Greatest Ever: Football: Top 10 Right-Midfielders of All Time
The 22nd installment of Barney Corkhill's Greatest Ever series is here!
In this series, I will look at the greatest talents to grace various sports. Here, I continue to look at football, this time counting down the top ten right-midfielders of all time. To avoid any confusion, I have also included right-wingers in this countdown!
10. David Beckham (ENG)
Perhaps the most recognisable and well-known footballer in history, David Beckham is one of the greatest passers of the ball and free-kick takers that has ever played the game. During his career, he has played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, and AC Milan, three of the world's biggest clubs.
At those clubs, he won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, one La Liga title, and a European Cup. At international level, the former captain has won 108 caps, equalling Bobby Moore's record for an outfield player, a record he looks set to break.
Individually, Beckham was named the PFA Young Player of the Year in 1997 and has twice finished as runner-up in the World Player of the Year awards.
9. Billy Meredith (WAL)
Meredith was one of football's first superstars. When a match involving him was announced it usually had "featuring the great Billy Meredith" under his team's name, such was his appeal.
A legend of both Manchester United and Manchester City, Meredith won two FA Cups and two First Division titles throughout his career. He made his debut in 1890 and then, 34 years later, played his final game aged 47-years-old.
Meredith fought hard against the maximum wage throughout his career, and was a key figure in it being abolished.
8. Jimmy Johnstone (SCO)
Celtic's greatest ever player, "Jinky" Johnstone was the typical winger. His mesmerising runs down the right-hand flank bemused many world class full-backs, including Giacinto Facchetti and Emlyn Hughes.
He was part of Jock Stein's magnificent Celtic side, winning nine consecutive league titles, four Scottish Cups, five Scottish League Cups, and a European Cup. That European Cup winning side later became known as the "Lisbon Lions" after beating the much fancied Inter Milan side in Lisbon.
7. Roberto Donadoni (ITA)
The great AC Milan side of the late 1980s and 1990s owed as much to Roberto Donadoni as it did to the Dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard. His pace and dribbling provided countless goal-scoring opportunities and made him a vital part of Arrigo Sacchi's and, later, Fabio Capello's dream team.
At Milan, he won five Serie A titles and three European Cups, including two consecutively. For Italy, he won 63 caps, which included the third place finish in the 1990 World Cup, and the runners-up finish four years later.
6. Luis Figo (POR)
Luis Figo is probably the only player that could be mentioned in the same breath as Eusebio when talking about Portugal's greatest ever player. He is one of few players to have played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, after signing for the latter for a then world record £38 million.
During his illustrious career, Figo has won a Portuguese Cup, four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Serie A titles, an Italian Cup, a Cup Winners' Cup, and a Champions League. At international level, he led Portugal to the final of Euro 2004, and their best World Cup finish since 1966. He ended up with a record 127 caps.
Individually, he was named the Portuguese Player of the Year six years in a row, won the Ballon d'Or in 2000, and the World Player of the Year award one year later.
5. Jairzinho (BRA)
The natural successor to Garrincha on Brazil and Botafogo's right wing, Jairzinho was one of the most important members of Brazil's great 1970 side, scoring in every round of that year's World Cup.
That World Cup was the second of three consecutive World Cups in which Jairzinho featured for Brazil, winning 81 caps in the process and scoring 33 goals. Not only were his goals of great importance, but he created many more chances for the likes of Pele, Tostao, and Rivelino.
4. Tom Finney (ENG)
Tom Finney was a fantastic example of undying loyalty to one club. He spent his whole career at Preston North End, giving him the nickname the "Preston Plumber," even when some of the world's biggest clubs declared their interest.
Finney was the first player to win the FWA Footballer of the Year award twice, doing so in 1954 and 1957. He played at three World Cups for England, winning 76 caps and scoring 30 goals in the process.
It is rumoured that when Bill Shankly thought any of his players were getting too big-headed, he would remind them that Tom Finney could run rings around them with an overcoat on.
3. George Best (NIR)
Had his career not ended so early, George Best would probably be top of this list by some way. Despite the premature end, Best still made a huge impact when in his prime. His greatest days came for Matt Busby's post-Munich Manchester United.
He helped this United side to two First Division titles and a European Cup. It was his performances in the European Cup that brought him to worldwide fame, particularly against Benfica in 1966, after which he was dubbed "the fifth Beatle."
He was named the FWA Player of the Year and European Player of the Year in 1968. Unfortunately, he never got to play in a World Cup, but still won 37 caps for Northern Ireland.
2. Stanley Matthews (ENG)
While Best ended his career early through excessive drinking, Stanley Matthews prolonged his through lack of it. Such was his longevity that he was still playing at the top level when he was 50-years-old, eventually playing his last competitive game aged 55.
In 1953, Matthews won the FA Cup with Blackpool in a final that will forever be remembered as the "Matthews Final," despite Stan Mortensen scoring a hat trick. He was a two-time FWA Footballer of the Year winner, and was the first ever winner of the Ballon d'Or.
He also became the first and, so far, only player to be knighted while still playing. Pele once said that Matthews "taught us the way football ought to be played." For England, Matthews won 54 caps in an international career that lasted over 20 years.
1. Garrincha (BRA)
Widely regarded as the greatest dribbler of the ball in football history, Garrincha was lucky to have been able to play at all after being born with several defects. As it turned out, these defects, notably his right leg bending inwards and his left leg being six centimeters shorter and bending outwards, probably helped him more than they did hinder him.
He played most of his career at Botafogo, but made headlines most at international level, where he formed a formidable partnership with Pele. He was part of the 1958 and 1962 World Cup winning sides, being named top-scorer and Player of the Tournament in the latter. That same year he was named as the World Player of the Year.
Brazil only ever lost one game when Garrincha was on the pitch, and never lost when both Garrincha and Pele were playing. In all, he played 50 times for his country, scoring 12 goals.
Garrincha - the greatest right midfielder ever!
Other articles from this series include:
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