Do you remember, growing up, all of the players that you saw reach their peak?
Players such as Peter Schmeichel, Luis Figo, Ronaldinho, Batistuta, Hierro, Ronaldo, Zidane, just to name a few, the list is endless, so many great players throughout the years that made history in their own rights one way or another. But what of the ones you wouldn’t remember as much? Here’s a list of 11 players whom I believe to have been forgotten by most:
This Uruguay international is (in my eyes) one of the all time great players to ever grace Serie A, with one of the finest left pegs you were ever likely to see, Inter Milan were the team lucky enough to have this man committed to the club for well over ten years, with remarkable goals and set pieces being a speciality, the attacking midfielder went on to make a successful appearance in the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, winning 69 caps for his country in the process, he is now back in his native Uruguay playing for his second ever club Nacional.
Mateja Kezman once upon a time was called one of the most prolific strikers in Europe, boasting an incredible 105 goals in just 122 games for PSV Eindhoven, where he made a name for himself in four years at the club, though Partizan was the club here he caught the eye of PSV scouts. I think it’s fair to say that Mateja had a career he could be proud of, serving his country on 49 occasions, scoring 17 goals. The Serbian International also had spells at Chelsea, Paris St Germain and Athletico Madrid, before moving to China, shortly after retiring from the game completely.
We tend to call this type of player, ‘the heartbeat’, ‘the leader’, ‘the lynchpin’, I think you could name this Argentine International all those things rolled into one, defensive midfielder extraordinaire, a player of the same mould as a Dunga, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira or Claude Makelele, representing his country for over a decade, Almeyda went on to make two World Cups in his career, playing for some of the biggest clubs on the planet including Inter Milan, Sevilla, Lazio & River Plate, whom he now manages, he won countless awards, notably in his time with Lazio, winning the Italian Cup, Italian Super Cup, Serie A, UEFA Super Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, on top of being nominated in the Serie A team of the year in 1999.
Definitely one of my favourite players in recent time, everything about this Frenchman was pace, the man could finish too, making his name in his native France, there isn’t really any other club Ludovic could actually play for in terms of high profile, considering he has played for most of them, most notably Barcelona where he went on to make 85 appearances and scored 19 goals in three years at the club, winning the UEFA Champions League and La Liga on the way, other clubs he has played for are Lyon, Roma, Paris St Germain, Monaco with whom he has had two spells with, he is currently playing for Lorient.
A beast of a man, the epitome of what a target man is and always should be, if you don’t believe me, just ask Pelé. Pelé himself added Christian to his list of 125 greatest living footballers, he once held the title of becoming the world’s most expensive footballer in 1999 when Inter came knocking on Lazio’s door and paid £32 million pounds a record which has since been broken by Zidane, Kaká & Cristiano Ronaldo. Being one of Italy’s most prolific goal scorers, Vieri has played for a host of top European clubs including Athletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Monaco.
Some will say Paulo Maldini, some may say Roberto Carlos, some would even go as far as Ashley Cole, but in my estimation Bixente Lizarazu is my favourite ever left back, with his career kicking off in 1984 with Bordeaux, Bixente went on to play for only four other clubs, Bayern Munich being the most dominant club in his lengthy career, winning everything there was to win domestically in Germany, Lizarazu has also lifted the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championships two years after, as tough a left back you’re ever likely to have seen, speaking of being tough, Bixente has taken up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has also become a champion in that.
Part of the legendary Brazil side that won the FIFA World Cup in 2002, Rivaldo was one of the three ‘R’s, standing for Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, overhead kicks, free kicks, spectacular strikes from distance, this Brazilian wizard was a special player. Honoured (again by Pelé) as one of the greatest living footballers, he won individual honours as well as club championships notably with Barcelona with whom he spent five years with, Rivaldo played 74 times for his country, scoring 34 goals.
Quick, agile, solid, possibly one of the most disciplined defenders that I can remember, one of very few defenders that could play as a utility man, all across the back 4, the most capped player in French history and one of the most capped players of all time (Top 20). He is also one of very few players to be successful in both Spain and Italy, playing for the likes of Juventus and Barcelona along the way, he also holds the record for most appearances in European Championships.
One of the true Argentina greats, playing in three World Cups 1994, 1998 and 2002. I feel he never really got the recognition he deserved, only boasting clubs like Valencia, Parma and Sampdoria to his CV along with clubs in his native homeland, not to disregard Fenerbache of Turkey. Diminutive, elusive, quick-witted, can pick a pass and could score goals, he for me was the complete playmaker of his generation and it’s just disappointing that he didn’t get to play for a higher profiled club to really showcase what he had on the bigger stage.
Patrick Kluivert played the game as it should be played, with passion, hard work and absolute skill, one of the most gifted goal poachers in the history of Dutch football, with a career spanning 14 years, he made 79 appearances for Holland scoring 40 goals and 343 club games in total, being contracted to the likes of Barcelona, Ajax, AC Milan & Newcastle amongst others, with his most prolific season coming with his years at Barcelona 90 goals in 182 games. Kluivert was named as one of the 125 strong player list of greatest living footballers by Brazilian foot balling legend Pelé, Patrick Kluivert did however live with the grief of a fatal car accident in 1997, it is fair to say that he wasn’t the same player he was after that tragedy.
Arguably the most controversial individual in the game, a midfield general with a physical presence, always seen as a leader, he captained 90% of the clubs he’s played for including captaining his country Germany where he made 35 appearances, scoring 5 goals. However, run ins with management cut his caps short. He made history in the German Bundesliga by collecting 109 yellow cards in his career – an all time worst record. Still you’d know you’ve been in a battle after a game against any side Stefan Effenberg was in.
So, there you have it, my 11 players of whom I think most people would have forgotten about. Sure there are some players I may have missed, so if you guys have any players you remember and would like to talk about, feel free to have your say here.