Say what you like about Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, Maradona and George Best, but there will only ever be one "Wizard of Dribble."
Sir Stanley Matthews is one of the greatest giants football has ever produced. And he is rightly hailed in the same breath as the previous players I mentioned.
The winger, whose career saw him play professional football until he was 50, helped revolutionise the game in ways that are still being used today.
He was a supremely intelligent player who could play on either flank or as an inside forward in the old W-formation. This was aided by the fact that he was incredibly skillful and possessed, quite possibly, the quickest feet ever seen in football.
Primarily used on the wing, Matthews never self-indulged when playing. He used his speed, skill and dribbling ability to great affect. He comes from an era in which the goal was to get past your opponent in the most effective way without looking like a showoff or without trying to make your marker look foolish. And he is rightly hailed as one of the classiest players on or off the pitch of all time.
Even though he is best remembered for his amazing dribbling skills—try to walk in those hobnail boots they used to wear back then, never mind play in them—his greatest effect on the modern game was probably through his health regime.
Before health and fitness were even a factor in football and in an era where players were not allowed to see a ball from one end of the week until the next (because it made you hungry for the match), Matthews employed his own unique fitness regime. He trained every single day, with and without the ball, and only ate healthy food he thought would promote energy.
Today, even the most amateur of footballers knows about the advantages of a healthy diet and fitness regimen. Back then, Matthews might as well have been talking rocket science.
To this day, Matthews holds the record at being the oldest ever player to play in the top division in England, and he is the oldest player to represent his country.
Game-wise he is probably most famous for the Matthews Final in 1953.
In a game that will be forever known as the Matthews Final, Bolton were leading Blackpool 3-1 with 20 minutes to go. The then-38-year-old turned on the style to inspire his team to a remarkable 4-3 victory that is still hailed as the best FA Cup final of all time.
Legends don't come much more deserved than Sir Stanley Matthews, the first European Footballer of the Year ever.
— FA Cup: 1953
— FA Cup runner-up (2): 1948, 1951
— Football League First Division runner-up (1): 1955–56
- Stoke City
— Football League Second Division (2): 1932–33, 1962–63
— FWA Footballer of the Year (2): 1948, 1963
— European Footballer of the Year: 1956