portugal

  • Played from 1961 to 1978.
  • Played 64 matches and scored 41 goals.
  • Club performance for Benfica was more phenomenal: Scored 317 goals in 301 matches.
  • Placed third in 1966 World Cup, two time winner of European Golden Boot in 1968 and 1973. Journalists named him the 'Black Panther'.
  • ''I was never afraid of getting whacked. My left knee alone was operated six time, but I was never afraid, because I always loved to play'' - Eusobio.
  • ''I don't get young footballers these days, always being offended when they are called black. I have been called black all my life. I am black, I am proud of being black! I would be offended if I was called white"- Eusobio.

06
Franz Beckenbauer, West Germany

  • Played from 1964 to 1983.
  • Played 103 matches and scored 14 goals.
  • Nicknamed 'Kaiser', or The Emperor. He played at the position of a sweeper, with his primary responsibility being that of blocking attacks and start own teams' attacks.
  • Won European Cup in 1974, 1975, and 1976 for Bayern Munich. With Germany, he won the 1972 European Nations Championship and the 1974 World Cup, both times as a captain. Played a match in 1966 World Cup with a dislocated arm in a sling.
  • "Beckenbauer was one of the best I ever saw play"- Pele.

07
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, Brazil

  • Played from 1993 to 2011.
  • Played 97 matches and scored 62 goals.
  • Won World Cup in 1994 and 2002, second highest score for Brazil after Pele. And also holds the record for most number of World Cup goals - 15.
  • He and Zidane are the only player to have won the FIFA Player of the Year three times.
  • He is possibly the only footballer who made a comeback thrice after serious injuries.
  • '' If there's only one player who deserves that nickname, O Fenomeno, it's him. He's a phenomenon."- Juca Kfouri, a Brazilian sports journalist.

First published: 10 July 2016, 11:27 IST
 
Sourjya Bhowmick @sourjyabhowmick

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