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One of the most talented players of all time, Zinedine Zidane’s world-class skill and technique made football look unnaturally easy. His performances on the biggest stage - two goals in the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final and one of the greatest volleys of all time in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final - gave “Zizou” legendary status for both France and Real Madrid.
An ICON as a player and now as a manager, Pep Guardiola embodied Barcelona’s famous La Masia philosophy, making a rapid transition from academy to first team where he cemented his position by the age of just 20. Part of fellow ICON Johan Cruyff’s famous ‘Dream Team’ that won a LaLiga and European Cup double in 1991-92, Guardiola went on to win 16 trophies with the Catalan club, playing a pivotal role in the midfield for almost a decade.
A defender with a goalscoring record to envy most of those playing in front of him, Ronald Koeman began his career in the Eredivisie with Gronigen and Ajax before netting 51 times to lead PSV to three consecutive league titles and the European Cup. He bettered the feat at Barcelona, with four consecutive LaLiga trophies to go alongside a second European Cup, reaching double figures for goals in all six seasons at the club.
A dynamic midfielder whose playing style earned him the nickname of ‘The Bison’, Michael Essien began his career in Ligue 1 before becoming Chelsea’s record transfer in 2005. Over nine seasons at Stamford Bridge, the Ghanaian scored a number of vital goals to help his team to two Premier League titles, six domestic cups, and the UEFA Champions League, before enjoying spells at European giants Real Madrid and AC Milan.
One of Italian football’s greatest full backs, Gianluca Zambrotta formed a key part of a formidable Italy defence that conceded just two goals on their way to winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ trophy. Zambrotta’s performances during the tournament were so influential that they earned him a place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ All-Star squad.
Widely regarded as one of Liverpool and Celtic’s greatest players of all time, Kenny Dalglish was part of a Liverpool squad that enjoyed an astonishing level of dominance both domestically and in Europe. In his 13 years as a Red, ‘King Kenny’ won eight League and three European titles, alongside a stack of domestic cups, making himself an Anfield legend in the process.
Blessed with incredible speed and trickery, John Barnes played a key role for a Watford team that finished second in the league and FA Cup runners-up before transferring to Liverpool. Barnes terrorised opposition defenders throughout his time at Anfield, helping his team to two league titles and two FA Cups, with his performances in 1988-89 seeing him named as both PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year.
Ian Wright was a relative latecomer to professional football, but that didn’t stop him from racking up the goals for both Crystal Palace and Arsenal, where he picked up the Golden Boot with 29 goals in his debut season for the North Londoners. His consistent goal-scoring talents helped lead the Gunners to a league and cup double in 1998, confirming his status as a club icon.
After a relatively slow start to life at Liverpool, Ian Rush’s second season for the Reds saw him hit the 30 goal mark, after which point the goals just kept flowing for the Welshman. His clinical finishing earned him the Division One and European Golden Boot awards in 1983/84, as part of a Liverpool squad that won five league titles, three FA Cups, and a Champions League during his time at Anfield.
After rising through the ranks at UNAM while studying for a degree in dentistry, Hugo Sanchez won his first league title in 1977 just days before his 19th birthday. After five seasons in Mexico, Sanchez spent four years at Atlético Madrid before making the move across the city to rivals Real. With Los Blancos, the Mexican striker amassed over 200 goals, along with five consecutive LaLiga titles, three domestic cups, and a UEFA Cup, before returning to Mexico for a spell at Club América.
Garrincha joined Botafogo in 1953 and quickly made a name for himself, scoring a hat-trick on his debut against Bonsucesso. After developing a reputation for his flair and incredible dribbling activity, he resisted numerous attempts from major European clubs to sign him, remaining with Botafogo for 13 seasons and playing a starring role for the Brazilian national team that won back-to-back FIFA World Cups™ in 1958 and 1962. Incredibly, Brazil never lost a match with Garrincha and fellow ICON Pele in the lineup.
Didier Drogba made his breakthrough in 2003/04 with Marseille, where he added goal-scoring ability to his phenomenal physique to net 32 times in 55 matches and win the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award. The Ivorian moved to Chelsea in 2004, where his goals helped the club to four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and three League Cups, cementing his status as a Blues icon with the deciding penalty to win Chelsea’s first ever UEFA Champions League title.
Carlos Alberto came to prominence at Fluminense where he showcased his skills as a technically-gifted defender, known for his ball skills as well as his defensive capabilities. After three years at Fluminense he joined Santos, during which time he captained Brazil to FIFA World Cup™ glory in 1970 and scored one of the greatest goals in the history of the tournament in the Final. After spending 14 years playing in Brazil, Carlos Alberto linked up with Pele at New York Cosmos, helping them to four league championships in his four years at the club.
