Football

Legends of football

United's treble side is legendary (©GettyImages)
United's treble side is legendary (©GettyImages).

The crowd in London's Olympic Stadium witnessed an historic moment last night when Usain Bolt crossed the line to take 200m gold and confirm his status as a true sporting legend.

No man has ever successfully defended both 100m and 200m Olympic titles, meaning the tall Jamaican stepped out into unchartered territory on a balmy night in the east of England's capital.

Are there any people who stand out in football as having similar status? Can any football heroes claim to be true legends of the sport? Well, yes, of course.

'Legend' is a word that probably gets used too often when describing, but there are a few individuals and teams that really do deserve such a moniker. In fact, there are more than a few, and GMF realised it would be impossible to list them all.

A discussion such as this is usually entirely subjective, with the partisan nature of football watchers making objective assessment practically impossible, which is why records and landmarks must be the currency used when deciding who to include.

Here are a few of our favourites…

Diego Maradona

The little Argentinean magician was hardly going to be left out of any list such as this, and with good reason too. Leading a talented, but hardly brilliant, Argentina side to 1986 World Cup glory in Mexico was an incredible feat.

Diego Armando didn't only do it with his national team, he was the talismanic captain that led Napoli to their first ever Serie A title in 1987, as well as doing the double by winning the Coppa Italia.

It is easy to speak only about the superstar of a team and overlook the supporting cast that allow them to do what they do, but Maradona was not just the most talented player in these sides; he was the catalyst for glory.

 

Lionel Messi

At just 25 years old, it feels odd to be bestowing such a title on the Barcelona man, but there really is no way around it. If Messi were to retire tomorrow, he would still be regarded as one of the greatest players ever to have lived.

Various individual awards, two Champions League triumphs and numerous other trophies are proof of this, but last season he achieved something quite astonishing, in individual terms.

A relatively disappointing season for the team as a whole was tempered in a small way by the fact that Messi reached the almost ridiculous tally of 73 goals in all competitions, as well as 29 assists. That is over 100 goals in a season for which he was directly responsible – despite this staggering amount, many people are expecting him to go beyond that this year. The expectation on this man is incredible.

 

Didier Drogba

The Ivory Coast captain was always a decisive figure with football fans and his status as one of Chelsea's greats may not have been guaranteed before the dramatic events in Munich this May, but there is no doubt as to whether he will go down as a club legend any more.

Roman Abramovich's millions had propelled the Blues to almost every honour in the game, except for the Champions League. They had been close before, losing a final to Manchester United, but there were not many who expected this to be the year they would finally achieve what their billionaire owner had craved so long for.

Drogba was outstanding in the run-up to the final, scoring a number of important goals, but the final itself saw the big striker exert his will more so than ever. A brilliant late headed equaliser kept Chelsea in a game they should have lost, and when the final spot-kick needed to be scored so the Londoners would be crowned champions of Europe, Drogba didn't hesitate before burying it. He had almost single-handedly brought the Champions League trophy back to Stamford Bridge.

The Invicibles

Sometimes legendary status cannot only be reserved for individuals. Incredible feats have been achieved by certain groups that have possessed a potent mixture of unwavering mental stamina and togetherness. Arsene Wenger had created just that in the 2003/04 Premier League season with his strong, fluid Arsenal side and they reached a peak few have been able to get close to.

Thinking about it more makes it even more amazing, but the Gunners that season did not lose a single league fixture. They went behind a number of time, they thrashed some teams, scraped by against others and managed to keep intact a group mentality that insisted they were never beaten.

Only a handful of sides have ever managed to go a whole league campaign without a loss and so the nickname 'Invincibles' was apt.

Treble Winners

Sir Alex Ferguson is a legend, of that there is no doubt, but maybe his greatest achievement was spurring his side in the 1998/99 season to dominate on all fronts. In the same way the Arsenal 'Invincibles' possessed an almost unbreakable winning mentality, Manchester United were the side that were never out of it until the final whistle was blown.

Never better exemplified by their Champions League final win over Bayern Munich. 1-0 down and thoroughly outplayed, the last few minutes were expected to be played out as the German side celebrated a well-deserved win. That is until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham broke Bayern hearts in injury time.

It completed an incredible treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League – something no English side has ever done.

What do you think of GMF's legends? Which players/managers/teams would you consider legendary?

Leave a comment below to let us know…

Topics:
Didier Drogba
European News
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
FA Cup

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