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The 25 Greatest Football Players Since 1990



The Greatest Ever Football Players


Here, we celebrate the last quarter of a footballing century by selecting our top 25 football players since the Italia 90 world cup. With seven world cups and 25 Champions League campaigns over this period of time, here's our pick of the hugely talented bunch... not including goal keepers.


25. ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC - SWEDEN

Even though he is one of the most controversial players ever to play the game, no one can deny how talented Zlatan Ibrahimovic is. Zlatan posses excellent skill, technique and goal scoring prowess. This Swedish legend has had a glittering career playing for some of Europe's biggest clubs including Ajax, Juventus, AC Milan, Barcelona and PSG.

24. RYAN GIGGS - WALES

As far as body conditioning goes, no one can better Ryan Giggs. With a career spanning over 20 years, this Welsh wizard was formidable for Manchester United, scoring in every season he played. As his pace slowed, his game developed. This magician dedicated his life to football, and will always be remembered as one of the Premier League greats.

23. DIDIER DROGBA - IVORY COAST

Without Didier Drogba, it's hard to imagine Chelsea winning as much as they did. The Champions League winner had incredible strength, pace and a great habit of scoring vital goals at crucial times. He is a real handful and every defenders worst nightmare.


22. DENNIS BERGKAMP - HOLLAND

Surprisingly, Dennis Bergkamp is the only Dutchman to make it onto this list. Some would say he underachieved at Inter Milan, but that all changed once he stuck on an Arsenal shirt. By far, Bergkamp was blessed with the best technique the Premier League has ever seen, and his goal against Argentina at the 1998 world cup has go down in footballing folklore.

21. ERIC CANTONA - FRANCE

Remembered purely for his amazing achievements in England, Eric Cantona was the final piece in the jigsaw that Alex Ferguson needed to carry Manchester United to the top. This eccentric Frenchman had a hot head at times, but his skill, technique and goals held him high as one of United's greatest ever players.

20. ROBERTO CARLOS - BRAZIL

Was he a winger or a left-back? Either way, Roberto Carlos was a terrifying force down the left flank. With his most notable spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, this world cup and Champion League winner was one of the true greats of our time. He also happened to score one of the greatest free-kicks of all time.

19. RAUL GONZALEZ - SPAIN

Raul was the complete goal machine and a true Real Madrid great. Blessed with incredible skill and technique, Raul was one of the stars in Real Madrid's famous Galacticos that included Zidane, Figo, Beckham and Ronaldo.


18. KAKA - BRAZIL

Kaka may have had a poor spell by his own standards at Real Madrid, but prior to that, he was the best player in the world at AC Milan. The former World Player Of The Year was briefly the most expensive player in the world at a staggering £60m, until Cristiano Ronaldo broke that record a few weeks after.

17. ROMARIO - BRAZIL

A world cup winner and scorer of over 1000 career goals, this Brazilian legend has to be regarded as one of the greatest strikers to ever live. This box predator was a nightmare for all defenders, netting wherever he went. Romario was the stand-out star of the 1994 world cup in USA.

16. THIERRY HENRY - FRANCE

Most Arsenal fans regard Thierry Henry as their greatest ever player, and it's easy to see why. After a tough spell in Italy, Henry rejuvenated his career with high-flying Arsenal, scoring a record number of goals along the way. The world cup winning Frenchman finally realised his dream by winning the 2009 Champions League with Barcelona.

15. ANDREA PIRLO - ITALY

When it comes to controlling a match and playing it at your pace, not many can say they do it better than the master craftsman, Andrea Pirlo. This Italian technician has had a glittering career that has included that famous world cup win in 2006.

14. LOTHAR MATTHAUS - GERMANY

A world cup winner and World Player Of The Year in 1990, Lothar Matthaus makes it onot our list at 14. Matthaus was a nartural born leader, captaining his country, along with Inter Milan and his beloved Bayern Munich. Lothar Matthaus is one of the best holding midfield players the world has ever seen.

13. ANDRES INIESTA - SPAIN

A magnificent talent who has won everything there is to win in the game. The scorer of the winning goal in a world cup final, Andres Iniesta is one of the most gifted technicians the world has ever seen.

