Famous Footballers and Football Legends

Throughout history we have seen many a great name grace the sport of football. Every year young players come in and light up the pitch and entertain the masses. To reach legend status takes something just a little more than what the average footballer brings to the table. Scoring vital goals, playing through the pain barrier, putting in memorable performances when they really matter, legend means different things to different people.

We have put together a list of football greats that have been called legends. You can read what made them great and the ups and downs that the best ones go through.

Players

  • Roberto Baggio – He may of been the man who blasted over the bar in the World Cup Final from 12 yards – but without him Italy don’t even get anywhere near. He single handedly took his country by the scruff of the neck and dragged them through that tournament. A truly great striker for both clubs and country.
  • Gordon Banks – England’s goalkeeper on the greatest day in the countries footballing history – Banks is a legend in every sense of the word. His performances were always of the highest calibre and he produced the Save of the Century from Brazilian legend Pelé
  • Franz Beckenbauer – Dubbed the Fußball-Kaiser by the German Press – Beckenbauer would go on to become one of the greatest sweepers the world has ever seen. After his playing days he is notable for being the man in charge of World Cup 2006.
  • David Beckham – well who doesn’t know about David Beckham? The boy with the looks, playing for arguably the biggest club in the world, married a huge pop star from the biggest band on the planet at the time, it has certainly been quite a career for the Leytonstone kid.
  • Dennis Bergkamp – The Dutch master was a hit in the Premier League after a disappointing spell in Italy. Brought over to the EPL by Arsenal, Bergkamp would go on to become one of the best foreign imports the top flight has ever seen.
  • George Best – What can I really say about George Best? Some say he was the very best, even better than Maradona and Pelé. His off the field antics may of slowed his career but when he was at his best, he was frightening.
  • Eric Cantona – Like Beckham and Best, Cantona was a Manchester United #7. The flamboyant Frenchman had his ups and downs at Old Trafford but he was the master of the early 90s great United teams.
  • Bobby Charlton – A survivor of the Munich Air Disaster – Bobby Charlton went on to lead Manchester United to European glory. He also was part of the 1966 World Cup winning side.
  • Johan Cruijff – One of the most naturally gifted footballers that the world ever saw. Cruijff was part of the Total Football era of Dutch football and was truly a great in every sense of the word.
  • Kenny Dalglish – A great player who went on to become a great manager. A striker who replaced Kevin Keegan at Anfield, he wasn’t fazed by following such a legend and he went on to be hailed as the King of the Kop.
  • Dixie Dean – As one of the most prolific striker not only of his generation, but of all-time, there can be no doubt that Dixie Dean is a football legend.
  • Paolo Di Canio – As controversial as they come – but this Roman had something about him, something that made sure that whoever you were – you had a very strong opinion on him one way or the other.
  • Alfredo Di Stefano – The Great Di Stefano had a turbulent career and sadly never got to play at the World Cup Finals. Despite this, he is fondly remembered for his goalscoring exploits in the European Cup for Real Madrid.
  • Eusebio – The Golden Boot winner from the 1966 World Cup – Eusebio was a big strong powerful forward, who led Benfica to many domestic titles.
  • Luis Figo – Portugal’s darling of the late 90s and early 00s – Luis Figo was meant to lead the Golden Generation to glory. Things didn’t go as planned however as Portugal failed to make a major final during his time with his country.
  • Robbie Fowler – It is hard to be as adored in one place as Robbie Fowler in on Merseyside. A career of ups n downs behind him but he will go down as one of the best strikers of the early days of the Premier League.
  • Paul GascoigneGazza was the most natural player of his generation. He came to the fore during the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy, where he was the midfield maestro under Sir Bobby Robson and helped England to the brink of the Final.
  • Steven Gerrard – The Liverpool & England midfielder is widely regarded as the best English midfielder in the game today. Armed with a powerful shot and accurate boot, Gerrard’s engine and desire are his added bonuses that take him up to that top level.
  • Ryan Giggs – He has been about since the Premier League was formed, but Ryan Giggs is still one of its top players. He is another who has never graced a major international tournament due to Wales’ failure to quality, despite being almighty close to making USA ’94.
  • Jimmy Greaves – As good as they come in front of goal – Jimmy Greaves will go down as one terrific striker, one who possibly never reached the heights, or got the praise that he rightly deserved.
  • Ruud Gullit – Ruud Gullit was a fearsome striker for AC Milan and the Netherlands. Armed with his flowing locks, Gullit soon became an icon and a fine player to boot.
  • Mia Hamm – As the only female on our list, Mia Hamm might not be the household name of her fellow legends. However she has led the American National side to many a glory and is the most famous American footballer in the states.
  • Alan Hansen – Known best these days as the top rated BBC pundit – in his day Alan Hansen was one of the best central defenders around until his knees gave way. Leading Liverpool throughout the 80s to both domestic and European glory – he is well worth a place on any football legends list.
  • Thierry Henry – Currently plying his trade at Barcelona, Henry came to the fore in England under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. A silky quick front man, Henry was a key member of the so called Invincibles.
  • Glenn Hoddle – Known by most to be a good manager, Hoddle was the best player that England never knew. A lot like Matthew Le Tissier is later years, Hoddle didn’t get the recognition that he deserved at both national or international level.
  • Sir Geoff Hurst – Scoring three times in a World Cup Final – what more needs to be said about this man?
