Play with the most iconic legends of football in FIFA 19 Ultimate Team on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. In this page, you can find the complete FIFA 19 Icons Players list, their bio and the rating/stats for each one of the three versions.
FIFA 19 ICONS PLAYERS
❌ To Be Confirmed | ✔️ Confirmed | 🆕 New Icon
✔️ 🇮🇹 ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO
✔️ 🇮🇹 ALESSANDRO NESTA
✔️ 🇺🇦 ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO
✔️ 🆕 🏴 BOBBY MOORE
✔️ 🇪🇸 CARLES PUYOL
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 CHRISTIAN VIERI
✔️ 🆕 🇳🇱 CLARENCE SEEDORF
✔️ 🆕 🇫🇷 CLAUDE MAKELELE
✔️ 🆕 🇫🇷 DAVID TREZEGUET
✔️ 🇵🇹 DECO
✔️ 🇳🇱 DENNIS BERGKAMP
✔️ 🇦🇷 DIEGO MARADONA
✔️ 🇳🇱 EDWIN VAN DER SAR
✔️ 🆕 🇪🇸 EMILIO BUTRAGUEÑO
✔️ 🇫🇷 EMMANUEL PETIT
✔️ 🆕 🇵🇹 EUSÉBIO
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 FABIO CANNAVARO
✔️ 🆕 🇪🇸 FERNANDO HIERRO
✔️ 🇮🇹 FILIPPO INZAGHI
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 FRANCO BARESI
✔️ 🆕 🏴 FRANK LAMPARD
✔️ 🇳🇱 FRANK RIJKAARD
✔️ 🆕 🏴 GARY LINEKER
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 GENNARO GATTUSO
✔️ 🇷🇴 GHEORGE HAGI
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 GIANFRANCO ZOLA
✔️ 🇸🇪 HENRIK LARSSON
✔️ 🇦🇷 HERNÁN CRESPO
✔️ 🆕 🇯🇵 HIDETOSHI NAKATA
✔️ 🆕 🇧🇬 HRISTO STOICHKOV
✔️ 🇫🇮 JARI LITMANEN
✔️ 🇦🇷 JAVIER ZANETTI
✔️ 🇳🇬 JAY-JAY OKOCHA
✔️ 🆕 🇩🇪 JENS LEHMANN
✔️ 🆕 🇳🇱 JOHAN CRUYFF
✔️ 🆕 🇦🇷 JUAN SEBASTIÁN VERÓN
✔️ 🇫🇷 LAURENT BLANC
✔️ 🇷🇺 LEV YASHIN
✔️ 🇩🇪 LOTHAR MATTHÄUS
✔️ 🆕 🇵🇹 LUÍS FIGO
✔️ 🇲🇽 LUÍS HERNÁNDEZ
✔️ 🇳🇱 MARC OVERMARS
✔️ 🇫🇷 MARCEL DESAILLY
✔️ 🇳🇱 MARCO VAN BASTEN
✔️ 🆕 🇩🇪 MICHAEL BALLACK
✔️ 🇩🇰 MICHAEL LAUDRUP
✔️ 🏴 MICHAEL OWEN
✔️ 🇩🇪 MIROSLAV KLOSE
✔️ 🇳🇱 PATRICK KLUIVERT
✔️ 🇫🇷 PATRICK VIEIRA
✔️ 🆕 🏴 PAUL SCHOLES
✔️ 🆕 🇨🇿 PAVEL NEDVĚD
✔️ 🇧🇷 PELÉ
✔️ 🇩🇰 PETER SCHMEICHEL
✔️ 🆕 🇪🇸 RAÚL GONZÁLEZ
✔️ 🏴 RIO FERDINAND
✔️ 🆕 🇧🇷 RIVALDO
✔️ 🇫🇷 ROBERT PIRÈS
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 ROBERTO BAGGIO
✔️ 🇧🇷 ROBERTO CARLOS
✔️ 🇧🇷 RONALDINHO
✔️ 🇧🇷 RONALDO NAZÁRIO
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇪 ROY KEANE
✔️ 🇵🇹 RUI COSTA
✔️ 🇳🇱 RUUD GULLIT
✔️ 🆕 🇳🇱 RUUD VAN NISTELROOY
✔️ 🆕 🏴 RYAN GIGGS
✔️ 🆕 🇧🇷 SÓCRATES
✔️ 🆕 🏴 SOL CAMPBELL
✔️ 🆕 🏴 STEVEN GERRARD
✔️ 🇫🇷 THIERRY HENRY
FIFA 19 Icons Players List
Official Description of Every Single FIFA 19 Icon Player
✔️ 🏴 ALAN SHEARER
Alan Shearer (born 13 August 1970) is a retired English centre-forward. After a stunning debut for Southampton where Shearer scored a hat-trick, he made the move to big spending Blackburn Rovers in 1992 where he would later obtain a Premier League winners medal. A return home to his beloved Newcastle soon followed when Shearer joined for a world record fee of £15 million. Shearer retired in 2006 after scoring 206 goals for Newcastle to make him their highest ever goalscorer.
Alan Shearer was just 22 when he moved from Southampton to Blackburn Rovers for a then British record transfer fee. His time at Blackburn saw him transform into one of the greatest strikers of the Premier League generation, where he scored 30+ league goals in three consecutive seasons. Shearer scored 34 league goals in 1994-95 which helped Blackburn Rovers to a dramatic Premier League title. That same season, Shearer was named Premier League Player of the Year.
In the summer of 1996, Alan Shearer joined boyhood club Newcastle United for a world record fee of £15m. In his first season at Newcastle, Shearer finished as the Premier League’s top goal scorer once again. Despite Newcastle falling short in their quest for title glory, for a third consecutive season, Shearer’s performances stood out. The highlight of the season for Shearer was his late hat-trick against Leicester City to turn around a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 victory for Newcastle.
In late 1999, Alan Shearer was still performing at the top level for Newcastle. The highlight in the 1999-2000 season saw Shearer smash 5 goals against Sheffield Wednesday in their 8-0 Premier League victory. Despite having his injury troubles, Shearer spent a total of 10 seasons at his boyhood club and amassed a record 260 Premier League goals throughout his career; a total that remains a league record to this day.
✔️ 🇮🇹 ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO
Alessandro Del Piero (born 9 November 1974) is a retired Italian football legend. He is most known for his time at Juventus, where he was and still is one of the most accomplished and respected players in the club’s history. He made his professional debut with Serie B side Padova in 1992 and in 1993 earned a transfer to Juventus, where he played for 19 seasons. Del Piero was revered for his attacking and creative play. He was most famous for his left sided attacks where he would dribble in from wide, cutting across the edge of the area and curling a finesse shot into the top corner. This was known throughout as the “Del Piero Zone”.
Del Piero began his career at Padova and started to make a name for himself in early 1993. His performances caught the eye of Italian giants Juventus, who secured his signature in the summer. Del Piero didn’t have to wait long for his chance in the first team, making his debut as a substitute in September against Foggia. He came off the bench in the following game to net the first of his 208 league goals to come in the black and white stripes of The Old Lady.
By 1995, Del Piero had established himself as a regular in the Juventus first team and had earned a first international cap in March of that year. There were further reasons for Del Piero to celebrate as he later helped The Old Lady to their first Scudetto in 9 years, as well as capturing the Coppa Italia for a rare double. In November, Del Piero scored his first international goal for the Azzurri in a 4-0 win over Lithuania. His performances in 1995 would earn him a Ballon d’Or nomination.
Del Piero started 2006 in style by netting a hat-trick in a Coppa Italia match against Fiorentina. In doing so he became the all-time leading scorer for Juventus, taking his tally to 185 goals. Now 32, Del Piero was named in Italy’s 2006 FIFA World Cup™ squad. He made 5 appearances in the tournament, scoring the second goal in the semi-final, before fulfilling his boyhood dream of lifting the World Cup trophy as Italy beat France 5-3 on penalties, with Del Piero scoring the fourth.
✔️ 🇮🇹 ALESSANDRO NESTA
Alessandro Nesta (born 19 March 1976) is considered one of the best Italian defenders in history. Nesta joined his local side Lazio at the age of 9 and eventually made his first team debut in 1994. After establishing himself as one of the best defenders in the country, financial troubles meant Lazio had to sell Nesta for just over €30m to AC Milan. Nesta was named Italian defender of the year from 2000 to 2004, and despite suffering injury at the tournament, he was a World Cup winner in 2006 with Italy.
Alessandro Nesta graduated through Lazio’s youth ranks to become captain of the club in his early twenties. The defender picked up his first silverware after scoring the winner in the 1998 Coppa Italia final, one of only 13 career goals. The following year, Lazio won their only continental competitions so far, as Nesta lifted the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup. The 1999-2000 season marked the pinnacle of his time in Rome, as he led his club to a historic league and cup double.
Renowned by many as the best centre-half in the world, AC Milan signed Alessandro Nesta for just over €30 million and immediately reaped the rewards. His debut season climaxed with the first ever all-Italian Champions League final. The Milan defence held off Juventus for 120 minutes, and Nesta’s converted penalty in the shootout helped Milan lift the trophy. Domestically, the Italian international’s performances won him the accolade of Serie A defender of the year for the fourth season in a row.
An injury-hit season didn’t prevent Alessandro Nesta from making a telling contribution in AC Milan’s Champions League 2006-07 triumph, returning in time to help secure passage through the later rounds. Still smarting after a remarkable comeback defeat at the hands of Liverpool two years earlier, Milan earned the opportunity to avenge that loss in the final. Nesta’s assured performance helped his team to a 2-1 victory over Liverpool, and he lifted the trophy for the second time.
✔️ 🇺🇦 ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO
Andriy Shevchenko (born 29 September 1976) is a retired Ukrainian striker. Shevchenko started his career at Dynamo Kyiv and scored an average of one goal every two games, helping Kyiv win five consecutive league titles. Shevchenko was known for having everything – pace, power, two great feet and strong aerial ability. These strengths led Milan to pay a then-record fee of €25m for his services, which he repaid by scoring 175 goals in 322 appearances during two spells with the Italian giants. Shevchenko later won the Ballon d’Or in 2004, and captained Ukraine in the 2006 World Cup finals.
Andriy Shevchenko made his Dynamo Kyiv debut in 1994. He helped his side to the league title the very next season having established himself as a regular in the side. A famous hat trick against Barcelona in the Champions League in 1997-98 helped Kyiv defeat the European heavyweights 4-0. Shevchenko scored 25 goals in 33 games that season, followed by 28 goals the season after. By the time he left, Shevchenko had won the league title 5 times in 5 seasons with Dynamo Kyiv.
AC Milan made Andriy Shevchenko their record signing for $25m in 1999. Having won the Champions League in 2002-03, the following season Shevchenko finished the Serie A top goal scorer with 24 goals as Milan won their first title for 5 years. The season after he scored the winning goal in the Super Cup victory over Porto, followed by a hat trick against Lazio as Milan won the Italian Super Cup. Shevchenko won the Ballon d’Or in 2004, and remains as Ukraine’s record goal scorer to this day.
Andriy Shevchenko was snapped up by Chelsea for a British record £30m in 2006, having established himself as one of the most prolific forwards in Europe. His hardworking, energetic style appealed to fans as he took the number 7 shirt at his new club. Shevchenko scored on his debut in the FA Community Shield against Liverpool, and despite being hampered with injuries, he was still able to star in the 2007 League Cup final, where Chelsea defeated Arsenal.
✔️ 🆕 🏴 BOBBY MOORE
Bobby Moore (born 12 April 1941) is regarded as English football’s greatest hero. A centre-back by trade, Moore’s game was typified by his exceptional composure and defensive intuition. He was known for being a world-class defender, leader, icon and a true champion. Made captain of his country at 22, Moore led his club side, West Ham United to domestic and European silverware in 1964 and 1965 respectively, before taking England to glory on home soil in the 1966 World Cup. Bobby Moore’s legacy – both as a footballer and as a man – lives on today, and will do for generations to come.
A young Bobby Moore broke into the West Ham United team in the late 50’s, and soon became captain for the club he would represent for more than a decade. The defender earned a reputation as an intelligent, composed Number 6 with an excellent ability to read the game, and became a mainstay in the England team. He led his club to their first major domestic and continental cup successes, as the Hammers won the FA Cup in 1964 and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965.
The 1966 FIFA World Cup™ was held in England and led to the country’s only major international success. Captained by Bobby Moore, the hosts were defensively superb, not conceding until the semi-final. Wembley was the venue for the final, West Germany were the opposition and history was made, with Moore providing two assists to his West Ham team-mate Geoff Hurst as England won 4-2 after extra time. The defender was named in the All-star team of the tournament for his performances.
Bobby Moore embarked on his final years at West Ham as an idol for both club and country, as well as the 1970 Ballon d’Or runner-up after again impressing on the world stage for England. He was awarded his testimonial for the Hammers shortly after. The defenders’ consistency and dedication led to him breaking numerous records, at the time claiming the all-time West Ham appearance record, as well as becoming England’s most capped player. He still holds the record for most England games as captain.
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✔️ 🇪🇸 CARLES PUYOL
Carles Puyol Saforcada (born 13 April 1978) is a retired Spanish defender and an FC Barcelona club legend. Puyol joined the FC Barcelona youth system in 1995 and made his first team debut in 1999. Taking over as captain in 2004, Puyol led FC Barcelona to 6 league titles and many cup successes. He won exactly 100 caps for Spain which included a career highlight of winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Puyol retired in 2014 having made just shy of 600 first team appearances in FC Barcelona colours.
Carles Puyol broke into the first team in the early 2000s, and by 2002, he had established himself as a key member of the Barcelona defence. His performances for Barça throughout 2002 earned Puyol a place in that year’s UEFA Team of the Year, having been named as the standout right-back. Puyol also became a regular in the Spain national team at this stage, and helped his country to a quarter final place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™.
In 2008, Puyol played a key role as Spain conceded just 2 goals on their way to winning Euro 2008. Puyol battled through injuries the following season but was still able to make 28 league appearances, scoring 1 goal; his only goal coming in an unforgettable El Clásico as Barça thrashed rivals Real Madrid 6-2 in the Bernabéu. This victory all but sealed the La Liga title before Puyol would captain his side to victory in the Supercopa and the Champions League to complete a historic treble.
By 2010, Puyol had established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the world. Puyol played an integral part in Barça’s success around this time, helping the team to win an unprecedented sextuple in 2009. Puyol helped Barça to retain the La Liga and Supercopa titles the following season, before going on to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ with Spain, scoring the only goal in a semi-final win over Germany. He finished 2010 with his sixth and final UEFA Team of the Year selection.
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 CHRISTIAN VIERI
Christian Vieri (born 12 July 1973 in Bologna) is a former Italian striker whose glittering career saw him play for 13 different club teams and score almost 200 senior league goals. After successful spells in Spain and Italy, Internazionale paid a then world record £32 million fee for the striker, who repaid in kind by scoring 103 league goals in just 143 appearances. Vieri was named Italian footballer of the Year in 1999 and 2002 and went on to set the record for the most headed goals scored in Serie A, thanks to his incredible strength and aerial ability.
After scoring 9 goals in 21 games for Atalanta, Christian Vieri was snapped up by Juventus for €2.5m. He quickly made his mark as the club won the UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup in 1996. He scored a total of 14 goals in his debut season and was Juventus’ top goal scorer, helping guide them to the league title as well as the Champions League final. Vieri finished his Juventus career after 1 season with 3 trophies to his name.
After an impressive 29 goals in 32 games for Atletico Madrid and 5 goals at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™, Christian Vieri signed for Lazio for €25m. He went on to score 14 goals that season and win the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. He was named Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1999, and his prolific goal scoring record led to Vieri being regarded as one of the best Italian strikers of all time.
Christian Vieri signed for Internazionale in 1999 for a world record fee of €49m. He went on to spend 6 seasons with the club, scoring an impressive 46 goals in two years between 2001 and 2003, and finishing as the league’s top goal scorer in 2002-03. His partnership with Hernan Crespo was lethal, firing Inter to the Champions League semi-final in 2002-03. His blend of power and pace earned him the nickname Il Toro (The Bull).
