6 Best Football players in La Liga’s History.

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Spanish football has been here for more than 120 years and has seen some of the most amazing players in its entire history. From Diego Maradona to Alfredo Di Stefano to Ronaldo, Spanish leagues have been known quite well for signing extraordinary players all over the world for incredible amount of fees. We have short-listed some of the best football players that have played for Spanish league, their achievement and their records that gave them the title of ‘Legends’.

Alfredo Di Stefano

Alfredo di Stefano

Courtesy: biografieonline.it

Alfredo Di Stefano was an Argentinean footballer who played for Real Madrid and Espanyol. He was one of the most influential and complete footballers in football history. Stefano has numerous records and awards in Spanish football and has an award named after him called “Trofeo Alfredo Di Stefano” which is crowned to the best player in La Liga each season. He was given the title of “Golden Player of Spain” because of his incredible performance in his career with Spanish clubs by the ‘Royal Spanish Football Federation’ to celebrate the jubilee of UEFA. Stefano was voted fourth in FIFA 100 list of world’s greatest living footballers behind Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff. Other players like Pele and Luis Suarez have recognized him as the “most complete player in the history of football”.

Alfredo Di Stefano joined Real Madrid in 1953. Since then, he became an important part of the clubs success and helped them win five consecutive trophies in the European Champions Cup, now known as UEFA Champions League. Stefano scored in all five finals and scored a hat-trick in 1960 final, gaining a 7-3 victory. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959 and moved to Espanyol in 1964 where he played till 1966 after which he retired.

Stefano was known for his quick and skillful game which combined with  incredible stamina and pace made him one of the most complete player in football. He is currently the 6th highest scorer in the history of Spain’s top division and Real Madrid’s third highest league scorer of all time with 216 in 282 games and is also Real Madrid’s highest goal scorer in the history of El Clasico. He died on 7 July 2014 after receiving a heart attack.


Diego Maradona

Diego MaradonaDiego Maradona is a retired Argentinean footballer who joined Barcelona after the 1982 World Cup. He is claimed as the best footballer in history by numerous writer and football enthusiasts all over the world. Maradona played for Argentina and has scored 34 goals and has won 91 caps in his entire career. He played four World Cups in his career and led his team to victory over West Germany in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and won a Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament.

The 1986 World Cup was a memorable World Cup for him. In the quarter-final against England, he wasn’t penalized for a handling foul and the goal later became known as “Hand of God”. He later scored another goal in which he dribbled for 66 yards across five England players that later became known as “Goal of the Century” after a voting by FIFA.com in 2002.

Diego Maradona was signed by Barcelona for a then world-record fee of $7.6 million. He helped Barcelona win the Copa del Rey in 1983 after beating Real Madrid and won the Spanish super cup after defeating Athletic Bilbao. Maradona was applauded by his rivals for his astonishing goal against Real Madrid in El Clasico. He suffered several injuries during his time at Barcelona including a broken ankle and also suffered from hepatitis, which threatened his career. But he was back after some months of recovery.

He wore the Barcelona jersey last time in the Copa del Rey finals against Athletic Bilbao in 1984 after he was directly involved in a violent fight against the players from Athletic Bilbao which was being viewed by then Spanish King and millions of fans around the world. He got into several brawls with Barcelona’s president and executives after which he demanded to leave Barcelona. Maradona was transferred to Napoli for $10.48 million.

Diego Maradona small height which gives him a low center of gravity which combined with his incredible dribbling, speed, skill and ball control make him one of the best players in football the world has seen yet.

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Ferenc Puskas

Ferenc Puskas

Courtesy: goal.com

Ferenc Puskas was a Hungarian footballer who played for Real Madrid most of his career. He was born in Hungary and played for the country and has an amazing record of 84 goals in 85 games. Puskas played for Budapest Honved most of his career and then moved to Real Madrid in 1958. He scored 514 goals in 528 games in league matches in his whole career making him one of the greatest footballers in history. After retiring, he coached many teams and won numerous awards and accolades for his incredible service.

In the UEFA Jubilee awards in 2003, he was declared as the best Hungarian player of the last 50 years by the Hungarian Football Federation. FIFA also introduced an award given to the player who scored the ‘most beautiful goal’ over the past years called the “FIFA Puskas Award”. He was also named in the FIFA 100 list of the greatest footballers of all time by Pele.

