Ranking the Top 14 Completely One Footed Players of All Time

Shane Murray@shanemurray76Featured ColumnistApril 26, 2014

Ranking the Top 14 Completely One Footed Players of All Time

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    When compiling a list of gifted but notoriously one-footed players, there are always a few names who immediately spring to mind: Maradona, Beckham and Vieri, to name but three.

    However, the trends that appear when listed and compared side-by-side are very interesting, and there’s probably no surprise to learn that most of the names included are flair or luxury players, men capable of winning games on their own or changing a game in the blink of an eye.

    What this list also highlights is that a significant majority, 10, of these players have played with either Barcelona or Real Madrid at one point, have won many World Cups and an array of individual awards, which suggests you don’t have to have exceptional control and skill with both feet to make it at the very top.

    Read on to see who are the 15 most one-footed players in recent memory and don't be shy about letting us know who you think deserves a place on this list. Or who doesn't! 

14. Petr Cech

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    What, a goalkeeper on this list? Say it ain’t so. Well, it is so as since the no back pass rule was introduced in 1992 a goalkeeper’s ability to kick has come under the spotlight.

    And, more importantly, their ability to kick comfortably and effectively with both feet has become an important part of their defensive weaponry.

    Cech has been outstanding for Chelsea and the Czech Republic in a career that has seen him make more than 550 appearances in total but kicking has occasionally been a source of concern for the 6’5” ’keeper.

    And although he is generally consistent with his left foot, questions have been asked about his right foot, which has caused several moments of concern for his fellow defenders and the Stamford Bridge faithful with some wayward clearances over the years.

13. Leighton Baines

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    The England defender has excelled in recent years down Everton’s left wing as his consistent forays forward from left-back have been a huge factor in the Toffees’ rise during David Moyes’ tenure.

    The former Wigan man’s adventurous play from deep has given Everton’s midfield a consistent and productive outlet and ensured opposing right-backs and wingers are pinned back.

    His accuracy from free-kicks and the penalty spot are also pivotal to Everton’s resurgence, but having watched Everton closely for the past number of years, I honestly don’t recall any telling contributions from his right foot. Am I wrong? 

    Watch his most recent highlight reel here

12. Ronald Koeman

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    The former Barcelona and Netherlands centre-back is the top scoring defenders of all time with more than 200 goals in over 600 games thanks to an absolute belter of a right foot.

    A master of taking the ball out of defence and unleashing an unstoppable strike on goal, Koeman’s eye for goal made him one of his team’s key attacking options, even though he largely played at the back.

    With such a powerful and clinical right foot, especially from free-kicks and penalties, little is known or recorded about the abilities of Koeman’s left foot. But with a right foot so good, he and his admirers are sure to care little.

11. Arjen Robben

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    While Arjen Robben can lay claim to being one of the game’s best players of the last 10 years, there is little doubt that the Dutch winger places an overwhelming emphasis on his left foot, even though he spends a lot of time on the right wing.

    The former Groningen, PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Real Madrid and current Bayern Munich star has more than a tendency to avoid using his right foot for crossing, shooting or long passes and statistics produced by Prozone, as revealed in this 2013 article on IoL Sport, claim that 80 percent of his shots have come from his trusty left boot.

    There is a belief that Robben can be easily stifled with the right tactics, namely to push him on to his right foot and render him significantly less effective, but in spite of that, his trickery, speed of thought and foot means very few have managed to do that and he continues to terrorise defences in a star-studded Bayern side.

    In roughly 400 games for club and country, Robben has hit the net more than 100 times, not a bad return for a one-footed winger.

10. Ryan Giggs

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    Like his former United team-mate David Beckham, Ryan Giggs has terrorised defences throughout a spectacularly consistent career, which has seen him score nearly 200 goals in more than 1,000 appearances for Manchester United and Wales.

    The winger relies heavily on his left foot, and he was generally deployed on the left wing earlier in his career, which gave him the opportunity to use his pace and trickery to isolate the opposing full-back and deliver a cross into the box or have a shot on goal himself.

    His poise and composure on the ball has seen him occupy a more central role more frequently in the latter part of his career.

    Giggs will always be remembered for the scintillating goal he scored in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final victory over Arsenal, a mazy dribble through the Gunners’ aging rearguard before hammering the ball left-footed past David Seaman.

    In his 10 or 12 touches of the ball, as he slalomed through from inside his own half, it’s telling that only one or two were with his weaker right foot.

9. Gareth Bale

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    Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive footballer, is yet another left-footed winger to play for one of Spain’s top two on this list.

    The flying Real Madrid winger has enjoyed a meteoric rise from his schoolboy days at Southampton to become one of the game’s most exciting talents, but his over-reliance on his left foot has not gone unnoticed.

    After his arrival in Madrid, according to The Guardian’s Sid Lowe, Luis Nieto of sports daily AS wrote of Bale: “His price was indecent, he came to Madrid without a pre-season, we had to study medicine to understand the injuries, he can barely say 'Buenos dias', and he only has one foot. But it's an exceptional foot which moves at an unstoppable speed.”