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✔️ 🆕 🇳🇱 CLARENCE SEEDORF
Clarence Seedorf (born 1 April 1976 ) was a Surinamese-born Dutch professional football, regarded by many as one of the best midfielders of his generation. He won several domestic and continental titles while playing for clubs in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Brazil. He is also considered one of the most successful players in UEFA Champions League history, as he is the first, and currently the only, player to have won the Champions League with three clubs. At international level, he represented the Netherlands on 87 occasions, and took part at three UEFA European Football Championships (1996, 2000, 2004) and the 1998 FIFA World Cup, reaching the semi-finals of the latter three tournaments.
Clarence Seedorf began his career with Ajax, making his debut in 1992 at just 16 years of age. He helped the club to a domestic treble in 1993-94 as they won the Eredivisie title, KNVB Cup and Dutch Super Cup. Another trophy treble followed in 1994-95 as Seedorf played a vital role in retaining the Eredivisie and Dutch Super Cup. The crowning moment of his season came as Ajax lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy, the first European trophy of Seedorf’s career.
In 1996, Clarence Seedorf joined Real Madrid following one season with Sampdoria and was a virtual ever-present over the following three seasons. His first season with Los Blancos proved to be successful as Seedorf helped the club finish two points above rivals Barcelona to regain the 1996-97 LaLiga title. The following season Seedorf collected his second UEFA Champions League winners medal, helping Real Madrid to lift the prestigious European Cup for the first time in 32 years.
Clarence Seedorf joined Milan in 2002 from city rivals Inter. He made history in his first season when he became the first player to win the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs. He later lifted the trophy for a fourth time at the end of the 2006-07 season, with further success coming in 2007 as Seedorf helped The Rossoneri win the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. His performances in 2007 earned him a place in the UEFA Team of the Year.
✔️ 🆕 🇫🇷 CLAUDE MAKELELE
Claude Makelele (born 18 February 1973) was a French international for 13 years, and was part of the France national team which reached the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Regarded as one of the greatest ever players in his position, Makélélé has been credited with redefining the defensive midfield role in English football. In his playing career, which ended at Paris Saint-Germain, Makélélé also played for Nantes, Marseille, Celta de Vigo, Real Madrid and Chelsea. He won league titles in France, Spain and England, as well as the 2001–02 UEFA Champions League during his time with Real Madrid.
Claude Makélélé joined Nantes at the age of 18 in December 1991 and soon began to make a name for himself. He spent 6 years with the club, with the highlight being the 1994-95 title-winning campaign. With just one defeat all season, a young Makélélé collected his first ever silverware as Nantes finished 10 points clear of second-placed Lyon. His performances for Nantes helped Makélélé progress to the French national team squad and he made his debut for France just two months later.
In 2000, Claude Makélélé moved from Galician club Celta Vigo to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Perhaps underappreciated at times, Makélélé’s performances in front of the back four were lauded by his teammates as the club won an impressive array of trophies during his three seasons in Madrid. He helped Real win LaLiga in 2000-01 and 2002-03, although the UEFA Champions League win in 2001-02 was arguably the highlight of an extremely successful spell in Makélélé’s career.
Having revolutionised the defensive midfielder role in English football, Claude Makélélé was a key figure behind Chelsea’s success in the mid-2000s. Providing solid defensive support for the team to allow Chelsea’s attackers to roam forward, Makélélé won his first Premier League title in 2004-05 and was rewarded with a place in the FIFPro World XI. The success continued the following season as Chelsea retained their Premier League crown comfortably.
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✔️ 🆕 🇫🇷 DAVID TREZEGUET
David Trezeguet (born 15 October 1977) began his career in Argentina with Club Atlético Platense and one season later he transferred to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco, where he would form a striking partnership with international teammate Thierry Henry. However, it was playing for Juventus when he won more trophies.
David Trezeguet is one of the most prominent examples of world class attackers that have risen through the ranks at AS Monaco. From the 1997-98 season onwards, the Frenchman proved his abilities, most notably his instinct in front of goal, by helping his side win the Trophée des Champions and two Ligue 1 titles. Trezeguet was also included in France’s legendary 1998 FIFA World Cup™ winning team at 20 years of age, scoring his first goal for Les Bleus in the group stage of the tournament.
Having already enjoyed tremendous international success with Les Bleus by winning the FIFA World Cup™ in their home country two years before, the UEFA European Football Championship win in 2000 marked another special moment in David Trezeguet’s career. Italy looked set to be crowned champions of Europe until Trezeguet’s introduction late in the game, when he set up Sylvain Wiltord’s last minute equalizer, before sealing the title by scoring the Golden Goal with a thumping left-footed volley.
David Trezeguet’s performance during Juventus’ 2001-02 Serie A winning season is considered by many to be his best during a successful decade with the club. Combining his incredible physical ability with his natural instinct for goal, he scored 32 goals in all competitions that season, including an impressive 8 goals in the UEFA Champions League. Trezeguet’s brilliance throughout the campaign saw him finish as joint top scorer and named Serie A Footballer of the Year.
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✔️ 🇵🇹 DECO
Deco (born 27 August 1977) is a retired, Brazilian-born, Portuguese attacking midfielder. Despite his upbringing in Brazil, Deco ended up in Portugal at the age of 19 and soon joined Porto where he made his name on the world stage. After five highly successful years at Porto, Deco made a big money switch to Barcelona and was named Ballon d’Or runner up later that same year. After a later spell at Chelsea, Deco ended his career at Fluminense in his native Brazil. It looks that he will keep playing at least for another season, as one of the FIFA 19 Icons.
Deco joined Porto in 1999 and became a key member of the team after the appointment of José Mourinho, taking the club to unprecedented domestic and continental success. A UEFA Cup victory completed a treble in 2002-03, followed a year later with another league triumph and Champions League victory. The assist machine sealed his time at Porto with a man of the match performance and goal in the 3-0 victory against Monaco in the final, and was named the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.
Days after Portugal competed in the Euro 2004 final, Barcelona secured Deco’s signature. He slotted in seamlessly, pulling the strings in a midfield three, and picked up a league winners medal in his first season at the club. Season number two surpassed the achievements of the first, as the Spanish giants clinched a league and Champions League double, with Deco earning rave reviews from the Barcelona faithful.
With a decade of experience under his belt, Deco embarked on his second season at Stamford Bridge under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. The midfielder made a telling contribution as they became the first Chelsea team to win the domestic double, bagging over 100 league goals in the process. The Portuguese international struggled with injuries over the course of the season, but when fit provided craft and guile for the big games.
✔️ 🇳🇱 DENNIS BERGKAMP
Dennis Bergkamp (born 10 May 1969) is a technically gifted, former Dutch striker most famed for his spells with his home town Ajax and later at English side Arsenal. Nicknamed “The non-flying Dutchman” due to his fear of flying, Bergkamp’s career really took off at Ajax in the early 1990s when he scored 75 goals in just 91 league appearances. Bergkamp later moved to England where he joined Arsenal and became a key member of Arsenal’s “Invincibles” side. He is also remembered for scoring one of the greatest Premier League goals of all time against Newcastle in 2002.
In the late 1980s and early 90s, Dennis Bergkamp made a big name for himself in Holland. After cementing his place as a key player in Ajax’s first team, Bergkamp enjoyed several successful seasons. He was a vital part of the Ajax side that won the Eredivisie title in 1989-90, the UEFA Cup in 1991-92 and the KNVB Cup in 1992-93. Bergkamp was top goalscorer in Holland for three successive seasons between 1990 and 1993, and named Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1991 and 1992.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Dennis Bergkamp was at the peak of his career. On August 23rd 1997, Bergkamp set the tone for a successful season with his excellent hat-trick against Leicester City. Despite missing the cup final due to injury, Bergkamp was instrumental throughout the season as Arsenal won a Premier League and FA Cup double. His outstanding season was capped off when he was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
In the 2001-02 season, Dennis Bergkamp continued to make a big impact at Arsenal, despite having retired from international football. He featured in 46 matches that season as the Gunners won a Premier League and FA Cup double. The highlight for Bergkamp came on March 2nd 2002 against Newcastle United, when he scored arguably the most famous goal of his career – flicking the ball round Nikos Dabizas before placing the ball into the bottom corner to secure the win.
✔️ 🇦🇷 DIEGO MARADONA
Diego Maradona (born 30 October 1960 in Buenos Aires) is a retired Argentine footballer. Regarded by many as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Maradona was joint winner of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. During a career which included spells in Argentina, Spain and Italy, Maradona is the only footballer to have twice broken the world record transfer fee when signing for Barcelona and Napoli. Maradona scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina, winning the 1986 World Cup and the FIFA Goal of the Century award for his second goal against England in 1986. He is one of the greatest FIFA 19 Icons.
Diego Maradona burst onto the scene in the late 1970s, having made his debut for Argentinos Juniors at just 15 years old. He was the league’s top goal-scorer from 1978 until 1980 and his performances earned Maradona a dream move to boyhood favourites Boca Juniors. There, he won the domestic title in 1981 and was called into his first FIFA World Cup™ squad in 1982. His performances at Boca ensured Maradona moved overseas to Barcelona for a then world record fee of around £5m.
Despite missing games through injuries, Maradona managed 38 goals in 58 games at Barcelona and helped them to 3 domestic trophies in 1983. The highlight for Maradona during the mid-80s however was captaining Argentina to FIFA World Cup™ glory in 1986. Maradona played every minute of the tournament, scored arguably the goal of the century, and ended with five goals and five assists – the last assist coming in the final against West Germany to win Argentina the match, and the tournament.
Maradona had his longest club spell with Napoli. There, he dominated Serie A from 1984 until 1991 and captained Napoli in their most successful era. In the 1986-87 season, Maradona’s performances helped Napoli to their first Serie A title and a second followed in 1989-90. He left Napoli as their all-time leading goal scorer with 115 goals. On the international front, Maradona captained Argentina to a second successive FIFA World Cup™ final where they narrowly lost out to West Germany.
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✔️ 🇳🇱 EDWIN VAN DER SAR
Edwin van der Sar (born 29 October 1970) is a retired Dutch goalkeeper regarded as one of the best keepers of all time. A double winner of European silverware and winner of eight league titles with Ajax (4) and Manchester United (4), van der Sar holds the world record for consecutive clean sheets which he set in 2009 by going 1,311 minutes unbeaten. He is the Netherlands’ most capped player with 130 caps, and the only player to receive the Dutch Football Goalkeeper of the Year award over four consecutive seasons.
Edwin van der Sar started his career at a relatively late age, brought in by Ajax as a second-choice goalkeeper. Honing his abilities in the reserves, he bided his time before breaking into the first team as part of the golden generation which dominated domestic football in the mid-1990s. The crowning glory for this great side came in the form of 1995 Champions League glory, as the Dutchman kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win against Milan.
After a transfer tussle with Manchester United, Edwin van der Sar joined Juventus in 1999, and became their first-choice goalkeeper for the two years he spent at the club. Remarkably, the Dutchman became the first ever non-Italian to play between the sticks for the Turin club. The Old Lady were pipped to the Serie A title in both those seasons, finishing second, but they did hold the best defensive record in the league each year.
By now seen as the complete model goalkeeper, age was just a number as Edwin van der Sar signed for Manchester United to solve their longstanding problem position. His 6-year stay was characterised by clean sheets (not least during a league record spell without conceding) and silverware, including four Premier League winner medals. The iconic moment of his time in Manchester came in the 2007-08 Champions League final against Chelsea, as his penalty save in the shootout won the cup for United.
✔️ 🆕 🇪🇸 EMILIO BUTRAGUEÑO
Emilio Butragueño (born 22 July 1963) was best known for his spell with Real Madrid. He amassed La Liga totals of 341 games and 123 goals for his main club, in 12 seasons, and represented the Spain national team in two World Cups (being the second top scorer in the 1986 edition) and as many European Championships, scoring 26 goals for his country in a record that stood several years.
Emilio Butragueño graduated through Real Madrid’s youth system as part of La Quinta del Buitre, a group of five homegrown stars who would take the club into a period of great success. Butragueño made his debut in February 1984, helping turn around a 0-2 deficit to Cádiz CF with two goals and an assist. The following season, the striker had cemented his place in the team alongside his former Castilla teammates as Madrid regained their European lustre, winning back-to-back UEFA Cups.
Real Madrid experienced a great period of domestic success in the second half of the 1980’s, with Emilio Butragueño leading the line for the club as part of homegrown quintet La Quinta del Buitre. Five consecutive LaLiga titles contributed to half a decade of uninterrupted dominance, starting with the striker’s maiden league trophy in 1985-86, matching Madrid’s own streak in the early 60’s. Butragueño, playing at the top of his game, picked up two Ballon d’Or Bronze Balls in this time.
Emilio Butragueño played a major part in Spain’s 1986 FIFA World Cup™ campaign. It began in qualifying, as he made a goal-scoring international debut in a win against Wales. The Real Madrid striker started the finals off the back of a fruitful domestic campaign, as he helped his boyhood club to league glory. Butragueño scored 5 goals in Mexico, narrowly missing out on the golden boot. His stand-out performance came in the Round of 16, with El Buitre notching a remarkable 4 goals against Denmark.
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✔️ 🇫🇷 EMMANUEL PETIT
Emmanuel Petit (born 22 September 1970) is a retired French midfielder. During his early career with Monaco, Petit often played in defence, but cemented his position at CDM shortly before joining Arsenal in 1997. Known for his hardworking performances in the middle of the park – and with a strong left foot, Petit won the double with Arsenal in 1998. He helped France lift both the 1998 FIFA World Cup™, where he scored a memorable goal in the final against Brazil, and the Euro 2000 title. Petit joined Barcelona in the summer of 2000, but moved to Chelsea one year later before eventually retiring at the age of 35 after succumbing to injuries.
Emmanuel Petit began his professional career at Monaco, where, at the age of 18, he was spotted by then manager Arsène Wenger. His early days saw Petit play in several positions – at left midfield, centre-back, central midfield and often at left-back. He quickly became a mainstay in the Monaco team, featuring in the 1988-89 Coupe de France final where they narrowly lost 4-3 to Marseille. In 1990, he followed in the footsteps of Didier Deschamps and was named Ligue 1 Rookie of the Year.
In June 1997, Emmanuel Petit moved across the Channel when he left Monaco to join his former manager Arsène Wenger at Arsenal. The move saw Petit play in a deeper role alongside Patrick Vieira and it proved to be a successful change. He won the Premier League and FA Cup double with Arsenal in the 1997-98 season, and, in the summer of 1998, he won the FIFA World Cup™ with France, scoring a memorable goal in the dying minutes of the final against Brazil.
Emmanuel Petit spent a total of three seasons at Arsenal, and the turn of the millennium was an important era in Petit’s career. Domestically, his performances at Arsenal saw Spanish giants Barcelona come calling and he moved overseas in a joint transfer with Arsenal teammate Marc Overmars. Internationally, Petit was part of the French national team that won Euro 2000, to follow on from their FIFA World Cup™ win two years earlier.
✔️ 🆕 🇵🇹 EUSÉBIO
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira (25 January 1942 – 2 January 2014) is considered as one of the greatest footballers of all time. During his professional career, he scored 733 goals in 745 matches. Nicknamed the Black Panther, he was known for his speed, technique, athleticism and his ferocious right-footed shot, making him a prolific goalscorer. Eusébio helped Portugal reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goalscorer of the tournament with nine goals. Shortly after Eusébio’s death, Alfredo Di Stéfano stated: “For me Eusébio will always be the best player of all time”.
Eusébio made his debut for Benfica in 1960-61 but it was the following season that he made his breakthrough. With his remarkable dribbling ability and clinical nature in front of goal, he quickly gained global recognition for his abilities. Eusébio scored twice in the 1962 European Cup final as Benfica defeated Real Madrid to retain the trophy. Shortly afterwards, he helped Benfica lift the Taça de Portugal. His performances in 1962 saw Eusébio come second in that year’s Ballon d’Or.
