The Greatest Central Midfielders of All-Time

Definition of Central Midfielder covers this role

1. Box-To-Box Midfielder : The midfielders who operate in both defensive and offensive game, occasionally went forward to support attacking game or even scored by themselves
2. Defensive Holding Midfielder : The midfielders who mostly based on the central midfield area, available in ball controlling, vision and passing, must be good in defensive game as well, and classify into 2 positions. Defensive Holding Midfielder and Central Holding Midfielder depend on degree of defensive quality.
3. Wing-Half : The midfielders who played in semi-side position, had a role to stop both inside-forward and out-side forward of opponent side and support offensive game primarily in central area.
4. Destroyer : The midfielders who mainly responsible for destroying the game of opponent.

Implication : All Central Midfielder covers every midfielder who possesses sufficient level of combination set of defensive skills like ability to win the ball, aggression and physical strong and the gap between their defensive and offensive ability is narrow enough. It is also certainly an advantage of box-to box midfielder and holding midfielder to be ranked higher position than destroyer because they were available in defensive and offensive skills. In another word, Some might be called “Commanding Midfielder". Describing of this characteristic of player in early decades of football history, they were called as “Center-Half ” in 2-3-5 system. 

50. Zlatko Cajkovski

Date Of Birth  :   24 November 1923
Nation  :  Yugoslavia
Caps :   55 Games
Position  :  Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height   : 164 cm
Major Club :  Partizan Belgrade
World Cup Participation  :  1950, 1954 (3 Games with 2 Goals)
Club Honours   :   2 Times Yugoslavian League
3 Times Yugoslavian Cup
International Honours : 2 Times Olympic Game Silver Medal (1948, 1952)
Individual Achievement :  None

Zlatko Cajkovski is the greatest Yugoslav defensive midfielder of all-time. He started career as center-half in his previous club, but became famous as wing half in Partizan Belgrade, used on both sides, but more often on the right side. Very intelligent player, with top-class technique and tremendous condition, stamina and mentality, was famous for his marking ability. Čajkovski often joined and sometimes organized attacks. He was very good passer better on short distances. He was one of the most outstanding players for Yugoslavia national team in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, even scored two goals. He was selected to play for FIFA World XI several occasions in the early 1950s. After played for Partizan Belgrade for nine seasons, he moved to play for FC Cologne for three seasons.

49. Stefan Effenberg

Date Of Birth : 2 August 1968
Nation :  Germany, Caps : 35 Games
Height : 188 cm, Position : Central Holding Midfielder
Major Club : Bayem Munich, Borussia Munchengladbach
World Cup Participation : 1994 (3 Games)
Club Honours : 3 Times Bundesliga Champions
2 Times DFB-Pokal, 2 Times League Cup
2001 UEFA Champion League Winner, 1999 Runner-Up
2001 Intercontinental Cup
lnternational Honous : 1992 European Championship Runner-Up
Individual Adievement :  1992 EUFA Euro Team Of Tournament
2001 UEFA Champion League Most Valuable Player

"Der Tiger" Stefan Effenberg was the German superstar midfielder in the 1990s. He possessed leadership skills, powerful shooting ability, vision to pass long and physical strength, but also a fearsome and controversial character. His international career was marked by controversy and several years in the international wilderness, after the DFB refused to consider him for selection following an incident at the 1994 World Cup, he had gestured in an inappropriate manner to fans at the stadium. In the German first division alone, Effenberg collected 109 yellow cards as Bundesliga Record. All in all, Kicker magazine rated him in World-Class just a half of season in 2000 and other 8.5 International-class seasons. He was nominated in Ballon'Dor twice times. According to German Footballer of the year voting, He was German midfielder of the year twice times, finished second place German footballer of the year in 2000 and was named in Bundesliga team of the season eight times and one of them is the most weekly appearances in 1996. Effenberg is named in ESM team of the month 8 times and team of the year once time. He was chosen in all-time Bayern XI by the fan in 2005.

48. Jim Baxter

Date Of Birth  :  29 September 1939
Nation    :   Scotland
Position  :  Central Holding Midfielder
Height   :  188 cm
Major Club    :  Glasgow Rangers
Caps  :   34 Games
World Cup Participation  :   None
Club Honours   :   3 Times Scottish League
3 Times Scottish Cup, 4 Times League Cup
International Honours    :   None
Individual Achievement  :    None

‘Slim Jim’ Jim Baxter is the best prime Scottish footballer ever. He mainly played as left-half and sometimes moved to inside-left, he moved to Rangers for a Scottish record transfer fee and helped the club to win ten trophies during 5 seasons. However he started drinking heavily during a four-month layoff caused by a leg fracture until his fitness suffered. This problem effects him not able to settle down for any club after then. Baxter retired from football at the age of 31 only. In his prime, Baxter was known for his ability to raise a team's morale, his good tactical vision, precise passing and ability to send opponents the wrong way and also was good in slide tackle. In 1963, which may have been Baxter's best year overall, he played in the "rest of the world" in a match against England to celebrate the centenary of The Football Association. He was nominated only once time in Ballon'Dor achieved in 1965. The statue of Baxter was erected in his hometown.