An elegant deep-lying playmaker known for his incredible vision and passing, Pirlo was an integral part of the AC Milan midfield that won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 and 2007. His domestic performances also transferred to the international stage, where he helped Italy to win the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, picking up the Man of the Match award in the final. Pirlo ended his career in Serie A with four consecutive Serie A triumphs before finishing his career with a move to MLS.
An elegant attacking midfielder, Kaká showed glimpses of his superb dribbling and passing ability before Milan fought off strong competition to bring him from Brazil to Europe. Following six seasons of dazzling displays for the Italian club during which he won Serie A, the UEFA Champions League, and the Ballon d’Or, Kaká made the move to Real Madrid, providing nine assists as Los Blancos broke the 100 point barrier in the 2011-12 LaLiga.
Arguably the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game, the “Black Spider” remains a Dynamo Moscow icon, the club where he spent his entire 20 year career. Estimated to have kept 270 clean sheets and saved over 150 penalties, Yashin remains the only keeper to ever win the Ballon d'Or.
A tremendous physical presence in the box, Peter Schmeichel is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever play the game. A two-time winner of the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper, Schmeichel became a revered Manchester United icon. With 24 trophies and 11 goals to his name, many will consider the Danish keeper to be the best of all time.
A decorated goalkeeper with few equals in the modern era, van der Sar racked up trophies and broke records on a regular basis throughout his career. The Dutchman was a complete and versatile goalkeeper, as his traditional traits like height and agility combined well with his technique and incisive passing abilities.
The rock between the sticks for Arsenal’s “Invincibles” squad, Lehmann earned the UEFA Champions League record for consecutive clean sheets while playing for the London club. On top of his club exploits, Lehmann was a mainstay in the German national team for a decade, making the squad for three FIFA World Cups.
With five UEFA Champions League winners’ medals and countless other trophies, one-club man Maldini led Milan to greatness for 25 decorated seasons. Versatile enough to play all across the backline, Maldini put on a masterclass in defending every time he stepped onto the pitch.
Universally-lauded defender Baresi was a one-club man, spending his entire club career marshaling the backline for Milan. The Italian’s tenacity and raw defensive talent allowed him to play at the highest level for two decades, earning multiple scudettos, UEFA Champions League titles, and even a World Cup winner’s medal with Italy in 1982.
A defender whose individual accolades could fill multiple pages, Italian center back Cannavaro is one of the few defenders who stood out so far above the rest that he even outshone those in flashier attacking roles. He captained Italy’s only World Cup-winning side in 2006 and capped the year off with his incredible Ballon d’Or win—he is still the only defender to receive the illustrious award since 1996.
Renowned for captaining England to their only World Cup triumph in 1966, Moore was a tough-tackling, natural leader who inspired those around him. Though his all-time appearances record has since been broken, Moore remains one of the most famous and respected players in English football history.
The imposing and intimidating Italian defender racked up numerous accolades during his 20+ year career, including two UEFA Champions League wins and three Serie A titles at club level and a World Cup winners’ medal. His hard-tackling ferocity was complemented by impeccable tactical vision and a quiet elegance on the ball not often seen in center backs.
Sobering defending and long curly locks were Carles Puyol staples throughout his career. A hard-nosed defender, Puyol's grit, determination, and leadership inspired those playing around him and earned him the respect of his rivals. Puyol was a key cog in teams that won the biggest trophies in the world. With ample success at club and international levels, the Catalonia native will go down in the history books as one of the best defenders of his generation.
The multitalented defender nicknamed El Tractor spent nearly his entire career flying up and down the wing for Inter Milan, with short stints in midfield whenever the club needed his particular talents in a different role. The Argentine thrived on both sides of the ball, able to send in a flawless cross in one moment and come flying in with a tackle the next. A consummate leader and professional, Zanetti also captained both club and country for many years and famously only earned two red cards in his 22-year career.
The large French defender was a rock in the back for the many clubs he played for over the course of his career, as well as the French national team with whom he won the 1998 World Cup. In addition to world-class defending, Blanc’s leadership skills made him highly respected at the highest levels of football.
One of the best attacking left backs in the history of the game, Roberto Carlos' privileged left foot delighted at both club and international levels. The Brazilian’s iconic free-kick goals transcended the game itself making him one of the most successful footballers ever.