After winning the 1965 Ballon d’Or, Eusébio was a household name as one of the most clinical strikers in world football. In the summer of 1966, he featured in his only FIFA World Cup™ where he scored nine goals in seven matches, helping Portugal to the semi-finals. His final goal came in the third-place match against the Soviet Union, which Portugal won 2-1. Eusébio’s nine goals were enough to claim the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer.
Despite being in to his thirties, Eusébio was still one of the top strikers in European football. He proved this in the 1972-73 season when he scored 40 league goals as Benfica went unbeaten to win a third consecutive title. It was even more memorable for Eusébio as it was his tenth domestic league title. His remarkable campaign saw Eusébio earn the 1973 European Golden Boot award. He was also named Portuguese Player of the Year for the second time in his career.
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✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 FABIO CANNAVARO
Fabio Cannavaro (born 13 September 1973 in Naples) is widely regarded as being one of the greatest defenders of his generation. His career highlight came in 2006 as Cannavaro famously captained his country to World Cup glory with incredible displays which saw him nicknamed “The Berlin Wall”. A winner of both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 2006, he went on to become Italy’s most capped player with 136 appearances for his country. After a successful club career which saw him win honours at both Parma and Real Madrid, he retired from the game in 2011.
Fabio Cannavaro joined Parma from Napoli in 1995 and quickly established himself as a first team regular. His first trophy success came in the 1998-99 season, defeating Fiorentina on away goals to win the Coppa Italia. Further success for Cannavaro came shortly after, as he lifted the only European club trophy of his career – the 1999 UEFA Cup following a 3-0 win over Marseille. Cannavaro would get his hands on a third trophy in 1999, as Parma defeated Milan for the Supercoppa Italiana.
In 2006, following a strong season at domestic level, Fabio Cannavaro was named as captain in Marcello Lippi’s Italy squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, having taken over the captaincy from Paolo Maldini in 2002. Cannavaro showed his experience and composure as Italy lifted the World Cup having conceded just 2 goals and keeping a record 5 clean-sheets. His year ended with individual accolades, which included the Ballon d’Or and being named FIFA World Player of the Year for 2006.
In the summer of 2006, Fabio Cannavaro joined Real Madrid following his FIFA World Cup™ success with Italy. In his first season with Los Blancos, Cannavaro made 32 appearances as he helped Real Madrid secure their first LaLiga title in four years. He enjoyed further success in the 2007-08 season as Real Madrid retained their LaLiga trophy and added the Spanish Super Cup with victory over Valencia. Cannavaro was named in the FIFPro World XI for 2006 and 2007 during his time in Madrid.
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✔️ 🆕 🇪🇸 FERNANDO HIERRO
Fernando Hierro (born 23 March 1968 in Vélez-Málaga) was a Spanish defender most fondly remembered for his time as captain for Real Madrid and the Spanish national team. During his fourteen year spell at Madrid, Hierro achieved the incredible feat of scoring over 100 goals – including 21 in a single season – to make him one of the highest regarded defenders of his generation. He featured in four Spanish World Cup squads and made 89 appearances for his country, earning himself a highly impressive 29 goals, winning an impressive 5 La Liga titles and several European trophies at Madrid.
Fernando Hierro arrived at the Bernabéu in 1988 and quickly made his mark. He demonstrated an exceptional goal-scoring record for a defensive player and contributed 7 goals as Real won the LaLiga title in 1988-89. That year, Hierro’s contribution was recognised with his selection for the Spanish national team, debuting against Poland in a 1-0 win. Two seasons later, Hierro scored an incredible 21 goals in 37 league games despite playing predominantly in defensive positions.
The mid-to-late 1990s saw Fernando Hierro reach his prime and experience further success. After winning LaLiga in 1996-97, Hierro played his part in Real Madrid’s successful Champions League campaign. The centre-back helped Madrid keep a clean sheet in the final as they beat Juventus 1-0, which gave him his first Champions League medal and Real’s first in 32 years. The 1998 FIFA World Cup™ in France saw Hierro appear in his third World Cup tournament, and he scored 2 goals in the group stages.
An older, more experienced Fernando Hierro continued his success at Real Madrid in the early 2000s. He helped Real to a LaLiga title success in 2000-01, before being named captain that summer. He captained Los Blancos to Champions League glory in 2001-02, where they defeated Leverkusen 2-1 in Glasgow. Internationally, he scored two goals from the spot at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ and was capped a total of 89 times for Spain, scoring an impressive 29 goals.
✔️ 🇮🇹 FILIPPO INZAGHI
Filippo Inzaghi (born 9 August 1973 in Piacenza) is a former Italian striker. Renowned for playing on the shoulder of the last defender, Inzaghi began his career at his hometown of Piacenza. He later spent time at Parma and then Atalanta, where he went on to make his name and become Serie A’s top goal-scorer with 24 goals in the 1996-97 season. Inzaghi would later play for two Italian giants in the form of Juventus and AC Milan, where scored a combined 215 goals in 465 appearances. Inzaghi scored 25 goals during an excellent international career and won a World Cup winners medal in 2006.
Filippo Inzaghi soared to prominence in his year at Atalanta, becoming Serie A’s top scorer and Young Player of the Season. Juventus soon swooped to secure his signature. He made an instant impact, scoring 18 goals in his first season, including a brace on his debut to help his team collect the 1997 Italian Super Cup and a hat-trick to secure a league-clinching 3-2 victory against Bologna. He continued in this vein for the next three seasons, ending each year as top scorer for the Old Lady.
Filippo Inzaghi began his time at AC Milan in 2001, after a big-money transfer from Juventus. The Italian had honed his craft to become the archetypical goal-poacher supreme, with his predatory instincts and eye for goal striking fear into opposition defences. The Champions League proved to be particularly fertile ground for the striker, with 10 strikes in 2002-03 on the road to an all-Italian final, where they defeated his previous club on penalties.
Filippo Inzaghi had become synonymous with AC Milan by the time the 2007 Champions League final against Liverpool came around. This match was the crowning achievement for the Italian striker, as he helped Milan get revenge for their defeat by the same opposition two years previously. Inzaghi scored both goals in the 2-1 victory to achieve a childhood dream, describing them as ‘’the most important’’ of his life. This famous night cemented his status as a Milan legend.
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 FRANCO BARESI
Franco Baresi (born 8 May 1960) is a retired one-club Italian defender. After growing up in Travagliato, Baresi moved to Milan where he joined AC, and would go on to captain the side for 15 years. In a glittering career spanning 20 years, he carved out a reputation as one of the greatest defenders of his generation. At the age of just 22, Baresi was part of the Italy squad who lifted the World Cup in 1982, and later captained the side at the 1994 tournament. Baresi won 6 Serie A titles with Milan, many European medals and was rewarded with Silver Award at the 1989 Ballon d’Or.
After joining the academy at 14, Franco Baresi made his AC Milan debut in April 1978 at the tender age of 17. He was immediately installed into the first eleven for the following season, playing in the heart of defence. Baresi’s first season was also a resounding success for the Rossoneri, as they won their 10th Serie A title. The Italian’s strong influence was later rewarded, being made Milan captain at 22 years old, a post he held until retirement 15 years later.
Franco Baresi formed part of what is known as one of the greatest defences of all time, playing alongside Italian greats Maldini, Costacurta and Tassotti, as Milan won the 1987-88 Serie A title, conceding only 14 goals. This glorious run of success between 1987 and 1990 saw Milan win Serie A, the Italian Supercoppa and back-to-back European Cups. Baresi was named Serie A Player of the Year for 1989-90, as well as finishing runner up to teammate Marco van Basten for the 1989 Ballon D’or.
Between 1991 and 1994, Franco Baresi captained Milan to three consecutive Serie A titles, including going unbeaten for the whole 1991-92 season, a run lasting an Italian-record 58 games. Baresi won his third Champions League in 1993-94, beating Barcelona 4-0, although he was suspended for the final. Internationally, Baresi captained Italy in the 1994 World Cup™. He unfortunately suffered an injury in the group stage, before making a sensational recovery to lead his side out for the final, keeping a clean sheet against Brazil.
✔️ 🆕 🏴 FRANK LAMPARD
Frank Lampard (born 20 June 1978 in Romford) is the all-time leading goalscorer for Chelsea, where he played for 13 years. He is one of seven players, and the only midfielder, to have scored 150 or more goals in the Premier League. Lampard is fourth in the Premier League’s all-time assists table, with 102 assists.
Frank Lampard made his debut for boyhood club West Ham United in 1996, following a brief loan spell at Swansea City. However, it was the 1997-98 season when he started to cement his place in the team. Providing youthfulness in the middle of the park, Lampard’s seasonal highlight was his hat-trick against Walsall in the League Cup. An ever-present the following season, Lampard helped West Ham to a Premier League best finish of 5th and a European campaign via the Intertoto Cup.
By the mid-2000s, Frank Lampard was at the top of his game with Chelsea and had become one of the most complete midfielders in world football. An ever-present in the league for three consecutive seasons, Lampard was an integral part of Chelsea’s first Premier League title win in 2004-05. Lampard continued his domestic success the following season as Chelsea retained their Premier League title, and, on a personal level, Lampard was named as the FIFA World Player of the Year runner up for 2005.
Despite now being into his thirties, Frank Lampard was still a dominant force in English football in the 2011-12 season with Chelsea. That success spread to the European stage in the most incredible of ways for Lampard. After playing a key part in both UEFA Champions League semi-finals, which saw Chelsea eliminate favourites Barcelona, Lampard captained Chelsea in the final, where they overcame Bayern Munich on penalties to win the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history.
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✔️ 🇳🇱 FRANK RIJKAARD
Frank Rijkaard (born 30 September 1962) is a legendary Dutch footballer who is widely regarded as one of the best central midfielders of all time. Rijkaard’s successful career saw him start and end his career at Ajax, winning 5 Eredivisie titles and one European medal with his home town club. He then moved to Italy where he won a further 10 trophies whilst part of arguably the greatest club side in history with AC Milan. Rijkaard later made the move into management and claimed two La Liga titles with Barcelona, earning the UEFA Manager of the Year award in 2006.
Frank Rijkaard played predominantly at centre-back for Ajax, but was recognised early in his career as being a versatile player, and spent time in central-midfield and as a right-midfielder. He achieved great success domestically in his seven years at the club, before starring in the Netherlands’ historic Euro 1988 winning team. Rijkaard formed a formidable centre-back pairing with Ronald Koeman, keeping a clean sheet in the final and was named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.
Having reached great heights as a centre-back, Frank Rijkaard was transformed into a world class defensive midfielder in his time at AC Milan by manager Arrigo Sacchi, who recognised his physical qualities alongside his tactical astuteness and decision making. The Dutchman helped Milan reach the pinnacle of club football by winning the European Cup in 1989, which they successfully defended one year later. The 1990 final was particularly sweet for Rijkaard, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory.
Frank Rijkaard redefined how to go out on top. After five years at AC Milan, the Dutchman returned to his boyhood club Ajax for his career swansong. He won the league in both seasons, before bowing out in style in Vienna, venue of the 1995 UEFA Champions League Final. Fittingly, Ajax squared off with Milan in his last match before retirement. The contest was tight until Rijkaard found Patrick Kluivert, who prodded home the only goal of the game to ensure the perfect send-off.
✔️ 🆕 🏴 GARY LINEKER
Gary Lineker (born 30 November 1960) is a retired English striker whose goal scoring record during the 80s and 90s in England made him one of the most prolific scorers of his time. Lineker is to date the only Englishman to win the Golden Boot award at a World Cup finals, and won numerous individual goal scoring awards throughout his career. As well as being renowned for his crisp finishing, Lineker famously ended his time as a player with the incredible feat having never been booked through his entire career.
Gary Lineker began his career with Leicester City and by the mid-1980s had become one of the most prolific strikers in England, earning him a move to First Division champions Everton in 1985. In his first season, Lineker topped the scoring charts for a second year running with 30 goals. He continued his form at the 1986 FIFA World Cup™, as he claimed the Golden Boot with 6 goals. His form through 1985-86 earned several personal accolades, including a PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.
In 1986, following a personally successful FIFA World Cup™ in which he won the Golden Boot with 6 goals, Gary Lineker joined Barcelona for a fee of £2.8m. Lineker scored 20 league goals in his first season at Camp Nou, including a hat-trick in a 3-2 win over rivals Real Madrid. He spent 3 seasons with Barça, winning the Copa del Rey in 1988. His biggest triumph, however, came in 1989 when he helped Barcelona lift the European Cup Winners’ Cup, scoring 4 goals in the competition.
Gary Lineker joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1989 following 3 years in Spain with Barcelona. In his first season, Lineker’s crisp finishing saw him top the goal scoring charts with 24 league goals, helping Spurs to a third-place finish. The following season, Lineker lifted his sole FA Cup trophy as Spurs defeated Nottingham Forest in the final. While he didn’t score in the final, Lineker played a key role in getting Spurs there, scoring 2 goals in a semi-final win over arch-rivals Arsenal.
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✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 GENNARO GATTUSO
Gennaro Gattuso (born 9 January 1978) is a retired defensive midfielder. Renowned for his strength and aggressive style, Gattuso enjoyed a successful stint early in his career at Scottish giants Rangers. However, the majority of his career was spent at AC Milan where he played for 13 years and won several pieces of silverware, including 2 Serie A titles. Gattuso was a crucial part of the 2006 Italian World Cup winning team and later ended his career in 2013 at FC Sion as player-manager.
Gennaro Gattuso joined Milan in the summer of 1999, quickly endearing himself to the fans thanks to his impressive work-rate and tenacity in midfield. By 2002-03, he had formed a formidable midfield partnership with Andrea Pirlo, Gattuso’s combative style complimenting his teammate’s creativity. That season, Gattuso picked up his first silverware at a senior level as Milan won the Coppa Italia and UEFA Champions League, before adding the 2003 UEFA Super Cup.
During the mid-2000s Gennaro Gattuso established himself as one of the world’s best midfielders, shining domestically for Milan as well as on the international stage for Italy. A warrior throughout the tournament, Gattuso’s commanding performances played a pivotal role in the Azzurri’s FIFA World Cup™ victory in 2006, his fine displays earning him a place in the tournament’s All-star team.
Coming off the back of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ victory with Italy, Gennaro Gattuso shone again on the international stage in 2007. His dominant midfield displays were crucial as Milan went on to clinch another UEFA Champions League victory, topped off with the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup titles. A FIFPro World XI nomination followed, cementing his reputation as one of the best defensive midfielders of his time.
✔️ 🆕 🇯🇪 GEORGE BEST
George Best (born 22 May 1946) was one of the greatest footballers to play the game. Famed for the 11 years he spent at Manchester United, Best was a Ballon d’Or winner in 1968 and helped United lift the European Cup the same year. Renowned for his incredible dribbling ability, Best was called “the greatest player in the world” by Brazilian legend Pelé, and with 37 caps was said to be the “greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland” by the Irish Football Association.
After joining Manchester United at the age of 15, George Best quickly impressed, making his debut two years later in 1963. Being incredibly technically gifted, his supernatural dribbling ability and popstar looks led to his overwhelming popularity on and off the field. His fame entered stratospheric levels in 1966, after scoring twice away at Benfica in the European cup quarter-final. Best’s second goal involved a superb run, rounding 3 players, before striking the ball past the goalkeeper.
The 1967-68 season was a defining one for George Best, winning the Division 1 Player of the Year award, and finishing as the league’s top goal scorer. However, Manchester United’s European Cup run allowed the winger to reach the pinnacle of his career, as United faced Benfica in the final at Wembley. Best scored United’s second goal of the game as they beat Benfica 4-1, before a historic year was capped off as he won the Ballon d’Or for 1968, cementing his name in the list of all-time greats.
One of George Best’s finest moments came in an FA Cup game in 1970, as the tricky winger scored a competition-record 6 goals in a match against Northampton Town. Despite playing on a mud-trodden pitch, Best still dazzled, completing a legendary double-hat trick in classic fashion. Through on goal, Best feinted to the keeper’s left. The goalkeeper dived to the floor expecting to collect the ball, however Best had dropped a shoulder, and dribbled the other way to pass into an empty net.