47. Valery Voronin

Date Of Birth  : 17 July 1939
Nation :  Russia, Caps  : 63 Games   
Position :  Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height : 181 cm, Major Club : Torpedo Moscow   
World Cup Participation  :  1962, 1966 (9 Games)
Club Honours : 2 Times Soviet League, 1 Time Soviet Cup
International Honours :  1964 UEFA Euro Runner-Up
Individual Achievement :  1962 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team
2 Times Soviet Union Footballer Of The Year (1964, 1965)

Valery Ivanovich Voronin was the best defensive midfielder in the World during the mid 60’s, a versatile midfielder who had incredible technical abilities and passing combined with his toughness in defensive game led him as one of the most completed defensive midfielders, was also capable of playing as central defender. Voronin played important role for the golden age of Soviet Union national team. He won fourth place in World Cup 1966 with Soviet Union and the same place in EURO 1968. He is the first winner of Soviet footballer of the year in 1964. During the summer of 1969 he was involved in a serious car accident from which he recovered physically but finally ended his career at 30 years old. During his peak in the mid-60s, he finished in top eleven Ballon'Dor three times in row between 1964 and 1966, twice of these is the best ranking of defensive midfielder, finished highest place at 8th in 1965.

46. Zito

Date Of Birth  :  18 August 1932
Nation : Brazil, Caps : 46 Games 
Height : 176 cm, Position : Defensive Holding Midfielder
World Cup Participation : 1958,1962,1966 (10 Games)
Club Honours : 9 Times Brazil State Champions
4 Times Brazil National Championships
2 Times Copa Libertadores Cup (1962, 1963)
2 Times Intercontinental Cup (1962, 1963)
International Honours :
 2 Times FIFA World Cup Winners (1958,1962)
Individual Achievement : 1962 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team

“The Manager” Zito is one of the most decorated defensive midfielders ever, was the greatest South American defensive midfielder in the first half 1960s and is the best defensive midfielder in history of Copa Libertadores Cup. He was highly strong and tough in defensive role but rather slow. A strong, commanding and influential midfielder, known for his leadership, Zito usually played in a supporting role as a wing-half or half-back, serving as a defensive foil to his more offensive minded teammates. An intelligent and highly organised player, he was known for his ability to win back possession with his tackling, and subsequently set the tempo in midfield through his movement off the ball and precise passing; although he was competent in possession, he preferred to play the ball to other more creative and skillful midfielders rather than carry it forward himself. He was also capable of starting attacking plays after winning the ball by quickly distributing the ball forward with simple, yet neat and efficient passes. He was one of key players of Santos to achieve one of the most peak performance in history of South American club and played for only Santos club in his entire career. 


45Michael Ballack

Date Of Birth  :  26 September 1976, Height : 189 cm
Nation : Germany , 98 Games (42 Goals)
Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder
Major Club : Bayem Munich, Chelsea
World Cup Participation  :  2002, 2006 (11 Games)
Club Honours : 1 Time English Premier League
4 Times German Bundesliga , 3 Times DFB-Pokal
3 Times FA Cup, 1 Time League Cup, 2001 Intercontinental Cup
2 Times UEFA Champion League Runner-Up (2002, 2006)
lnternational Honours : 2002 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up
2006 FIFA World Cup Third Place, 2008 UEFA Euro Runner-Up
Individual Achievement : 2002 UEFA Club Midfielder of The Year
3 Times German Footballer of The Year (2002, 2003, 2005)
2008 UEFA Euro Best XI, 2002 FIFA World Cup Top Assister/All Stars      

Michael Ballack is the greatest German footballer during the 2000s, was famous for his leadership and effectiveness. He is one of the most runner-up trophies players, won second place in UEFA champion league, European Championship and FIFA World Cup. Especially, Ballack won the triple runner-up in 2001-2002 season with Leverkusen, consisted of Bundesliga, UEFA Champion league and DFB-pokal. He played as defensive midfielder in some year during early 2000s and settle his position up to attacking midfielder. By the end of 2008-2009 season, Ballack is totally rated by kicker ranking in a half of world-class season in 2002 and 8.5 international-class seasons although he could be considered in twice world-class domestic seasons by INC media, was voted fifth place European Footballer of the Year in 2002 as the best central/defensive midfielder. According to German Footballer of the year voting, He was German midfielder of the year in five times and was named in Bundesliga team of the season six times. Ballack is named in ESM team of the month 8 times and team of the year once time. Aside from 2002, he was nominated in Ballon'Dor three times.

44. Herbert Prohaska

Date Of Birth  :   8 August 1955
Nation : Austria, Caps  : 83 Games
Position  : Central Holding Midfielder
Height : 183 cm, Major Club : Austria Wienna
World Cup Participation : 1978, 1982 (11 Games)
Club Honours : 7 Times Austria Bundesliga
1 Time Italian Series A, 1 Time Coppa Italia
4 Times Austrian Cup
International Honours  : None                      
Individual Achievement  : UEFA Jubilee Award (Austria)
4 Times Austria Footballer of The Year (1975,1984,1985,1988)

“Schneckerl” Herbert Prohaska is selected from Austria football association as their greatest player in the last 50 years beat Austria’s legend like Hans Krankl. He played as deep-lying playmaker. A combative midfielder, he is known for his intelligence, precision passing and his uncompromising to destroy opponent’s game. Prohaska played in Austria for eight years before decided to move playing in Italian Series A with Inter Milan for two seasons. Then, He was transferred to AS Roma where he played just a season but that was very special because he could be a part to win their first Italian Series A trophy in history. Guerin Sportivo rating of him could be considered in World-Class in his last season in Series A with AS Roma. Prohaska scored more than 100 goals during his professional career. He was nominated in Ballon'Dor twice and finished highest place at 7th in 1980.

