Football

Five of the best: Elegant footballers

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Zinedine Zidane - greatest player ever? (©GettyImages)
Zinedine Zidane - greatest player ever? (©GettyImages).

Some players have no obvious physical advantages when it comes to them dominating a football pitch. Some are relatively slow, not very tall, and not particularly strong. 

But certain players don’t need these attributes in order to dictate a game. Instead they have pinpoint passing, a silken first touch and incredible vision.

Here are five of the best:

5: Andrea Pirlo

The Italian pass-master is renowned for his class and effortless style when in possession.

The Juventus maestro has barely dipped in quality despite being 34-years-old. He is one of the most accurate passers in the game, masterminding Italy’s run to the Euro 2012 final, his chipped penalty in the quarter-final against England summing up his grace and coolness under pressure. Even when seemingly peripheral in games, he retains the ability to change a match with a single pass.  

4: David Beckham

George Best once said that Beckham "cannot kick with his left foot, can’t head a ball, can’t tackle and he doesn’t score enough goals, but besides that he’s alright".

Of course all of those points are ignoring the former PSG, Manchester United and Real Madrid player’s most lethal weapon - his sweet right foot.

Beckham was perhaps one of the best passers the game has ever seen, able to place the ball on a sixpence with a stroke of his boot, while his free-kick and corner taking ability remains
unparalleled by any current players except perhaps Ronaldo and Bale.

3: Dimitar Berbatov

The Bulgarian genius is the ultimate in languid elegance. He boasts the rare ability to shimmy past players without speeding up, simply through misdirection and precision. His first touch is second to none in the current game, and though maddeningly inconsistent, he boasts the talent to improve a far better team than his current club Fulham, with some considering letting him go Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest transfer mistake.

Despite his velvet touch and incredible skills, what really sets the Bulgarian apart is his sheer imagination, always selecting the right option from his dizzying range of tricks, flicks and nutmegs.

2: Bobby Moore

The only defender on this list, and with good reason, because elegant defending is a far more difficult feat to pull off than elegant attacking. Moore pulls it off though, and is often considered England’s greatest ever player. His supreme use of space and timing are probably the best the world has ever seen, and meant that Moore didn’t need great pace, because he was almost always in the right place.

This is seen to spectacular effect in Moore’s famous tackle on Jairzinho at the 1970 World Cup, dispossessing the Brazilian great effortlessly, and all without ever touching his opponent.

1: Zinedine Zidane

For me, despite Messi, Maradona and Pele’s rival claims, the French legend will remain the greatest player of all time.

An attacking midfielder, Zidane’s skills were unrivalled in his career, and all were achieved with the gracefulness of a true natural. Combined with a velcro first touch, incredible dribbling and a majestic shot, Zidane truly had it all.

His incredible volley in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen will go down in history as one of the greatest goals ever scored. 

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Topics:
Manchester United
Real Madrid
Football
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