10 most magically gifted players of all time
Magic: the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces. Also see, wonderful; exciting. There are times when you watch football on your telly, or in your neighborhood, or in a stadium and you go “how in the blue hell did he just do that?”. We’ve all been there, and we all remember just what a rush of pure adrenaline it is witness something magical.
There are a special few footballers who have made their living by making crowds, and TV audiences, go “wow” time after time, and here we attempt to pick out ten of the most magically gifted of them all.
Disclaimer – The views expressed are the author’s own
#10 Jay Jay Okocha
”He’ s so good they named him twice” they sang, and for good reason. Bolton had never seen a player quite so gifted – and still, hasn’t. Jay Jay Okocha came from PSG on a free in 2002 and took the Premier League by storm. Loose-limbed and rubbery-boned, the Nigerian left defenders with – to use that classic Alex Ferguson phrase – “twisted blood”.
He rabona-ed pinpoint sixty-yard passes, rainbow-flicked balls over angry Irishmen (read Roy Keane), sat defenders on the ground and raised the hairs on the back of your neck regardless of affiliation. This is not to say he was all style and no substance... he had excellent passing range, unmatched technique (innumerable volleys and freekicks stand evidence of that) and a keen eye for goal.
He may never have won anything of matter – other than the ‘94 AFCON – but sometimes magic doesn’t need the validation of silverware. It simply is.
So forget the fact that we have ignored many more successful players to include him on this list. Just enjoy the magic
#9 Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov played with the kind of lazy elegance that aristocrats sipping on those fancy thin cigarettes and soaking in Luciano Pavarotti whilst clad in the best from Milan’s high street can only dream of. Nonchalant to the point of looking bored, the Bulgarian artist had a touch that inspired its own unique term in football’s rich lexicon – Berberotica.
There’s a great anecdote from the Fulham training ground that shows just how magically gifted he was – Jamie O’Hara kept bombing up the wing from his right back position during training whilst screaming at Berba (who had just arrived at Craven cottage at the time) to pass the ball to him. Every single time he was ignored. A few weeks later, he found himself in a great position on the wing, but seeing that Berba had the ball, chose not scream another futile request and slowed down.
Just as he did that, the ball came in from 60 yards and landed on his boot – everyone was simply stunned by the accuracy of the pass. After training, Berba walks up to O’Hara and goes – "There's no need to shout, I know where you are."