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✔️ 🇷🇴 GHEORGE HAGI
Gheorghe Hagi (born 5 February 1965 in Săcele) is regarded as the best Romanian footballer of all time. Starting his career in his native Romania, Hagi became the most expensive Romanian footballer when Real Madrid paid €4.3 million for his services. After a successful spell at Real, Hagi became one of the few players to play for Spain’s top two clubs when he later joined Barcelona. He ended his club career at Galatasaray where he won four consecutive league titles and two European titles. Known as ‘The King’ in his homeland, Hagi received 124 caps for Romania, and scored a record 35 goals.
Steaua became one of the big names in European football in the late 1980s and Hagi, nicknamed “Regele” (The King), played a huge part in the success of the red and blue. His final season playing in the Romanian capital saw the end of a successful four-year period with the club, winning 3 consecutive Romanian Liga 1 Championships, a European Super Cup and 2 Cupa României medals, scoring the winner to beat the local rivals Dinamo in the 1988-89 final.
The 25-year-old Hagi impressed at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ with Romania and his performances could not be ignored by the big clubs as he became the most expensive player Real Madrid had ever bought, costing $4.3 million. During his career at Real, Hagi netted 20 times and won the Spanish Super Cup in 1990. Scorer of some fine long-range efforts, his strike from the centre circle against Osasuna was voted the most spectacular goal from distance in the Spanish newspaper Marca.
Gheorghe Hagi’s final club was Turkish giants Galatasaray. In his four-year spell, Hagi collected many honours, scoring 73 goals and making 26 assists. He helped them win the Turkish league title each season, the Turkish Cup twice, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup, which came against former club Real Madrid. At the age of 35, in his last major tournament, Romania made the UEFA Euro 2000 quarter-finals. He remains the joint leading goal scorer for Romania.
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 GIANFRANCO ZOLA
Gianfranco Zola (born 5 July 1966 in Oliena) was an Italian trequartista. After starting his career at Nuorese in Sardinia, Zola established himself as one of the most exciting attackers in the game. Fast-paced, technically gifted and a free-kick specialist, Zola also played for Torres, Napoli and Parma in Italy, before making the move to England, where he joined Chelsea. Zola enjoyed his most successful spell at Chelsea, winning two FA Cups, a League Cup and two European medals. Zola retired in 2005 and later made the move into management.
Gianfranco Zola joined Napoli in 1989, initially as an understudy to Argentinian legend Diego Maradona. His first season with the club proved to be a successful one as he helped the club secure the 1989-90 Serie A title. In his second season with the club, Zola played an integral part in helping Napoli to win the Italian Supercoppa. His performances throughout the 1990-91 season earned him a first international call-up in late 1991.
In 1993, Gianfranco Zola’s growing reputation earned him a move to fellow Serie A side Parma and he enjoyed the most prolific period of his career. In his first season, he helped his club to lift the 1993 UEFA Super Cup with victory over Italian rivals Milan. The 1994-95 season would also be successful. Despite falling just short in the Serie A title race to Juventus, Zola and Parma went on to defeat the same rivals in the 1995 UEFA Cup Final.
In 1996, Gianfranco Zola left Parma and joined Chelsea. Despite signing mid-season, Zola again won a trophy in his first season at his new club, helping Chelsea to lift the FA Cup in 1997. The following year, in addition to victory in the League Cup, Zola scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea beat Stuttgart to win the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup trophy before securing a trophy treble with the UEFA Super Cup. Further success came in 2000, as Zola won the FA Cup for a second time as well as the Charity Shield.
✔️ 🇸🇪 HENRIK LARSSON
Henrik “Henke” Larsson (born 20 September 1971) is a striker who was born and raised in Helsingborg, Sweden. After successful spells in Sweden and Holland, Larsson really stamped his mark on the game when he moved to Scotland to join Celtic in 1997, where he broke numerous goal-scoring records. Renowned as a player with a fantastic footballing brain, Larsson then joined Barcelona and played a starring role in their famous 2006 European final win. He made over 100 appearances for the Swedish national team and was part of the side that finished third at the 1994 World Cup.
Henrik Larsson joined Celtic in 1997, becoming a key player in the 1997-98 league title triumph. This was followed up with a Scottish League Player of the Year award in 1998-99, before Larsson had his most successful season wearing hoops in 2000-01. The Swede scored a hat-trick and a double in the League and Scottish Cup finals as Celtic won a domestic treble, whilst Larsson himself won the European Golden Shoe. His 35 goals included a famous 20-yard chip in an Old Firm victory against Rangers.
By the 2003-04 season, Henrik Larsson had established himself as a Celtic legend; something he confirmed in what would be the Swede’s final year at the club. His magnificent seven years in Glasgow were capped off by two goals in the Scottish Cup Final, as the Bhoys won the League and Cup double, whilst Larsson once again struck 30 goals for the year. He left Celtic having been the SPL top scorer for 5 of the 7 seasons he was there, as well as being voted into the club’s all-time best eleven.
Henrik Larsson joined Barcelona in 2004 after a legendary spell at Celtic. His time in Barcelona is remembered for the 2005-06 season, where Larsson reached double figures for goals as the club won the La Liga title. The pinnacle of his Barça career came in the 2006 Champions League Final, as the Swede was a game-changing substitute. 0-1 down as he entered the pitch, Larsson contributed two assists to turn the game around for Barcelona, who lifted the trophy after a 2-1 victory.
✔️ 🇦🇷 HERNÁN CRESPO
Hernán Crespo (born 15 July 1975 in Buenos Aires, Argentina) had his career take off after moving to Europe in 1996, shortly after winning a silver medal with Argentina at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Renowned for being an excellent finisher with strong aerial ability, Crespo became the world’s most expensive footballer in 2000, after Lazio paid a reported £35 million for his services. He scored 35 international goals to make him his country’s second highest ever goal scorer at the time he retired in 2012.
Making his pro debut at the age of 18 for River Plate, Hernán Crespo was a vital part of River’s title-winning seasons of 1993 and 1994. The Argentinian’s finest moment for Los Millonarios came in the 1996 Copa Libertadores final. Down 1-0 from the first leg, Crespo scored both goals in a 2-0 win to complete the comeback and win River Plate’s second ever Copa Libertadores title. Before securing a move to Parma, Crespo won the 1996 Olympics’ Golden Boot and a silver medal with Argentina.
A move to Parma in 1996 helped Crespo establish himself as one of the world’s best young talents, known for scoring audacious diving headers and spectacular hat-tricks. The Argentinian’s displays in 1998-99 were the backbone of one of Parma’s greatest ever seasons. A goal in both legs of the Coppa Italia final won the cup for Parma, before he capped his season off with a man-of-the-match display in the UEFA Cup Final, a goal and assist helping Parma lift the trophy.
Hernán Crespo’s loan move to AC Milan began with silverware as they won the 2004 Supercoppa Italia, before a strong league season saw Crespo reach double figures for goals. His season was defined by performances which made him Milan’s top scorer in the Champions League, including two important strikes in a 2-0 aggregate win over Manchester United in the round of 16. Crespo then scored twice as he played his part in one of the most dramatic finals in recent memory against Liverpool.
✔️ 🆕 🇯🇵 HIDETOSHI NAKATA
Hidetoshi Nakata (born 22 January 1977 in Yamanashi Prefecture) is a retired Japanese midfielder. Nakata began his career at Bellmare Hiratsuka, before moving to Italian club Perugia in 1998. After a season and a half at Perugia, Nakata moved to Roma for a fee of over €21 million, and helped them win the Serie A title in 2001. After his successful spell in Rome, Nakata moved to Parma for a reported €28 million and cemented his reputation as one of the best Japanese footballers of all time. Nakata retired at the age of 29 following a short loan in England with Bolton Wanderers. He is one of the few Asian FIFA 19 Icons.
Known for his speed, creativity and hard-working style, Hidetoshi Nakata’s performances for Bellmare Hiratsuka earned him a full debut for Japan in 1997. Through the remainder of the year, Nakata played a key role as his country qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup™, their first visit to the ultimate international competition. He scored 5 goals during qualifying and claimed 3 assists in the play-off final against IR Iran. Nakata was awarded the Japan and Asian Footballer of the Year awards for 1997.
Hidetoshi Nakata joined Roma in January 2000 following an impressive 18-month spell with Perugia. His big moment came in the 2000-01 season when he came off the bench with Roma 2-0 down away to title rivals Juventus. He made an immediate impact, scoring from 30 yards before playing a key role as the game finished 2-2. Nakata’s excellent cameo ensured Roma maintained a six-point gap at the top of the table. He finished the season with his first league success as Roma claimed the Serie A title.
In 2006, Hidetoshi Nakata competed in his third consecutive FIFA World Cup™ for Japan. Having played in all three of Japan’s matches in 1998 and all four in 2002, he once again featured in each of Japan’s fixtures in 2006. His personal highlight came against Croatia where he was named man of the match with an industrious performance. Following Japan’s game with Brazil, at just 29 years of age, Nakata announced his retirement from football.
✔️ 🆕 🇧🇬 HRISTO STOICHKOV
Hristo Stoichkov [Born February 8 1966] is a retired Bulgarian footballer and is regarded as the greatest Bulgarian player of all time. He was a member of the famous Barcelona dream team that dominated Spanish football and were also crowned European champions in 1994. The same year, he led Bulgaria to a best ever, fourth place finish in the 1994 FIFA World Cup where he was named as joint top goal scorer, awarded the bronze ball and named European player of the year.
Hristo Stoichkov began his career aged 16, before signing for CSKA Sofia in his native Bulgaria. It was here that the young Stoichkov made a name for himself, being known as “The Dagger” for his fierce competitiveness and goal scoring instincts, which helped CSKA to three league titles during his spell in Sofia. Following a fantastic run to the semi-finals of the Cup Winner’s Cup in 1989, Stoichkov produced his finest season in 1989-90, with 38 league goals winning him the European Golden Shoe.
After joining Barcelona in 1990, Hristo Stoichkov made himself one of the focal points in the famous “dream team”, alongside Guardiola, Romario and Koeman. Playing anywhere across the forward line, his fantastic dribbling skill and laser-sharp shooting, as well as his trademark fierce competitiveness, led to his new nickname: “The Gunslinger”. Stoichkov’s goals helped Barça to four LaLiga titles in a row, as well as the 1992 European Cup in one of the club’s most successful ever periods.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup™ provided some of the defining moments of Hristo Stoichkov’s career. The centrepiece of Bulgaria’s unfancied “Golden Generation”, Stoichkov scored vital goals in every round of the competition to lead his nation to the semi-finals. His electrifying performances inspired Bulgaria to be one of the most exciting teams on show at the tournament. This feat was then recognised on an individual level, as Stoichkov was awarded the Ballon d’Or for 1994, the pinnacle of his career.
✔️ 🇫🇮 JARI LITMANEN
Jari Litmanen (born 20 February 1971) is a retired attacking midfielder, widely regarded as the greatest Finnish footballer of all time. Litmanen started his career at Reipas and after stints at HJK and MyPa, he joined Dutch giants Ajax. It was here where Litmanen made his name and won countless domestic and European titles, scoring 96 goals in 179 league games in his two spells with the club. Litmanen later played for giants Barcelona and Liverpool and amassed a record 137 caps for Finland.
Jari Litmanen joined Liverpool in January of 2001, a club which he had supported since childhood. By the end of the 2000-01 season, Litmanen and Liverpool had secured an historic ‘Cup Treble’ – winning the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and League Cup. Further success came at the start of the 2001-02 season, with Litmanen adding a winner’s medal for the 2001 Community Shield as well as the 2001 UEFA Super Cup.
In 1997-98, under new management with Morten Olsen, Jari Litmanen enjoyed more freedom in an attacking Ajax side, scoring 16 goals in just 25 appearances as Ajax secured a fourth Eredivisie title in five seasons. Litmanen’s highlight that season came as he scored a hat-trick in the final of the KNVB Cup win over arch-rivals PSV in 1998. In his final season with Ajax, Litmanen captained the club in the 1999 KNVB Cup final as they defeated Fortuna Sittard 2-0 to retain the trophy.
In the 1993-94 season, Jari Litmanen scored 26 goals as Ajax secured the Eredivisie title. His performances also earned him the 1993 Footballer of the Year award in the Netherlands. Litmanen enjoyed further success the following season, helping to retain the Eredivisie title and scoring 6 goals as Ajax lifted the Champions League in 1995. The Dutch Super Cup, European Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup topped off a trophy-laden year for Litmanen, as well as a Ballon d’Or nomination for 1995.
✔️ 🇦🇷 JAVIER ZANETTI
Retired right-back Javier Zanetti (born 10 August 1973) is the leading Argentine cap holder. Despite having comparably short spells with Talleres and Banfield, it is Internazionale where Zanetti cemented his place as one of the game’s all time greats. He holds the record for number of appearances for an outfield player with 1123 matches, and famously captained Inter to five consecutive Serie A titles. One of the games most respected professionals, Zanetti retired from football in 2014 and he’s now one of the FIFA 19 Icons.
Javier Zanetti’s early career saw him play for Talleres and Banfield in Argentina, before he moved to Europe in 1995, joining Internazionale. In Milan he established himself as a regular at both right-back and left-back, earning the nickname El Tractor for his consistency and exceptional fitness levels. Just three years after signing for the club, he helped Inter to the UEFA Cup trophy, scoring his club’s second in the 3-0 victory against Lazio in the 1998 Final.
Javier Zanetti won 16 trophies at Internazionale, 15 of which came after he was appointed club captain in late 2001. One of his most impressive achievements was leading the club to a famous double in 2005-06, winning both the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia. Now at the mid-point in his career, Zanetti’s excellent stamina and technical ability allowed him to adapt to playing as a midfielder, a position he would excel in for the remainder of his career.
In 2010, Javier Zanetti led Internazionale to the most successful season in their history. Domestically, Inter won their 5th Serie A title in a row, before also lifting the Coppa Italia. The 2010 Champions League Final was the pinnacle of Zanetti’s career, as the Argentinian made his 700th career appearance, before lifting the trophy to complete an unprecedented treble. After a record 19 seasons, his iconic status at Inter was confirmed by the club retiring the Number 4 shirt in his honour.
✔️ 🇳🇬 JAY-JAY OKOCHA
Jay-Jay Okocha (born August 14 1973) is a former Nigerian international and a midfielder of great technique and skill. He started his professional career in Germany, before eventually moving to Turkey, France, England and Qatar, before ending his career at Hull City. It was during his time in Germany that he made his name, but his spell at Bolton Wanderers in England will ensure Jay-Jay goes down in Bolton folklore. Jay-Jay ended his career as one of the all-time great Africa players and is regarded as the greatest Nigerian player of all time.
Having impressed in training, Jay-Jay Okocha signed for German side Borussia Neunkirchen, before climbing the divisions to Eintracht Frankfurt. His flair and silky skill bamboozled many players, most famously Oliver Kahn, who described himself as ‘still dizzy’ years after conceding against the Nigerian. Internationally, the Super Eagles soared to 5th in the FIFA rankings, the highest ever spot for an African side, after winning the 1994 African Cup of Nations. Okocha was named in the team of the tournament.
Jay-Jay Okocha made a big money move to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 1998, becoming the world’s most expensive African player at that time. He scored on his debut for the club and was a fan favourite for Les Parisiens, described as being ‘so good they named him twice’. Okocha was influential off the pitch as well as on it, taking a pivotal role in mentoring a young Ronaldinho.
Jay-Jay Okocha was at his most prolific in terms of goal scoring at Fenerbahçe, the midfielder falling just short of averaging a goal every two games for the Turkish side in his two seasons at the club. Many of his goals came from free-kicks, his quality at set-pieces making him a threat from anywhere around the penalty area.
✔️ 🆕 🇩🇪 JENS LEHMANN
Jens Lehmann (born 10 November 1969 in Essen) is a former German goalkeeper, who while at FC Schalke, became the first goalkeeper to score from open play in the Bundesliga. Five years later, in 2002, he won a Bundesliga title with Borussia Dortmund. After moving to North London a year later, he played in every game during Arsenal’s unbeaten Premier League season in 2003-04 earning him a Premier League winner’s medal. Lehmanns’ impressive performances for Germany during the 2006 World Cup saw him named in the FIFA All Star Team for the tournament.
