16 La Liga players since 2000 that the streets will never forget

Nihat and Kovacevic starred during the 2002/03 season for Real Sociedad

The days of Spanish football on Sky Sports have been at an end for over a year now.

After Eleven Sports' failed streaming experiment in 2018/19, La Liga is at least back on television with Premier Sports, but it just isn't the same.

Growing up, many of us eagerly anticipated those night time games in Spain after a long day of chilling on the sofa and watching the Premier League action unfold on Sky.

Since the turn of the millennium, La Liga has been full of entertainment and drama, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta the main catalysts.

But what about the other guys who filled the Spanish football-shaped hole in our lives? Well, we here at GIVEMESPORT have decided to get a bit nostalgic.

Below, we've provided 16 players that graced La Liga's playing surfaces and won our hearts.

Some may not be household names, but those who love their European football will never forget them.

Nihat Kahveci

Nihat in action for Sociedad

The 2002/03 La Liga season unearthed two gems from Real Sociedad.

Nihat and his partner Darko Kovacevic (who we'll learn more about below) took the division by storm, with Sociedad agonisingly missing out on the league title to Real Madrid.

Their chemistry was brilliant and the diminutive Nihat notched 23 goals that season. The Turkish striker joined Villarreal in 2006 where he continued to find the back of the net with regularity.

Darko Kovacevic

We've focused on the little, now lets look at the large aspect of one of La Liga's most formidable partnerships.

Quick for a big man and impossible to stop in the air, Kovacevic was the perfect foil for Nihat and terrorised centre-backs up and down Spain.

He ended the 2002/03 season with 20 goals to his name, with him and Nihat etching their names into La Liga folklore forever.

Diego Tristan

Between 2000 and 2002, Tristan was the most feared marksman in all of La Liga.

Alongside the likes of Juan Carlos Valeron and Walter Pandiani, the Spanish international toyed with defenders in one of Deportivo la Coruna's greatest ever teams.

Tristan won the Pichichi in 2001/02 after scoring 21 goals in the league and he remains a footballing cult hero to this very day.

Ruben Baraja

The midfielder who could do it all. Need a tough tackler? Baraja was your man. Desperately searching for a goal scorer in the middle of the park? Baraja was your man.

It's no coincidence that Valencia were one of Europe's top teams with the marauding, efficient Spaniard in midfield and it was just impossible not to love him.

Spain just love producing world-class midfielder, don't they?

Pablo Aimar

Alongside Baraja in that brilliant Valencia midfield was the iconic Aimar.

The jewel in Los Che's crown, there was not a playmaker more elegant in La Liga during the early 2000's.

Before the great Iniesta, Aimar was the midfield genius that many of us tried to replicate in the school playground.

Marcos Assuncao

Assuncao battles against Barcelona

Before Messi established himself as the finest free-kick taker on Spanish shores, Assuncao was the master of the set-piece.

He oozed Brazilian flair and his debut for Real Betis in 2002 against in a 4-2 win away at Deportivo was pretty spectacular, to say the least.

Voted man of the match, Assuncao found the back of the net with an outrageous 40-yard effort with his weaker left foot.

Ludovic Giuly

The unsung hero of Barcelona's renaissance under Frank Rjikaard.

Ronaldinho was the architect, Samuel Eto'o was the goal machine and Giuly was the glue that held the forward line together.

The Frenchman is still held in high regard at the Camp Nou and he came up with some crucial goals for the Blaugrana - nine more so than the winner away at AC Milan in the 2005/06 Champions League semi-final.

Guti

Shining bright in a team full of 'Galacticos' is never easy, but that's exactly what Guti did at times.

Blessed with outrageous skill and an eye for a pass, the Spanish midfielder was always on hand to entertain lovers of La Liga.

Many feel a lot of his potential was unfulfilled due to his 'celebrity lifestyle', but his 15 years with Real Madrid were still littered with trophies, mind-boggling assists and a few stunning goals.

Luis Fabiano

Once labelled the 'bad boy of Brazilian football' during his eventful time with Sao Paolo, Fabiano well and truly found his feet in Seville.

Between 2005 and 2011, Fabiano was one of La Liga's deadliest predators and he always brought that South American fire to every game he played him.

Opposing defenders hated him and Sevilla fans adored him - a pure entertainer.

Javi Moreno

In the 2000/01 season, Moreno was the talk of Spanish football.

He was the focal point of Deportivo Alaves' unexpectedly good season, where he scored 21 goals in the league alone.

Sadly, that campaign was to be a bit of a one-off, with Moreno failing to make the grade at both AC Milan and Atletico Madrid. But in the first full season of the new millennium, he was simply untouchable.

Daniel Guiza

Guiza in action vs Barcelona

Guiza's 2007/08 season with Real Mallorca was a feat of striking brilliance.

The bulky Spaniard scored 27 goals in 37 La Liga games, a feat achieved without scoring a single penalty kick, to help Mallorca finish seventh in the table.

If that's not enough to earn you some serious football street cred, then nothing is. A proper Guiza!

Javier Saviola

Before the days of Messi, Barcelona had another little Argentine genius in Saviola.

The former River Plate man was a big hit in Catalonia during his six year stint but he then finished by committing the ultimate sin - signing for Real Madrid.

Crossing the divide is a rarity and it's just another reason why the speedy and clinical Saviola will not be forgotten in a hurry.

Sergio Ballesteros

There aren't many players in the world that can outpace Ronaldo.

But at the age of 36, Ballesteros did just that and you can watch that moment of athleticism from the Spanish stalwart by clicking HERE.

For that race alone, he deserves a place on the list, but he was also a brilliant defender in his day with Villarreal, Mallorca and Levante.

Carlos Marchena

There haven't been many defenders more combative than Marchena.

The Spaniard was the master of the dark arts and never shirked away from a spot of trouble on the pitch.

Marchena was sent off 13 times in his La Liga career, but he was also a world-class defender on his day.

Jose Pinto

What. A. Character.

Pinto rose to fame at Celta Vigo, earning him a prestigious move to Barcelona in 2008 where he played second fiddle to Victor Valdes.

The main reason why he is on the list is because he was a hip hop artist outside of football, with his musical alter ego entitled, Wahin. What a man!

Thomas Gravesen

Gravesen in action

We end with a transfer that raised so many eyebrows during Real Madrid's Galactico era.

Gravesen arrived from Everton to offer support to the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo Nazario.

And you know what? He done a bloody good job in his one season in 2005/06, but he did also try and beat up Robinho in training....

So there you have it, 16 players who weren't La Liga legends per se, but for one reason or another, they will have a place in many hearts across the globe.

From memorable goals to just being a little bit crazy, Spain's top division has produced many a cult icon player and it is still delivering them to this very day.

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