A defensive cornerstone no matter which team he was on or what position he played, Desailly never wavered from his strong, non-nonsense style on the pitch. His physicality, aerial ability, and knack for accurate, crunching tackles meant that he spent much of his career as a central defender, but the French World Cup-winner also thrived as a defensive midfielder. In that role, he could use his ball-winning abilities to regain possession, then show off passing and dribbling skills by kicking off counter-attacks quickly and accurately.
With a career spanning multiple eras of Real Madrid dominance, Hierro’s tenure in the Spanish capital was packed with success. Hierro was a hard-nosed, steadfast defender who also spent plenty of time in midfield—which explains the 102 goals he scored during his long career.
Considered by many as one of the best English defenders of all time, Rio Ferdinand combined relentless, hard-nosed defending with unique elegance, technical ability and precise ball distribution. Ferdinand's leadership and excellent vision helped him win numerous trophies with Manchester United and become a staple of the England national team for over a decade.
A key figure in Arsenal’s famous “Invincibles” squad that went undefeated in the 2003-04 Premier League season, Campbell was one of the most commanding and intimidating center backs in English football.
A complete, versatile and dynamic player, Ruud Gullit had the ability to play admirably in multiple attacking positions. A key member of legendary AC Milan and national Dutch teams, Gullit's unmistakable quality and look remain fan favourites.
The former German World Cup-winning captain played a big role in shaping the definition of midfielders for decades with his flexibility and varied skill set. Whether it was putting a pinpoint pass into the path of a teammate or flying into a tackle to dispossess an opponent outside the penalty box, Matthäus was the perfect example of a midfielder who could do anything on both sides of the ball.
One of the most successful players in football history, Giggs won countless trophies with Manchester United during his 23 years with the club. The Welsh winger was all speed and trickery for much of his career, blasting past opponents on the flanks and leaving others dazed by his footwork and artistry on the ball.
An imposing, yet inspiring figure on the pitch, German midfielder Ballack was as complete and well-rounded as they come throughout his decorated career for clubs like Bayern Munich and Chelsea, as well as at the international level. His physical abilities and aggressive style were complemented by a surprisingly ferocious shot—he scored more than a handful of goals from distance over the years. Ballack also had an extremely high football intelligence, able to set the flow and tone of a match from his midfield vantage point.
The Brazilian playmaker was a technical genius, crafting and molding matches around him through his careful, thoughtful passing and vision. Sócrates could slow a match down at will, forcing both opponents and teammates to play at his desired pace. Though he did well at club level, the myth of Sócrates has always been much more pronounced regarding his extensive tenure with Brazil, for whom he appeared in two World Cups and two Copa America tournaments.
Perhaps the most important player in the history of Liverpool Football Club, local boy Gerrard rose through the academy before breaking into the first team and cementing his place for more than a decade. Gerrard’s list of accomplishments and highlights is rather long, but he is perhaps best remembered for his performance in the 2005 Champions League final, where he masterminded his team’s historic comeback after going down 3-0 to AC Milan.
The greatest Romanian footballer of all time and one of the best midfielders in the world during his career, Hagi was a creative, unpredictable force of nature on the pitch. Hagi was a perfect number 10 at his best, capable of playmaking from just about anywhere in midfield with keen tactical intelligence, inch-perfect passing, and mazy dribbling ability.
Danish playmaker Laudrup played for some of the most storied clubs in the world, highlighted by his stint at Barcelona, in which he was a key member of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team.” One of the best passers in the history of the game, Laudrup was also highly technical on the ball—his feints and skill moves are spoken of in hushed tones, like modern myths.
A world-class talent, Nedved is widely considered to be one of the best players in Czech football history. His eye for a cross from the flank or an incisive pass from midfield helped him rack up the assists for both club and country.
Scholes entered the hallowed group of one-club men after his two decades in midfield with Manchester United, where he was part of the most successful squads in the club’s history. His versatile abilities made him more than fit to play any midfield role, which is why he was often shuffled around as players came and went around him during his tenure.
A true superstar of the UEFA Champions League, Dutch international Seedorf is still the only player to ever win the world’s biggest club competition with three separate clubs—Ajax (1995), Real Madrid (1998), and AC Milan (2003 and 2007). A versatile midfielder who was asked to play many different roles throughout his career, Seedorf thrived with the ball at his feet in the final third, where he could break down defenses with his footwork or an incisive pass to a teammate.