12. XAVI - SPAIN

Technically, Xavi is one of the best players of our generation. As part of this great Barcelona team, Xavi has been an important player for the Spanish giants, helping them to three Champions League wins along the way. Xavi also played a pivotal role in Spain's dominance from 2008-2012.

11. ROBERTO BAGGIO - ITALY

A household favourite and famous for that ponytail, Roberto Baggio was a true Italian great. He made his mark at Italia 90 and continued his momentum through to the 94 world cup where he dragged Italy to the final against Brazil. Baggio could be quiet for 89 minutes and then, when you least expect it, would produce a moment of genius that could win a game.

10. PAUL SCHOLES - ENGLAND

Paul Scholes is the only Englishman to make it onto our list. Blessed with skill, vision and goals, this little wizard has this extraordinary habit of being able to control a game, completely on his terms. Described by Zidane and Xavi as the best player of his generation, Scholes proved to the world that an Englishman can indeed possess superior technical ability to his European counterparts.

9. PAOLO MALDINI - ITALY

Paolo Maldini was without doubt the best left-back the past 25 years has seen. This intelligent defender was a strong part of the formidable AC Milan team of the early/mid-nineties, and experienced great success with his country too. It was a huge shame that Italy decided to win the world cup in 2006 after Maldini had retired from international football.

8. LUIS FIGO - PORTUGAL

For a then world record £37.5m transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid, Luis Figo still seemed an absolute bargain. The Portuguese winger had incredible vision, pace, intelligence and bags of goals for club and country. The former World Player Of The Year was unlucky not to win the European Championships with Portugal after appearing in the 2004 final.


7. HRISTO STOICHKOV - BULGARIA

This true great of the game and Bulgaria's greatest ever talent, Hristo Stoichkov, found true greatness at the 1994 world cup in USA, where he carried the unfancied Bulgaria to the semi finals. This exceptionally talented player had his best years at Barcelona, appearing in the European Cup final.

6. RONALDINHO - BRAZIL

When Ronaldinho was hot, he was seriously hot. The two-time World Player Of The Year was simply the best player on the planet from 2005-2007, helping Barcelona lift the Champions League trophy. His full potential was there for all to see after he lifted the 2002 world cup in Japan and South Korea. He may not have been the best player for a long period of time, but during that three season period, Ronaldinho was untouchable.

5. RIVALDO - BRAZIL

Rivaldo was a master of his trade and completely unique as a footballer. Playing in one of the weakest Barcelona teams in the past 25 years, at times he single-handedly carried them with his crucial goals. His ridiculous hatrick against Valencia will always be remembered as world class, and his world cup success in 2002 cements his status as a true great.

4. LIONEL MESSI - ARGENTINA

Many regard Lionel Messi as the greatest player of all time, but we don't think he's there just yet. At just 27, Messi still has a lot more to add to his already glittering career, and a world cup medal is seriously needed to credit his application for top spot. With a array of goals and super skill and awareness to match, expect to see a few more Ballon D'or trophies added to his current haul of four.

3. CRISTIANO RONALDO - PORTUGAL

With still so much to achieve in an already prolific career, Cristiano Ronaldo makes it onto our list in third place. The Portuguese star netted a record 42 times in one season as a winger during his 2008 Champions League winning campaign with Manchester United. Since joining Real Madrid for a then record £80m he has never looked back. Ronnie has taken goal scoring to a completely new level, paving the benchmark for future successors.

2. RONALDO LIMA - BRAZIL

The original Ronaldo was by far the best striker of our generation - a true genius. The three time World Player Of The Year won 2 world cups (1994, 2002), scoring the winning goals in the 2002 final against Germany. As far as strikers go, he had it all - pace, strength, sublime skill and an incredible finish.

1. ZINEDINE ZIDANE - FRANCE

With a CV boasting world cup, European championship, Champions League and various domestic league and cup medals, Zinedine Zidane has been the most successful footballer of our generation. The three time World Player Of The Year winner was blessed with the most extraordinary talents the game has ever seen. Zidane made football look effortless, beautiful and sublime. This elegant Frenchman was the most expensive footballer of the year for over a decade during his move from Juventus to Real Madrid - and he was worth every penny!

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Being such a subjective topic, we don't expect many of you to agree with our list, but by all means comment below and let us know your thoughts...

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