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Top 5 greatest footballers of all time

Several World Cup winners make the list.

CONTRIBUTOR
Top 5 / Top 10 16 May 2018, 07:36 IST
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Franz Beckenbauer

Football is without any doubt the most popular sport in the world. It is played in almost all the countries of the world and enjoys passionate following and unparalleled fanfare. Needless to say, it has been adorned by some great players over the decades.

Those players have enriched the game with their presence, playing style and unforgettable performances. They have inspired millions of supporters and etched their name permanently in the history of football.

It is not an easy job to pick out 5 players and tag them as being some of the greatest footballers of all time, however, what separates the greatest players from the lesser mortals is their consistency, longevity, tendency to excel in big games and the rare ability to change the course of a match with a moment of brilliance.


#5 Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)

Franz Beckenbauer is popularly known as “Der Kaiser” meaning the “the Emperor” in German and the epithet could not have been bestowed on a more deserving man. Beckenbauer’s regal looks, his elegant distribution, clean tackling and leadership on the pitch made him a football royalty.

Arguably the greatest defender to have played the game, Beckenbauer could have played as a midfielder too. He used to play as a sweeper or “libero” and popularised the playing position with his performances. He used to sweep the ball out of his own penalty box after a fellow defender had tackled it and then create moves by passing the ball to the advancing midfielders.

Beckenbauer made his mark in the 1966 World Cup as a 21-year-old, playing for the then West Germany. West Germany lost to England 2-4 in the final under controversial circumstances. In the 1970 World Cup, he battled with a broken arm in an unforgettable semifinal match against Italy which West Germany went on to lose 3-4.

However, he was 3rd time lucky as West Germany went on to lift the 1974 World Cup as hosts. They beat a very formidable Dutch side 2-1 in the final in Munich. Beckenbauer was the captain of that side. Before the World Cup glory, he had led West Germany to their triumph in the Euro 1972.

Beckenbauer played for German giants Bayern Munich for a major part of his career. In 13 years with Bayern, he won 3 consecutive European Cups and 4 Bundesliga titles. He also won 2 Ballon d'Or trophies.

After making more than 400 appearances for Bayern and attaining more than 100 caps for the West German national team, Beckenbauer retired from international football and went to the United States to play for New York Cosmos in an endeavor to popularize and promote the game there.

He came back to West Germany three years later, joined Hamburger SV and won a Bundesliga with them. Later, Beckenbauer went on to win the World Cup as the manager of the West German national team in 1990.

“Der Kaiser” also became the president of Bayern Munich and continues to be a patron of the club. He is the embodiment of the efficiency and success that German football is so famous for.

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