The Alternative List: Boffins pick their top 10 footballers of all time
05 June 2009 09:24
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Sportsmail delight in revealing our top 50 footballers of all time for our latest instalment of The List.
Don't agree with our selection? Neither do the boffins at Championship Manager, who've selected their own top 10.
Zico was born Artur Antunes Coimbra, and made his league debut for Flamengo in 1973.
He scored over 100 goals in his first two seasons. He made his debut for Brazil against Uruguay in 1976, scoring with a trademark free kick.
Zico was two-footed and played as an attacking midfielder or deep-lying forward. He was a sublime dribbler, creative passer and a clinical finisher.
He was a free-kick expert and could both bend the ball and strike powerful accurate shots. He was a classic No10 - a player who both created chances and scored goals prolifically.
He was voted South American Player of the Year three times, in 1977, 1981 and 1982. He won the Copa Libertadores, the Intercontinental Cup and four national titles with Flamengo.
He also spent two years in Italy with Udinese which were successful for him personally, his goal tally being 22 goals in 40 Serie A games. He played in three World Cups, 1978, 1982 and 1986, but two of those tournaments were marred by injury.
Overall he won 72 caps for Brazil and scored 52 goals. He also scored 463 goals in 688 club appearances.
9 Michel Platini
Michel Platini was a brilliant goal scoring midfielder. After spells in France with AS Nancy and Saint-Etienne, Platini earned himself a move to Italian giants Juventus.
After a slow start to his career in Italy he established himself as a key player for club and country, winning numerous club and personal honours including the Italian League, European Cup and European Footballer of the Year.
Platini won the 1984 European Championship with France in 1984 and also participated in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, reaching the semi-finals in the latter two.
For a long time, his record of 41 goals made him the national team top scorer until Thierry Henry surpassed the record in 2008.
Platini was a highly prolific goal scorer in club football as well and ended his career with 224 league goals in just over 400 games.
Since retiring from playing he has managed the French national side and is now UEFA president.
8 Ferenc Puskas
The legendary Hungarian footballer was undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time and his amazing goal scoring record is testament to that.
He scored a staggering 509 goals in 523 games including 84 in 85 games for Hungary.
He was the captain of the ‘Magical Magyars’ when they became the first team to beat England at Wembley winning 6-3. To prove this was no fluke they hammered England 7-1 in Budapest a few months later.
After leaving Honved he went on to become a Real Madrid legend, helping them win La Liga five times and the European Cup three times, famously scoring four times in the 1960 final.
7 George Best
George Best was born in Belfast on 22nd May 1946. He started his career at Manchester United, where he had his most successful spell, making his debut at the tender age of 17.
George Best became the driving force behind Man United’s success, winning two First Division titles and the European Cup. He played 290 matches overall for United, scoring 115 goals before his career waned - via spell at Fulham.
George Best never played at a World Cup Finals, but did have a successful career with Northern Ireland - capped 37 times and scoring nine goals.
6 Franz Beckenbauer
Well known for his leadership qualities, Franz Beckenbauer is most associated with Bayern Munich. In fact he was given the nickname 'Der Kaiser' due to the way he dominated on the football pitch.
After progressing from the youth team at Bayern, he went on to make 427 first team appearances. During his career he also played for The New York Cosmos and Hamburg.
He was capped 103 times by West Germany, winning the World Cup with them in 1974 (left). He chaired the committee which organised the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany.
5 Zinedine Zidane
He retired from professional football after the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals.
After scoring for France from the penalty spot he was sent off in extra time for a head butt into the chest of Marco Materazzi. Of course Italy went on to win the World Cup on penalties.
Despite being sent off in the final, Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball for being the best player at the finals. He started his career at Cannes before moving to Bordeaux.
In 1996 he moved to Italy to join Juventus. In 2001 he joined Real Madrid where he stayed until the end of his career. Zidane joined Real Madrid for an astonishing 73million euros, the most expensive transfer fee in football history.
During his career he played 108 times for France, scoring 31 goals. He retired as a player aged just 33 and many felt he could have played for at least a few more seasons.
4 Johan Cruyff
European Footballer of the Year three times – in 1971, 1973 and 1974, Cryuff came to prominence in the football world playing “total football” at Ajax under Rinus Michels.
Capped by Holland 48 times, he scored 33 goals at international level. Cruyff played for Ajax (twice), Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats and Levante before ending his playing career at Feyenoord.
He was part of the Ajax team that won the European Cup three years in a row from 1971 to 1973. He retired as a player in 1984 and then went on to manage both Ajax (for two years) and Barcelona (for eight years).
3 Alfredo di Stefano
Alfredo di Stefano was part of the Real Madrid team that won five consecutive European Cups from 1955/56 to 1959/60.
Di Stefano played 31 times for Spain, scoring 23 goals. He also played international football for Argentina (six goals in six games) and Colombia (four times). He started his career at River Plate then played for Club Atletico Huracan (loan) and Club Deportivo Los Millonarios before he joined Real Madrid.
He moved to Real Madrid in 1953 and went on to score 216 goals from 282 games before moving to Espanyol, where he ended his career, in 1964.
2 Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona is one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the Beautiful Game, winning countless accolades, individual honours and numerous titles throughout his playing career.
That career started and ended with the club he loved, Boca Juniors, in his native Argentina. Maradona won trophies in Spain with Barcelona and in Italy with Napoli, a team which he helped take from the bottom of Italian football to win two league titles and a UEFA Cup.
On the international scene Maradona won the World Cup in 1986, along the way scoring the greatest goal in World Cup history against England in the quarter-finals and also the most controversial goal of all time - the 'Hand of God' goal in the same game against England.
Many say he, ahem, single handily won that World Cup for Argentina in 1986 and few can argue.
Constantly coming out on top in polls across the world Diego Maradona was voted ‘FIFA Player of the century’ - an award that Maradona shared with the great Pele.
Edison Arantes do Nascimento, most commonly known as Pele, began playing for Santos in his native Brazil at just 15.
He made his debut for Brazil at 16 years of age and won his first World Cup at just 17. Pele (right) is the all-time leading goal-scorer of the Brazil national football team and is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning teams (1958, 1962 and 1970).
He played for Santos from 1957 to 1975 before he finished his career in the USA with The New York Cosmos. He played 92 times for Brazil, scoring 77 goals.