With a powerful and tenacious style of play, Patrick Vieira was able to control a football match from the midfield with few equals. The combination of his physicality, athleticism and technique allowed Vieira to become one of the most complete midfielders of the modern era.
Nicknamed “El Maestro” for his ability to conduct a match from midfield, Costa was a perfect “number 10”-type attacking midfielder who organized the players in front of him and had the vision to send laser-beam passes to them anywhere on the pitch. Unselfish and usually more likely to put in a seemingly-impossible pass to a teammate before taking a shot himself, the Portuguese legend actually had a brilliant finishing touch that showed up whenever the time was right.
With a mix of creativity, tactical awareness, impeccable technique, and relentless industry, Deco was a well-rounded midfielder. His accurate passing and potent mid-range shooting gave opponents nightmares and allowed the Portuguese to shine at both the club and international level.
The heart of a Manchester United team that enjoyed incredible Premier League dominance for a decade, Roy Keane was a tenacious, no-nonsense presence at the heart of midfield. Renowned for his aggression on the pitch, a Keane tackle was not something many players wanted to be on the receiving end of.
Despite starting his career with West Ham United, London-born midfielder Lampard became a Chelsea legend after 13 years and 429 appearances for the club. A versatile midfielder, Lampard was as proficient in his tackling and defending as he was at creating chances and scoring goals at the other end of the pitch. Lampard picked up a number of trophies during his Chelsea tenure, including three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League medal.
Part of Ajax’s famous 1995 Champions League-winning squad, Litmanen is considered by many in his home country to be the greatest Finnish footballer of all time. The crafty playmaker’s international career lasted 21 years, and he secured the records for most caps and goals for Finland, both of which he still holds today.
Considered by many to be the greatest defensive midfielder, if not of all-time, then at least of his generation. The French international thrived in LaLiga with Real Madrid, but it was after he joined Chelsea in the English Premier League that Makélélé truly cemented his status as an all-time great. His marking of opponents and reading of the game were revolutionary, and all defensive midfielders since have been held to the Makélélé standard.
Considered one of the best African players to ever step onto a football pitch, Jay-Jay Okocha was a powerful and skilled attacking midfielder. With enviable technique, speed, dribbling and power, Okocha excited fans around the world for almost three decades.
The Dutch winger was the pure embodiment of his position; Overmars was incredibly fast, a dribbling wizard, and able to pass and shoot with both feet. During his time at clubs like Ajax, Arsenal, and Barcelona, Overmars terrorized fullbacks with blazing runs down the flanks; he would then use the space he opened up to pass to a teammate or cut inside to take a shot on goal.
A defensive midfielder for some of the world’s top clubs, Petit formed powerful partnerships in the center of the pitch at every stop. His ability to break up attacks and shield his defense also played a massive role in France’s 1998 World Cup-winning run, in which Petit appeared in all but one match.
A key member in Arsenal’s famous “Invincibles” squad, Pirés was a multi-faceted attacker who spent most of his time on the left wing. In addition to numerous accolades at club level, Pirés also earned a World Cup winner’s medal with France on home soil in 1998.
Despite his status as a bruising and hard-tackling defensive midfielder, Rijkaard was quite versatile and able to play in just about any outfield position when called upon. The Dutchman’s most prominent strengths were his tackling and vision, but he showed his shrewd creativity and incisive passing when moving further forward in midfield. It was this flexibility that earned Rijkaard a long list of accolades for club, country, and as an individual.
The talented Argentine playmaker’s career took him to a number of clubs in England, Italy, and Argentina, where he was prized for his creative passing and tactical vision. Though his physical traits might suggest a more defensive style of player, Verón was best with the ball at his feet, where he could use his technical ability and, when the opportunity was there, break out his clinical finishing.
The aggressive, passionate midfielder was famous for his hard tackles, near-unlimited energy, and ability to read the game from midfield and make quick reactions. Gattusso played a big role in the era of massive Milan success in the 2000s, and was a key member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad.
After impressing enough to earn a move to Perugia in Serie A, Nakata was a mainstay in Italy’s top division for most of his professional career. This also earned him a consistent role in the Japanese national team, for which he appeared in three separate World Cup tournaments. Nakata was a creative playmaker with remarkable passing vision and an extraordinary ability to pop up in the penalty box with a precise, late run.
The only player to score more goals for Brazil than Ronaldo Nazário, Pelé was quite simply one of the greatest footballers of all time. Six Brazilian Championships, three World Cups and over 600 competitive goals in a career spanning 21 years justify his status as one of the all-time legends of the game.