43. Johnny Giles

Date Of Birth  :  6 November 1940
Nation : Ireland Republic, Caps :  59 Games
Height : 177 cm, Position : Central Holding Midfielder
Major Club : Manchester United, Leeds United
World Cup Participation : None
Club Honour :  2 Times English Top Division
2 Times Inter Cities Fair Cup
2 Times FA Cup, 1 Time League Cup
lrternetional Honous  : None
Individual Achievement :
UEFA Jubilee Awards (Republic of Ireland)

Johnny Giles was surprised to win UEFA Jubilee Award instead of Liam Brady. He was moved to Manchester United after the Munich disaster to represent of Duncan Edwards, played alongside Boby Charlton in midfield. After wards, He was transferred to Leeds United, played in midfield alongside skipper Billy Bremner and went on to form a central midfield partnership which was one of the best in English club football. Giles was known as the creative force. Despite his craft, Giles was later pinned down as one of the tougher and dirtier players in what was an often uncompromising Leeds side. In altogether, Giles won more than 500 appearances and scored more than 100 goals for Leeds United. He was finished 5th Leeds United’s greatest player ever by The Times. Although Giles never played in international major tournament as Ireland's disqualification, he made an incredible five participation in World cup Qualification.Giles was nominated in Ballon'Dor once time in 1972.

42. Dave Mackay

Date Of Birth  :  14 November 1934
Nation : Scotland, Caps  : 22 Games
Position :  Defensive Midfielder/ Center-Back
Height : 172 cm, Major Club : Tottenham Hot Spurs
World Cup Participation : 1958 (1 Game)
Club Honours :  1 Time Scottish Champion
1 Time English Top Division
1 Time Scottish Cup, 2 Times Scottish League Cup
3 Times FA Cup,1963 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
International Honours    :  None                        
Individual Achievement  :  1969 FWA Footballer Of The Year

Dave Mackay is the finest destroyer in history of British football. Mackay was not only a superlative destroyer who was indispensable for his team but also great in passing and reading the game. He is one of the strongest footballers in history of the game. It is often overlooked that the powerful half back could beat a player just as easily as he could stop one in his tracks. Mackay suffered two broken legs, the second in a reserve match as he was returning from the first, but his spirit remained intact during a punishing recovery program of strengthening exercises and dieting. That drive – accompanied by fine vision and passing – pushed Spurs to success in the Sixties, A warrior of a player who walks with a bow-legged gait that stems from a career of exertion, He could play as sweeper as well. Mackay was selected by the times as Spurs’s the second greatest player of all-time. However, he was never nominated in Ballon'Dor.

41. Josef Smistik

Date Of Birth : 28 November 1905
Nation  :  Austria
Position  :  Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height  : 183 cm
Major Club  :  Rapid Vienna
Caps  :  39 Games
World Cup Participation : 1934 (4 Games)
Club Honours : 3 Times Austrian League
1 Time Austrian Cup, 1930 Mitropa Cup
International Honours :  1932 Central European International Cup
Individual Achievement : None

Josef Smistik is one of the best center-halfs in the World during the first half 1930s. He was an important player of Repid Vienna in their glory years as one of the best European clubs at his time, reaching 3 Mitropa Cup finalists with Rapid Vienna and won one time. He played mainly as wing half and also as defender. He was most known for his fantastic long balls and speed, fighting spirit, great vision and intelligence, as well as powerful play, great endurance and good technique. Pepi used to join attack very often and scored some goals, some of them from free kicks and headers as well. Smistik worked as an animal, always in perfect condition, was master in breaking the opponents attacks and starting offensive moves with his trademark long balls, but also good ball control and dribbling, precise quick one-two's and used to shoot from distance. Smistik also finished Mitropa Cup Runner-Up with Rapid Vienna in 1927 and 1928 and was regarded as the best player in the 1930 tournament.


40. Graeme Souness

Date Of Birth  :  6 May 1953
Nation  :   Scotland, Caps  : 54 Game
Position :  Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height  : 180 cm, Major Club :  Liverpool
World Cup Participation : 1978, 1982, 1986 (6 Games)
Club Honours : 5 Times English Top League
3 Times Scottish Top League, 1 Time Copa Italia
4 Times English League Cup, Scottish League Cup
3 Times European Cup Winners (1978, 1981, 1984)
International Honours  :  None
Individual Achievement  :  1981 European Cup Top Scorer

Graeme Souness is regarded as the best midfielder to ever play for Scotland national team and was one of the most important players of Liverpool in their golden era dominating in the Europe, Souness was the complete package midfielder, an elegant brute with a seam of sadism running through him. The greatest part of his game is the stuff that went unnoticed. Most of his passes were 10 yards or less and, after releasing the ball, he'd invariably move into space to receive it back. Souness played for Middlesbrough for 4.5 seasons before move to Liverpool. According to Guerin Sportivo rating, he was the fifth best foreigner in Series A in his first season with Sampdoria but the second season was very tend down. Souness finally retried his career with Rangers. He was selected in PFA team of the year in 4 times. The Times ranks him as Liverpool’s fourth greatest player ever. Souness reached the highest place in Ballon'Dor at 6th in 1984.

