The 50 most influential footballers of all time: why Maradona, Pelé and Messi were relegated from the top ten

Beckenbauer, Maradona, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff and Pelé make up the list

the middle english Four, Four and Two (FFT) published a report in which they chose who They were the 50 most influential footballers of all time. In the analysis it is clarified that the sustenance is not the ability or sports achievements, but the personalities that have played an important role in the evolution of the game, with changes that were historic in sports and in different rules, and that marked a before and after. an after in the world of the round.

It points to those who shaped football as it is known today. Players these days are influenced by what came before. It is a list that compiles a collection of footballers from a variety of times and origins, and all of them, in one way or another, have played an important role in the progress of the activity.

There are six Argentines on the list. Two of them are in the top ten and They are not Diego Armando Maradona or Lionel Messi. When the reasons for the inclusion of each footballer are read, the panorama of how the report was made and what its objective was begins to become clearer.

1. Vivi Anderson. He was the first player of color to wear the English national team shirt and it was in a match against Czechoslovakia in 1978. At that time he was 22 years old and the Nottingham Forest right-back, who had been league champions, was already a benchmark . “Viv was always there,” said Paul Ince, England’s first black captain. “He was a role model for me. In fact, it still amazes me that he has never captained England.”

The English Viv Anderson.  1974 - 1995
Viv Anderson was the first player of color in the English team (Cannon / Allsport / Getty Images) (David Cannon /)

2. Jose Andrade. The Uruguayan was one of the first players to demonstrate technical ability in extreme areas and with incredible balance. Some compared him to Zinedine Zidane.

Joseph Andrade.  Uruguayan 1921 - 1934.
Uruguayan José Andrade (Photo by Central Press / Hulton Archive / Getty Images) (Central Press /)

3. Osvaldo Ardiles. Along with fellow Argentine Julio Ricardo Villa, they arrived at Tottenham Hotspur in 1978, when the European Community ruled that football clubs in its member states could no longer deny access to players based on their nationality. The Python marked an era in English football for his ten years in the league. “It led to the Premier League becoming probably the main destination for most international players,” said local journalist Malcolm Folley.

Argentine Osvaldo Ardiles playing for Tottenham Hotspurs.
Osvaldo Ardiles was one of the first international figures to reach the English league (Photo by Duncan Raban/Allsport/Getty Images) (Getty Images/)

4. Franco Baresi. Beyond his achievements with Milan and the Italian national team, he inspired many for being a last-line player, but who always came out playing and was encouraged to distribute and put together the game. He changed the vision on the central defenders since he showed that not everything went through rudeness, aerial play and strong marking.

Franco Barisi.  Italian.  1977 - 1997.
Franco Baresi changed the history of central defenders (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images) (Alessandro Sabattini /)

5. Franz Beckenbauer. The Kaiser is a hero of German football. He invented the libero role, intercepting play with ease and moving forward to fuel attacks.

Franz Beckenbauer.  German.  1964 - 1983.
Franz Beckenbauer was a brain on and off the pitch: he was world champion with his national team as a player and as a DT (Getty Images) (Bettmann/)

6.David Beckham. He marked an era for the glamor he achieved in his marriage to Victoria Adams, but on the field of play he distinguished himself by his assists and changes of front from the right wing. Owner of a great punch, the Englishman is also a reference because he went from the Premier League to the galactic Real Madrid.

David Beckham was an icon in his time (REUTERS / Darren Walsh)
David Beckham was an icon in his time (REUTERS / Darren Walsh) (ACTION IMAGES /)

7. George Best. The Englishman was the first real playboy footballer, which set a precedent for players to become sex symbols, celebrities, and then came Kevin Keegan, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. “Life was all about girls, a few beers, soccer, good music, and being a sex magnet!” So Best told FFT in 2001. “It was a part of life and I loved every minute of it,” he added.

George Best is an icon of English football
George Best is an icon of English football

8. Jean-Marc Bosman. The Belgian was just another midfielder, but he went down in history when he wanted to leave his club at the end of his contract. Standard de Liège asked for half a million dollars from French second division club USL Dunkirk, so Bosman took his case to court asking for freedom of action since his contract had expired. He won the litigation, he changed the legislation in 1995. In addition, he was the key to ending the limit on foreign players.

Jean-Marc Bosman in action.  Changed the legislation in the contracting of players
Jean-Marc Bosman in action. Changed the legislation in the contracting of players

9.Eric Cantona. The Frenchman led the wave of superstars to the Premier League. His raised shirt collars seemed like anecdotes, but he set a trend. All with a very strong personality that made him a leader within Manchester United.

Eric Cantona Kick Fan Crystal Palace 1920
Eric Cantona’s famous kick to a Crystal Palace fan (Grosby)

10. Amadeo Carrizo. The Argentine goalkeeper changed history for several reasons. He was the first in Argentina to use gloves. He was also the “last defender” as he left the area. He was the pioneer so that later, for example, René Higuita and José Luis Chilavert arrived. In addition, he generated danger in the opposite field, since with his serves and balls he assisted his teammates. He was considered one of the most modern in his position.

The other three Argentines that make up the list are:

Alfredo DiStefano (13th): The report distinguishes him for having been the “first galactic” and having been a striker with unique skill who stood out in the most important matches of the European Champions Cup, today the Champions League.

Maradona (26th): They emphasize that he was one of the first to do the rabona and that due to his way of eluding players he sought to be imitated, although on rare occasions he could achieve it. Another point is the recovery from his injuries and his laps after the suspensions that he suffered, that is, how he “revived” in his career.

Leo Messi (30th): La Pulga influenced all strikers in the modern game. It is a reference point for the evolution of the false nine.

Carlos Volante (46th): He played between 1923 and 1943. He was a defender with great display and that allowed him to be another midfielder. That’s why someone used his last name gave the name to the position of Second Midfielder. He played in Europe where his playing became even more distinguished.

There are other players of universal renown like Johan Cruyff (12th), Eusebio (14th), Brazilian Marta (27th), Pelé (36th), Ronaldinho Gaucho (38th), Cristiano Ronaldo (39th), Ronaldo Nazario (40th), Francesco Totti (44th) and Zinedine Zidane ( 50º).


11. John Charles

12. Johan Cruyff

13. Alfredo DiStefano

14. Eusebius

15. Giacinto Facchetti

16. River Ferdinand

17.Trevor Francis

18. Garrincha

19. Gyula Grosics

20. Mia Ham

21. Thierry Henry

22. Nandor Hidegkuti

23. Andres Iniesta

24. Philipp Lahm

25. Claude Makelele

26. Diego Maradona

27. Martha

28.Stanley Matthews

29. Bill McCracken

30.Lionel Messi

31.Thomas Muller

32.Hidetoshi Nakata

33. Manuel Neuer


35. Antonin Panenka

36. Peel

37. Andrea Pirlo

38. Ronaldinho

39. Cristiano Ronaldo

40. Ronaldo

41. Nilton Santos

42. Matthias Sindelar

43. Kelly Smith

44. Francesco Totti

45.Jamie Vardy

46. ​​Charles Flyer

47. George Weah

48.Ian Wright

49. Lev Yashin

50.Zinedine Zidane


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