10. Paolo Maldini
The name summarizes the legacy of Italian defending. The greatest full back of all time and the greatest defender, second only to Kaiser, Maldini remains of the greatest players to never win the World Cup. Barring that, he won practically everything. Renowned for his tactical ability, inch-perfect tackling, anticipation, marshaling the defence as well as aiding the attack. Name anything, this man had it all. His quote, “If you have to force yourself to a slide, you know you’re defending wrong”, says it all.
9. Lothar Matthaus
The greatest central midfielder of all time. An astute tackler and world-class passer of the ball, the German was equally adept at both defensive as well as offensive duties. Captaining his side to victory in the 1990 World Cup, the box-to-box midfielder was famous for his eternal on-field rivalry with Diego Maradona. From Argentina Germany to Napoli Inter Milan, these two remain one of the fiercest rivals of all time. Matthaus was the recipient of the Ballon D’or in 1990.
8. George Best
Girls. Fast cars. Booze. This little Northern Irish winger did everything wrong off the pitch, as he did everything right, on it. One of the greatest footballers to never play in a World Cup, George Best was a statement of panache in the 60s. The best dribbler, Europe has ever seen, the fifth Beatle rightfully won the Ballon d’Or in 1968, the same year he won the European Cup with Manchester United. The Irish Football Association described him as the “greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland”.
7. Franz Beckenbauer
Der Kaiser. Here we enter into the individual greatest of the countries, as is he, for Germany. One of the most versatile players of all time, Beckenbauer is considered the greatest defender in the history of the game. Inventor of the Libero, he was famous for carrying forward attacks from the back, scoring aplenty. From captaining Germany to victory in the 1974 World Cup to leading Bayern Munich to trophies aplenty, he remains the pinnacle of German football. Other than Mario Zagallo, he remains the only person to have won the World Cup as a player as well as a manager.