39Clarence Seedorf

Date Of Birth: 1 April 1976
Nation  : Netherlands, Caps : 87 Games
Position  : Central Holding Midfielder
Height : 176 cm, Major Club : AC Milan
World Cup Participation : 1990 (4 Games)
Club Honours  : 2 Times Eredivisie, 1 Time Dutch Cup
3 Times ltalan Series A, 1 Time Spanish La Liga
4 Times UEFA Champion League (1995,1998,2004,2007)
1996 Intercontinental Cup, 2001 FIFA Club World Cup
2005 UEFA Champion League Runner-Up
International Honours  :  None
Individual Achievement : 2 Times Dutch Football Talent (1994,1998)
2007 UEFA Champion League Best Midfielder

Clarence Seedorf is a consistency international-class player during the 2nd half 90s to 2000s and being the only player in history of the game to win UEFA Champion League with three different teams. He is a versatile midfielder, can adapt himself to create game on the left or right side in midfield, possesses high stamina, basic technique, excellent teamwork, fitness and intelligent. Seedorf started well-known with golden generation of Ajax alongside Kluivert, Davids and Rizeger. He also played for Sampdoria and Inter Milan but didn’t win any trophy with them. His national appearances had not been more impressive due to his ongoing conflict with Van Basten. Seedorf has mostly been a starter for his club for more than a decade, has played more than 780 games in club level. However, Italian media rating consider him not to reach any world-class season in Series A. Seedorf is named in ESM team of the month 8 times and team of the year once time and was named in UEFA Team of the year twice times. He was nominated in Ballon'Dor three times. 

38. Toninho Cerezo

Date Of Birth  :  21 April 1955
Nation : Brazil, Caps :  57 Games
Height  : 183 cm, Position : Defensive Holding Midfielder
Major Club :  Atletico Mineiro, Sampdoria
World Cup Participation  :   1974, 1978 (10 Games)
Club Honours: 1991 Italian Series A, 4 Times Copa Italia
1984 European Cup Runner-Up
1991 UEFA Cup Winners Cup
1993 Copa Libertadores Cup
2 Times Intercontinental Cup (1992, 1993)          
International Honours :1978 FIFA World Cup Third Place
Individual Achievement : 
2 Times Brazilian League Footballer Of The Year (1977, 1980)

Toninho Cerezo is one of the greatest Brazilian defensive midfielder of all-time, was a great organizer and also full of defensively toughness and tireless combined with above average of skillful. After won player of the year in Brazil twice times, Toninho continued the successful career in Italian Series A and Italian rating of him shows his best season is the 1984 - 1985 with AS Roma. Aside from Sampdoria, He previously played for AS Roma and reached European cup final round with them. Toninho notably made a big mistake passing in the 1982 World Cup and Brazil disqualified for semi-finalist as a result. Toninho was selected in Brazilian Series A team of the year in three times. In 1993, He was selected as man of the match in intercontinental cup. He was chosen as starter in all-time Sampdoria XI by voting of journalists in He was named in top ten South American Footballer of The Year once time in 1980 which he finished 7th place.

37. Horst Szymaniak

Date Of Birth  :  29 August 1934
Nation   :   Germany
Position    :  Destroyer
Height    :  178 cm
Major Club  :  Wuppertaler, Catania
Caps    :  43 Games
World Cup Participation  :   1958, 1962 (9 Games)
Club Honours   :   None
International Honours    :   None                     
Individual Achievement  : 1962 Guerin Sportivo Series A Player of the Year

Horst Szymaniak was the greatest German midfielder during 2nd half 1950s. He had very good ball skills, had clarity and was able to make long passes to unerringly to a team mate. At the same time it drew from two combat of strength, and the sliding tackle was judged to be his trademark. He was rated by kicker magazine in 4.5 world-class seasons,  include 2.5 seasons of international-class of his career in Bundesliga. Szymaniak was nominated in Ballon'Dor between 1957 -1961 and finished in top ten three times as the best place of defensive midfielder, He was one of a few German players to play outside his country, was transferred to Italian Series A to play with three clubs in 5 seasons, was believed reaching 2 seasons of international-class with Catania. Later, He moved to play for Inter Milan where he won a European Cup with team but not a starter. Szymaniak never won any trophy due to regularly play for small clubs.  

36. Xabi Alonso

Date Of Birth  :  25 November 1981
Nation : Spain, Caps  :  113 Games
Position :  Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height  :  183 cm
Major Club  :  Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid
World Cup Participation  :   2006, 2010, 2014 (13 Games)
Club Honours: 1 Time Spanish La Liga
2 Times Bundesliga, 1 Time DFB Pokal
1 Time Copa Del Rey, 1 Time FA Cup
2 Times UEFA Champion League (2005,2014), 2007 Runner-Up
International Honours  : 2 Times UEFA Euro Winner (2008, 2012)
2010 FIFA World Cup Champion
Individual Achievement  :  2003 Spanish Footballer of The Year
2012 UEFA Euro Team of The Tournament

Xabi Alonso is one of the best defensive midfielders in the World in the late 200s to early 2010s. He started his extraordinary performance during he played for Real Sociedad where he was a key man in midfield helping the club to achieve second place in 2003-2004 Spanish La Liga season as a great destroyer before developing himself to excel an defensive holding midfielder role in his Liverpool years and continued his consistency with Real Madrid where he achieved his peak career. He incredibly achieved world-class performance with Bayern at his 33 years old. Xabi possesses a technique, vision, and varied passing range. He also had a powerful and accurate shot from distance, and he is an effective set-piece and also in the aerial game. His defensive attribute tactical intelligence, aggressive tackling and ability to read the game. He was named as La Liga best defensive midfielder in 2012 and UEFA Champion League best XI in 2014. He appeared in FIFPro World XI twice times.He was nominated in Ballon'dor three times between 2010 - 2012, finishing the tenth in 2010 as his best place

