Football has provided the world of sport with a litany of legends. From sensational strikers to magical midfielders who seem to drift past opponents as if they aren’t there, it would be easy to compile a list of unforgettable players who have dominated our pitches over the years with their awesome skills and eye for goal. However, there are few players who can be considered legends with a legacy. There are some players who weren’t just good in their day, who weren’t just sure bets and mine fields of wins, but have left a lasting impression on the game. They are players whose play and attitude and work has changed and shaped the game. Here we run through a list of those players who gave as much to the game as it gave to them.
When it comes to the status of football, there are few people who have done more for the popularity of the sport than David Beckham. Whether you were betting on his goal scoring prowess, his underwear modelling exploits or the colour of his next sarong, in his heyday, Beckham was a sure thing for a win when it came to raising the status of the game across the world. Additionally, his time on the pitch came with its own influence. His set plays were copied and his line hugging runs were replicated on pitches at all levels. When it comes to popularity and star status, no one has done more for football than Becks!
Another entry in our list who did as much for football off the pitch as he did on the pitch. On the pitch he was a defender’s nightmare with his magic touch as the ball seemed to stick to his feet as he zipped past opponents. However, it really was the style with which the Frenchmen played his football that really left its mark. No one could make the day’s baggy jerseys look fashionable like Ginola and although his long locks have not stood the test of time, in his day they won him shampoo deals galore. Ginola brought a mark of luxury and finesse to the game that many have aimed, and mostly failed, to replicate ever since.
Arguably the most influential player to have graced the Premier League, Johan Cruyff’s name has been given to skills, stands and mentalities that are still a foundational part of the game today. The Dutchman changed the style of his national team’s play and was the catalyst that started their rise to footballing giants. So, the next time you bet on a player to set the pitch alight, remember that the sneaky little turns and tricks they are pulling out of the bag are thanks for the mighty Cryuff.
We could not leave England’s greatest manager off this list of influentials. A decent player in his day, Ramsey certainly offered plenty of good odds on the pitch. However, it is his leadership and management that have had a lasting legacy on the great game. The only man ever to have led England to glory, he is the man who, even in the darkest of days, gives the English football fan hope. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how disastrous the performances seem or how crushing the defeat is, Ramsey’s win is there as a beacon of hope shining for England’s die-hards.