Any classification is necessarily arbitrary and subject to discussion. Le 10 Sport offers its list of the ten greatest players of the World Cup, namely those who have marked the spirits by their class and their influence on the game during the competition. We can of course regret the absence of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, but none has ever really shone in the World Cup. They will have one last chance this winter…
When discussing the greatest players in the history of the World Cup, the name of Maradona appears at the top of the list. The Argentine genius played four (1982 1986 1990 1994) and he could even have done five, an incredible feat, if coach Luis Cesar Menotti had decided to put him in the squad in 1978, when Maradona had only 17 years. But after hesitating for a long time, the technician had finally removed it from the list at the last moment. But if Maradona is remembered in history, it is of course for his genius. And his 1986 masterpiece, where he single-handedly led Argentina to victory. Without forgetting that he was on the verge of a double in 1990, Argentina losing in the final against Germany on a penalty 10 minutes from the end.
Three times victorious in the World Cup, Pelé remains of course THE emblematic player of the most prestigious competition. Especially since he completed his triumph in 1970, achieving a career strewn with technical exploits that have remained in legend, at the head of a Brazilian selection developing one of the most attacking games in history.
If he did not win the trophy, Johan Cruyff remains one of the greatest players in the history of the World Cup, taking the Netherlands to the final twice, in 1974 then in 1978. And especially in being the figurehead of a revolution in the game, marked by all-terrain pressing and perpetual movement in possession. A player as elegant as he is talented, Cruyff has undeniably marked history with legendary technical gestures.
Winner in 1998 thanks to two goals in the final against Brazil, Zidane will bring the Blues back to the 2006 World Cup final after a competition that he splashed with his class, with some masterpieces such as his matches against Spain in round of 16 and against Brazil in the quarter. Zidane came up short against Italy in the final, with France losing on penalties.
Like Cruyff, Michel Platini did not win a World Cup, failing twice in the semi-finals with France in 1982 then 1986. But the playmaker of the Blues marked the history of the World Cup, both by his quality outstanding player only because he was the leader of a French team actress of two of the greatest matches ever played in a World Cup, France-Germany in the 1982 semi-finals and France-Brazil in the quarter of final 1986.
It would have been impossible for a German player not to appear in this ranking given the record of the German selection (4 World Cup victories and several finals). We could have chosen Gerd Muller, the star center forward of 1974, Lothar Matthaus, the indestructible or even goalkeepers Oliver Kahn or Manuel Neuer. Finally, our choice fell on the boss, Franz Beckenbauer, winner in 1974. Also because he was one of the rare defenders to win the Ballon d’Or.
An undeniable Brazilian star at the turn of the 2000s, Ronaldo obtained his ticket in the 10 thanks to his victory at the 2002 World Cup, which he flew over with Brazil, defeating Oliver Kahn’s Germany in the final.
Of all the Italians who could have claimed a place in the 10 (Paolo Rossi, Dino Zoff, Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, etc.), the choice of Roberto Baggio may appear surprising when he did not win the Coupe du world unlike the others (4 victories at the World Cup for Italy). But on pure talent, his presence is undeniable. And he too could have brought the World Cup back to Italy. It was played in the final against Brazil in 1994 on penalties.
He too did not win the World Cup, but Zico, a phenomenal talent from one of the most talented Brazilian teams in history (1982-1986), made an impression and left his mark on memories.
To celebrate the impressive Spanish armada of the 2010s (two European championships 2008-2012, a 2010 World Cup), the presence of Andres Iniesta, symbol of a talent at the service of the collective, seems quite logical, especially since he splashed the competition in South Africa with his class.
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The 10 greatest players in World Cup history
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