Jens Lehmann started his career at Schalke and stayed at Die Knappen for 10 seasons. His most successful season came in 1996-97, helping Schalke defeat Internazionale in the 1997 UEFA Cup final. With both legs of the final ending 1-0 to the home side, the tie was decided by a penalty shoot-out. Lehmann saved the first penalty from Iván Zamorano as Schalke won 4-1 to lift the trophy. Following a year of strong performances, Lehmann was named UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year for 1997.
In 2003, Jens Lehmann joined Arsenal as a replacement for club legend David Seaman, and his first season with the Gunners proved to be an unforgettable one. Lehmann played in every Premier League game, keeping 15 clean sheets as he helped Arsenal go unbeaten to claim the 2003-04 Premier League trophy. The achievement – the first time for over 100 years in English football – earned the players the nickname of “Invincibles”. Lehmann featured in 47 of Arsenal’s record 49 game unbeaten run.
By 2006, Jens Lehmann was well-established as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. He enjoyed a fantastic season in 2005-06, which included breaking the record for most Champions League clean sheets with ten. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, Lehmann turned in several big performances. The biggest moment came in the quarter-final with Argentina, as he saved 2 penalties to help his team through to the semi-final. Lehmann’s performances earned him a second UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year award for 2006.
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✔️ 🆕 🇳🇱 JOHAN CRUYFF
Johan” Cruyff (25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was the most famous exponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in football history. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dutch football rose from obscurity to become a powerhouse in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. At the 1974 finals, he executed a feint that subsequently was named after him, the “Cruyff Turn”, a move widely replicated in the modern game.
Having progressed through their youth system, Johan Cruyff made his first team debut for Ajax in 1964 aged just 17. Cruyff helped Ajax bounce back from a disappointing 13th place finish to lift the Eredivisie title the following year, before netting a remarkable 41 goals in 41 games to power Ajax to league and cup victories in 1966-67. He was named Dutch Sportsman of the Year, an award he won again the following year after helping Ajax to a third successive league title.
Johan Cruyff played an integral role as Ajax lifted the European Cup for the first time in their history in 1970-71. A consummate playmaker with an exceptional eye for a pass, his attacking prowess helped Ajax dominate the European stage in the early 1970s as they won three successive European Cups in a hugely successful period for the club. In 1971 Cruyff collected his first Ballon d’Or award, before repeating the feat in 1973 and 1974.
Entering the tournament with few expectations, Holland lit up the 1974 FIFA World Cup™. Johan Cruyff was the catalyst as the Dutch shone playing ‘Total Football’, a revolutionary style of play which took the world by storm. Despite starting centrally, Cruyff played a free role, popping up in different attacking positions to damage opponents as the Oranje progressed to the final in style. Cruyff’s exceptional performances were enough to earn him the Golden Ball award, despite Holland narrowly losing out.
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✔️ 🆕 🇦🇷 JUAN SEBASTIÁN VERÓN
Juan Sebastián Verón (born 9 March 1975) is a retired Argentine midfielder, who spent the majority of his career in Europe playing for some of the top sides of the late 90s and early 2000s. Verón helped Parma and Lazio to domestic and continental success and earned himself a big money move to English titans Manchester United and then later to Chelsea. He would eventually return home in 2006 to boyhood club Estudiantes de La Plata and carry them to domestic and continental glory, ending a glittering career which saw him make over 600 club appearances and win 73 international caps.
After signing for Parma in 1998, Juan Sebastián Verón made an immediate impact at his new club, with the midfielder helping his side win the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup. His performances led to a move to Lazio in 1999 where his success in Italy continued. After a European Super Cup win on his debut, Verón helped Lazio to even more silverware in his first season with the club as they won the Serie A, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.
In 2004, Juan Sebastián Verón was loaned from English side Chelsea back to Italy where he spent two seasons at Internazionale. The loan move proved to be a fruitful one for Verón and for Inter as he picked up four titles in his loan spell. After a Coppa Italia success in his first season, Verón followed this by lifting the Italian Super Cup before retaining the Coppa Italia and winning the second Serie A title of his career.
After expressing his desire to leave Europe, Juan Sebastián Verón returned to Argentina with boyhood club Estudiantes, where he eventually ended his career. The highlight of Verón’s time back in Argentina came in 2009 in the Copa Libertadores, when Verón finally realised his dream and emulated his father. Estudiantes lifted the trophy for the fourth time in their history after defeating Cruzeiro in the final, with Verón named as the player of the tournament.
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✔️ 🇫🇷 LAURENT BLANC
Laurent Blanc (born November 19 1965) is a retired French footballer who is accredited with scoring the first ever golden goal in World Cup history. Blanc’s career spanned twenty years where he played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe and was a revered leader on the pitch, earning him the nickname Le Président. On the international stage, he successfully represented France at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ and the 2000 European championships, both tournaments ended with him successfully lifting the trophy. Blanc retired in 2003 after a spell with Manchester United.
A young Laurent Blanc begun his career at Montpellier and his early days saw him play in an attacking midfield position. His most rewarding season came in 1986-87 when he scored a remarkable 18 league goals which were vital to Montpellier winning promotion to Ligue 1. Montpellier was where Blanc would spend the most time at any club in his career, ending with 243 league appearances, and a record 76 goals despite cementing a centre-back role.
During the mid-1990s, imposing centre-back Laurent Blanc played for several clubs, but it was a relatively short spell at Auxerre where he arguably enjoyed his greatest success. His performances at the back – particularly in the later stages of the season – led Auxerre to a domestic double as they lifted both the league and cup, the first and only Ligue One title for AJA. His reputation increased greatly and Spanish giants Barcelona soon came calling.
In 1998 Blanc was arguably at the peak of his career and saw him go down in history at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ held in his native France. Not only did his performances in defence lead France to conceding just 2 goals throughout the tournament, Le Président was the first player ever to score a ‘golden goal’ in a World Cup when he netted the winner against Paraguay. The tournament ended in great success for Les Bleus, winning the cup in front of their home fans.
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✔️ 🇷🇺 LEV YASHIN
Lev Ivanovich Yashin (born 22 October 1929) is Aarguably the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game. The “Black Spider” remains a Dynamo Moscow icon, the club where he spent his entire 20 year career. Estimated to have kept 270 clean sheets and saved over 150 penalties, Yashin remains the only keeper to ever win the Ballon d’Or. He is obviously the best goalkeeper of the FIFA 19 Icons.
Despite a couple of appearances in 1950, Lev Yashin’s proper breakthrough at Dynamo Moscow came in the mid-1950s where he won back to back league titles. From here he would propel himself into one of the game’s biggest stars and arguably the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game. The mid 50s also saw Yashin earn a Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympic Games where he starred for the Soviet Union. Thanks to him playing all in black, Yashin was quickly dubbed the ‘Black Spider’ throughout the world.
One of the greatest goalkeepers in history, Lev Yashin, revolutionised the modern game by tactically utilizing defenders when in possession. The start of the 1960s gave Yashin his greatest moment on the international stage – by winning the 1960 European Championships with the Soviet Union. Regarded as a penalty saving expert, Yashin is attributed to have saved over 150 in his 20-year career – more than any other professional goalkeeper in history.
Lev Yashin revolutionised modern goalkeeping and enjoyed an incredibly successful career with his club team Dynamo Moscow and at international level with the Soviet Union. Known as the ‘Black Spider’ for dressing all in black, Yashin was also an expert penalty saver. His career highlight came in 1963 when Yashin became the only goalkeeper in history to win the coveted Ballon d’Or award and also claimed his 5th league title with Dynamo Moscow.
✔️ 🇩🇪 LOTHAR MATTHÄUS
Lothar Matthäus (born 21 March 1961) is Germany’s most-capped international footballer with 150 appearances, including games in a record five different World Cups. After starting his career with Borussia Mönchengladbach, he made a controversial switch to Bayern München. He won the Bundesliga seven times in two spells with Bayern, on either side of four years with Inter which included a Serie A title. In 1990 Matthäus captained Germany to World Cup glory and, later that year, won the coveted Ballon d’Or. He ended his career with the MLS’s Metrostars and you can play with him now as one of the FIFA 19 Icons.
During the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico, Lothar Matthäus was a key member of the national team. He scored a winner against Morocco in the round of 16 and then helped his country reach the final. Despite keeping Diego Maradona quiet, Matthäus and West Germany ultimately came up short against Argentina in a 3-2 defeat. Domestically, Matthäus helped Bayern Munich win three consecutive Bundesliga titles. The 1985-86 season proved particularly memorable, as they sealed a league and cup double.
At the start of the 1990s, Lothar Matthäus was in his prime. Playing for Internazionale, his performances saw him win the Ballon d’Or in 1990, before helping Inter lift the UEFA Cup. It was on the international stage, however, where Matthäus experienced undoubtedly the highlight of his career. At the FIFA World Cup™ in Italy, Lothar Matthäus captained West Germany to glory as they beat Argentina 1-0 in the final. In 1991, Matthäus won the first ever FIFA World Player of the Year award.
In 1992 Lothar Matthäus rejoined Bayern Munich and spent eight seasons back in Germany. In 1993-94 he helped Bayern to win a Bundesliga title. In 1995-96, Matthäus captained Bayern to a UEFA Cup win, where they overcame a Bordeaux side in the two-legged final. He went on to win three more Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich in the late 1990s, before leaving for the MLS in 2000.
✔️ 🆕 🇵🇹 LUÍS FIGO
Luís Figo (born 4 November 1972 in Lisbon) was a Portuguese attacking midfielder and remains the country’s record cap holder with 127 appearances. After beginning his career at Sporting CP, Figo made the move to Spain and Barcelona where he won numerous domestic and European honors which culminated in winning the Ballon d’Or in December 2000. After a controversial move to rivals Real Madrid for a then world record fee of £37 million, Figo’s incredible success continued before he ended his career in Italy at Internazionale where he won four consecutive Serie A titles.
Luís Figo’s career began to take off after joining Barcelona in the mid-1990s. Figo was a key part of the Barcelona team during his five seasons at the club, and he was integral as they enjoyed several trophy successes. They won back-to-back league and cup doubles in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons, and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup success in 1997. Figo was named Portuguese Footballer of the Year for 6 consecutive seasons, from 1995 to 2000.
Luís Figo heralded the start of the ‘Galáctico’ era at Real Madrid when he joined for a world record fee in July 2000. Figo’s arrival paid instant dividends, helping Real to the LaLiga title that season, along with the Spanish Super Cup. The FIFA World Player of the Year was won by Figo in 2001, and he was a key part of Real’s 2001-02 Champions League success. Figo also won the UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup in 2002, and then a second LaLiga title in 2002-03.
In 2005, Luís Figo moved to Italian giants Internazionale. Although his time at Inter came in the later stages of his career, Figo’s impact cannot be understated. During his time in Milan, Inter won the Serie A title in all four seasons. The 2006-07 season was undoubtedly the highlight for Figo, as his impact helped the club to a record-breaking 17 game winning streak. They ended the season on 97 points with just the one defeat during a dominant campaign.
✔️ 🇲🇽 LUÍS HERNÁNDEZ
Luis Hernández (born 22 December 1968) is a retired Mexican striker. During a career that spanned 15 seasons, Hernández scored 132 league goals in 362 appearances. Despite predominantly playing for various teams in his native Mexico, Hernández also spent time at LA Galaxy in the United States and a brief loan spell at Boca Juniors in Argentina. Named Mexican Player of the Year in 1997 and 1998, Hernández earned the nickname of ‘El Matador’ and played 85 times for his country, netting 35 goals. Retired in 2005 after a short stint at Lobos BUAP in Mexico.
In the mid-1990s, Luis Hernández made a big name for himself whilst playing in his native Mexico. He won several trophies during his time at Necaxa, including back-to-back league championships between 1994 and 1996. Famed for his blond hair as well as his speed and finishing ability, ‘El Matador’ made 125 league appearances for Necaxa, his longest spell with any club.
In 1998, Luis Hernández enjoyed success on the international scene; his four goals at the FIFA World Cup™ in France against South Korea (2), Netherlands and Germany raised his profile in world football, and his goals for Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup led his country to their third successive title. On the domestic front, he scored 19 goals in two consecutive seasons for Tigres, before moving to the MLS.
In the early 2000s, Mexican striker Luis Hernández made his move to the MLS by joining LA Galaxy. He featured for the Galaxy for two seasons between 2000 and 2001, and enjoyed a goal ratio of over 1 goal every two games in his second season. Nicknamed ‘El Matador’, Hernández was widely regarded as one of the most talented strikers in the Americas and is Mexico’s joint 4th all-time top goalscorer.
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✔️ 🇳🇱 MARC OVERMARS
Marc Overmars (born 29 March 1973) was a Dutch winger who was renowned for his blistering pace and ability. Overmars’ career began in Holland with Go Ahead Eagles and, after a spell at Willem II, he became a household name thanks to his spell at Ajax. His form there earned him a move in 1997 to Arsenal where he helped them to a domestic double in the 1997-98 season. Overmars’ move to Barcelona in July 2000 for a reported £25m was at the time the biggest transfer fee ever for a Dutch player.
After joining Arsenal in 1997, Overmars settled into his new team well and his pace and dribbling quickly made opponents take notice. In particular, his form and goals in key matches during the latter part of the season were crucial to Arsenal toppling Manchester United to win the Premier League. They later secured the double by winning the FA Cup, where Overmars scored the opening goal in the final. This was topped off by a man of the match performance in the 1998 FA Charity Shield win.
Dutch winger Marc Overmars won the Eredivisie in three consecutive seasons during his five year career at Ajax. His finest season in the Netherlands, however, was undoubtedly the 1994-95 season which saw him help Ajax to lift the Eredivisie title and the Champions League, scoring against Bayern München in the semi-final. Ajax also won the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, beating Grêmio on penalties. 1995 also saw Overmars hit an international hat-trick during the 4-0 Dutch win away to Malta.
In the summer of 2000, Overmars joined Spanish giants Barcelona in a joint move with Arsenal teammate Emmanuel Petit. The fee of £25 million for Overmars meant he became the most expensive Dutch footballer in history – a record that was held for nearly 15 years. Known for his incredible pace, dribbling ability and two footedness, Overmars was a constant thorn in defenders’ sides. His first season at Barcelona saw him finish with 8 goals and 31 league appearances.
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✔️ 🇫🇷 MARCEL DESAILLY
Marcel Desailly (born 7 September 1968) was a defender and former national team record cap holder for France. He received 116 caps for his country and won both European Championship and World Cup winner’s medals. Desailly enjoyed European success with two different clubs in successive seasons with Marseille in 1993 and then Milan – where Fabio Capello converted him into a defensive midfielder, in 1994. After winning two Serie A titles in Italy, he made the move to Chelsea where he cemented his reputation as one of the best defensive players of the last 30 years.
After several successful seasons at FC Nantes, Marcel Desailly moved to Marseille in the summer of 1992. A strong, hardworking centre-back, Desailly excelled instantly at his new club and was rewarded with his first silverware in his first season. This came in the form of the 1992-93 Champions League title where Desailly’s Marseille side beat Milan 1-0 in the final. Several months later, his performances earned him a move to Milan and started the next chapter of his illustrious career.
Marcel Desailly moved to Milan at the beginning of 1994 and quickly adapted to his new surroundings. The imposing French centre-back made history in his debut season, becoming the first player to win back-to-back Champions League titles with two different clubs. This win in 1993-94 was made all the more sweeter as Desailly scored the fourth goal in Milan’s 4-0 rout of Barcelona. Desailly won a Champions League and two Serie A titles during his highly successful spell with Milan.
Marcel Desailly won an impressive 116 caps for France during his illustrious career, and the pinnacle of his international career came in 1998. A key part of France’s FIFA World Cup™ winning defence, Desailly was a dominant force throughout the tournament which saw Les Bleus concede just two goals in their seven matches. Two years later, Desailly was once again a key part of the French team that won Euro 2000, beating Italy in dramatic circumstances.