One of the most gifted footballers of all-time, Maradona was a fearsome dribbler who could make any defender look lost. He lit up the 1986 World Cup with an astonishing run and finish against England, dribbling around almost half of the opposition, earning him FIFA's Goal of the Century award.
The legendary Brazilian striker's deadly mix of explosive pace, lethal finishing and dazzling skill made him one of the most feared strikers in the world. A two-time Ballon d'Or winner, Ronaldo Nazário became one of Real Madrid's famed galácticos when he joined the club.
The Dutch playmaker had a strong career for both club and country, picking up important trophies with Ajax, Barcelona, and the Dutch national team. Known for his incredible technique and creativity, Cruyff created one of the most popular skill moves in the game, the Cruyff Turn. His style also became synonymous with the Dutch style of play called “Total Football,” which he helped to pioneer and perfect during his time as a player and coach.
The diverse, creative Italian sometimes known as Il Divin Cotino (The Divine Ponytail) led his national team in three FIFA World Cup tournaments and picked up numerous accolades, despite never lifting the famous trophy. The midfielder took his talents to nearly all of the top clubs in Italy, often finding himself to be the finest player on the pitch no matter who he was playing with or against. Baggio possessed killer instincts on the ball, finding space or passes that few others would have even noticed, and his curling free kicks still show up in highlight reels around the football world.
One of the last true bohemians of football, Ronaldinho personifies what Jogo Bonito is all about. With endless creativity and superb technique, the Brazilian attacking midfielder was equally capable of scoring a beautiful goal or serving the perfect pass for his teammates to shine. Ronaldinho won the biggest trophies in the world and he did so while playing beautifully and with a smile on his face.
The greatest player to ever hail from Northern Ireland, Best was a superstar without equal for much of his career. He was perhaps one of the most naturally-talented dribblers in the history of the sport, combining speed, technique, and an uncanny balance on the ball that forced defenders to constantly guess what he would do next.
One of the earliest legends of the game, Portuguese striker Eusébio da Silva Ferreira (known only as Eusébio), dominated at the club and international level at a time when his country was not particularly known as a football powerhouse. He led Portugal to a third-place finish in the only World Cup they qualified for during his international career, and helped Benfica shock the world by scoring two goals in their 5-3 win over Real Madrid in the 1962 European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) final.
Brazilian Rivaldo’s technique played a big part in his versatility, which is why he thrived at numerous offensive positions for both club and country. As FC Barcelona’s unstoppable attacking threat during the five years with the club, he highlighted that tenure by becoming La Liga’s top scorer in the 1998-99 season with 24 goals, leading the club to their second consecutive league title. In 1999, Rivaldo won the Ballon d’Or and was crowned FIFA World Player of the Year. He also shone for his national team for a number of years, winning the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 after earning a second-place finish in 1998.
One of the Premier League's all-time great strikers, Henry's incredibly elegant yet unbelievably deadly finishing won him the Golden Boot four times in his eight years at Arsenal. A World Cup winner on home turf in 1998, the Frenchman remains the country's top scorer having amassed 51 goals in 123 appearances.
The former Ajax and Milan striker is one of the most prolific in history, despite having his career cut short by injury. A three-time Ballon d’Or winner along with numerous club and country accolades, Van Basten was known for consistently scoring seemingly-impossible goals using his uncanny finishing and penchant for on-field acrobatics.
Having been schooled in the art of Total Football by fellow ICON Johan Cruyff during his days in the academy (and later the first team) of Ajax, Bergkamp had experience at nearly every position. This meant that the Dutchman was just as strong of a teammate as he was an individual, and he thrived in a number of attacking partnerships for club and country as the main forward, as well as in a ”number 10” playmaking role behind another striker.
A core member of the Real Madrid squad that dominated the Spanish first division in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Butragueño is still one of the most prolific strikers in club history.
Regarded as one of the best Italians to ever play the game, Alessandro Del Piero enamoured football fans around the world for over two decades with his flawless technique, lethal finishing, and accurate free-kicks. A 2006 FIFA World Cup winner, Del Piero will be remembered as a prolific goal scorer who was able to convert in every tournament he participated.
Madrid native Raúl Gonzalez Blanco (known simply as Raúl) broke into the Real Madrid first team at only 17 to become the youngest ever to play for the club. The Spanish striker went on to earn numerous honors with Real Madrid, including six LaLiga titles and an impressive three UEFA Champions League trophies. Raúl also topped Real Madrid’s all-time scoring chart for a number of years before being surpassed by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Even though Klose had a long and prolific career for multiple clubs throughout Europe, he’s best known for his exploits with the German national team. Klose appeared in four World Cups for his country, finally winning the prestigious tournament in 2014. The lanky striker is the second most-capped German international in history, and still holds Die Mannschaft’s scoring record after securing it prior to his retirement in 2014.
