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Updated by Rajashri Venkatesh on Jun 24, 2014
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Legendary Football Players

The history of football consists of a lot of legendary players who were best in their positions. They inspired millions of young footballers all across the world. Here is a list of legendary footballers (not in any particular order) who can never be forgotten for their amazing contribution in the field of football.

Sir Stanley Matthews

Sir Stanley Matthews - the first professional footballer to be knighted - was the most renowned player of modern times. Known as 'The Wizard of Dribble', Sir Stan's professional career covered some 33 years. When he retired in 1965, aged 50, he had made nearly 700 League appearances for Stoke City and Blackpool. He was also capped for England 84 times, including two appearances for Great Britain. A thin, frail-looking man, Sir Stan had a marvellous sense of balance and timing. His sudden bursts of speed over 20 yards or so was one of the wonders of the game, and earned him his nickname of "The Wizard of Dribble". His passing was extraordinarily accurate, and he was not so much a scorer as a creator of goals for others. His sportsmanship was exemplary and he was never booked in his career. He was often referred to as "the first gentleman of soccer". It was said Matthews' presence in a team could add 10,000 to away gates.

Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin, famous for always wearing all-black when playing, is arguably the greatest goalkeeper the world has ever seen. He played 22 seasons for Dinamo Moscow, the only club he ever represented, winning five league championships and three cup championships. Lev Yashin made an unprecedented contribution to the game, setting the modern standards for goalkeeping. Being a great athlete in addition to all his courage, he was among the first goalkeepers to command the entire penalty area and did it with unmatched confidence and reliability.

Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer is the only man to have won the World Cup both as a player and as a manager. His roll of honour is unique. Captain of West Germany when they won the World Cup and the European Championship, he also led his club, Bayern Munich, to three successive European Cups and also to the European Cup Winners' Cup. But it is not just for the medals and trophies that Beckenbauer is remembered. Rather it is for the style and the genius. Every movement he made on the pitch bristled with elegance. There was an arrogance in his play that suggested he was always in command - "Emperor Franz" and "The Kaiser" they called him. But more than that, he was a great thinker about the game and brought about a revolution in the way it is played by inventing the role of the attacking sweeper.

Ferenc Puskas

Ferenc Puskás, also called the Galloping Major (born April 2, 1927, Budapest, Hungary—died November 17, 2006, Budapest), Hungarian professional football (soccer) player who was the sport’s first international superstar. Puskás scored 83 goals in 84 games with the Hungarian national team and was a member of three European Cup-winning teams (1959, 1960, 1966) with the Spanish club Real Madrid.

Johan Cruyff

If Holland were the team that gave the world Total Football, then Johan Cruyff was THE Total Footballer.
Cruyff was one of a number of youngsters who emerged with Ajax of Amsterdam in the late Sixties and came to dominate European and world football in the early Seventies. Cruyff was the most outstanding of them all and was seen by many as the natural successor to Pele as the world's greatest player. He won a hat-trick of European Cups with Ajax, the World Clubs' Cup and was three times European Footballer of the Year. At their peak, the Dutch side he captained were the most exciting and talented team in international football, yet, strangely, they never won a major trophy during his reign.

Ronaldo de Lima

The 24-year wait was over. In the final act of the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™, Brazil overcame Italy in a typically nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out in Pasadena to become world champions for the first time since Mexico 1970. The celebrating Brazilians carried flags as they ran around the pitch, one of them in tribute to Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, killed at Imola just a few weeks earlier. Photographers massed around them as the famous Trophy was passed from player to player, with Romario, captain Dunga and goalkeeper Taffarel among those attracting most of the attention.

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Pele

Pele

A veteran of four World Cups, scorer of 1,283 first-class goals - 12 of them in World Cup final tournaments - a member of those magical Brazilian squads that won soccer's greatest prize in 1958, 1962 and 1970. But just as a collection of notes do not make a Beethoven symphony, statistics cannot capture the majesty of those glorious Brazilian sides. This was football played to a samba beat. Beautiful skills, astonishing speed and ball control - and of all those great players in the yellow and green shirts, Pele was the greatest of them all.

Diego Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona is one of the greatest players in the history of the game - many even regard him as the greatest. He was a brave and natural born leader on the field, a streetwise character who could pull a rabbit out of the hat at any stage of the game. Short, stocky and left-footed with awe-inspiring ball control, dribbling, passing and playmaking skills, made him almost impossible to contain at his best. And the world got to see him at his peak in the 1986 World Cup. His tournament contribution to Argentina's triumph has been generally accepted as the best in history by a single player of any World Cup.
He was born in Buenos Aires and grew up in the shantytown of Villa Fiorito in a large family as one of eight kids. Playing for Los Cebollitas (The little onions), Maradona quickly made a name for himself as a wonderboy with unbelievable ball skills. He received national recognition as a 10 year-old entertaining crowds with ball juggling at half-time breaks. A television crew once interviewed him during those years and he said: "I have two dreams: To play in the World Cup and to win it."

Di Stéfano

The best player in the history of Real Madrid. He could attack, defend and play well everywhere. He was a leader on and off the pitch and with him the Whites reached the peak of their football glory: the as yet unrepeatable feat of winning five consecutive European Cups which amazed the international football world. Di Stéfano was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1957 1959 in recognition of his performances and those of this dream team. Also, he is the only player in the world to own a Super Ballon D'Or. In 1989 he received the trophy, that can today be found in the Real Madrid Museum.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, born 23 June 1972), nicknamed "Zizou", is a French assistant coach and sporting director at Real Madrid, and a retired footballer who played as an attacking midfielder for the French national team, Juventus and Real Madrid. Renowned for his elegance, vision and technique, Zidane was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years by UEFA,and has been described as one of the greatest players in the history of the game