35. Danilo Alvim

Date Of Birth  :  3 December 1920
Nation  :  Brazil, Caps :  25 Games
Height  :  182 cm, Position : Wing-Half
Major Club :  Vasco Da Gama
World Cup Participation : 1950 (6 Games)
Club Honours   :   5 Times Brazil State Championship
1948 South American Club Championship
International Honours  : 1949 Copa America Champion
1950 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up
Individual Achievement  :    None

"The Prince" Danilo Alvim is the most talent and complete Brazilian defensive midfielder of all-time, is one of the forgotten legends from the era of the 2nd half 1940s despite being one of the greatest center-halfs in the World in his time. It is largely due to a highlight of defect in his career that lost Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final in which is considered the worst disaster in history of Brazilian football. He also faced the car accident and resulting broken leg in his early career and have to wait until his 25 years old to win first caps. Danilo was famous for his elegant and beautiful ball control. Style replete of perfect passes and objective, short dribbles. He invented a very sophisticated and characteristic movement which was an elegant ball smoothing with the thigh. He possessed a very refined technique with majestic long passes. He was one of the best players of the 1948 South American Club Championship.

34. Edgar Davids

Date Of Birth  :  13 March 1973
Nation  : Netherlands, Caps : 74 Games
Position :  Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height : 170  cm, Major Club  :  Juventus
World Cup Participation  :   1998 (6 Games)
Club Honours : 3 Times Dutch League
3 Times Italian Series A
2 Times Dutch Cup, 1 Time Copa Italia
1992 UEFA Cup, 1995 UEFA Champion League 
3 Times UEFA Champion League Runner-Up (1996,1998,2003)
1995 Intercontinental Cup  
International Honours  : None             
Individual Achievement : 1998 FIFA World Cup All Star Team
2000 European Championship Best XI

Edgar Davids is one of the best defensive midfielders of the World during the late 1990s, was the great powerful dinamo midfielder, was noted for his tireless running, uncompromising and excellent agility. Davids liked to support attacking game with his technical abilities and great acceleration. He had glaucoma, which requires him to wear protective goggles during football matches. His dreadlocked hair and his protective eye wear make Davids one of the most recognizable footballers of his generation.  He did not see much playing time at Milan, and moved on to league rival Juventus. Davids is considered a s the best defensive midfielder in the 1998 FIFA World Cup which Holland finished fourth place. In 2001, Davids was suspended for a year by FIFA when he tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid, nandrolone. Davids could be considered in twice world-class domestic season by media rating. Davids is named in ESM team of the month twice times only. He was nominated in Ballon'Dor three times between 1998 and 2000, reached highest place at 8th in 1998 as the best defensive midfielder.

33. Roy Keane

Date Of Birth  :  10 August 1971
Nation : Republic Of Ireland, Caps : 66 Games
Position :  Destroyer, Height : 178 cm
Major Club :  Manchester United
World Cup Participation : 1994, 2002 (4 Games)
Club Honours : 7 Times English Premier League
1 Time Scottish Premier League
4 Times FA Cup, 1 Time Scottish League Cup
1999 UEFA Champion League
1999 Intercontinental Cup
International Honours  :  None
Individual Achievement :  2000 FWA Footballer Of The Year
2000 PFA Player’s Player Of The year

Roy Keane is one of the best footballers of Ireland Republic, was an aggressive powerful midfielder and one of the most hard-men in British football history. He was full of winning-mind and proved himself as a true leader for his club and national team, was a very good team work player and a key to create Man U’s glory year, routinely activate his team to get back as a winner even being led for scores. His role helped Man Utd won the only major triple champions in history of English football. However, It often became his violent behavior, was suspended and sent-off several times during his career until holds the record for the most red cards in English football with 13. The most famous event was his hard tackling to Alf-Inge Haland due to his wanting to revenge until broken leg and retired from football shortly afterwards. Roy Keane could be considered in 3 world-class domestic seasons according to media rating. He was named PFA team of the year five times and premier league player of the month twice. Keane is named in ESM team of the month 5 times and team of the year once time. Keane was nominated in Ballon'Dor once time in 1999 and finished sixth place as the best defensive midfielder.

32. Billy Bremner

Date Of Birth  :  9 December 1942
Nation  : Scotland, Caps  : 54 Games
Position :   Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height :  164 cm, Major Club  :  Leeds United
World Cup Participation : 1974 (3 Games)
Club Honours  : 2 Times English Top Division
1 Time FA Cup, 1 Time League Cup
2 Times Inter Cities Fairs Cup (1968, 1971)
1975 European Cup Runner-Up
International Honours   : None                       
Individual Achievement : 1970 FWA Footballer Of The Year
Leeds United’s Greatest Player Ever

Billy Bremner was chosen by The Times as the greatest player in history of Leeds United club. and has a statue outside the South East corner of Elland Road. By the time debuted his career for Leeds, Bremner quickly established himself as an uncompromising player, tough in the tackle and often going beyond the rules to get the better of a skilled opponent. He had a stamina to work from one end of the pitch to the other and could pass with precision and timing. He also weighed in with his share of goals, and had an extraordinary ability to score crucial goals in the biggest games. Bremner played 772 matched for Leeds United that is almost the record of his club just only to Jacky Charlton one game and scored 115 Goals. In 1973, Bremner was best honoured in international level, was voted 5th in Ballan’ Dor as the best defensive/central midfielder and also finished in top ten Ballon'Dor in 1974.

