The world of football has over the decades provided gifted, talented and skillful footballers who’ve left tremendous mark on the global stage. Every generation has produced great players who have performed excellently well for both their clubs and national teams. Others have however shone on the club level but performed dismally at the global stage for their respective nations and vice versa.
From the legendary Brazilian Pele, who was a force to reckon with during his heydays and who analysts all agree that is still the greatest footballer to ever grace planet earth. Even though some criticizes his personal achievement, he stands out as the greatest goal poacher the football world as ever seen.
Ricardo Zamora still remains Spain’s greatest and perhaps the greatest ever goalkeeper in history for his outstanding performances in the 1920s. The 1930s had Giuseppe Meazza, the Italian showman, a matchwinner and a footballing genius who remains Internazionale’s highest all time goal scorer with 287 strikes to his name. Then came England’s Stanley Mathews in the 1940s who played almost 800 games during his career and was never booked even a single time, what a class.
Football started evolving and the 1950s saw an explosion of talents that was brought to the global stage. From John Charles, Francisco Gento, Just Fontaine and the best of them all in Alfredo di Stefano who managed to represent three nations at the international stage. 1960s saw the rise and rise of legendary Hungarian ‘Magical Magyars’, Ferenc Puskas whose 1960 European final heroics established him as one of the games greats. The 1970s saw a golden generation blessed with skillful and passionate talents. From Hugo Sanchez, Teofilo Cubillas, Falcao [not Colombian Radamel Falcao], Rivelino, Ruud Krol, Bayern Munich duo of Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer were all true greats but none of them came close to eclipsing Johan Cruyff. Cruyff became an integral part of the ‘Dutch Total Football’ era.
Remember the legendary ‘GOAL OF THE CENTURY’? It was scored by the one and only Diego Maradona, who along with Pele are immortalized as the greatest football ling talents the world has ever seen. It was in the 1980s that this talent was identified and the rest is history. Albeit the presence of other stars, he rose above them just as Michael Laudrup did above the greats of 1990s in Paolo Maldini, Marcel Desailly, George Weah, the dazzling skills of Roberto Baggio, Abedi Pele, Peter Schmeichel, the shadowy Ronaldo de Lima despite his injuries, Zinedine Zidane among others.
The 2000s saw the wizardly Zinedine Zidane do wonders in the pitch. Despite the presence of the Brazilian trio of Ronaldo, Romario and Ronaldinho, African Etoo, French Thierry Henry, Italian Del Pierro, among others, did wonders with his feet. The 2010s has also culminated and given birth to great dribblers in Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Roaldinho, Kaka, among many others. However, there is only one player who has risen above them, Lionel Messi. This guy has being a magician with the ball at his feet and it will take decades to replace him.
The question remains on who shall inherit Messi and take the world of football to the next level? Will it he Neymar, Pogba, Hazard,Delle Alli, Marcus Rashford, Gabigoil, Gabriel Jesus, De Bruyne, Paulo Dybala ? Shall we have to have to wait for other stars to be born?
Only time will tell.