Best Players Alphabet – D

D

There have been some great players on this alphabet so far, and don’t worry the quality isn’t about to drop. The ‘D’ list contains stars of the naughties, as well as players who plied their trade over 70 years ago – and there’s goals by the bucket load as you’re about to find out…

5. Dixie Dean

Dean, Dixie

  • Date of Birth: 22nd January 1907 (Died 1st March 1980)
  • Years as a player: 1923-1940
  • Nationality: English
  • Clubs played for: Tranmere Rovers, Everton, Notts County, Sligo Rovers, Hurst
  • Position: Striker

He is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time from Britain, but Dixie Dean is relatively unknown to many fans, because his career came pre-World War Two. He is a legend though to Evertonians, as he played 399 times for the Toffees, scoring a remarkable 349 goals, making him the top scorer in the club’s history. The striker’s exploits in the 1927–28 season especially caught the eye, as he scored a record 60 league goals. Dean also won the league title at Goodison Park that season, and again four years later, whilst he can also count the FA Cup amongst his career silverware. For England, the striker played just 16 times, but because he scored 18 goals, it gives him the best goals to game ratio in Three Lions history. 12 of those goals came in 1927, the record number of goals scored in a calendar year for the Three Lions. So Dean broke many goalscoring records, and was well-known around the globe too, as during the war, an Italian prisoner of war was captured by British troops in the Western Desert and told his captors “f*** your Winston Churchill and f*** your Dixie Dean”. I suppose it’s some sort of legacy…

 

4. Marcel Desailly

Desailly, Marcel

  • Date of Birth: 7th September 1968
  • Years as a player: 1986-2006
  • Nationality: French
  • Clubs played for: Nantes, Marseille, AC Milan, Chelsea, Al-Gharafa, Qatar SC
  • Position: Centre-back

You may have seen doing punditry on the TV, but Marcel Desailly could also play a bit in his time. Well, more than a bit. He was a star in France’s team during their most successful period in history, as they won the 1998 World Cup and European Championships in 2000 (the defender was in the all-star team for both tournaments). He is the third most capped player for Les Bleus (116), and he also captained them to victory at the Confederations Cup in 2001. But the defenders’ achievements on the club stage are equally as impressive. The first trophy he ever won was the Champions League with Marseille in 1993, before being snapped up by AC Milan the following season where he won two league titles and another Champions League amongst others. A member of the FIFA 100, Desailly won the FA Cup at Chelsea, but not the league – however was named in the overall and overseas team of the decade for the Premier League in 2002.

 

3. Alessandro Del Piero

Del Piero, Alessandro

  • Date of Birth: 9th November 1974
  • Years as a player: 1991-Present
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Clubs played for: Padova, Juventus, Sydney FC, Delhi Dynamos
  • Position: Forward

Back to world-class goalscorers, and we come Alessandro Del Piero, who has scored in every competition he has played in.  He is currently the second highest all-time Italian top-scorer in all competitions, with 345 goals, whilst for the national team, who he has won the World Cup with, he is the joint 4th highest scorer, with 27 goals in 91 caps. Del Piero has spent the majority of his club career with Juventus, for 19 years (11 years as captain), and holds the club records for most goals (289) and appearances (705). The forward won eight league titles and one Champions League at the Turin club and is the Italian player who has scored more than 10 goals in the most seasons (17 campaigns). Despite only spending two seasons with Sydney FC, Del Piero holds the record for the most goals in one campaign for the Australian team (14). The 40 year old FIFA 100 member is currently plying his trade in India for the Dehli Dynamos.

 

2. Didi

Didi

  • Date of Birth: 8th October 1928 (Died 12th May 2001)
  • Years as a player: 1949-1966
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Clubs played for: Fluminese, Botafogo, Real Madrid, Sporting Cristal, Sao Paulo, CD Veracruz
  • Position: Central midfielder

Perhaps one of the lesser known one-named stars of Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s, but Didi s considered to be one of the greatest midfielders in the sport renowned for his range of passing, stamina and technique. He became famous for inventing the folha seca (dry leaf) free kicks, notably used by players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Juninho since. As for Didi himself, he won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, and in the former year was awarded Player of the Tournament, after masterminding Brazil’s success from midfield. In total for La Selecao, Didi scored 20 times in 68 appearances. After spending the majority of his club career in his home country, the midfielder was signed by Real Madrid in 1959, and although he didn’t have the smoothest year at the Bernabeu, he did manage to win two European Cups. To end with a bit of trivia, Didi scored the first ever goal at the Maracana Stadium whilst playing for Rio de Janeiro’s youth team in 1959, whilst he was also the first known player to label football ‘The Beautiful Game’.

 

1. Alfredo Di Stefano

Di Stefano, Alfredo

  • Date of Birth: 4th July 1926 (Died 7th July 2014)
  • Years as a player: 1945-1966
  • Nationality: Argentine/Spanish/Colombian
  • Clubs played for: River Plate, Huracan, Millonarios, Real Madrid, Espanyol
  • Position: Forward

A player that was rumoured to clash with Didi at Real Madrid was Alfredo Di Stefano, and with two world class players like that in your team, it was probably inevitable. In 11 years in the Spanish capital, Di Stefano won an astonishing eight league titles and five Champions Leagues, and he was the star man throughout the successes. The forward scored 307 times in 396 games for Madrid, the fifth highest scorer in the history of Spain’s top division, and Real Madrid’s second highest league goalscorer of all time, with 216 goals in 282 league matches. He also is the second highest goalscorer in the history of the El Clasico. His international career is a slightly more confusing one, as Di Stefano played for Argentina, Spain and Colombia, yet he never played at a World Cup, which is one of the game’s greatest disappointments. None the less, he is of course part of the FIFA 100, whilst he was voted fourth, behind Pele, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff, in a vote organized by France Football magazine which consulted their former Ballon d’Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. His death last year was a huge loss to football, with players such as Pele, Eusebio and Luis Suarez having described him in the past as “the most complete footballer in the history of the game”.


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

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