Puskas played for RCD Espanyol in Spain as he refused to return to Hungary. Multiple clubs including AC Milan and Juventus attempted to sign him, but he couldn’t play in Europe any longer when he was banned by UEFA for two years after he refused to return to Budapest. He moved several times after that incident including Austria and Italy, looking for clubs to sign him but most of them refused because of his age and weight. He was also offered a position at Manchester United but was rejected because he didn’t know how to speak English.

A few months later, he was signed by Real Madrid at the age of 31 and a new chapter of his life begun. His career at Real Madrid played a very important role in his life. He scored four hat-tricks in his very first season against several Spanish clubs. During his 8 seasons at Real Madrid, he played 180 La Liga games and scored a total of 156 goals. He won the Pichichi four times during the early 60’s and helped Real Madrid win five La Liga titles in a row and scored 7 goals in 2 European Champions Cup finals and won the cup 3 times. He played for the club till 1966 and took up a Spanish nationality and played 3 games for Spain in the 1962 World Cup.

Ferenc Puskas gave the world a gift of his amazing talent and showed great skill and technique on the pitch. He has an amazing goal to game ratio and was named tournament’s best player several times during his career. He coached the Hungarian national team in 1993 for four games and then retired completely from football. Puskas died in 2006 of pneumonia.

 

Ronaldo

RonaldoRonaldo Nazario is a retired Brazilian footballer who has played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid. He has a record of 62 goals in 92 games in his international career and is the second highest goal scorer of his country. Ronaldo has been declared as the FIFA World player of the Year three times and has two Ballon d’Or titles. He was named also in the FIFA 100 list of the greatest football players of all time in 2004 and is without doubt one of the greatest players of all time.

During his career at PSV, Ronaldo attracted attention from several clubs around the world including Inter Milan and Barcelona. He was signed by Barcelona in 1996 for a then world record fee of $19.5 million, where he led a wonderful career and led the Catalans to victory in both Copa del Rey, Super Copa de Espana and UEFA Cup Winners cup and scored the winning goal for his club.

He scored a total of 47 goals in 49 games in the 1996-97 season, was titled as La Liga’s top scorer in 1997 and won the European Golden Shoe. At the end of 1996, Ronaldo became the youngest player to win FIFA Player of the Year award at the age of 20. He was signed by Inter Milan in 1997 for a then world record fee due to some complications with Barcelona on his contract. Ronaldo played for Inter Milan till 2002.

In 2002, Ronaldo was signed by Real Madrid for a then world record fee of $51 million. People were so thrilled with his move to Real Madrid that his jersey sales broke all records on the first day. During the era in which he was signed, Real Madrid was signing at least one football star every summer, including Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Raul and David Beckham. He didn’t play for the club until October 2002 due to an injury .Ronaldo received several standing ovations during his career for his outstanding performance. He helped the club win the La Liga, International Cup and Spanish super cup all in 2003.

  La Liga

Real Madrid was performing great in the 2003-04 season until Ronaldo got injured. That year, they lost the Copa del Rey final, knocked out of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and suffered greatly in La Liga, losing to title to Valencia. Despite all this, Ronaldo became the top scorer of the season with 25 goals and received the Pichichi trophy for the second time. He scored more than a hundred goals just after four and a half seasons at the club becoming the fifth foreigner at Real Madrid to reach a century of goals. The last two seasons at the club, Ronaldo missed multiple games due to weight issues and injuries. Ronaldo was signed by A.C Milan in 2007 for around $9 million.

Ronaldo spent most of his career playing for the top clubs of La Liga. He was a dedicated attacker who was able to provide accurate assists to his team-mates. Ronaldo often scored amazing goals due to his vision and use of both feet, despite being naturally right footed. Ronaldo had a fast and powerful game full of technique, skill and creative finishes that made him a complete striker. He was associated with Pele and is considered to be one of the greatest and most complete footballers the world has ever seen.

Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos

Courtesy: realmadrid.com

Roberto Carlos is a retired Brazilian footballer who played for Real Madrid for 11 successful seasons. He played as a left-back for both Real Madrid and his country. He played in three World Cups. Brazil reached the 1998 World Cup final with his help and won the 2002 World Cup. His name was included in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in both 1998 and 2008 for his outstanding performance.