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✔️ 🇳🇱 MARCO VAN BASTEN
Marco van Basten (born on 31 October 1964 in Holland) is widely regarded as one of the greatest forwards of all time. Before injury cut short his career at the age of 28, van Basten won more accolades throughout his career than most players can dream of achieving. As well as being a triple winner of the Ballon d’Or, van Basten’s career highlight came in 1988 when his spectacular volley in the European Championship final helped the Netherlands to their first major piece of silverware. His club career ended with a phenomenal record of 276 goals in just 373 appearances for Ajax and AC Milan.
Marco van Basten developed into a prolific striker at Ajax, scoring more than a goal a game in his final two league seasons for the club, and cementing his place as the league’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons. He quickly earned a reputation as a clinical finisher, as well as the scorer of acrobatic goals.
Euro 1988 propelled van Basten to greatness. The striker had it all to prove after an injury-hit first season with AC Milan. He shot the Netherlands to their first international success with 5 goals, including a famous volley from an acute angle in the final to seal a 2-0 win. Van Basten returned with the golden boot and player of the tournament awards to his name. His form continued in the following seasons, picking up consecutive Ballon d’Or awards as Milan won back-to-back European Cups.
Firmly into his peak years, van Basten continued to show his class as AC Milan enjoyed a golden age in the club’s history. The Flying Dutchman enjoyed a prosperous 1991-92 season, becoming Serie A’s top marksman once again as Fabio Capello led Milan through an unbeaten league season, which they would eventually stretch to 58 matches. Van Basten became a triple Ballon d’Or winner in 1992, only the third player at the time to have accomplished such a feat.
✔️ 🆕 🇩🇪 MICHAEL BALLACK
Michael Ballack (born 26 September 1976) is a retired German footballer who is among the top goal scorers in the history of the German national team. He was known for his passing range, powerful shot, physical strength and commanding presence in midfield. Internationally, Ballack has played in the UEFA European Football Championship in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and 2006. Jürgen Klinsmann appointed him captain of the national team in 2004. Ballack scored consecutive game-winning goals in the quarter-final and semi-final to help his country to the 2002 World Cup final, and led his team to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup and the Euro 2008 final.
Michael Ballack’s impressive abilities going forward peaked in the most clinical season of his career in 2001-02. He scored a total of 23 goals in all competitions, guiding Bayer Leverkusen to the DFB-Pokal and UEFA Champions League finals, and a second-place finish in the Bundesliga. The outstanding form of the box-to-box midfielder earned him the award of German Footballer of the Year in 2002, as well as a transfer to Bayern Munich at the end of the season.
Michael Ballack’s spell at Bayern Munich saw him win three domestic doubles and twice win the German Footballer of the Year award, making it the most successful period of his career. The central midfielder also captained Germany in five games during their home FIFA World Cup™ campaign in 2006. Ballack’s energy and passionate, gritty displays throughout the tournament was one of the key reasons as to why the 2006 tournament is fondly remembered by German football fans as a “Sommermärchen”.
Finally fulfilling his wish to play abroad, Michael Ballack signed for Chelsea in 2006. The box-to-box midfielder established himself as a reliable presence in The Blues starting eleven alongside the likes of world-class team mates Frank Lampard and Claude Makélélé. During his spell in London, Ballack scored some vital goals for the club, particularly in the 2007-08 season, and left having won the Premier League title, as well as two FA Cups, the EFL Cup and the FA Community Shield.
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✔️ 🇩🇰 MICHAEL LAUDRUP
Michael Laudrup (born 15 June 1964) is a retired Danish midfielder. Laudrup’s illustrious career saw him play for many top European clubs including Brøndby, Lazio, Juventus, Real Madrid, Ajax and perhaps most famously, Barcelona. It was at Barcelona where Laudrup was part of one of the greatest teams in history, and his time there saw him impressively win four consecutive La Liga titles in the early 1990’s. Laudrup made 104 appearances for the Denmark national team and scored 37 goals. The Danish player is one of the FIFA 19 Icons.
The Danish attacking midfielder’s first full season at Juventus saw him lift both the Serie A title and Intercontinental Cup trophies and voted the Danish Player of the Year for a second time, an achievement only bettered by 3 other players in history. Denmark’s first appearance at the FIFA World Cup™ came in Mexico 1986. Laudrup’s Denmark topped the tournament’s “group of death”, his goal against Uruguay arguably one of the goals of the tournament.
The intelligent midfielder was soon winning medals with Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team”, with back-to-back La Liga championships, a Spanish Super Cup title and a European Cup. A Champions Cup victory the same year, a 1-0 win against Sampdoria, was their first triumph in the competition, at the old Wembley Stadium, London. The same year, Laudrup’s individual achievements were honoured as he was named the Foreign Player of the Year in Spain.
The great Dane joined the ranks of Los Blancos in the 1994-95 season. As one of the best passers of the ball of his generation, he provided many pivotal assists in their league championship winning season. This accomplishment made him the only player ever to win La Liga five times in consecutive seasons while playing for two different clubs. In addition to his playing ability, Laudrup was known for his good conduct on the pitch having never received a red card throughout his career.
✔️ 🏴 MICHAEL OWEN
Michael Owen (born 14 December 1979 in Cheshire) is a retired English striker who burst onto the scene with Liverpool in the late 1990s. In 2001, Owen’s goals helped win a famous treble for Liverpool and he ended that year with the honour of being named European Footballer of the Year. Spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City followed and saw Owen end his club career with 222 goals in 482 matches. Owen’s international career highlight saw him named Best Young Player at the 1998 World Cup where he scored a stunning solo goal against Argentina.
Michael Owen burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced teenager, heading into England’s 1998 FIFA World Cup™ campaign off the back of a golden boot winning first full season for Liverpool. After impressing from the bench, the pacey young striker cemented a place in the starting 11 in time to score a memorable goal against Argentina in the second round with a stunning individual strike. A fantastic run through the defence ended with a world class finish to announce Owen on the world stage.
Despite his glittering reputation and scoring feats for Liverpool, Michael Owen had yet to pick up any trophies with the Merseyside club. This changed in 2001 when the baby-faced assassin helped Liverpool to a historic cup treble. The FA Cup final was the highlight of his campaign, scoring twice against Arsenal in the last 10 minutes to turn a 1-0 deficit on its head. The League Cup and UEFA Cup also went the way of the Reds, and Owen became only the fourth Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or.
Coveted due to his supreme finishing ability, Michael Owen joined Real Madrid in 2004 as the latest member of the Galácticos. He would finish his sole season in Spain as Real Madrid’s second top league goal scorer, with La Liga’s best goal-to-minute ratio. Owen earned a place in Madrid folklore when he latched on to fellow countryman David Beckham’s long ball to score in El Clásico and secure a 4-2 victory for Los Blancos.
✔️ 🆕 🇩🇪 MIROSLAV KLOSE
Miroslav Klose (born 09 June 1978) was part of the German squad that won the 2014 FIFA World Cup, having previously finished second (2002) and third (2006, 2010) in the competition, and as runner-up in UEFA Euro 2008 and joint-third place in UEFA Euro 2012. Klose is the top goalscorer in the history of the FIFA World Cup with 16 goals, having scored five goals in his debut World Cup in 2002 and having won the Golden Boot at the 2006 World Cup in Germany by again scoring five times. At club level, he won two league titles with Bayern, along with cup competitions at Bayern, Werder Bremen and Lazio.
Miroslav Klose took the Bundesliga by storm in 2005-06. Playing for Werder Bremen, Klose ended the Bundesliga season as top scorer with 25 goals, as well as providing the highest number of assists. Klose replicated his fine domestic form to shine on the international stage at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, as his five goals earned him the Golden Boot award with Germany finishing the tournament in 3rd place. A spot in the All-star team followed and Klose was also named German Player of the Year.
Miroslav Klose signed for Bayern Munich in the summer of 2007 and hit double figures in the two seasons that followed. The German marksman helped his side to an impressive Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2007-08, a feat they went on to repeat in 2009-10. Following these domestic successes, Klose stepped up to the plate again at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, netting another 4 goals to take his tally to 14 in the competition, and, cement his reputation as an all-time World Cup great.
Miroslav Klose holds the unique distinction of having played in four consecutive FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals. On his final attempt, Germany’s all-time top goalscorer and the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ top scorer achieved his aim of becoming a World Champion, as Germany beat Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ final. He ended his international career shortly after, his 16 FIFA World Cup™ goals making him the competition’s all-time leading scorer.
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✔️ 🇮🇹 PAOLO MALDINI
Paolo Maldini (born 26 June 1968 in Milan) is a retired Italian defender and regarded as one of the greatest Italian defenders of all time. Maldini was known for being a defender who had everything and famously spent an incredible twenty five consecutive seasons at his home-town club of Milan. In total, Maldini won 26 titles and countless individual awards including runner up at the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He went on to make the most appearances of any player in Serie A, and captained his country during an international career which saw him receive 126 caps. FIFA 19 Icons are stronger with him.
Paolo Maldini rose through the ranks at Milan and quickly cemented his first-team place. Initially starting out at right-back before moving to left-back to complement his fantastic left foot, Maldini was part of one of the strongest defences in history. During the 1987-88 season, Maldini won his first trophy with Milan in a dominant Serie A title win, during which they conceded just 14 goals all season. 1988 also saw him make his international debut for Italy, the first of 126 appearances.
By the late 1990s, Paolo Maldini had made his name as one of the greatest centre-backs of his generation. His role at Milan had become increasingly important, and he was named club captain in 1997. Two years later, under Maldini’s leadership Milan managed to win their 16th Serie A title, where they pipped Lazio to first place by one point. On the international front, Maldini captained his country during the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ in France, where they bowed out to the hosts on penalties.
Paolo Maldini had become a legend with Milan by the early 2000s, having spent his entire career with the club after progressing from the youth setup. This period also saw Maldini lift further silverware as captain. Milan won the Champions League title in 2002-03, with Maldini being named as man of the match in the win over Juventus. One season later, they also regained the Serie A title, finishing 11 points ahead of Roma and losing just two matches in the league all season.
✔️ 🇳🇱 PATRICK KLUIVERT
Patrick Kluivert (born 1 July 1976 in Amsterdam) was a Dutch striker who, with 40 goals, holds the record as the Netherlands all-time top goal scorer. Regarded as a technically gifted striker, Kluivert also possessed great strength and excelled when playing with his back to the goal. After winning the Eredivisie twice during three successful seasons with Ajax, Kluivert had a brief spell at AC Milan before moving to Barcelona where he really made his mark on the game. He scored 122 goals during his time at the Camp Nou and helped them to a La Liga title in 1999.
Patrick Kluivert burst on to the scene as an 18-year-old at the start of the 1994-95 season. His debut came in the 1994 Dutch Supercup win over rivals Feyenoord, where he also scored his first goal. Kluivert cemented his place in the team with his excellent movement and technical ability, finishing the season with 18 goals in 25 league games as Ajax went unbeaten to win the title. The success didn’t end there, as Kluivert came off the bench to score the winner in the 1995 Champions League final.
In August 1998, Patrick Kluivert joined Barcelona for a fee of £8.75m, moving just one hour before the transfer window closed. At the young age of 22, Kluivert managed to successfully fit into his new club under the management of Louis van Gaal, for whom he had played for at Ajax. His first season at Barcelona was a great success, as his 15 league goals helped Barcelona to retain the La Liga title.
In 2000, FC Barcelona fell short of securing a third straight La Liga title; nonetheless, Patrick Kluivert found success and ended the season as the club’s top goal scorer with 15 goals. He continued his goal scoring form on the international stage at Euro 2000, winning the golden boot with five goals for the Netherlands. Despite a semi-final exit, Kluivert’s form and goals also earned him a place in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.
✔️ 🇫🇷 PATRICK VIEIRA
Patrick Vieira (born 23 June 1976 in Senegal) is considered one of the best central midfielders of the last 20 years. A tough tackling enforcer, Patrick’s football career is littered with glory that most players can only dream about. As well as winning the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000 with France, Vieira won Serie A in Italy with 3 different clubs and was named in England’s PFA Team of the Year for six successive seasons as he helped Arsenal to 11 different trophies in his nine seasons with the club.
In August 1996, Patrick Vieira joined Arsenal from AC Milan for a fee of £3.5m. He quickly adapted to English football, utilising his physical prowess and technical ability in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield, and helped the club to their highest league finish in 6 years. The following season, Vieira formed a formidable partnership with Emmanuel Petit to help Arsenal secure a league and cup double, before going on to win the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ with France.
At the start of the 2001-02 season, Patrick Vieira was named as vice-captain to Tony Adams. After finishing runners-up to Manchester United for three consecutive seasons, Vieira and Arsenal finally toppled their rivals, with victory at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season. This came just five days after Vieira helped Arsenal defeat Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup final for a league and cup double. At the end of the season, Vieira became club captain following Adams’ retirement.
In the summer of 2003, Patrick Vieira signed a new 4-year contract to end speculation around his future. Despite a mixed start to the season, Arsenal’s form picked up significantly and they won the Premier League title after a 2-2 draw at rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Vieira and Arsenal then set their sights on an historic unbeaten season, and their famous ‘Invincibles’ status was confirmed with a 2-1 win over Leicester City on the final day, with Vieira scoring the winning goal.
✔️ 🆕 🏴 PAUL SCHOLES
Paul Scholes (born 16 November 1974) is a retired English midfielder who spent his entire career with Manchester United. Officially the most decorated English footballer of all time, Scholes’ illustrious career saw him win 25 trophies. With a thunderous right foot and breathtaking passing ability, Scholes’ consistent performances for Manchester United cemented his place as one of the top Premier League players in history. Retired from international football in 2004 with 66 caps and 14 goals.
Paul Scholes made his breakthrough at Manchester United in the 1994-95 season, scoring 2 goals on his debut. He started out as a striker, scoring 14 goals in 1995-96 as United won the double, but he moved back to central midfield as he matured. In 1998-99, Scholes scored in the FA Cup final as United won the cup alongside the Premier League. The season was capped off as United’s most successful in history with a dramatic Champions League final win over Bayern Munich to secure a historic treble.
As Manchester United won the Premier League 3 times between 1999 and 2003, Paul Scholes played in both the number 10 role and in central midfield. His excellent stamina and work rate, as well as a brilliant eye for a pass or goal meant he excelled in both positions. He scored a career best 20 goals in United’s Premier League winning 2002-03 season, as well as scoring in the 2003-04 FA Cup Final win over Millwall.
Paul Scholes was shortlisted for PFA Player of the Year in 2006-07 and was named in the PFA Team of the Season. He made his 100th Champions League appearance in 2008 before scoring the decisive goal against Barcelona in the semi-final of the competition, which United went on to win. In September of the same year Scholes was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame. Scholes is widely renowned as being one of the Premier League’s best ever central midfielders.
✔️ 🆕 🇨🇿 PAVEL NEDVĚD
Pavel Nedvěd (born 30 August 1972 in Czechoslovakia) is one of the most successful players to play for the Czech Republic. After coming to prominence with Sparta Prague in the mid 90s, Nedvěd’s career really took off after he made the move to Italy – first at Lazio and then later at Juventus, where he won several Serie A and European medals. Despite winning 91 caps and a runners-up medal with his country at the 1996 European Championships, Nedvěd’s greatest year came in 2003 when he won the Serie A Footballer of the Year award, and the illustrious Ballon d’Or.
Pavel Nedvěd joined Sparta Prague in 1992 and tasted league success in each of his first three seasons. Despite a disappointing league campaign in 1995-96, Nedvěd still managed 14 league goals and added further silverware with the Czech Cup. That summer, he was a member of the Czech Republic side that reached the final of Euro 1996, finishing as runners-up to Germany in a close final. Nedvěd scored his first international goal in the second group game win over Italy.
In 1996, Pavel Nedvěd joined Lazio after helping Czech Republic to the final of Euro 1996. Nedvěd enjoyed 5 seasons at the club, winning 7 trophies. His first success came in the form of the Coppa Italia in 1998. The following season, Nedvěd tasted European glory as Lazio lifted the 1998-99 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. His most successful season at the club came in 1999-2000, when they completed a league and cup double. He also won 2 Italian Super Cups and a UEFA Super Cup in his time at the club.