    And that blistering pace and sweet left foot was in evidence only last week when the Welsh Wizard outstripped Barcelona defender Marc Bartra to score the winning goal in the Copa del Rey, although he did prod the ball forwards twice to prove that his right foot is not just for standing on.

8. David Beckham

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    Jae C. Hong

    The former Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was a shoe-in for this list given his reliance on a right foot blessed with unerring precision and power.

    A right foot that packed unrivaled accuracy and considerable punch allowed the England international to enjoy a glittering career in five countries with some of the best teams in the world.

    And he did that without much input from his left foot, instead relying on his vision and trusty right boot to unlock defences, during a career in which he scored 114 goals and set up countless others en route to becoming one of the most recognisable faces in the world.

7. Christian Vieri

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    The former Inter, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina striker is consistently mentioned as one of the most one-footed players when it comes to discussions on the topic.

    The big Italian was often described as a typically bustling, British centre-forward with a game that relied as much on physicality as it did on finesse.

    Having said that, the nomadic striker who played with 13 clubs in all, was a scorer of great goals with his left foot and scored more Serie A goals with his head than anyone in Italian history.

    With 23 goals in 49 internationals, he is regarded as one of Italy’s finest ever forwards and his record in World Cups, with nine goals in nine games at the 1998 and 2002 finals, is up there with the best of them in spite of the limitations of his right foot.

6. Gheorghe Hagi

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    One of very few players to play for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, Gheorghe Hagi was a gifted, mercurial midfielder with a penchant for long distance bullets with an arrow of a left foot.

    Hagi became a legend for his native Romania throughout a stellar international career, scoring 35 goals in 125 appearances from 1983 to 2000.

    At club level for teams including Steaua Bucharest, Brescia and Galatasaray, the "Maradona of the Carpathians" registered 261 goals in 547 games marking him out as one of his generation’s outstanding performers. 

5. Hristo Stoichkov

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    Bulgarian ace Hristo Stoichkov is another Eastern European footballing prodigy, who captivated a global audience with his silky skills, left-foot wonder strikes and deceptive pace from 1981 until his retirement in 2003.

    A dead-ball specialist, Stoichkov was an unpredictable, temperamental figure and regularly tried the ambitious or unexpected from his traditional position on the left wing, although he scored a lot of goals cutting in from the right wing and from more central positions.

    Another on this list to have played with Barcelona (twice), Stoichkov also played for CSKA Sofia in his homeland (again twice), Parma and the Chicago Fire in a career that saw him score 225 times in 473 games at club level and 38 goals in 84 games for his country.

4. Rivaldo

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    According to The Guardian’s Rob Smyth, Brazilian ace Rivaldo "apart from a right foot, had everything."

    The highly decorated winger is yet another left-footed genius to have worn the Barcelona jersey with distinction and was named FIFA Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner after an outstanding 1999.

    You don’t score 34 goals in 74 games as you star for Brazil en route to one World Cup success and one runner-up finish without an enormous amount of skill and talent. However, a look through many of his career goals will show that very few of them left his much-neglected right foot.

    In all, the well-travelled Rivaldo scored over 400 goals in almost 900 games in a career that took him to Spain, Italy, Greece, Uzbekistan, Angola and his native Brazil.

3. Roberto Carlos

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    When you have a left foot as powerful and brilliant as Roberto Carlos had, then it shouldn’t matter how good or bad your right foot is, right? Right!

    Standing at 5’6”, and with thighs measuring a staggering 24 inches in circumference, Carlos proved himself to be one of the most outstanding attack-minded defenders in the history of the game.

    A Real Madrid legend following 11 success-filled seasons at the Bernabeu, the marauding left-back possessed the ability to strike the ball at obscene speeds of over 100mph, while his accuracy from free-kicks added an exceptional weapon to his already extensive arsenal.

    He retired with 45 goals in 370 games for Real, while at international level he hit 11 in 125 games for Brazil, including a stunning free-kick against France in 1997, which will go down as one of the greatest goals of all-time.

2. Diego Maradona

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    Diego Armando Maradona was a notoriously one-footed maestro, who orchestrated the nature of play with the prompt of a left foot that had few, if any, equals.

    At 5’5”, the Argentine was blessed with a low centre of gravity that enabled him to deftly evade the attentions of opposing defenders and hone in on goal.

    A master of the mazy dribble and no stranger to the spectacular, the former Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla forward will be best remembered for his stunning displays at the 1986 World Cup, where he hauled Argentina to victory.

    Remind yourself of the great man's brilliance here and count how many times he uses his right foot. 

1. Lionel Messi

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    Arguably the world’s greatest ever player, Lionel Messi is another left-footed wizard capable of weaving all kinds of magic with a left foot that has been likened to glue because of his ability to retain possession and control of the ball.

    However, when Messi broke the Barcelona goalscoring record back in 2012, a whopping 79 percent of those goals were with his left foot, with just 16 percent coming courtesy of his right boot.

    Those statistics illustrate the emphasis Messi places on his left peg, but while his right foot may have produced occasional moments of brilliance, his overwhelming reliance on his left means he can be accurately labeled a one-foot wonder.

    Check Messi's fantastic skills out for yourself here


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