28 Most Skilled Passers in World Football History

Thomas Atzenhoffer@socceratzCorrespondent IIApril 23, 2012

28 Most Skilled Passers in World Football History

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    While a beautifully struck goal in a World Football match can be a memorable event to anyone who sees it happen, there has to be something to set up that chance.

    The following list of players are those who helped to facilitate the greatest strikes in football history.

    Playmakers and great passers are those who create the ability for magic to happen in every football game ever played, and here are your greatest in history.

Honorable Mention

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    Enzo Francescoli

    Eric Cantona

    Hugo Sotil

    Gianfranco Zola

    Cesc Fabregas


    Ruud Gullit

    Josep Guardiola

    Juan Sebastian Veron


    Ryan Giggs

    Matt Le Tissier

    Wesley Sneijder


    Leon Britton

    Mikel Arteta

    Glenn Hoddle

    Vincenzo Scifo

    Tom Finney

    Rui Costa

Andres Iniesta

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    One of two players that form the engine room for FC Barcelona, Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta is one of the best playmakers in the world today.

Xabi Alonso

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    Real Madrid and Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso has some of the best vision in the modern game.

    Not only can he place a perfect pass from ten yards, he is also renowned for his ability to play a long precise through-ball.

Bobby Charlton

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    One of greatest playmakers in England's history, Sir Bobby Charlton, is a Manchester United and Three Lion's legend.

    He was part of the first true rise to prominence of Manchester United and was irreplaceable for the English National team as he is one of the members of England's only World Cup-winning squad in 1966.

Lothar Matthaus

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    Germany's greatest maestro, Lothar Matthaus, made a career out of being a brilliant passer of the ball.

    His ability to create space, goals and attacking chances wherever he plied his trade made him indispensable.

Roberto Baggio

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    Roberto Baggio is one of Italy's greatest playmakers from the 1980's and 1990's.

    Although he never won as many awards as others during the same time period, his skill on the ball was never in doubt.

Lionel Messi

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    While known equally as a finesse goal scorer, little Argentine sensation and world renowned forward Lionel Messi is as adept with his ability to set up a goal as he is to score one.

    A perennial European leader in the assists category, he has racked up 49 between last campaign and the current with more yet to come this year.

Andrea Pirlo

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    Andrea Pirlo made his name as a playmaker with AC Milan for a decade.

    During the period of 2003-07 he was part of some of the best club and international football in history. He won two Champions League trophies with Milan, a Bronze Olympic medal and the 2006 World Cup with Italy.


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    Zico was labeled the second coming of Pele by many.

    His play helped to lead Brazil to a near-victory in the 1994 World Cup, and his ability as a playmaker is remembered around the globe.

Dennis Bergkamp

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    Netherlands' international Dennis Bergkamp made his name as a deep-lying second attacker.

    His favored position was a merger and attacking midfielder and a forward and it allowed him to be both decisive and creative on the ball.

Gheorghe Hagi

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    Gheorghe Hagi is one of the greatest Romanian footballers in history.

    His passing skills saw him lead Steaua Bucuresti to the top of Romania in the late 1980's and nearly earned them a European title.

    Hagi also had his skills tested for Real Madrid and Barcelona as well as in both Italy and Turkey.

David Beckham

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    The term, "Bend it like Beckham," was not just created out of thin air.

    English-born playmaker David Beckham was the creative catalyst for many brilliant moments in the history of Manchester United, Real Madrid and also for the LA Galaxy and AC Milan on two separate loan occasions.

    Beckham's ability from set pieces, crosses and through the midfield has made him indispensable as a passer throughout his career.


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    There are few names in football with more worldly recognition than retired Brazilian footballer, Pele.

    Although he will always be remembered for his goal-scoring ability that saw him average over a goal per game for his career, there is no underestimating his ability to play in the perfect pass.

Luis Figo

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    Portuguese playmaker Luis Figo is the best passer in the history of his nation.

    A member of Portugal's Golden Generation, Figo is also one of the few that have been able to switch sides in the world's biggest rivalry—FC Barcelona and Real Madrid—and manage to come out clean on either side.

    Figo was considered the best in the game during the time period of 1999-2001, and one of the best through the majority of the 2000's.