Pavel Nedvěd joined Juventus in 2001 and his first season with the club brought domestic success, helping the Old Lady to their first Serie A title in 4 years. The next season, Nedvěd’s Juventus retained the title and he played a key role in their Champions League campaign. Though they finished runners-up to rivals Milan, Nedvěd’s performances earned him numerous accolades, including the Serie A Footballer of the Year award. The highest honour came when he was named the 2003 Ballon d’Or winner.
✔️ 🇧🇷 PELÉ
“The King of Football” Pelé (born on 23 October 1940 in Três Corações) was a winner of 40 club medals and countless individual accolades. Pelé is also the only footballer in history to have won three World Cup winners medals. With a ratio of just under 1 goal every game, Pelé ended his career with the unbelievable goal scoring record of 1282 goals in 1366 career appearances. Pelé still holds the world record for the number of league goals scored, and is widely accepted as the world’s greatest footballer ever. He was a legend and now he features on the FIFA 19 Icons.
In September 1956, Pelé burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old, scoring on his professional debut in an exhibition match for Santos. In 1957, at just 16, he finished his first season as the league’s top scorer. His first trophy came when Santos lifted the Campeonato Paulista in 1958, with Pelé scoring a record 58 goals – a record that still stands today. Pelé carried his fine form in to the 1958 FIFA World Cup™, where his 6 goals helped Brazil to become champions for the first time.
In 1962, Pelé led Santos to the most successful season in the club’s history. As well as retaining the Campeonato Paulista and Campeonato Brasileiro, Pelé’s 4 goals also helped the club to secure their first Copa Libertadores to complete an impressive continental treble. Santos also secured the Intercontinental Cup thanks to one of Pelé’s finest performances, scoring a hat-trick in the second leg against Benfica. Pelé also lifted the 1962 FIFA World Cup™ with Brazil in an unforgettable year.
A 28-year-old Pelé helped Santos to secure a third consecutive Campeonato Paulista in 1969. Just 5 months later Pelé scored a penalty that became popularly known as O Milésimo – his 1,000th goal in all competitions – to mark a monumental personal milestone. The following summer Pelé was a key member of the Brazil side that went on to win the 1970 FIFA World Cup™ with a perfect record of 6 wins, scoring 4 goals; including the opening goal in a 4-1 win over Italy in the final.
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✔️ 🇩🇰 PETER SCHMEICHEL
Peter Schmeichel (born November 18 1963) is a retired Danish goalkeeper, and was voted the world’s best goalkeeper in 1992. He is best remembered for his successful time at Manchester United, where he helped lead the club to an unprecedented treble of league, league cup and European glory in 1999. He is a record setting goalkeeper and boasts a fine resume of awards and accolades, including the record for greatest clean sheets-to-game ratio in the English Premier League.
Peter Schmeichel began his career in Denmark, and it was at Brøndby where he first rose to prominence. His time there yielded several trophies, including the Danish 1st Division title during his debut season at the club. He went on to win the 1st Division title again in 1988 and 1990, before winning the inaugural Danish Superliga in 1991. The late 80s also saw Schmeichel make his international debut, and he was part of the Danish Euro 1988 squad.
In the early 1990s, Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel had left Brøndby to join Manchester United. He featured for Denmark during their famous European Championship win in 1992 and quickly built a reputation as the best goalkeeper in the world. He was named IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993, and won back-to-back Premier League titles with Manchester United in 1993 and 1994 – the first of 5 Premier League titles he would win. 1993-94 also saw him complete a double by winning the FA Cup.
By the end of the 1990s, Peter Schmeichel had cemented his place in football as a goalkeeping legend. Going into what would be his final season at Manchester United, he had won four Premier League titles already, but the best was still to come. In the 1998-99 season, Schmeichel and his teammates went down in history as they completed a famous treble, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League, where he captained them to victory in the most dramatic of circumstances.
✔️ 🆕 🇪🇸 RAÚL
Raúl González (27 June 1977) is considered one of the most important players in the history of Real Madrid and regarded as one of the greatest Spanish players of all-time. He spent 16 years of his career playing for this club and is the club’s second all-time top goalscorer with 323 goals. Although he did not win any major competitions while playing for the Spain national team, he scored a then-record 44 goals in 102 appearances for la Roja, appearing in three FIFA World Cups and two European championships.
At the age of 17, Raúl made his debut for Real Madrid in October 1994. Rapidly, he became a sensation in Spain, contributing 9 goals in his first season to help Real win LaLiga in 1994-95. He lifted his second league trophy with them in 1996-97, scoring 21 goals. A natural goal-scorer, Raúl was crowned Spanish Footballer of the Year in 1997, and he won the UEFA Champions League and Spanish Super Cup the following season. Raúl had become Real Madrid’s new star and would change the club forever.
During the early 2000s, Raúl enjoyed immense success with Real Madrid. He won his third LaLiga title in 2001 and the UEFA Champions League title in both 2000 and 2002. Raúl scored in both UEFA Champions League finals and became the competition top goal-scorer for two consecutive years. His elegant trademark chip, intelligence and superiority in the box made him unlike any other striker. As he rose to iconic status, he was named Spanish Footballer of the Year for the fifth time in 2002.
In 2010, Raúl moved to Schalke 04 after spending 16 years at Real Madrid, bringing his remarkable time at the Bernabéu to an end. After a quiet start to life at Schalke, Raúl proved he still possessed magnificent goal-scoring ability by scoring 19 goals in his first season, including two hattricks. In the DFB-Pokal semi-final he scored a key goal to beat Bayern 0-1. Raúl and Schalke finished the season by lifting the DFB-Pokal, his first ever domestic cup title, and beating Dortmund in the German Super Cup.
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✔️ 🏴 RIO FERDINAND
Rio Ferdinand (born 7 November 1978) is a retired English central defender. Ferdinand progressed through the youth ranks at West Ham and made his debut in 1996, before moving to Leeds in November 2000 for a then record £18 million. After rapidly becoming one of the best defenders of his generation, Ferdinand once again broke the transfer record as he moved to Manchester United for just under £30 million. A technically gifted defender, Ferdinand helped United to 6 league titles and several cup successes in his 12 seasons at the club. He won 81 caps for England before retiring from football in May 2015.
Rio Ferdinand began his career at West Ham and quickly carved out a reputation as a classy, ball-playing centre back. Ferdinand became the world’s most expensive defender when he moved to Leeds United in November 2000. He spent two successful years with Leeds, becoming club captain in 2001. Ferdinand’s international reputation also grew and he was one of England’s first choice centre backs at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™. Financially stricken Leeds sold Ferdinand to Manchester United for a British record one month later.
During the mid-2000s, Rio Ferdinand had established himself as one of the world’s best defenders of his generation and was a key part of Manchester United’s success in this period. His first goal came in 2005 against Wigan and he scored a last-minute winner against rivals Liverpool in January 2006. One year later, United won the Premier League – the first of three successive titles of which Ferdinand was an integral part.
Rio Ferdinand was a key part of Manchester United’s success in the late 2000s and had formed a formidable centre back partnership with Nemanja Vidić in this period. Rio won 6 Premier League titles in his spell at United, but perhaps his greatest honour was captaining United in the 2007-08 Champions League final where they defeated English opponents Chelsea. Ferdinand was named England’s captain for the 2010 World Cup, but unfortunately had to withdraw before the tournament began due to injury.
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✔️🆕 🇧🇷 RIVALDO
Rivaldo Ferreira (born 19 April 1972 in Recife) was one of the most skillful and creative players of his generation. He was renowned for his bending free kicks, bicycle kicks, powerful ball striking from distance, and ability to both score and create goals. In 1999, he won the Ballon d’Or and was named FIFA World Player of the Year.
After playing for Corinthians in 1993, Rivaldo’s career really kicked off at local rivals Palmeiras the following year. During his successful two years at the club, he scored 21 goals in 45 league games and helped Palmeiras retain their league title in his first season. The same year, Rivaldo won the prestigious Bola de Prata award for the second year running. His performances helped Palmeiras win the Campeonato Paulista in both 1994 and 1996, before moving overseas to begin his European career.
Possessing excellent technique, Rivaldo was capable of playing in several offensive positions. As FC Barcelona’s unstoppable attacking threat, he became LaLiga top scorer in the 1998-99 season with 24 goals, leading them to their second consecutive league title. In 1999, Rivaldo won the Copa América with Brazil and was named best player at the tournament, scoring two goals in the final vs. Uruguay. To cap an outstanding year, Rivaldo won the Ballon d’Or and was crowned FIFA World Player of the Year.
Rivaldo reached the peak of his international career at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™. Given an attacking playmaker role, Rivaldo was the link between Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, the deadly trio that tore up oppositions with their Joga Bonito. He netted five goals during the tournament, amongst them a remarkable volley against Belgium. Rivaldo and Brazil went on to beat Germany 2-0 in the final, securing Brazil’s fifth FIFA World Cup™ trophy. He deservedly featured in FIFA’s World Cup All-Star team.
✔️ 🇫🇷 ROBERT PIRÈS
Robert Pirès (born 29 October 1973 in Reims) is a former French winger who was widely regarded as one of the best attacking midfielders of his generation. He boasts winners’ medals from both the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championships in 2000, where he famously provided the assist in the final which secured France the title on Golden Goals. He is fondly remembered by Arsenal fans for his six year spell at the club which peaked with the team winning two Premier League titles in 2002 and 2004 – where Pirès was an integral member of Arsenal’s unbeaten ‘Invincibles’.
After 6 successful seasons at Metz, where he had graduated through the academy, Robert Pirès moved to Olympique de Marseille for £5 million in 1998. In his two-season spell OM came agonisingly close to a double, missing the Ligue 1 title by one point and falling short in the UEFA Cup Final. However, his performances for Marseille earned him a £6m move to Arsenal in 2000. Internationally, Pirès was part of France’s FIFA World Cup™ 1998 and Euro 2000 winning squads.
Robert Pirès joined Arsenal in 2000 with big shoes to fill after Marc Overmars’ departure. However, his six season stay brought Pirès and Arsenal much success. They won the Premier League in 2001-02 and his performances on the left were a big part in Arsenal’s 2003-04 title-winning season in which they remained unbeaten and were dubbed the ‘Invincibles’. Pirès also won two FA Cup medals during his highly successful time at Arsenal.
After joining Villarreal in May 2006, Robert Pirès went about proving that he could still be a force in European football. He didn’t disappoint during a four year stay which saw him switch to a central playmaker role. The highlight during this period came when, in the 2007-08 season, Pirès helped Villarreal to their highest league position in history, finishing second ahead of giants Barcelona.
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✔️ 🆕 🇮🇹 ROBERTO BAGGIO
Roberto Baggio was born on 18 February 1967 in Caldogno, Italy. He was technically gifted, creative playmaker and a set piece specialist, renowned for his curling free-kicks, dribbling skills, and goalscoring. He was also known as Il Divin Codino (The Divine Ponytail), for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, for his talent and for his Buddhist beliefs. Baggio is the only Italian to score in three World Cups, and with nine goals holds the record for most goals scored in World Cup tournaments for Italy, along with Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri. In 2002, Baggio became the first Italian player in over 50 years to score more than 300 career goals.
Roberto Baggio enjoyed five seasons with Fiorentina in the late 1980s and became renowned for his excellent creativity and passing ability. In his final season for the club, Baggio finished the 1989-90 season with 17 goals and led the club to the 1990 UEFA Cup final where they finished runners-up to Juventus. That summer, Baggio scored one of the goals of the tournament at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™, and his dazzling displays throughout the year earned Baggio a Ballon d’Or nomination.
Roberto Baggio won his first piece of silverware by helping Juventus claim the 1993 UEFA Cup. His performances for club and country that year saw Baggio named as winner of the Ballon d’Or. He enjoyed further success the following year, leading Italy to runners-up in the 1994 FIFA World Cup™, before a league and cup double with Juventus in 1994-95. Baggio joined Milan in the summer of 1995 and achieved further success in his first season, lifting the Serie A title for a second successive year.
At the age of 33, Roberto Baggio joined newly promoted Brescia in 2000, scoring 10 goals and claiming 10 assists in his first season, helping the club to their highest Serie A finish of 7th to qualify for the UEFA Intertoto Cup. He remained with Brescia for a further three years, reaching double figures in each season to keep the club in Serie A. In his final campaign, Baggio scored his 200th Serie A goal in 2004, becoming the first player in almost 30 years to achieve the feat.
✔️ 🇧🇷 ROBERTO CARLOS
Roberto Carlos was born on 10 April 1973 in São Paulo Brazil, and is regarded as one of the greatest left backs in history. Carlos enjoyed his greatest club success at Real Madrid, where between 1996 and 2007 he helped them to many domestic and European trophies. Famed for his powerful dead ball deliveries, Roberto’s free kick against France in ‘Le Tournoi’ is widely regarded as the greatest free kick of all time. Carlos made 125 appearances for Brazil and is a FIFA World Cup medal winner. It’s now time to play for FIFA 18 Icons.
Roberto Carlos joined Palmeiras in 1993, as head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo looked to build a team to win their first Campeonato Brasileiro since 1976. Roberto would go on to make 20 league appearances as Palmeiras achieved their goal, before repeating the feat the following year to retain their title in 1994. During his time at Palmeiras, Roberto lifted 5 trophies; his performances caught the eye of European sides and Roberto joined Inter Milan in 1995.
In 1997, Roberto scored one of the greatest free-kicks of all time with a memorable strike against France. With the ball looking set to fly well wide of the goal, it took a sudden sharp turn to the left and crept inside the post. The following year Carlos helped Real Madrid to lift their first Champions League trophy in 22 years, with his shot deflecting to the feet of Predrag Mijatović for the game’s only goal. Carlos finished the summer as a runner-up with Brazil at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™.
Roberto enjoyed double success in the summer of 2002, both on the domestic and international stage. The first triumph came as ‘El Hombre Bala’ assisted both goals as Real Madrid beat Leverkusen 2-1 in the Champions League final. Later that summer, Roberto would help Brazil to go one step further than they had 4 years earlier, as they lifted the 2002 FIFA World Cup™. His performances throughout 2002 led to a Ballon d’Or nomination, finishing runner-up, and a place in the UEFA Team of the Year.
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✔️ 🇧🇷 RONALDINHO
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980) was one of the last true bohemians of football. He personifies what Jogo Bonito is all about. With endless creativity and superb technique, the Brazilian attacking midfielder was equally capable to score a beautiful goal or to serve the perfect pass for his teammates to shine. Ronaldinho won the biggest trophies in the world and he did so while playing beautifully and with a smile on his face.
Ronaldinho joined Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2001. He found his best form and goal-scoring ability in the lead up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup™. His personal highlight in the competition came in the quarter-final tie with England. After assisting Rivaldo for the equaliser, Ronaldinho scored an audacious free-kick when he chipped the ball over David Seaman from 40 yards. Ronaldinho and Brazil would lift the trophy following a 2-0 win over Germany in the final.
In 2003, Ronaldinho joined Barcelona. He enjoyed a fruitful first season, but it was in his second season where the success came. Regarded as one of the most skillful players of his generation, and with an entertaining style of play and a productive return, Ronaldinho was named FIFA World Player of the Year for 2004 before leading Barcelona to a La Liga triumph in 2005. He also lifted the Spanish Super Cup, scoring in a 3-0 win over Real Betis, before winning the Ballon d’Or that same year.
Ronaldinho joined Milan in 2008. His first goal for the club came in a 1-0 win over rivals Internazionale before helping Milan back into the Champions League after a one year absence. Following a change in position to a more familiar left-wing role, Ronaldinho hit top form in 2009-10 and finished as the Serie A assist leader with 14, as well as scoring 12 goals. His sole piece of silverware came in his final season with the club, as Milan secured the Serie A title in 2010-11.
✔️ 🇧🇷 RONALDO NAZÁRIO
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (born 18 September 1976 in Rio de Janeiro) deadly mix of explosive pace, lethal finishing and dazzling skill made him one of the most feared strikers in the world. A three-time Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo Nazário became one of Real Madrid’s famed galácticos when he joined the club from the Italian league. He is the ambassador of the FIFA 19 Icons.
