Best Players Alphabet – B

B

Time for the letter B. B for Brazil, B for Beautiful Game and B for Ballon D’Or. It’s also the letter that links the following five legends, who faced some very tough competition to make the top five…

5. Dennis Bergkamp 

Bergkamp, Dennis

  • Date of Birth: 10th May 1969
  • Years as a player: 1986-2006
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Clubs played for: Ajax, Inter Milan, Arsenal
  • Position: Second striker

The fact that this man is fifth is testament to how good this top five is. Dennis Bergkamp is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in his generation, twice finishing third in the FIFA World Player of the Year award and was selected by Pele as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players. In 2007, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, the first and so far only Dutch player ever to receive such honour. Bergkamp made his name at Ajax, where he won five trophies, before joining Arsenal via a brief spell at AC Milan. He now has a statue outside the Emirates Stadium after helping the Gunners win three Premier League titles and four FA Cups, amongst others. For the Netherlands, everyone remembers his incredible goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup. Up until 2003, he was the national teams’ all time top scorer and was the Dutch footballer of the year in 1991 and 1992. There’s so many more accolades I could mention…

 

4. David Beckham

Beckham, David

  • Date of Birth: 2nd May 1975
  • Years as a player: 1992-2013
  • Nationality: English
  • Clubs played for: Manchester United, Preston, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, PSG
  • Position: Midfielder

The greatest English football icon of all time? Maybe. Part of the ‘Class of 92’, David Beckham came through the ranks at Manchester United, winning six Premier League titles and the Champions League before heading out to sunny Spain to join Real Madrid in 2003. He won a league title here, as he did at PSG and LA Galaxy, making him the first English player to win league titles in four countries. Beckham pretty much transformed ‘soccer’ in the States when he moved there in 2007, and the MLS has gone from strength to strength since his arrival. In international football, Becks was England captain for six years, and received 115 caps in total. He appeared at three World Cups and two European Championships tournaments. Beckham’s trade mark was of course his free-kicks, one of which famously sent England to the 2002 World Cup in the last minute against Greece. Like Bergkamp, Beckham has won too many personal accolades to mention, but there are even rumours that a knighthood could be around the corner…

 

3. Roberto Baggio

Baggio, Roberto

  • Date of Birth: 18th February 1967
  • Years as a player: 1982, 2004
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Clubs played for: Vicenza, Fiorientina, Juventus, AC Milan, Bologna, Inter Milan, Brescia
  • Position: Forward

He spent his entire club career in his home country, but it is on the international stage that Roberto Baggio really shone. Not to say that his domestic career wasn’t impressive. In 2002, he became the first Italian player in over 50 years to score more than 300 career goals; he is currently the fourth-highest scoring Italian in all competitions with 318 goals. Then in 2004, during the final season of his career, Baggio became the first player in over 30 years to score 200 goals in Serie A, and is currently the 6th highest goalscorer of all time in Serie A, with 205 goals. Baggio played for Italy in 56 matches, scoring 27 goals, and is the fourth highest goalscorer for his national team, that came third and second in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. In 1999 he came fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll, and in 1993 won the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or. In 2004, he was named by Pele in the FIFA 100, like many of these players on this alphabet.

 

2. George Best

Best, George

  • Date of Birth: 2nd May 1946 (Died 25th November 2005)
  • Years as a player: 1963-1984
  • Nationality: Northern Irish
  • Clubs played for: Manchester United, Jewish Guild, Dunstable Town, Stockport County, Cork Celtic, Los Angeles Aztecs, Fulham, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Hibernian, San Jose Earthquakes, Sea Bee, Hong Kong Rangers, Bournemouth, Brisbane Lions, Osborne Park Galeb, Nuneaton Borough, Tobermore United
  • Position: Forward

Maradona good, Pele better, George Best. The saying on many fans lips throughout the 1960s and 70s. George Best played for no less than 17 clubs during his career, but it was his 11 years at Manchester United that have earnt him a place on this countdown. He scored 179 goals from 470 appearances and was the club’s top goalscorer in the league for five consecutive seasons. During his time at Old Trafford, he helped the Red Devils win two First Division titles and one European Cup in 1968. That year, Best was also won the Ballon d’Or. Another member of FIFA 100, Best has been described as “greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland”. There’s probably two regrets from his career, as Best never got to showcase his talent at a World Cup or European Championship, and the fact that at times he let alcoholism rule his life, which in the end led to his sad death in 2005.

1. Franz Beckenbauer 

Beckenbauer, Franz

  • Date of Birth: 11th September 1945
  • Years as a player: 1964-1983
  • Nationality: German
  • Clubs played for: Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, Hamburg
  • Position: Sweeper

It took some real talent to beat the previous five legends, and it’s talent that Franz Beckenbauer has got. He was so good he pretty much invented his own position – the sweeper. Twice selected as European Footballer of the Year, Beckenbauer appeared 103 times for West Germany and played in three World Cups. He is one of only two men, along with Brazil’s Mario Zagallo, to have won the FIFA World Cup as a player and as a manager. He was the first captain to lift the World Cup, the European Championship at international level and the European Cup at club level. The latter he won with Bayern Munich in three successive seasons (1973-76) as well as four Bundesliga titles and four German cups, making him one of the most decorated players of all time. As an individual, Beckenbauer was named in the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and in 2004 was listed in the FIFA 100 of the world’s greatest living players. Like the first placed man on my ‘A’ list, Carlos Alberto, the four time German footballer of the year also played for New York Cosmos, promoting the sport in the States alongside the great Pele.


Disagree with my top five? Is there a player beginning with A that I have forgotten? Let me know in the comments below…

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