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    Brazilian footballer was known for his intelligence, acute positional sense, fluid style and was fond of playing as a deep center forward.

    He was a crucial part of the legendary attacking foursome alongside Pele, Jairzinho and Rivelino and was part of the 1970's World Cup-winning side.

    His club career scored 249 goals in 378 appearances for Cruzeiro, and he remains their leading goalscorer of all time.

Xavi Hernandez

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    FC Barcelona and Spanish midfielder Xavi Hernandez is one of the best of his time.

    The playmaker is the engine that drives Barcelona's attack, and his ability to perform every type of pass in the book only makes his presence that much more important.

    Unfortunately, teammates like Lionel Messi sometimes take away the spotlight from the role-players like Xavi.

Gianni Rivera

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    Italian Gianni Rivera is an AC Milan legend,where he played for 18 years and was one of the best playmakers the club had ever seen over the course of the 1960's and 1970's.

    His abilities helped to lead Milan to two European titles in 1963 and 1969 as well as three Scudetto's and four Coppa Italia trophies.


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    Garrincha is one of many Brazilian-born players to make the list.

    During the 1950's and 1960's he was instrumental to both his club Botafogo as well as the Brazilian national team.

    He was part of two Brazilian World Cup victories in 1958 and 1962.


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    Ronaldinho rose to the awareness of many during his time at Paris Saint Germain.

    However, it was his five seasons between 2003-08 at FC Barcelona that proved the Brazilian was one of the best playmakers in history.

Juan Roman Riquelme

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    Boca Juniors and Argentine international Juan Roman Riquelme has a long history of being one of the best passers in the world.

    His abilities have seen him equally decorated individually as a four time Argentine player of the year and also as the 2005 Spanish La Liga foreign player of the year.

    Villarreal experienced some of their best seasons in Europe and Spain when Riquelme was the engine of their midfield.

Ricardo Bochini

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    Ricardo Bochini played his entire 740-game career in Argentina for Independiente.

    His playmaking and passing skills led to 12 major trophies for his club. He was also a key player on the 1986 Argentine national team along with Diego Maradona—whose ability on the ball helped their nation succeed.

Zinedine Zidane

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    French midfield maestro Zinedine Zidane has more accolades and awards than you can count on your fingers and toes combined.

    Perhaps the greatest playmaker to ever come out of France, Zizzo is the greatest passer of his generation.

Carlos Valderrama

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    Legendary Colombian footballer Carlos Valderrama is as famous for his hair as he is for his ability as a playmaker.

    Valderrama is the second all-time leader in assists (114), in Major League Soccer's history.

Paul Scholes

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    The quintessential Manchester United midfielder, Paul Scholes has almost two decades of service in the Red Devils midfield.

    His passing ability was so lost on United during the first half of 2011-12 that they convinced him to come back out of retirement during the club's midfield injury crisis this season.

    To have that kind of impact even at the age of 37 proves his worth as a member of the passing elite.

Diego Maradona

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    Aside from being the first and foremost master of the handball, Argentine footballer Diego Maradona was also one of the best passers in the game during his prime.

Michel Platini

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    Michael Platini is now the much loathed President of UEFA, but was once a master on the pitch.

    The Frenchman is the best passer of the ball in his nation's history.

    He is one of few foreign players to have been elected into the English Football Hall of Fame for his skill displayed in the game.

Johan Cruyff

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    Dutchman Johan Cruyff is not only the greatest passer in the history of Holland, he is also the father of one of the game's greatest styles of play—total football.

    Total football is all about the ability of pass and move, with passing being the most important part.

Michael Laudrup

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    The Danish playmaker is the second greatest passer in the history of the game.

    Not only was he instrumental in FC Barcelona's early 1990's dominance, he was also indispensable for the Danish national team where he made over 100 appearances scoring 37 goals and creating many more.


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    Brazilian footballer Didi is the most gifted passer in the history of the game.

    His skills were showcased throughout his national team career as well as throughout his nation and Europe.

    Two World Cup Championships are without a doubt the top of his achievements list.


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    The beautiful game is what it is because of players like these who help to make the game so amazing to watch.

    Who are your favorite passers of all time?

    Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out more on Bleacher Report and at the links below. You can follow me on Twitter @thedailyatz and Facebook, or visit my website.


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