31. Karel Pesek Kada

Date Of Birth  : 20 September 1895
Nation  :  Czechoslovakia
Caps.  :  44 Games
Height  :  173 cm
Position  : Defensive Holding Midfielder
Major Club  :  Sparta Prague
Olympic Games Participation: 1920, 1924
Club Honours  : 5 Time Czechoslovak League
1927 Mitropa Cup Winner, 1930 Runner-Up
International Honours :   None

Individual Achievement : None

Karel Pesek Kada was generally acknowledged as the greatest European defensive midfielders in the 1920s and is the best Czechoslovakian footballers in the pre-war era. He played as center-half, known for his commitment, his understanding of the game, his overview and game intelligence were outstanding. He is considered the inventor of the tackle with which he often took the ball from his opponents. Pešek was a very hard-working player with amazing fighting spirit. He was very useful in defensive lines with his leadership and his extraordinary tackle became he was very difficult to pass. Pesek led Czechoslovakia to the final of 1920 Olympic but the team was punished as disqualified after protesting referee. Pesek Kada is a key player of Sparta Prague in its glory years, participated in 3 Mitropa Cup tournaments and was one of the best players of the 1927 and 1930 tournament. He is also evaluated as one of the best players in the World in 1920, 1921 and 1927.

30. Osvaldo Ardiles

Date Of Birth   :  3 August 1952
Nation   :   Argentina
Position   :   Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height   :   169 cm
Major Club  :  Tottenham Hot Spurs
Caps  :  63 Games
World Cup Participation  :  1978, 1982 (11 Games)
Club Honours : 2 times FA Cup, 1984 UEFA Cup
International Honours : 1978 FIFA World Cup Winner
Individual Achievement : None

“Ossie” and “The Python” Osvaldo Ardiles is one of the legendary Argentinian midfielders, was rated by so many as the finest South American  foreigner in history of English league. He was a competitive and skillful central midfielder. He snaked like dribbling skill and possessed great passing abilities. Because of Tottenham's perceived defensive weakness, He was signed to play for the club after winning World Cup 1978 with Argentina as one of the very best central midfielders of the tournament and being the most important role to control defensive and offensive game. He notably left England for a period as a result of the outbreak of the Falklands War in 1982, thus missing most of the 1982–83 season. In 2008, He was induced into Tottenham Hotspurs Hall of Fame. Ardiles was named in top ten South American Footballer of The Year once time in 1978. 

29. Frank Lampard

Date Of Birth  :  20 June 1978, Height   :  183 cm
Nation : England, Caps : 90 Games (23 Goals)
Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder, Major Club : Chelsea
World Cup Participation  :   2006, 2010 (9 Games)
Club Honours : 3 Times English Premier League
3 Times FA Cup, 2 Times League Cup
2012 UEFA Champion League Winner , 2008 Runner-Up
International Honours : None
Individual Achievement : 2004 UEFA Euro Team Of Tournament
2005 FWA Footballer Of The Year         
2005 Silver Ball FIFA World Player Of The Year
2005 Silver Ball European Footballer Of The Year
2008 UEFA Club Best Midfielder
2 Times England Player of The Year (2004, 2005)
Chelsea All-Time Top Scorer - Greatest Player Ever

Frank Lampard was one of the best midfielders in Europe in the mid-2000s. He plays most often as a box-to-box midfielder and has also enjoyed spells in a more advanced attacking midfield role, is known for his positional awareness fit to the tactical strategy as a main scoring role from midfield line. Lampard is the highest goal-scoring midfielder in Premier League history with 174 league goals in total and scored 255 goals in all competitions, he is also 2nd in the all-time Premier League assists table. Johan Cruijff ever give his sentence about him that “Lampard is the best midfielder in Europe”. In 2005, He won many individual awards and became the only player in history of Chelsea club to win award in European Footballer of The Year. He was selected in PFA team of the year for three times, is the top premier league assisters in twice seasons, is a top scorer of the FA Cup and the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification, Lampard could be considered in twice world-class domestic seasons according to media rating. He was awarded Premier League player of the month four times.

28. Gerson

Date Of Birth  :   11 January 1941
Nation : Brazil, Caps : 70 Games (14 Goals)           
Position : Box-to-Box Midfielder/Central Holding Midfielder
Height  : 170 cm, Major Club  :   Botafogo
World Cup Participation : 1966, 1970 (5 Games/2 Assists)
Club Honours  : 6 Times Brazil State Champion
1 Time Brazil National Championship
International Honours : 1970 FIFA World Cup Champion
Individual Achievement  : 1970 FIFA World Cup Best Midfielder
Brazil Football Museum Hall of Fame 

"Parrot" Gérson de Oliveira Nunes was one of the greatest central midfielders in the World in the late 1960s. A successor of Didi in central midfield role, although he didn't play well in the 1966 tournament, he was the mastermind behind the whole Brazil national team in the 1970 tournament. He is regarded as the best passer and midfielder in that Cup and the best player in the final against Italy. He played as central midfielder, orchestrated most of Brazil's brilliant attack. Gerson stayed deep in midfield and drew his marker out position. He was great in defensive duty combined with high level of ball controlling skill. However, He was more attacking player in the club level and scored 129 goals in 306 games before having switched to play deeper since the age of 28 years old. His prime was performed during his career at Botafogo, he also played for Flamengo, Sao Paulo and Fluminese.

