24 Best Teammate Partnerships in Soccer History

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2011

24 Best Teammate Partnerships in Soccer History

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    One fantastic footballer is rarely enough to take a team all the way to the top. Two isn't quite enough either, but sometimes, two players who have played together for a long time can dominate a team, and everyone reaps the rewards. 

    Great defensive, midfield and attacking partnerships have graced football for many years, and I'll do my best to list some of the greatest ones here, in no particular order. 

    Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard just missed the cut. 

Fernando Torres and Steve Gerrard

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    Fernando Torres immediately struck up a connection with Steven Gerrard when he first came to Liverpool in 2007. 

    Gerrard had the assist on Torres' first ever Liverpool goal, and the pair connected for plenty more over the next few years before Torres joined Chelsea in January. 

    Constant injuries to both players put a damper on what could've been an even more productive partnership for many years. 

Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Manchester United having both Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, before he even hit his prime, is really an embarrassment of riches.

    Rooney took a backseat to Ronaldo at United, which certainly says something about how good Ronaldo is, and the pair led the Red Devils to three straight Premier League titles from 2007-2009.

    Whatever spat there may have been in the 2006 World Cup was certainly forgotten when with Manchester United. 

Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta

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    Probably the best partnership in football today is Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta for Spanish and European Champions Barcelona and World Champions Spain. 

    Xavi and Iniesta have been playing together for a very long time, and it certainly shows in the way they pass the ball around with absolute ease. 

Alfredi Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas

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    Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas led Real Madrid during the club's most illustrious period. 

    The pair scored countless goals and won seven trophies with Los Blancos from 1958 to 1964. 

     

    Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

Teddy Sheringham and Jurgen Klinsmann

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    Teddy Sheringham and Jurgen Klinsmann may have spent just one season together at Tottenham, but it was one heck of a season. 

    In Klinsmann's first season in England, he scored 30 total goals and was named the FWA Footballer of the Year while Sheringham chipped in with 23 goals of his own, and Tottenham made it to the FA Cup semifinal. 

    Klinsmann later called Sheringham the most intelligent strike partner he'd ever played with.  

Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten

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    Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit played at AC Milan together for five years and formed one of the most dominant trios in club football.

    The three Dutchmen won two European Cups and two Serie A titles. 

Dwight York and Andrew Cole

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    Dwight Yorke's arrival at Manchester United was supposed to threaten Andy Cole's playing time, but instead, the pair formed one of the best strike partnerships in English football.

    In the 1998-99 season, Cole and Yorke scored 53 goals between them and led United to the Treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. 

    They won two more Premier League titles together. 

Emilio Butragueno and Hugo Sanchez

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    Strikers Emilio Butragueno and Hugo Sanchez, with help from the rest of the Quinta del Buitre, were the front men for Real Madrid in the 1980s and helped the club to five consecutive La Liga titles from 1985-1990.

    In the 1989-90 season, Real scored 107 league goals in just 35 matches, with Sanchez scoring 38 of them.

     

    Photo courtesy of footballmedia.net 

John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho

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    The thing that greatly helped Chelsea win its first League title in 50 years in 2005 was the defensive partnership of John Terry and newly signed Ricardo Carvalho. 

    Chelsea conceded only 15 goals that season, the least in the Premier League era, and they went on to win the title again the next year. 

Ronaldo and Rivaldo

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    Brazilian fans may have placed a lot of blame on Rivaldo for the national team's failure to win trophies during much of his time, but he and Ronaldo were in scintillating form in the 2002 World Cup. 

    Ronaldo scored in Brazil's first four matches, while Rivaldo scored in the first five. Ronaldo was the Golden Boot winner with eight goals, as they helped Brazil win its fifth World Cup. 

Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrensen

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    Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson were partners in the Liverpool defense during the club's most successful period. 

    From 1981-82 (Lawrenson's first season), the defensive pair helped Liverpool to three straight First Division and League Cup trophies. They also won the European Cup in 1984 and the League and FA Cup Double (the club's first) in 1986. 

Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp

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    Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp are easily one of the best strike partnerships ever in world football, and they fit so well together.

    Bergkamp, the ultimate support striker, and Henry, one of the most natural goal-scorers to play the game.  

    During seven years at Arsenal, the pair won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups.

Nicky Butt and Roy Keane

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    Nicky Butt was often the replacement to Roy Keane when the latter was injured or suspended, but for a few years, the pair were a dominant force in the Manchester United midfield. 

