It’s going to take a very strong list of players to beat the ‘B’ list, but between them, this list of players beginning with C have five World Cup medals. Even if two of them are Brazilian. There is a 1966 hero in there as well though…
5. Fabio Cannavaro
- Date of Birth: 13th September 1973
- Years as a player: 1992-2011
- Nationality: Italian
- Clubs played for: Napoli, Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid, Al-Ahli
- Position: Centre-Back
2006 was pretty much the year of Fabio Cannavaro in the world of football. The Italian defender captained his side to World Cup glory, as well as being named in the team of the tournament and winning the Silver Ball award. He became only the third defender of all time to win the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon D’Or after Franz Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer, whilst was also named Italian Player of the Year and earned himself a move to Real Madrid. Not too bad then. He won two La Liga titles with Los Blancos, adding to two Italian Cups and the UEFA Cup which he had won with Parma. Able to play anywhere across the defence, Cannavaro was the Italian record caps holder (136) before Gianluigi Buffon overtook him, but he still holds the record for the most appearances as captain for the national side.
- Date of Birth: 7th June 1970
- Years as a player: 1990-2008
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Clubs played for: Sao Paulo, Real Zaragoza, Juventude, Palmeiras, Roma, AC Milan
- Position: Right-Back
A record breaker in many ways, Cafu is fighting with compatriot Carlos Alberto (who came first in my ‘A’ list) for the title of the greatest right-back of all-time. He is the most-capped Brazilian men’s player of all time with 142, including a record 21 World Cup games. He has won two World Cups in 1994 and 2002, as well as being the only player to participate in three World Cup final matches. Cafu also held the record of winning the most number of matches in World Cups with 15, before being surpassed by Miroslav Klose in 2014. As well as two World Cups, the defender also won the Confederations Cup and Copa America with Brazil. Another member of the FIFA 100, Cafu had most of his club success with Sao Paulo and AC Milan, winning the Copa Libertadores twice and the Champions League once amongst other trophies. Named as the South American footballer of the year in 1994, Cafu was also included in the continents team of the year between 1992-95 and the UEFA Team of the Year in 2004 and 2005.
3. Roberto Carlos
- Date of Birth: 10th April 1973
- Years as a player: 1991-2012
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Clubs played for: Uniao Sao Joao, Palmeiras, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Fernebache, Corinthians, Anzhi Makhachkala
- Position: Left-Back
From Brazilian full-back to another, Roberto Carlos was another member of the 2002 World Cup winning squad. In 1997 he was runner-up in the World Player of the Year. Considered one of the best left backs in history, he was chosen on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100. Carlos was also was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1998 and 2002. The majority of his club career was at Real Madrid, who he joined in 1996 where he spent eleven hugely successful seasons, playing 584 matches in all competitions, scoring 71 goals. At Real he won four La Liga titles and the Champions League three times. In April 2013, he was named by Marca as a member of the “Best foreign eleven in Real Madrid’s history”. Described as “most offensive-minded left-back in the history of the game”, the Brazilian was famous for his fast, bending free-kicks, with one against France probably the best free-kick of all time.
2. Bobby Charlton
- Date of Birth: 11th October 1937
- Years as a player: 1956-1976
- Nationality: English
- Clubs played for: Manchester United, Preston, Waterford United
- Position: Forward
That’s Sir Bobby Charlton to you and me. The Newcastle born midfielder was part of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad, and has 106 caps to his name with 49 goals – still a record to this day – and he retired from international duty at just 32 years old. In 1966, Charlton was also named the FWA Footballer of the Year, included in the World Cup all-star team and won the Ballon D’Or. Just two years later he captained Manchester United as they won the European Cup, Charlton’s last trophy with the Red Devils following three league titles and one FA Cup amongst others. With 249 goals in 758 games, the midfielder is United’s record goalscorer and only behind Ryan Giggs in terms of appearances. His legacy lives on, and recent awards include being included in the FIFA 100 and all-time World Cup XI as well as receiving the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. All these accolades are even more incredible when you consider that at just 20 years old, Charlton saw many of his friends die in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster yet he survived.
1. Johan Cruyff
- Date of Birth: 25th April 1947
- Years as a player: 1964-1984
- Nationality: Dutch
- Clubs played for: Ajax, Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, Levante, Feyenoord
- Position: Forward
The winner of the ‘B’ list, Franz Beckenbauer created his own position. Johan Cruyff created his own skill – the Cruyff turn – at the 1974 World Cup. He won the Golden Ball in that tournament as Holland reached the final and Cruyff won the Ballon D’Or. This was the third time he had won the award, a record jointly held with Michel Platini and compatriot Marco van Basten. At club level, Cruyff started his career at Ajax where he won eight Eredivisie titles and three European Cups. In 1973 he moved to Barcelona for a world record transfer fee, winning La Liga in his first season and was named European Footballer of the Year. In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, and came second only behind Pele in their World Player of the Century poll. He was chosen on the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100. Goals were a plenty when Cruyff was on the pitch as he got 33 in 48 Netherlands and over 300 in his club career. But his biggest accolade of all must surely be featuring my 100th post on this blog where I decided who was the greatest player ever. Even if Cruyff did come 5th, it shows that he’s up there with the best and forever will be.
Disagree with my top five? Is there a player beginning with C that I have forgotten? Let me know in the comments below…