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#NoMatterWhat - 5 attacking players who changed the way football was played

Puma
ANALYST
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19.75K   //    Timeless

In a sport like football where the team game has always been given maximum priority, legends emerged who single handedly changed the face of the game.Not only did they achieve success, not only did they score goals, win trophies and individual accolades, they also brought along with them a revolution of some sort, revitalizing the game in the process.It would be really difficult to  pick one among them as the greatest footballer of all time due to a number of reasons but they will surely feature when the best players to have played the game are spoken about.Here are five attacking players who changed the way football was played:

#1 Pele

Pele's stupendous achievements propelled him to stardom almost instantly

In the 1958 World Cup, a 17 year and 239 day old Brazilian striker emerged as probably the greatest prodigy of all time.

With his pace, effortless grace, immense poise, impressive power and most importantly supreme intelligence, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, fondly known as Pele, is probably one of the greatest footballers of all time.

Not only did he win everything with the Brazil team, he also inspired a whole generation of youngsters across the world through his performances. It was and it still is very difficult to imagine a striker who scored goals with such ease, irrespective of the pedigree of the opposition.

Winning three World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970, the only player in the world to achieve such a feat, Pele also holds the Guinness World record for being the highest goal scorer of all time, scoring a whopping 1281 goals in 1363 games.

The so called King of football changed the face of the sport in Brazil post 1960. His four goals against England during a match at the Maracana in 1964 put the spotlight exclusively on him as the most talented player in the world at the time.

The striker who made the world believe in this game through his game, a player who brought a whole nation together, surely it is difficult to have found someone who has done it better than the legend Pele.

#2 Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona's genius left fans awestruck all over the world

Receiving the ball in his own half, just beside the iconic “spider” shadow cast on the Estadio Azteca pitch, Maradona had his back facing the goal. With a little tap on the ball, he took a step and spun a little to sneak in between Peter Reid and Peter Beardsley, before an incredible burst of speed took him past Terry Butcher and into the penalty area.

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Maradona left Reid, Beardsley, Butcher, Steve Hodge and Terry Fenwick in his wake. The rest is history as he scored the greatest goal of the 20th century.

A player known for his exceptional vision, passing, ball control, dribbling, sudden bursts of speed, lightning fast reflexes and most importantly for his flamboyance on and off the field, Maradona has been a role model for a whole generation of football lovers all across the globe.

Maradona the footballer personifies the game’s spirit of joy and adventure; a master of its ultimate skills to dribble past anyone and everyone with the ball and score goals at will.

He won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico single handedly for his nation and showed his immense talent as a player. His ‘goal of the century’ against England in the quarterfinals made people believe that even the impossible can be possible. 

#3 Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff was the prime exponent of a footballing system that was unique

A three time Ballon d’Or, Cryuff not only revolutionized Dutch football but he also showed that he was one of the greatest footballers of all time.

He was so influential that he became an integral part of a football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels. It contained an influential tactical theory of football in which any outfield player could take over the role of any other player in a team.

In the 1974 final, Cruyff kicked the game off and the ball was passed among the Dutch players thirteen times before it returned back to him. He then started a run past Berti Vogts and ended up getting fouled in the box, resulting in a penalty.  That was all the time it took for him to make an impact and what made the goal outstanding was that no German player had touched the ball till then.

Other than his dribbling abilities, the Dutch legend was well known for his switching of positions throughout the field.  Cryuff created his own style of football with his ability to pop up wherever he could on the field for his team. Most interestingly, his teammates adapted themselves flexibly around his movements, regularly switching positions so that there could be more coordination in the team.

He will always be known as a striker who not only achieved personal success but as a footballer who modernized the game as a whole.

#4 Eusebio

Eusebio's goalscoring exploits for both club and country were truly impressive

Probably the first African-born footballing superstar, and one of the best European footballers of all time, Eusebio was the prototype of a complete 21st-century striker, decades ahead of his time. A striker who could leave defenders trailing in his wake with a fearsome right foot and sudden bursts of speed, he brought up Portugal on the football map with his performances.

After winning the Ballon d'Or award in 1965, he followed it up with a Golden Boot in the World Cup next year with nine goals.

His scoring record was astonishing. In 15 years at Benfica he scored an incredible 473 goals in 440 competitive games, plus many more in friendlies. He was top scorer seven times in the Portuguese league and won the European Golden Boot twice.

The eighth-highest goal scorer in the history of the European Cup and the second-highest, behind Alfredo Di Stéfano, in the pre-Champions League era with 48 goals, the Portuguese striker was the European Cup top scorer in 1964–65, 1965–66 and 1967–68.

He was an ideal example of a perfect striker with every quality that is desired in an attacking player. He was a striker who changed the face of football, or rather the player who defined the term ‘striker’ in football.


#5 Hristo Stoichkov

Stoichkov's talent and skill helped both Bulgaria and Barcelona a lot

Hristo Stoichkov was the star of a golden Bulgarian generation, a striker with phenomenal qualities who will always be spoken of as one of the greatest strikers of his time.

A Ballon d’Or Winner in 1994, the Bulgarian was named by Pele as one of the greatest living footballers of all time. In 455 games he scored 220 goals for his club and nation, a feat that won him the award of Bulgarian Player of the Year an astounding five times in a row.

1994 World Cup’s top scorer was a creative force, tenacious, and prolific left- footed forward who was known more for his ability to create moves as a supporting striker along with scoring goals,

He formed a lethal strike partnership with Romario at Barcelona, tearing apart opposition defences with their strike partnership.

A powerful, physically strong, technically gifted player, Stoichkov was known for his sudden acceleration coupled with small dribbles at immense speed. The way he controlled the ball while running at defenders made him a menacing prospect for defenders to deal with.

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