It may not be as glamorous as previous lists, but E’s contribution to the best players alphabet still includes big names including a player who featured on my 100th post detailing who the greatest player ever is. Just the one World Cup winner though…
- Date of Birth: 10th July 1976
- Years as a player: 1994-2011
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Clubs played for: Sao Paulo, Lyon, Barcelona, Villarreal, Palmeiras, Real Zaragoza, Ceara
- Position: Defender
A lesser-known World Cup winner, but a World Cup winner none the less. Edmilson was part of the Brazil side that were victorious at the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea, where the defender also scored his one and only goal for the national team in 42 appearances against South Korea. He wasn’t a goalscorer like a few defenders in this alphabet but just solid at the back, which also won his club teams silverware as well. Edmilson moved to Europe with by signing for Lyon in 2000 after starting his career at Sao Paulo. At the French club, he helped them win three consecutive league titles and one domestic cup before Barcelona snapped him up for 10 million Euros. Two more league titles followed at the Nou Camp as well as Champions League glory in 2006, as Edmilson played the first half of the final against Arsenal. Injuries prevented him for winning more trophies as his career fizzled out back in Brazil.
4. Duncan Edwards
- Date of Birth: 1st October 1936 (Died 21st February 1958)
- Years as a player: 1953-1958
- Nationality: England
- Clubs played for: Manchester United
- Position: Winger
Duncan Edwards was not just ‘one of the eight Munich air disaster victims’ or ‘one of the Busby Babes’, he was a Red Devils star who had great things ahead of him before his life was tragically cut short. When he made his debut in 1953 aged just 16 years and 185 days, the Englishman become the youngest player to play in the Football League First Division and the then youngest England player since the Second World War. In his short time at Old Trafford, Edwards made 177 appearances, scoring 21 goals and in the process helping United win two league titles and reach the semi-finals of the European Cup. For England, he received 18 caps, scoring five times and would surely have gone on to be part of the 1966 World Cup winning team. Team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton has said “his ability was complete” and in recognition of his talents Edwards was made an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. We can all wonder what could have been if that fateful incident in 1958 had not occurred.
3. Luis Enrique
- Date of Birth: 8th May 1970
- Years as a player: 1988-2004
- Nationality: Spanish
- Clubs played for: Sporting Gijon, Real Madrid, Barcelona
- Position: Midfielder
The current Barcelona manager was once a player for the Catalan club as well as El Clasico rivals Real Madrid. He won La Liga and the Copa del Ray on three occasions in his time with the two clubs, but was more successful with Barca in both tournaments. Enrique ended up captaining the Catalan side as well as scoring against Madrid, whilst he was named La Liga Player of the Year in the 1997-98 season as he notched his highest ever league season goals tally with 18. In total in his club career, he scored 144 goals in 558 games. On the international stage, the midfielder played at three World Cups and one European Championship, playing a total of 62 games for Spain, scoring 12 times. Named in the FIFA 100 in 2004, Enrique was notable for his versatility, having played in all positions throughout his career except central defender and goalkeeper.
2. Samuel Eto’o
- Date of Birth: 10th March 1981
- Years as a player: 1997-Present
- Nationality: Cameroon
- Clubs played for: Real Madrid, Leganes, Mallorca, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Anzhi Makhachkala, Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria
- Position: Striker
Another player who featured for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, Samuel Eto’o played just three games at the Bernabeu before becoming the prolific goalscorer we now know him as. With 309 goals in 638 games throughout his career at a variety of clubs, Eto’o has won many awards for hitting the back of the net. He is Mallorca’s all-time top scorer (69), as well as the man with the most goals for Cameroon (56 in 118 games), who he won two African Cup of Nations with. The striker can count four league titles, four domestic cups and three Champions Leagues amongst his club silverware, and Eto’o was named as the Man of the Match in the 2006 final of the latter. The four-time African player of the year has become somewhat of a journey man in recent seasons as he nears the end of his career, but in his prime, Eto’o was one of the best strikers in the world, being named in the UEFA Team of the Year on two occasions.
- Date of Birth: 25th January 1942 (Died 5 January 2014)
- Years as a player: 1957-1979
- Nationality: Portuguese
- Clubs played for: Maxaquene, Benfica, Boston Minutemen, Monterrey, Toronto Blizzard, Beira-Mar, Las Vegas Quicksilvers, Uniao de Tomar, New Jersey Americans
- Position: Striker
With great players such as Eusebio, it’s hard to sum up their career in just a paragraph, and I’ll probably just start reeling off all his accolades. The striker was most renowned for playing for Benfica, where he is the all-time top scorer with a staggering 474 goals in 440 games. He was the spearhead as the club won the European Cup in 1962 and 11 league titles in Eusebio’s 15 years at the club. He was equally as influential for Portugal (64 games, 41 goals), but failed to win any silverware, finishing third at the 1966 World Cup, where he won the top scorer award, after being awarded the Ballon D’Or the year before. Eusebio’s name often appears in best player of all time lists and polls by football critics and fans, and understandably so, whilst I named him as the third greatest player of all time back in September. A member of the FIFA 100, Eusebio is the eighth-highest goalscorer in the history of the European Cup and the second-highest, behind Alfredo Di Stefano, in the pre-Champions League era with 48 goals, whilst he has won the Primeira Liga top scorer award a record seven times. Goals were guaranteed with the Portuguese international on the pitch as those incredible statistics show (and there are more), and his death last year was mourned by millions.
Disagree with my top five? Is there a player beginning with E that I have forgotten? Let me know in the comments below…