    The pair were just another spectacular duo for the Red Devils under Sir Alex Ferguson, and they set the bar for the likes of Paul Scholes and David Beckham after them.

    They also continued the dominance of a midfield pair that came before them...

Bryan Robson and Paul Ince

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    Bryan Robson came to Manchester United in 1981 in search of a league title, and along with Paul Ince, who arrived in 1989, he finally got it in 1993, United's first since 1967. 

    They won the title again the next season and also won two FA Cups and one League Cup in five years at United together. 

Garrincha and Pele

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    In the 1958 World Cup, Brazil were not the world powerhouses they are today, and they had never won a World Cup. 

    Enter Garrincha and a 17-year-old Pele. 

    The pair made their World Cup debuts together in the third match against the USSR, and though neither scored in that game, they both hit the crossbar in the opening minutes and started a new age for Brazil.

    Pele's goal against Wales in the quarterfinals, his hat trick against France in the semifinal and his brace against Sweden in the final led Brazil to its first World Cup trophy.

    Four years later, Pele started strong, and Garrincha finished the job, winning Brazil its second World Cup.

     

    Photo courtesy of legacy.com 

Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton

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    Alan Shearer was already a star at Blackburn and around the Premier League when Chris Sutton joined him in 1994. 

    In the 1994-95 season, Shearer scored a league-record 34 goals while Sutton contributed 15, and SAS led the Kenny Dalglish-led Blackburn Rovers to their first league title since 1914. 

Arsenal "Famous Four"

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    Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould formed a strong backline for Arsenal in the 1980s, and together they perfected the offside trap and brought numerous trophies to Arsenal.

    Martin Keown and Andy Linighan came around soon to battle for positions in the centre of defense with Adams and Bould, and Adams and Keown later formed quite a defensive pairing themselves. 

Kevin Keegan and John Toshack

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    Kevin Keegan and John Toshack formed one of the most prolific strike partnerships ever. 

    The bigger Toshack won every header, and he simply knocked it down for Keegan to slide into the goal. 

    Simple, easy and clinical. 

Peter Beardsley and Gary Lineker

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    One of England's greatest striker partnerships, Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley were a great goal-scoring pair in the 1980s and '90s. 

    In the 1986 World Cup, England scored seven goals. Lineker grabbed six of them, and Beardsley got the other one. 

    The pair were again crucial in taking England to the semifinals in 1990, where they were eliminated by eventual champions Germany. 

    Lineker once called Beardsley the best partner he could have. 

     

    Photo courtesy of allposters.co.uk

Mark Bright and Ian Wright

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    Mark Bright joined Ian Wright at Crystal Palace in 1986, and together, the strike pair earned their club promotion to the First Division.

    They went on to score plenty more goal and become two of the most successful players in Palace's history. 

    Bright led Palace's famous second-half comeback in a 1990 FA Cup semifinal against Liverpool which eventually saw them reach the final, and Wright, as a substitute, scored the 3-3 equalizer against Manchester United in the final to force extra time. 

Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister

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    Gary Pallister joined Manchester United in 1989, and with Steve Bruce, he formed one of the club's best central defensive pairings in its history. 

    They were part of the squad that won that 1990 FA Cup final against Crystal Palace and in 1993, the club's first league title since 1967. 

     

    Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

Kaka and Clarence Seedorf

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    Clarence Seedorf and Kaka were two attacking midfielders at their best with AC Milan. 

    In 2003, the pair helped lead Milan to its first Coppa Italia in 26 years, and they went on to win the Champions League, and Seedorf became the only player to win the trophy with three clubs (Ajax and Real Madrid). 

    The pair won the Serie A title the next season and took Milan to two more Champions League finals, 2005 and 2007, winning the latter. 

Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush

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    One of the best attacking partnerships in football, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush were almost unstoppable for Liverpool in the 1980s. 

    Fans were initially cautious over Dalglish, who was replacing Kevin Keegan, but Dalglish and Rush ended up surpassing Keegan and Toshack in many ways. 

    Together, sometimes with Dalglish as manager, they won five league titles, one European Cup, two FA Cups and four League Cups. 

Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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    Similar to Kevin Keegan and John Toshack at Liverpool, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer provided numerous assists which Ruud van Nistelrooy turned into goals for Manchester United in the early 2000s. 

    They worked so well together, they forced the excellent pairing of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke to the bench.