At Real Madrid, he was known for his powerful bending free-kicks. He won four La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League titles in his 11 years with the club. He played a total of 584 games and scoring 71 goals. Carlos was also named in the “Best Foreign eleven in Real Madrid History” by Marca, a Spanish sports newspaper. Other than that, he was runner-up in the FIFA World Player of the Year which was held in 1997. He was also chosen in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team. His name is among other football legends in the FIFA 100 list of the greatest footballers of all time.

Roberto Carlos joined Real Madrid at the end of the 1996 season and was given the number 3 shirt. He was the first choice left-back for the club during his whole career. Carlos played in the 1998, 2000 and 2002 UEFA Champions League final. He assisted Zinedine Zidane in the winning goal of the 2002 UEFA Champions league. That goal was later recognized as one of the greatest goals in Champions League history. He was also among the three famous captains of Real Madrid alongside Raul and Guti. Carlos was chosen by UEFA in their Team of the Year in 2003. While he was also named as the Club Defender of the Year in 2002.

Carlos scored a crucial goal from a free-kick, which helped Madrid get a lead and winning their 29th title. He also scored the opening goal against Barcelona at Camp Nou. This was Real Madrid’s first goal in a La Liga match in 20 years. After missing a pass in the 2007 UEFA Champions League quarter-final, Real Madrid was kicked out of the tournament. He suffered criticism from the fans, due to which he announced his retirement from the club on 9 March 2007.

His bending free-kicks were very popular in football, which were only seen by Real Madrid fans from David Beckham. He often used to go forward and score spectacular goals, showing everyone what a strong and powerful player he was. Carlos showed incredible passing skills and crossing technique that stunned everyone watching the game. His amazing free-kicks, which sometimes measured over 105 mp/h helped Real Madrid win several crucial matches and Finals. He was undoubtedly one of the best-left backs the world has seen yet. Carlos retired in 2012 at the age of 39 and took the position of coach. He currently works for the Indian Super League club Delhi Dynamos.

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Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine ZidaneZinedine Zidane is a retired French footballer who used to play for Real Madrid from 2001 to 2006. He played as an attacking midfielder for all clubs and his country. He won a La Liga and UEFA Champions League title with Real Madrid. In his international career, he won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 UEFA Euro Cup. He became the ‘Player of the tournament’ at the end of the cup.

He has a Ballon d’Or trophy, which he won in 1998. Also, he won the FIFA World Player of the Year 3 times. In the famous UEFA Jubilee poll in 2004, he became the best European footballer of the past 50 years. His name was among other footballers in the FIFA 100 list of the greatest footballers of all time of 2004. He was La Liga’s best foreign player in 2002. He also received the Golden ball for player of the tournament in 2006. His name was among the candidates for the 2002 poll of FIFA World Cup Dream Team.

Zidane joined Real Madrid in 2001 at the age of 29 years. Juventus sold Zidane for $83 million , which was a then world record fee along with a four-year contract. He scored a stunning goal in the 2002 UEFA Champions League final which led his team to victory.Champions league recognized it as one of the greatest in its history. He helped his team won the 2002-03 La Liga title along with Luis Figo. Zidane was also titled as the FIFA World player of the Year the following year. Zidane played three successful seasons and also his last season. Despite winning any titles, he was the second highest goal scorer and assist provider of his club. He ended his last season with 9 goals and 10 assists in 28 games. He announced his plans to retire in May 2006 following the World Cup.

His amazing ball control and his moves made Zidane very famous in the football world. Like his La Roulette and step-over’s that made it impossible for anyone to steal the ball from him. His enhanced vision, technical skills and amazing touch made him one of the best midfielders of all time. His astonishing goals which somehow seemed impossible to score proved crucial for his team. One example of this was his weak-foot volley in the 2002 UEFA Champions League final which won him the title.

Many players have acclaimed him for his game and importance in football. His former Real Madrid team-mate, Roberto Carlos said, “He is the best player I’ve ever seen. Supporters arrived earlier at Bernabeu just to see him warm-up”. The Brazilian football god Pele said “Zidane is the master. Over the past ten years, there’s been no one like him; he has been the best player in the world”. A Basketball player Magic Johnson has also passed comments on his winning goal in the 2002 UEFA Champions League final. The French newspaper, Le Parisien, named him as the Best French Player of all time in 2016. Since his retirement, Zidane has started coaching clubs. He is currently the manager of Real Madrid.

Read more about these footballers from the links below:

http://www.realmadrid.com/en/about-real-madrid/history/football-legends/

https://www.fcbarcelona.com/club/history/legends

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