Even though Dutch forward Kluivert looked the part of a traditional forward thanks to his height and strength, his world-class status was due to the combination of those physical gifts with a deft first touch and raw speed. His partnership with Brazilian forward Rivaldo at Barcelona was perhaps the most feared striker duo in world football at the time, as the pair complemented each other’s styles perfectly.
While Lineker stood out at the club level, scoring consistently for Leicester City, Barcelona, and Tottenham, the shrewd striker is most remembered for his exploits on international duty with England. Not only was he the first Englishman to earn the World Cup Golden Boot, Lineker currently holds the record for most World Cup goals scored for his country—10 across the 1986 and 1990 tournaments.
The Portuguese winger is notorious for his switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid in the middle of his career, but his full tenure in Spain shows why he’s one of the best non-Spanish players the league has ever seen. Figo was an assist machine for club and country, utilizing quick movement and world-class dribbling ability to fly down the flank and curl beautiful crosses in for his teammates.
One of the most prolific English goal-scorers, Michael Owen's rise to stardom came at a very young age during the 1998 World Cup. Blinding speed, intelligent movement, accurate passing, and lethal finishing were some of the attributes that made Owen a goal-scoring machine.
The quintessential English target man-style striker, Shearer was a big, bruising presence in the box who was just as likely to plow through a defender as he was to blast the ball into the back of the net. Shearer still holds the all-time goalscoring record in the English Premier League, having notched 260 total goals for Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United over 14 seasons.
Ukraine’s all-time leading goalscorer led the line for Dynamo Kyiv, Milan, and Chelsea throughout his accolade-drenched career. An old school striker whose technique was as effective as his raw power, Shevchenko’s ability to finish with both feet and head terrorized defenders in Italy and around Europe.
The best Bulgarian player in history, Stoichkov earned his country’s only Ballon d’Or nod in 1994 after multiple successful seasons at Barcelona. Part of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” at the Spanish club, Stoichkov’s prolific scoring helped Barcelona to four LaLiga titles and a Champions League trophy.
French striker Trezeguet was an absolute terror during his 20-year career, especially during his decade-long stay in Italy. Trezeguet earned multiple titles in Serie A, as well as with Monaco in his native France, but also helped his country to their first World Cup win in 1998. His striking talents were wide and varied; Trezeguet could score with either foot or his head with ease, and his ability to pop up and smash a loose ball into the net was legendary.
A traditional, yet complete, forward at the height of his game, van Nistelrooy was one of the most consistent strikers of his generation. Whether with Manchester United in the Premier League or Real Madrid in LaLiga, van Nistelrooy always posted impressive scoring numbers. Despite his size and stature, the Dutchman also boasted impressive speed that he would exploit against offside traps or to shake his marker when running onto a through ball.
A productive scorer for several clubs and the Argentina national team, Crespo was one of the most accomplished strikers of his generation. Whether popping up and poaching on mistakes by defenders or blazing into the box with the ball at his feet, Crespo always found a way to put the ball in the back of the net—even when it seemed impossible.
Although thriving at many of the clubs he played for in Mexico, Argentina, and the United States, Hernández truly thrived on the international stage. Nicknamed “El Matador,” Hernández holds the joint record for most goals scored by a Mexican player at the World Cup after notching four in the 1998 tournament in France.
The speedy, slender striker known as “Pippo” was a pure finisher, instinctive in his runs and opportunistic like few others. The Italian was famous for being a poacher, constantly getting into the penalty box and pouncing on loose balls and mistakes by defenders.
One of the most prolific strikers in Celtic history, Swedish goalscorer Larsson excelled at nearly every club for which he suited up. Larsson was tremendously well-rounded, combining speed, vision, intelligence, and composure to a world-class scoring touch.
The Italian striker played for 12 clubs across Europe in a career spanning 18 years, bagging goals for fun at nearly every one. Once the world’s most expensive footballer, Vieri is a two-time winner of the Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year and Italy’s joint-highest goalscorer in the FIFA World Cup with nine goals.
Technical and skillful, Zola was a fan favourite at both Napoli and Chelsea, leaving his mark on the pitch with his attacking play and eye for the spectacular in front of goal. His contribution to Chelsea was such that he was once voted their greatest ever player.
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