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Top 5 forwards from the 90s

ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
710   //    Timeless

The 1990s is seen as the period of commercialization of football - the time when the sport turned into a business. It saw the establishment of the Premier League and the Champions League in 1992. The Premier League replaced the English Football League Championship to become the highest division in the English Football League system, taking away the top 22 clubs from the latter.

The league was undoubtedly dominated by Manchester United, the team winning titles in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 & 1999. Marseille conquered the first Champions League trophy, the championship that substituted the European Cup.

Players like Del Piero, Maldini, Weah and Zidane made the Italian Serie A one of the most sought after tournaments, with the dominance of Juventus and Milan. Under Cruyff’s guidance, and legends like Romario, Stoichkov and Koeman, Spain’s Barcelona achieved wonders no one else could. With a European Cup and six domestic titles, the team could be entitled as the team of the decade.

Technically, a forward is simply a player who plays in the front line of the team, and hence includes inside forwards, centre-forwards and wing forwards, amongst others. They are the main contributors to the creation of opportunities for scoring.

However, a striker is one whose sole objective is to net the ball, i.e. score goals. These players have the ability to handle the ball within the penalty area and have fabulous finishing skills.

Sometimes, the difference is respected to an extent where the two positions are considered completely exclusive of each other. The terms are, however, often used interchangeably and no accurate distinction can be made. And thus, the following article consists of forwards as a broader definition - including strikers as well.

While many varying opinions exist on the best forwards in the 90s, these extraordinary players are almost never disagreed upon. The players chosen here are shortlisted not just on the basis of the feats achieved (trophies won or goals scored) by them in their respective careers, but more importantly their style of play and the impact that their presence made to their team, country and the sport as a whole. 

Marcel "Marco" van Basten

Marcel "Marco" van Basten, one of the greatest European forwards of all time, was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1964. He started young at the age of 6 and was just 16 years old when he signed a professional contract with Ajax Amsterdam.

He emerged as the top scorer in the 1982-83 season, a position which he retained for the next four seasons. He won the European Golden Boot and also scored the winning goal in the UEFA cup in 1987.

During his time at Ajax, Marco had netted 128 goals in 133 league matches. Silvio Berlusconi, the AC Milan chairman, was awed by the young boy’s skills and signed him in the year 1987.

Despite a severe ankle injury which kept him off the field for a while, Basten received the Ballon d’Or in the 1988-89 season, Serie A titles and lifted the European Champion’s Cup in ’89. He was one of the keys forwards in the Dutch national team, scoring 24 goals in 58 games.

Despite his unfortunate early retirement at the age of 28, Basten won the Ballon d’Or 3 times, was named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992 and ranked 6th in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll. After retiring, he went on to manage the Netherlands national team, apart from Ajax, Heerenveen and AZ. 

Ajax Amsterdam v SC Heerenveen - Eredivisie
Ajax Amsterdam v SC Heerenveen - Eredivisie


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