27. Patrice Vieira

Date Of Birth  :  23 June 1976
Nation : France, Caps : 107 Games
Position :   Defensive-Holding Midfielder
Height  : 192 cm, Major Club : Arsenal
World Cup Participation  :  1998, 2002, 2006 (12 Games)
Club Honours : 3 Times English Premier League
3 Times Italian Series A,  4 Times FA Cup
International Honours : 1998 FIFA World Cup Champion
2006 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up
2000 European Championship 
2001 FIFA Confederation Cup
Individual Achievement  :   2001 French Player Of The Year
Premier League Team of The Decade

Patrice Vieira is the greatest defensive midfielder in history of Arsenal club. He was born in Senegal and moved to settle down in France during his teenage years. Vieira possessed all-round abilities, very strong in defensive task, good ball controlling and passing. Vieira played as holding midfielder for Arsenal and France, always showed his great as organizer in midfield. Vieira started professional career with Cannes and spent a failure season at AC milan before settle down playing for Arsenal and played in Italian Series A in the late career. He was commented by French football fan that he never been as great performance in national level as his career with Arsenal where he was very remarkable. According to media rating, Vieira could be considered in 3 world-class domestic seasons. He was selected in PFA team of the year in 6 times but was never awarded premier league player of the month and was voted 5th Arsenal's greatest ever by the fan in 2008. Seedorf is named in ESM team of the month 9 times. Vieira was nominated in Ballon'Dor twice.

26. Igor Netto

Date Of Birth  :  9 January 1930
Nation  :  Russia, Caps  : 54 Games
Position : Central Holding Midfielder
Height  :  179 cm, Major Club :  Spartak Moscow
World Cup Participation : 1958, 1962 (6 Games)
Club Honours  :  5 Times Soviet Union Champions
3 Times Soviet Cup Winners
International Honours   :  1960 European Championship Winner
1956 Gold Medal Olympic Game 
Individual Achievement  : 1960 UEFA Euro Team Of Tournament
3 Times Soviet Footballer of The Year (1952,1953,1954)
Spartak Moscow Greatest Player Ever
Soviet Merited Master of Sports

Igor Netto is the best midfielder in history of Soviet Union football, is one of the greatest versatile players ever. He could play well in all positions in defense and midfield line. Netto started out as a left defender but, due to his offensive mentality, dribbling and technical abilities includes anticipation let moving into midfield. Netto is a great versatile player as his variety skills, could switch to play in the side of the field effectively. He was the captain of the USSR national football team from 1954 to 1963. During his career, He played for only one club was Spartak Moscow as a regular first team player in consecutive 15 seasonal years, dominating Soviet football during the 1950s. He participated only one game in the 1958 World Cup due to injury and finally participated all matched help USSR to reach quarter-final in the 1962 tournament. Netto never won Soviet footballer of the year because this award was established when he was already 34 years old. Netto was nominated in Ballon'Dor once time and finished ninth place in 1957.

25. Jean Tigana

Date Of Birth  :   23 June 1955
Nation : France, Caps   :  52 Games
Position : Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height  :166 cm, Major Club : Bordeux
World Cup Participation : 1982, 1986 (12 Games)
Club Honours : 3 Times French League, 3 Times French Cup
International Honours :1986 FIFA World Cup Third Place
1984 European Championship Winner             
Individual Achievement : 1984 French Player Of The Year
1984 European Championship Team Of Tournament
1984 Silver Ball European Footballer Of The Year
1986 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team
Bordeux Greatest Player Ever

"The Don Quichotte of Mali" Jean Tigana is the greatest French defensive midfielder of all-time, was the greatest defensive midfielder in the World in the mid-80s, is well-known as one of “The Magic Square” the great midfield foursomes of all-time, alongside Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Luis Fernandez in World Cup 1986. He born in Mali with Malian Father and French Mother. Tigana was best noted for his intelligent vision in great movement and teamwork in coordination with his teammates and possesses tireless stamina. In club level, He could reach European Cup semi-final round once time which is the best record of the club. Also, He won fourth place in World Cup 1982 with France. Tigana was also nominated in the 1986 Ballon'Dor.

24. Nestor Rossi

Date Of Birth  :  10 May 1925
Nation  :  Argentina, Caps  :   26 Games
Position :  Defensive Holding  Midfielder
Height  :   185 cm
Major Club :  River Plate, Milonarios
World Cup Participation : 1958 (3 Games)
Club Honours  : 5 Times Argentina Champions
4 Times Colombian League, 1 Time Colombian Cup
1953 Small World Club Cup
International Honours :  2 Times Copa America Winners (1947,1957)
Individual Achievement  :   None

“Pipo” Nestor Rossi was the greatest defensive midfielder of the South Americas during the first half 1950s. He was a player in the era that “La Maquina” had just departed while Labruna and Loustau were still with the club. An authentic leader of football, Rossi was a vigorous, powerful courageous, majestic and even rude player, was superb in positional play, balance, peripheral organizing ability, displaying enormous physical ability and tackling ability to win the ball from opponents and being the very indispensable player of every team he played for, His attacking abilities were in a considerable state for DM position. After his career for River Plate, He decided moving to play in Colombian league where his prime was fulfilled and won league trophies almost every years. Although he played football in pre-Copa Libertadores Cup era, N. Rossi was an important player to help RIver Plate finish runner-up in the 1948 South American Championship and won small World Cup with Millonarios in 1953.


