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World Cup Superstars – Who Is The Greatest Player?
Every four years, the World Cup comes along and occupies a football fan’s thoughts and time for weeks. Match after match, the best footballers in the world will showcase their skills in front of thousands in the stadium and millions watching on TV in their homes.
The players generally make the World Cup what it is. If it weren’t for the great players, we certainly wouldn’t be watching this tournament in such huge numbers as we are. In previous World Cup finals, we have seen some big talents emerge, talents that we wouldn’t normally get to see.
Which players have the world discovered after showcasing their skills at previous World Cups? There would be too many greats to list in detail and there have always been heated debates about who is the greatest player of all time, with two players always at the forefront of the debate.
Let’s take a look at the credentials of these players.
Diego Armando Maradona [Argentina]
[World Cup Honours : 1982, 1986 (winner), 1990 (2nd), 1994]
Maradona is a flawed genius, no one has ever had his sublime talent and been able to push the self-destruct button with such great effect. Never before has a player been credited with single-handedly winning a World Cup like in Mexico 1986. Even in the infamous quarter-final in 1986 and scoring what is widely regarded as the greatest goal ever scored in a final. After picking up the ball in his own half, he was able to dribble past a quality England side before slotting the ball past Peter Shilton, England’s goalkeeper for the day.
The Argentina team he played in this tournament were all excellent players but perhaps not good enough to lift the trophy. However, with Maradona at his peak, only one team could win.
Maradona also helped his nation to the final of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, losing only to Germany’s penalty shot by Andy Brehme.
However, after a failed drugs test in 1991, his career went downhill and then came his final appearance on football’s biggest stage.
In the 1994 World Cup for the USA, when he scored in Argentina’s first game against Greece, anyone who watched his celebration knew that the little magician was not only fueled by adrenaline. With eyes fixed on the camera, the hearts of all Argentines knew that their talismanic captain was fueled by drugs. A drug test followed, and the inevitable positive result ended Maradona’s tournament and virtually his career.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele
[World Cup honours : 1958 (winner), 1962 (winner), 1966, 1970 (winner)]
The only similarity between Pele and Maradona is that they come from the same continent. Pele was the original global superstar, enjoying a career that could be considered a model professional.
Pelé’s credentials are there for all to see, he scored goals, was an instrumental leader on and off the pitch and also scored goals. In fact, the number of goals he has scored is a significant feat in itself.
His record is phenomenal, scoring five goals in a match six times, four goals in 30 times and three goals in 90 times. These are numbers that a modern player can’t even dream of. He scored an amazing 1283 goals in his illustrious playing career. He scored an amazing 77 goals in 92 matches in his international career. However, Pelé had much more than “just” goals.
He will also be remembered as the only player in history to win the World Cup three times, a feat unlikely to ever be repeated. Only injury in 1966 in England prevented him from winning the World Cup on four consecutive occasions, allowing a great England side to become world champions for the first time.
He captained the greatest team of all time, the 1970 Brazil team that so convincingly won the tournament in Mexico. Anyone who watched the last match of this tournament, where Brazil beat Italy 4 goals to 1, will be amazed at the skill and vision of the original Total Soccer site.
As Pele hung up his playing boots over 20 years ago and is still revered by football fans who never saw him in his prime, it is testament to the great man’s passion and skill for the greatest game of all.
Another great players
Many others have graced the biggest tournament that is the World Cup, but the two players named above are by far heralded as the two greatest. But who would make the top ten complete?
Gordon Banks, Eusebio, Puskas, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, Franz Beckenbauer, Garrincha and Johann Cruyff to name a few. In fact, many modern critics may have Cruyff as the greatest modern player, a player who helped shape the game into the style of play you see today.
Then there are the players who failed to show their talent at the World Cup, the most notable being the late great George Best of Northern Ireland. The other most notable absentee is Alfredo Di Stefano. In fact, there are many Latin Americans who would hail “Blonde Arrow” Di Stefano as the greatest player the world has ever seen.
Among those still playing, Czech Republic playmaker Pavel Nedvěd of Juventus, Manchester United’s Dutch predator Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ukrainian goalkeeper Andrey Shevchenko of AC Milan would top the list. But all three will feature at Germany 2006, barring late injuries, and are likely to make some new headlines too.
We look forward to this year with great enthusiasm and hope that it will be remembered as one of the greatest tournaments of all time. Let’s all hope!
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