  • Kaká – Kaká is the current World Player of the Year. A Brazilian attacking midfielder playing in Italy for AC Milan, Kaká’s performances over the past couple of years have seen him waltz past Ronaldinho as the best player in the world today.
  • Roy Keane – Currently the manager of EPL strugglers Sunderland, Roy Keane isn his playing days was the toughest midfielder around and was the heart and soul of the great Manchester United teams.
  • Kevin Keegan – Keegan’s recent return to Newcastle United shocked the footballing community, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. Keegan was a fine player and a legendary manager.
  • Jurgen Klinsmann – He might be set to takeover at Bayern Munich next season, but as a player Klinsmann was a talismanic striker who scored goals for fun.
  • Denis Law – Denis Law was a striker who would have quite an impact on the history of Manchester United. He was an Old Trafford great but he would also send them down whilst wearing the blue of their neighbours, Manchester City.
  • Gary Lineker – The self-styled Mr Nice Guy is a former Golden Boot winner at a World Cup and England’s second highest scorer of all time. Now BBC’s front man for sport, Lineker has a squeaky clean image and was never booked in his career.
  • Paolo Maldini – Despite being a fan of Juventus – Paolo Maldini would go on to become one of the best defenders the world has ever seen for Juve’s long-time Italian rivals AC Milan.
  • Lothar Matthaus – Matthaus is one of the few men who can say that they have held aloft the World Cup as a victorious captain. In 1990 he led West Germany to the ultimate success in Italy.
  • Sir Stanley Matthews – When you have a match named after you – it is no surprise that you are considered a legend. This is what happened to Sir Stanley Matthews who had the 1953 FA Cup Final named after him.
  • Diego Maradona – The Argentine is one of the most infamous figure in world football. He single-handedly led his country to World Cup glory in 1986, but his conduct in that famous Quarter-Final with England is still talked about to this day.
  • Bobby Moore – The only Englishman to ever lift the World Cup as captain – ’nuff said.
  • Gerd Muller – Muller was a predatory striker for Germany in the 60s and 70s – clocking up more goals than games for the national team.
  • Michael Owen – Michael Owen is still the most important player for England. The pint-sized front man has proved tat he can do it at the very top level and if England are to win anything in the near future – Owen will be a huge part of it.
  • Pele – Quite simply – The Greatest.
  • Michel Platini – The French superstar is possibly the best player to of played for Les Bleus. He was the captain of his national side when they won the European Championships on home soil in 1984. Without doubt he was quite some player and quite some character.
  • Ferenc Puskás – Anyone with a record of 514 goals in 529 league games and 84 goals in 85 international matches can only ever be regarded as great – and boy this Hungarian superstar of the 50s was most certainly great.
  • Ronaldinho – The silky skilled Brazilian was one of, if not the biggest star, of world football in the early part of the 21st century. Playing for Barcelona in Spain, he led the Catalan giants to great heights and helped bring a style of football to the Camp Nou that the fans thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Ronaldo – No man has scored more goals in World Cup Finals than Ronaldo. He has played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs and in the World Cup Final in 1998, he was and then wasn’t on the team sheet in one of the most bizarre twists in tournament history.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – The most exciting player in the world today. On the back of other great Manchester United #7′s – Cristiano Ronaldo has excited fans up and down the country with his flamboyant wing play.
  • Wayne Rooney – Along with his Manchester United colleague above him, Wayne Rooney is a young gun who is tipped for greatness, if he isn’t there already. His injury in Euro 2004 arguably cost England the tournament, but he is young and he has plenty more opportunities to win many plaudits and medals.
  • Peter Schmeichel – The Great Dane was the best goalkeeper in the world during the 1990s. He stood behind and marshaled the great Manchester United backline and helped lead them to Treble glory in 1999.
  • Alan Shearer – If it is possible to be underrated when you are lauded then Alan Shearer is the perfect example. If he had chosen Manchester United above his home town Newcastle United in 1996 then Shearer would’ve scored 40+ every single season, he was that good.
  • John Terry – Currently the captain of both Chelsea and the England national team, John Terry is a strong-minded tough central defender who is terrific is the oppositions box.
  • Marco van Basten – If it wasn’t for an recurring ankle injury – this Dutch striker would’ve been even more highly regarded than he already is – which is quite something!
  • Ruud van Nistelrooy – If you are my age or older and a big football fan then you’ll remember those hallowing screams from Ruud van Nistelrooy when he injured his knee. He would come back though and fire goals, goals, goals for Manchester United before famously falling out with manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
  • George Weah – The Liberian never got to play on the top stage at the World Cup, but his career shouldn’t be catagorised by such a thing. He was one of Africa’s greatest ever players, arguably the greatest full stop.
  • Ian Wright – The charismatic centre forward was one of England’s top strikers in the 1990s. Playing for Crystal Palace, Arsenal and England – and scoring goals and celebrations a plenty.
  • Lev Yashin – When all is said and done – if you want to read a profile about the best goalkeeper to of ever played the game then this is the one for you.
  • Zinedine ZidaneZizou was a star for French and helped them to World Cup and European Championship glory in 1998 and 2000 respectively. He came out of international retirement to help his country qualify and play in the World Cup 2006, but it all ended in a rather sad state of affairs for quite possibly the greatest player of his generation.
  • Gianfranco Zola – The little magician wowed fans up and down England when he arrived in the Premiership at Chelsea. I would go as far as to say he was the best foreign import the league has ever seen, but I’m sure many would dispute this though.

For Managers and Football Personalities – Please click here