Argentina is one of the most successful football nations in the world. The South Americans have won the FIFA world cup twice and finished runners-up on 3 occasions. They have also won the Copa America a record 14 times and produced some outstanding footballers over the decades.
Argentine footballers typically have the Latin American flair in their game but are not totally averse to the powerful style of European football either. The admixture of two contrasting styles has made Argentina’s football a delight to watch. Moreover, the Argentine people are very passionate about the game, and their national football team stands for the pride of the nation in general.
There have been a lot of legendary Argentine footballers, who have had their admirers worldwide. We will now take a look at the 5 greatest Argentine footballers of all time:
#5. Gabriel Batistuta
Batistuta was fondly called “Batigoal” because of his natural tendency to score goals. He remains one of the finest strikers of the modern era, and also one of the greatest footballers Argentina has produced. He was a legendary player for two Italian clubs: Fiorentina and AS Roma, and he retired from the game as one of the most successful strikers of all time.
Batistuta was blessed with a natural ability to score goals, as well as great shooting and heading abilities. He could shirk his markers quickly and had great acceleration. He could also take powerful shots from the edge of the penalty box and also quite adept in taking free-kicks.
Batistuta joined Fiorentina in 1991 and played for them till 2000. He scored a whopping 203 goals in 331 matches for them. Thereafter, he joined Roma in 2000 and went on to score 33 goals from 87 matches for them. He won the Serie A title with Roma in the 2000-01 season. He also played for Italian club Inter Milan for a while and ended up with 238 goals in 430 matches in his club career. He also finished as the top scorer in the Serie A thrice in his career.
Batistuta was quite successful for the Argentine national team as well, as he retired as the highest goal-scorer in Argentina’s history with 54 goals from 77 matches. He has two hat-tricks to his name in the World Cup and won 2 Copa America titles with the Albicelest.
#4. Daniel Passarella
Passarella is arguably the greatest defender ever born in Argentina and he captained their national team for a while. He was very strong in the air, and a very tough tackler. He also had great intelligence and leadership qualities.
Passarella is a legend for River Plate and remains one of their finest players of all time. He won the Argentine first division title 6 times with River. He also played for European clubs Inter Milan and Fiorentina. Passarella played in 3 World Cups for Argentina and won the title with them in both 1978 and 1986.
Passarella earned 70 caps for the Argentine national team and scored 22 goals. He captained the side in the 1978 and 1982 World Cups and later became the coach of the Albiceleste. He also scored 49 goals in 207 matches in his club career and was included in Argentina’s team of the century in 2015.
#3. Alfredo Di Stefano
Many football pundits might not agree with Di Stefano’s positioning here, as they regard him as one of the greatest footballers of all time. Those debates can go on forever, but there is no denying the obvious fact that he was one of the best the world has ever seen. He represented three separate countries - Argentina, Colombia, and Spain, and was the finest player ever to play for Real Madrid, the biggest club in the world.
Di Stefano won 5 consecutive European Cups and 8 LaLiga titles for Real, a staggering achievement by any standard. He also scored 308 official goals for Los Blancos. Prior to that, he had played for River Plate successfully and also won the Argentine first division with them.
Di Stefano also scored 29 goals in 41 international appearances. However, he could not play in the World Cup, owing to various reasons. He was one of the most versatile and complete footballers of all time and started his career as a center forward. He gradually became an attacking midfielder as his career progressed, and also played as a defensive midfielder in the latter stages of his career.
Di Stefano had a tendency to be omnipresent on a football pitch and had an exceptional work rate. He played along with great footballers like Ferenc Puskas, Claudio Gento and Jose Santamaria for Real Madrid but stood head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates.
#2. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is quite possibly the most successful footballer of all time in club football, and his exploits for FC Barcelona almost defies belief. He has scored 585 goals in 671 matches for the Catalan giants and won 4 UEFA Champions League and 9 LaLiga titles with them. He has also won 5 Ballon d’Ors and remained the premier footballer in the world throughout the last decade.
Messi has everything that an attacking player can dream of. He is a consummate dribbler, a great shooter, and has exceptional vision. He can destroy any opposition defense on his day and has been the primary reason behind Barca’s rise in world football in the last decade.
Messi has been playing for the Barca senior team since 2004, and he might retire there. He has also been an exceptional footballer for his national team too and remains his country’s highest goal-scorer with 65 goals in 128 matches. However, he has not been able to win any major silverware for his national team and had to be content with a second-place finish in the World Cup and Copa America.
There have been very few players like Messi in the history of football, and many call him the greatest of all time. It is a privilege for the football-lovers all over the world to still see him in action for Barca.
#1. Diego Maradona:
Diego Maradona is quite possibly the most famous Argentine player of all time and stands for the pride of the nation. He has been an all-conquering footballer for them and his achievements have very few parallels in world football.
Famously known as ''El Diego'', Maradona played in 4 World Cups for Argentina and appeared in two finals. He won the World Cup almost single-handedly in the 1986 World Cup, and his performance in that tournament is quite possibly the greatest individual performance in any tournament in the history of football. He scored 5 goals in that tournament and set up a few more as Argentina won their 2nd World Cup in Mexico.
He again carried a depleted Argentine team to the final of the 1990 World Cup, before they lost 0-1 to West Germany.
Maradona also played successfully for European clubs like Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla. He won the Copa Del Rey with Barca and transformed Napoli altogether. In his 7 seasons with the club from Southern Italy, Maradona won 2 Serie A titles and 1 European Cup Winners’ Cup. He fought with the might of the clubs like AC Milan and Juventus to make Napoli one of the genuine title contenders in Italy.
He possessed arguably the greatest left foot of all time and was a brilliant dribbler and passer. He had a very good shot on him too, and quite possibly was the most technically gifted footballer of all time. He scored 150 goals in 327 matches in his club career, and 34 more in 91 matches for his national team, but mere stats would not be able to fully describe the great impact he had on the game in general.