World Cup Top 10 midfielders
The FIFA World Cup has featured great football players over the years. Most players have been exceptional at this platform which makes it hard to leave them out of the list of top performers. However, there are those who clearly stand out. Here we take a look at the FIFA World Cup 10 best midfielders of all time.
10. Grzegorz Lato
Years Active: 1966 to 1991
Grzegorz Lato had great influence to the Poland national team and was sensational in the Poles performance at the international level. He was the top scorer at the 1974 World Cup after getting seven goals to become the only Polish player to win the Golden Boot in the tournament. Lato played a crucial role in ensuring the team made it out of a tough group consisting of Argentina, Italy and Haiti. Two goals from the talented midfielder helped sink Argentina 3-2 in their first match of the tournament. He also scored the only goal during the third place playoff against Brazil. Lato also featured in the 1978 World Cup and assisted the Poles in winning bronze in 1982.
9. Johan Neeskens
Years Active: 1968 to 1991
Netherlands were runners up on two consecutive World Cups, thanks to the efforts and valuable contribution of Johan Neeskens. He is one of the greatest Dutch midfielders who managed to score 17 goals in 49 caps. In 1974, he scored the opening goal through a penalty kick in the World Cup final against West Germany, though the Germans won 2-1. Nonetheless, Neeskens won the silver boot in that competition. In 1978 he helped his team in the absence of the retired Johan Cruyff, and they managed to enter another final against Argentina.
8. Lothar Matthaus
Years Active: 1979 to 2000
Lothar Matthaus captained the West Germany side to victory in the 1990 World Cup. He scored four goals during the campaign which saw West Germany make it to a third successive final, though they emerged victorious this time round. The spotless performance saw Matthaus win the silver ball in the tournament.
The former German international is the second player, after Antonio Carbajal, to play in five World Cup tournaments. He was in the German squad at all World Cups from 1982 to 1998. In 1986, he scored the deciding goal at the round of 16 match against Morocco helping West Germany to win 1-0 and eventually reach the final.
Years Active: 1971 to 1994
The Brazilian was a brilliant and competent player when it came to taking free kicks as well as being a playmaker. He got a chance to play with the esteemed Brazilian Squad in the 1982 World Cup, despite them crashing out early at the second round. Zico had put on a great display and was awarded the Bronze Boot for his four goals in the tournament. The Brazilian also featured in the World Cup All-Star Team. He represented Brazil in two other World Cups, formerly in 1978 when they were third and lastly during the quarter finals of the 1986 edition.
6. Bobby Charlton
Years Active: 1956 to 1976
Sir Bobby Charlton, as he is commonly referred to, was very essential in the England team that won the 1966 World Cup. The semifinal tie against Portugal ushered the former England player to glory. He scored two goals as England booked a place in the final against West Germany, a tie they eventually won 4-2 after extra time. Charlton was also part of the squad that played in the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cups. In those appearances, he was on the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team twice and in 1994 was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Time team.
Years Active: 1953 to 1972
Manuel Francisco dos Santos, usually referred by his nickname Garrincha, was an outstanding Brazilian star. The nickname translates to a "little bird", but on the other hand his success on the pitch was massive. He won the World Cup with Brazil twice, in 1958 and 1962, getting the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot in the latter competition. He was a vital player of the team, playing alongside Pele to push his team into success as well as stepping in to support his team when Pele missed out. Actually, Brazil only lost one match with him in the squad, which was the match against Hungary at the 1966 World Cup.
4. Michel Platini
Years Active: 1972 to 1987
The former France national team player features in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team particularly for his outstanding display at the international level. He played in three World Cup tournaments, between 1978 and 1986, helping the team get to the semifinals on two occasions. At this time, he was among the top performers as he featured in the All-star Team twice. Platini could score goals in addition to providing assists which made him one of the best midfielder ever. He was in excellent form and a key player during the resurgence of France who had missed out of the World Cup since 1966.
3. Johan Cruyff
Years Active: 1964 to 1984
The three-time Ballon d’Or winner was recognized as the best player in the 1974 World Cup tournament after helping the team into the final. He was an influential player in regard to his style of play and has since had many players and coaches adopt the philosophy he was part of, that of Total Football strategy.
Cruyff led the Netherlands national team to the final in the 1974 tournament as his side made the best of the philosophy to beat strong sides at previous stages like Argentina, East Germany and Brazil. The last matches he played for his country was during the 1978 FIFA World Cup qualification phase before retiring from international career in 1977.
2. Zinedine Zidane
Years Active: 1989 to 2006
Zinedine Zidane is regarded one of the greatest soccer players in the world. The French footballer showed tremendous skills and styles on the pitch during his career and helped his national team into two World Cup finals. His performance at the home ground during the 1998 FIFA World Cup aided his side in winning the treasured World Cup trophy. The two goals he netted in the final drew more admiration for the star from fans around the world, but especially the home fans.
A thigh injury prevented him from contributing to the French team at the 2002 FIFA World Cup as he missed the first two matches leading to France being eliminated in the group stage. Zidane returned to the platform in 2006, prior to retirement, to repeat his world class performance that earned him the Golden Ball despite being sent off disgracefully in the final for headbutting Marco Materazzi.
1. Diego Maradona
Years Active: 1976 to 1997
Diego Maradona was an exceptional footballer and is recognized by many as the greatest player ever. Flawless dribbling skills, great ball control and impeccable speed are some of the admirable traits that the Argentine international showcased on the pitch. He played in four World Cups; first in the 1982 edition when Argentina were eliminated in the second round, then in 1986 when Argentina emerged as champions, in 1990 as captain of the team up to the finals and finally in 1994 when he was disreputably sent home early after testing positive for ephedrine.
In 1986, he was earnestly pushed his team to victory. The two goals Maradona scored against England in the quarter finals never cease to be recalled in the world of football. Maradona's first goal was termed “the Hand of God” since he handled the ball past the goal line, but the second resulted from a world-class 66 yards dribble. In the end, he had 5 goals and 5 assists, getting him the Golden Ball and the Silver Shoe at the 1986 World Cup.