After travelling to the 1994 FIFA World Cup™ at just 17 years of age, Ronaldo joined Dutch side PSV where he dominated despite his young age. His speed, dribbling and finishing quickly led him to become the most sought after player in Europe. After just two seasons in Holland, Ronaldo had won two cups with PSV and scored an incredible 54 goals in just 57 appearances.
In 1996, Barcelona paid a then world record fee of just under $20 million for the services of Ronaldo. It turned out to be money well spent as Ronaldo dominated on the European and domestic stages. Despite only one season at Barcelona, he scored a stunning 34 goals in 37 league games and won three trophies. Another world record fee took Ronaldo to Inter Milan in 1997 and 6 months later he was named winner of the coveted Ballon d’Or.
In 2002, Ronaldo travelled to Asia for the FIFA World Cup™ after a terrible run of injuries and lack of match practice. However, he defied his critics in stunning style as his eight goals not only led him to the Golden Ball, but with Ronaldo scoring twice in the 2-0 final win against Germany it ensured Brazil would win their fifth World Cup title. Later that year he moved to Real Madrid for yet another world record fee and received his second Ballon d’Or soon after.
✔️ 🆕 🇮🇪 ROY KEANE
Roy Keane (born 10 August 1971) is a retired Irish midfielder. Renowned for his no-nonsense, tough tackling style, Keane was best known for his pivotal role as captain of Manchester United during their domination of English football in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Keane began his career in Ireland at Cobh Ramblers before moving across the waters to Nottingham Forest. After three highly successful years at Forest, which included a Full Members Cup trophy, United paid a then record British transfer fee of £3.75m for his services, and he would go on to help them lift 7 Premier League titles.
After starting out at Cobh Ramblers in the Republic of Ireland, Roy Keane moved to Nottingham Forest before sealing a transfer to Manchester United for a British record fee before the 1993-94 season. On arrival, he slotted into central-midfield alongside Paul Ince, replacing the legendary Bryan Robson. He helped United retain their Premier League title, leading the table from the fourth game onwards. The club also won the FA Cup in Keane’s debut season, their first-ever double.
After helping Manchester United to three league titles and two FA Cups, Roy Keane was appointed club captain in 1997 following Eric Cantona’s retirement. In the 1998-99 season, he led his side to a historic treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. His performance against Juventus in the semi-final of the Champions League is often regarded as the finest hour in his illustrious footballing career.
Before the start of the 2002-03 season, following a hip operation, Roy Keane adapted his playing style in a bid to avoid further injuries. Despite this, he was as inspiring as ever in the heart of Manchester United’s team, guiding them to yet another Premier League title. He finished his United career soon after with 50 goals and 17 trophies. His fine performances for them over the years saw him placed in the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
✔️ 🇵🇹 RUI COSTA
Rui Costa (born 29 March 1972 in Lisbon) was a Portuguese International who began his career at Benfica after joining their youth system at the age of five. After transferring to Fiorentina in 1994, he quickly went on to cement his place as one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. His impressive performances continued, and prompted AC Milan to break their transfer record by paying a reported £30 million for his services. Costa was capped 94 times by his country and ended his career back at Benfica, establishing himself as one of the greatest number 10s ever produced by Portugal.
After rising through the Benfica academy, Rui Costa really began to make a name for himself in the early 1990s. Internationally, Costa scored the winning penalty for Portugal in the 1991 FIFA U-20 World Cup, but it was in Portugal where he really excelled. He spent three consecutive years from 1991-1994 with Benfica (he would later return in 2006) and helped them to cup success in the 1992-93 season, which was followed by a league title win the following year.
Whilst at Fiorentina between 1994 and 2001, Rui Costa earned a reputation as one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. Helped by Costa and his fantastic technical ability, Fiorentina enjoyed three trophy successes in his time at the club. They won both the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana in 1996, and the Coppa Italia once more in 2001, before Costa joined Milan for a fee of just under €44m.
In 2001, Rui Costa was bought by Milan for a club record fee of just under €44m and his time at Milan helped them to several trophies. Costa started the Champions League final in 2003, which Milan won, and the following season helped them to the Serie A title. Further titles included the UEFA Super Cup and two domestic cups in Italy. On the international front, Costa scored twice as Portugal made it to the Euro 2004 final, where they were runners up to Greece.
✔️ 🇳🇱 RUUD GULLIT
Ruud Gullit (born Rudi Dil, 1 September 1962) is a former Dutch midfielder. Gullit’s career peaked in the late 80’s when he was named European Footballer of the Year thanks to his exploits at PSV and later with Milan. Equally famed for his flowing dreadlocks as he was for his unrivalled athletic ability, Gullit’s career highlight came in 1988 when he captained the Netherlands to their first major trophy as they won the European Championship that summer. He later ended his playing career by winning the FA Cup with Chelsea in 1997 as player-manager.
Ruud Gullit spent two years at PSV, having moved from Feyenoord in the summer of 1985. With his unique dreadlocked appearance, Gullit catapulted himself onto the world stage during his time in Eindhoven. The Dutch side won the Eredivisie title in back-to-back successes in 1986 and 1987, with Gullit playing an integral role. He was named Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1986 and amassed 46 goals in 68 appearances before moving to AC Milan for a then world record fee.
Ruud Gullit joined Milan in 1987 for a then world-record fee. He was a central figure in Milan’s period of domination, helping them to 3 Serie A titles, 2 European Cups and several other titles. Gullit was named winner of the coveted Ballon d’Or in 1987 and was also runner up the following year. In total, he played 117 league matches for Milan, making it the longest spell at any club throughout his career.
Having spent 8 years in Italy, Ruud Gullit joined Premier League side Chelsea in July 1995. After an impressive first season, Gullit was promoted to the role of player-manager, becoming the first Dutchman to manage in the Premier League. In 1997, in his dual role, Gullit led Chelsea to the FA Cup title – their first major trophy in 26 years. He was later quoted as saying that his time at Chelsea was the happiest time of his illustrious career.
✔️ 🆕 🇳🇱 RUUD VAN NISTELROOY
Ruud van Nistelrooy (born 1 July 1976 in Oss, North Brabant) is a retired Dutch striker. Ruud began his career in Holland where spells at Den Bosch, Heerenveen and PSV Eindhoven fuelled Manchester United to spend £19 million for his services. At Manchester United, van Nistelrooy cemented his place as one of the deadliest strikers in the world, scoring 150 goals in just 219 appearances. His career highlight came in 2002-03 as van Nistelrooy bagged a career best 44 goals, which helped Manchester United to the Premier League title, and Ruud to the Premier League Player of the Year award.
After a fantastic first season in 2001-02, winning the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award, Ruud van Nistelrooy continued to improve in 2002-03. Finishing as the league’s top goal scorer, the Dutchman struck 13 goals in the final 8 games of the season to overcome an 8-point deficit and win the title for Manchester United. Van Nistelrooy’s supreme confidence and deadliness in front of goal for the Manchester club gives him the status as one of the Premier League’s all-time greatest goalscorers.
For the 2006-07 season, Ruud van Nistelrooy swapped Old Trafford for the Bernabéu, joining Real Madrid. The Dutch marksman scored a hat-trick in only his second league game, as his goal scoring exploits led to Los Blancos winning the league title on the final day. For van Nistelrooy, this title triumph was capped off by him earning the Pichichi Trophy for LaLiga’s top scorer, in the process tying the record for the longest consecutive scoring streak of seven games.
Ruud van Nistelrooy joined Hamburger SV in 2010 with a reputation as one of Europe’s all-time greatest goalscorers, having dominated leagues in the Netherlands, England and Spain. In the Bundesliga, the prolific Dutchman shone again, scoring match-winning hat-tricks and braces in both league and cup. After leaving the German club in 2011 and moving back to Spain with Malaga, the legendary marksman announced his retirement in 2012, ending a glittering career.
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✔️ 🆕 🏴 RYAN GIGGS
Ryan Giggs (born 29 November 1973) is a retired one-club man and Manchester United’s record appearance holder. As an exciting left-winger, Giggs made his debut for United in 1991 and had amassed an incredible total of 963 appearances during his illustrious career when he retired in 2014. Giggs helped Manchester United win 13 league titles along with countless other club and personal honours. Giggs received just one red card in his career, for Wales for whom he gained 64 international caps.
Cardiff born Ryan Giggs established himself on the left-wing for Manchester United in 1992-93 and played a key role as they won the inaugural Premier League that season. With his magical left foot, Giggs was quickly becoming the rising star at Manchester United and played a big part in their Premier League and FA Cup double in 1993-94. On the international front, Giggs scored his first senior goal for Wales in March 1993.
The late 1990s saw Ryan Giggs win many trophies with Manchester United. They won three consecutive Premier League titles, with the highlight undoubtedly being the 1998-99 season. Giggs played a key role in their treble success, which saw them lift the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, with his assist helping United to European glory. This period also saw him score the most famous goal in his career, with a mazy run and finish against Arsenal in the FA Cup living long in the memory.
Despite being into his early thirties, Ryan Giggs continued to set records for Manchester United. He scored his 100th league goal for the club in December 2007 and featured in 31 league games as United won the Premier League title. However, it was the Champions League final against Chelsea which was most memorable for Giggs. His appearance from the bench saw him become Manchester United’s record appearance holder, and his converted penalty in sudden death ensured United won European glory.
✔️ 🆕 🇧🇷 SÓCRATES
Sócrates de Oliveira (19 February 1954 – 4 December 2011), was a Brazilian footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. His medical degree and his political awareness earned him the nickname “Doctor Socrates”. Easily recognizable for his beard and headband, Sócrates became the “symbol of cool for a whole generation of football supporters”. He was considered to be one of the greatest midfielders ever to play the game.
In 1982, Sócrates captained Brazil at the FIFA World Cup™. They eased through the group stage, with Sócrates scoring a memorable long shot against the Soviet Union. In the second round, Brazil faced Italy where they lost narrowly 3-2 and exited the tournament in an unforgettable match. Sócrates finished the year on a high by winning the Campeonato Paulista with Corinthians, where he scored the winner in the first game and then helped his side go on to win the two-legged final.
Sócrates had his longest and most successful club spell at Corinthians. He won his third domestic title with them in 1983, scoring a goal in both legs of the final. With his intelligent style of play, Sócrates often eased past his opponents in an elegant fashion, despite his height. Being a technical playmaker, he possessed a goal-scoring prowess and finished the season with 37 goals in 55 matches. His success was recognised in 1983, when he was crowned South American Footballer of the Year.
At the 1986 FIFA World Cup™, Sócrates and Brazil again had their eyes on the ultimate trophy. Known for his sublime intelligence and speciality of making no-look backheel passes, Sócrates brought marvellous flair to the game. He scored two goals in the tournament, the latter being his iconic no run-up penalty against Poland. Brazil progressed to the quarter-finals and faced France in an epic encounter. The match was decided on penalties after ending 1-1, with Brazil losing out in the shootout.
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✔️ 🆕 🏴 SOL CAMPBELL
Sol Campbell (born 18 September 1974 in Plaistow) is a retired English defender. Campbell started his career at Tottenham Hotspur and during his time there went on to become one of the greatest English defenders of his generation. In his quest for silverware, Campbell made the move across North London to Arsenal, where he became a part of their famous ‘Invincibles’ side, winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cup winners medals. Campbell’s International career saw him appear 73 times for England and become the only player English player to appear in six consecutive major tournaments.
Sol Campbell made his Tottenham Hotspur debut in 1992. Known for his strength, pace and composure on the ball, Campbell established himself at the heart of the club’s defence in the following years. His impressive performances throughout the 1995-96 season earned Campbell a first England cap in May of 1996. Following Gary Mabbutt’s retirement in 1998, Campbell took over the captaincy before leading Spurs to the League Cup final in 1999, lifting his one and only trophy with the club.
In the summer of 2001, Sol Campbell made the short move across North London when he swapped Tottenham Hotspur for Arsenal. He made his debut in the 2001-02 opener at Middlesbrough and made 31 league appearances throughout the season, scoring 2 goals. Campbell’s first campaign at the club brought instant success as Arsenal lifted the Premier League and FA Cup trophies to claim a domestic double. He also earned a personal accolade in 2002 when he was named in the FIFA World Cup™ All-Star team.
After being named in the 2002-03 PFA Team of the Season, Sol Campbell extended his fine form into the following season. The 2003-04 campaign became one to live long in the memory as Campbell’s powerful performances in defence helped Arsenal to finish the season unbeaten and lift the Premier League trophy. In doing so, the Gunners became the first top-flight side to go unbeaten in England since the 1880s, leading to that season’s squad to be labelled “The Invincibles”.
✔️ 🆕 🏴 STEVEN GERRARD
Steven Gerrard (born 30 May 1980 in Whiston) spent the majority of his playing career as a central midfielder for Liverpool, with most of that time spent as club captain, as well as captaining the England national team. A versatile and well-rounded player, highly regarded for his leadership, Gerrard is the only footballer in history to score in an FA Cup Final, a League Cup Final, a UEFA Cup Final and a UEFA Champions League Final, winning on each occasion.
By the turn of the century, Steven Gerrard had cemented his place in the heart of the Liverpool midfield. In the 2000-01 season, Gerrard collected his first silverware in style. After winning the EFL Cup on penalties, Gerrard and Liverpool followed this by defeating Arsenal in the FA Cup final. To complete a cup treble, Liverpool then faced Deportivo Alavés in the UEFA Cup final, where they triumphed 5-4 after extra time, with Gerrard notching the second goal of the game.
Steven Gerrard enjoyed the greatest moment of his footballing career in an extraordinary fashion during the mid-2000s. Trailing 3-0 to AC Milan in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, Gerrard scored the first goal to inspire his side to a dramatic second-half comeback as they got back on level terms at 3-3 in a 6-minute spell. Eventually, Liverpool won the tie on a penalty shootout, and the UEFA Champions League title, with Gerrard named Man of the Match.
Despite being into his thirties, Steven Gerrard’s influence on the Liverpool team was still high heading into the 2013-14 season. After surprisingly leading the Premier League heading into the final few games, Gerrard and Liverpool eventually missed out on the title in the cruellest of circumstances, despite Gerrard scoring 13 league goals and providing 13 assists – the highest in the league. Gerrard went on to play one last season with Liverpool before moving to LA Galaxy in the MLS.
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✔️ 🇫🇷 THIERRY HENRY
One of the Premier League’s all-time great strikers, Henry’s incredibly elegant yet unbelievably deadly finishing won him the Golden Boot four times in his eight years at the club. A World Cup winner on home turf in 1998, the Frenchman is his country’s top scorer having amassed 51 goals in 123 appearances. He was one of the most waited FIFA 19 Icons.
A young Thierry Henry rose to prominence at Monaco in 1996 where the then manager, Arsène Wenger, deployed him as a winger. Henry’s pace and skill was highly effective and he helped Monaco to the Ligue 1 title in 1996-97, and a few months later, the Trophée des Champions title. Another successful season followed where Henry was part of the French 1998 FIFA World Cup™ winning squad. Despite being relatively unknown initially on the international stage, he finished the tournament as France’s top goal scorer with 3 goals.
Thierry Henry had his greatest career success at Arsenal where he spent 8 years between 1999 and 2007. He surpassed Ian Wright to become Arsenal’s record goal-scorer in 2005 and lifted two Premier League trophies and two FA Cups. Henry’s blistering pace and exceptional finishing made him one of the deadliest strikers in Premier League history and was the 5th all-time leading Premier League scorer as of 2017, despite only playing 8 full seasons in England.
After an injury laden campaign in 2006-07, Henry moved to Spanish giant Barcelona in 2007 at a cost of €24 million. Henry was deployed mostly on the left whilst at Barcelona and enjoyed huge success in the 2008-09 season. Playing in a deadly front 3 alongside Leo Messi and Samuel Eto’o, the trio set a then record 72 La Liga goals between them. Henry’s contributions also led Barcelona to a famous ‘sextuple’ as they won 6 different competitions in 2009.
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