Eurosport

The top five players of all time - where does Johan Cruyff rank on our list of greats?

The top five players of all time - where does Johan Cruyff rank on our list of greats?

25/03/2016 at 14:53Updated 25/03/2016 at 16:25

After the sad death of Dutch icon Johan Cruyff at the age of 68 on Thursday, we ask 10 Eurosport writers in the UK and Ireland and around mainland Europe to name their greatest five players in the history of the game and why they merit their place in the top five. It makes for interesting reading.

UK and Ireland

Alex Chick

  • 1-Lionel Messi
  • 2-Diego Maradona
  • 3-Ronaldo
  • 4-Johan Cruyff
  • 5-Franz Beckenbauer
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions LeagueReuters

"Barcelona-era Ronaldo is the most unstoppable player I have ever seen."

Desmond Kane

  • 1-Diego Maradona
  • 2-Lionel Messi
  • 3-Cristiano Ronaldo
  • 4-Zinedine Zidane
  • 5-Pele

Diego Maradona is arguably the greatest player in history because of what he achieved with Argentina at the 1986 World Cup finals.

Diego Maradona

Diego MaradonaEurosport

He remains an astonishing figure, a shape-shifting sports hero of the 20th century who is celebrated in Naples like a great Neapolitan artist from centuries gone by, and one of the true hell-raisers that only adds to the legend.

" Maradona was a one-off, oozing self-belief with the ability to justify it and simply in a league of his own as a player. "

Chris Wheatley

  • 1-Lionel Messi
  • 2-Diego Maradona
  • 3-Pele
  • 4-Cristiano Ronaldo
  • 5. Ronaldinho

625 appearances, 201 assists, 498 goals and counting. Lionel Messi has surpassed his Argentine predecessor Maradona on almost every front except the World Cup.

"He glides past players as if they’re not there, provides assists which you wouldn’t think are possible and continues to make history alongside what is arguably the greatest triumvirate to have ever played the game. "
Pelé 1970 (Imago)

Pelé 1970 (Imago)Imago

Marcus Foley

  • 1-Diego Maradona
  • 2-Lionel Messi
  • 3-Ronaldo
  • 4-Johan Cruyff
  • 5-Michael Laudrup
Michael Laudrup

Michael LaudrupImago

"Michael Laudrup was outrageously undervalued, a figure who entertained as a kid at the 1986 World Cup. Shame he stayed on holiday at Euro '92. "

Dan Quarrell

  • 1- Pele
  • 2-Maradona
  • 3-Messi
  • 4-Ronaldo
  • 5-Beckenbauer

Three World Cups and 1,281 goals in 1363 games (okay, give or take a few!) is pretty good going, particularly considering that Pele played at a time when he was afforded barely any protection from brutal fouls and astonishingly physical marking.

Ronaldo Brazil 2002 World Cup

Ronaldo Brazil 2002 World CupPA Sport

Europe

Igor Zelenitsyn - Russia

  • 1-Lionel Messi
  • 2-Diego Maradona
  • 3-Pele
  • 4-Johan Cruyff
  • 5. Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring a penalty against Atletico Madrid during the Champions League final (Reuters)

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring a penalty against Atletico Madrid during the Champions League final (Reuters)Eurosport

Pele third because of three World Cups and some spectacular videos on YouTube, obviously. Johan Cruyff because he re-invented the modern game.

"Cristiano Ronaldo because in the world without Messi he'd already have won eight Ballon d'Ors in a row."

Florian Bogner – Germany

  • 1-Pele
  • 2-Lionel Messi
  • 3-Franz Beckenbauer
  • 4-Diego Maradona
  • 5-Ronaldo
1974 - Franz Beckenbauer

1974 - Franz BeckenbauerImago

Jorge Ordas - Spain

  • 1-Alfredo Di Stefano
  • 2-Lionel Messi
  • 3-Pele
  • 4-Diego Maradona
  • 5-Johan Cruyff
"Di Stefano was the first great player. In a very different moment, with a very different way of playing football, but completely unstoppable. "
Real Madrid's Alfredo Di Stefano, 1956

Real Madrid's Alfredo Di Stefano, 1956AFP

Diego Maradona is a man who won a World Cup alone and deserves a place in the list.

"Cruyff should be celebrated not only as a footballer - he made changes between the era of Pele and Maradona - but as a coach. Everything he ‘touched’ turned to gold with Ajax, Netherlands and Barcelona. "
Cruyff in the number 14 shirt

Cruyff in the number 14 shirtImago

Laurent Vergne – France

  • 1-Pele
  • 2-Diego Maradona
  • 3-Johan Cruyff
  • 4-Lionel Messi
  • 5-Michel Platini

Pelé is first because he is the only player with three World Cup victories. More than a player. He is the greatest figure of the greatest team at the 1970 World Cup in Brazil. Maradona would be second. I have never seen a player so decisive in a World Cup.

"Mexico 1986 = Maradona. And he made some things happen on a pitch I've never seen since - I'm not talking about scoring with your hand. Johan Cruyff is an iconic player of a revolutionary football. He changed the game forever."
Michel Platini Sampdoria Juventus 1982 Imago

Michel Platini Sampdoria Juventus 1982 ImagoImago

Mattia Fontana – Italy

  • 1-Diego Maradona
  • 2-Pele
  • 3-Johan Cruyff
  • 4-Alfredo Di Stefano
  • 5-Lionel Messi
"Maradona the last player who was able to win everything alone. Di Stefano is the first innovative and total player. Pele was the most complete player ever. Cruyff was the revolutionary of football. Messi is the player of the future who could yet go further up the list. "
Maradona's 'Hand of God'

Maradona's 'Hand of God'Eurosport

Results of our poll

  • 1-Lionel Messi - three votes for first
  • 1-Pele - three votes for first
  • 1-Diego Maradona - three votes for first
  • 4-Alfredo Di Stefano - one vote for first
  • 5- Johan Cruyff - two votes for third
Pele Messi

Pele MessiEurosport

Eurosport's top three

Eurosport's top threeEurosport

Pele was included in eight out of 10, but shares top place with Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi having each earned three first place votes.

Do you agree with our results? Who would you include in your top five? Let us know.

0
0