Tim Howard and 10 World-Class Players on Middling Teams

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Tim Howard and 10 World-Class Players on Middling Teams
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Not all world-class football players play for world-class football teams.

Even in today's game of transfer-happy mega clubs, some great players manage to slip through the cracks.

But not for long.

Eventually, the best players always seem to make their way to the biggest, best and richest clubs in Europe. But at different points in their careers, world-class players can be found at less-than-world-class clubs.

There are a number of reasons why.

The first is youth. Young players often start at smaller clubs before catching the eyes of scouts from bigger clubs.

Wayne Rooney worked his way through the Everton youth system and made his first-team debut for that club at age 16 before quickly drawing attention from Manchester United. And he's just one of many.

At the other end, older players who are still world class can be found at lesser clubs after their skills have diminished.

And sometimes, the player doesn't change, but the club does. Sometimes a world-class player is with a team that's world-class one season and middling the next.

At the same time, middling can mean different things to different people.

While a club might perform well in its own country, it can be a minnow in Europe or globally.

For this list, we're taking the broadest view possible of the strength of clubs. To avoid the term middling, the club has to be among the world's best and most powerful.

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