23. Fritz Szepan

Date Of Birth  :  2 September 1907
Nation  :  Germany, Caps  :  34 Games
Position :  Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height  : 177 cm
Major Club   :  Schalke 04
World Cup Participation  :  1934, 1938 (5 Games)
Club Honours  :   6 Times German Champions
1 Time DFB-Pokal
International Honours  : 1934 FIFA World Cup Third Place
Individual Achievement :   None

Fritz Szepan was the “Beckenbauer” of the pre-WWII years, is one of the great legends of German football. He is one from the gallery of great playmakers, not markedly pacy, but talented to make the game pacy. He knew how to play directly but also capable of great solos - all that while being strong enough defensively to have played as a stopper. His name is synonymous with the great Schalke era of the 1930s and early-1940s. He started career at 15 years old as inside right but gained international recognition in his interpretation of the center half role at a time other center halves were largely committed to covering the opposing center forward. However, he was not an easy-going player and declared his retirement from international play more than once. Szepan had a comeback in late-1936, playing at inside left. His displays again reached the high level of his 1938 World Cup performance. Szepan prominently won German Double Champion with Schalke in 1937, He scored 234 goals in 342 games in club career.

22. Bryan Robson

Date Of Birth  :  11 January 1957
Nation : England, Caps : 90 Games (26 Goals)
Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height : 180 cm, Major Club : Manchester United
World Cup Participation : 1982, 1986, 1990 (8 Games)
Club Honours  : 2 Times English Premier League
4 Times FA Cup, 1 Time League Cup
1991 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
International Honours    :   None
Individual Achievement :   None

“Captain Marvel” Bryan Robson is regarded as the greatest British central midfielder ever. He was a consistency box-to-box midfielder who made a large number of scores, great tackles, ball winning and passing abilities and was a good header of the ball, but what set him apart from other midfielders was his ability to get to the goal. Robson captained both Manchester United and England for more than a decade. He is best remembered in World Cup 1982 as the second fastest scorer in history of World Cup with 27 second in match against France. He had to wait until 37 year olds for a league champion medal. Robson scored almost 100 goals for Manchester United. Although never won any individual award, he was selected in PFA team of the year for six times and was voted in top ten European Footballer Of the Year four times between 1983 to 1985 and 1987, three of these is the best place of central/defensive midfielder. He was also voted in top ten World Soccer Player of the year twice in 1983 and 1984.

21. Obdulio Varela

Date Of Birth  :   20 September 1917
Nation : Uruguay, Caps : 45 Games
Height  :  178 cm, Position  :  Destroyer
Major Club : Penarol
World Cup Participation : 1950, 1954 (6 Games)
Club Honours : 6 Times Uruguay Champions
International Honours : 1950 FIFA World Cup Winners
1942 Copa America Winner
Individual Achievement :  1942 Copa America Best Player
1950 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team

“The Black Chief” Obdulio Varela was the greatest defensive midfielder in the World in the 1940s, is one of the biggest Uruguayan legends . His nickname due to his dark skin and the influence he had on the pitch, and especially after the unlikely victory over Brazil. People recall Varela as one of the greatest classic centre halves, a midfield player equally adept in defense eating scoring chances. Varela was a hard-man destroyer who has limited in technical ability but it was compensated by his leadership and impact to the game of his team, best remembered for the event in the 1950 FIFA World Cup final. Even Uruguay was disadvantage to host nation Brazil, he activated his teammate and finally won the trophy as a result. The win is remembered as a miracle and made Varela immortal in the eyes of the Uruguayan people. Varela was voted 13th South America’s player of century by IFFHS’s poll.

20. Jose Pirri

Date Of Birth : 11 March 1945
Nation  : Spain, Caps : 47 Games (16 Goals)
Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height  :174 cm, Major Club :   Real Madrid
World Cup Participation : 1966, 1978 (7 Games)
Club Honours : 10 Times Spanish La liga
4 Times Copa Del Rey
1966 European Cup Winner
International Honours    :   None
Individual Achievement  :   None

Jose Pirri is regarded as the greatest Spanish footballer during the late 1960s to 1970s. He played as defensive midfielder for Real Madrid and Spain until his 28 year olds before moved to play as sweeper. He could be in the back of the field, and in master of seconds, he could be scoring a goal, specially thanks to his superb stamina. He made his debut in 1964 and become a leader inside Real Madrid’s structure as a true captain. He played with his heart for the white team, once, in the final against Chelsea with his arm on a sling, due to an arm injury, or even with his jaw broken, this proved his amazing tolerance to injury of all kinds. He stayed in Real Madrid for 16 years scoring the amazing amount of 170 goals. Since 1975, he finished second place and third place Spanish La Liga player of the year once of each. According to El Mundo rating, He was the La Liga Best player twice times in 1977 - 1978 and 1979 - 1980 season. Pirri finished in top ten Ballon'Dor three times, twice of these is the best ranking of defensive midfielder.

19. Marco Tardelli

Date Of Birth  :   24 September 1954
Nation  : Italy, Caps  : 81 Games
Position : Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height : 178 cm, Major Club : Juventus
World Cup Participation  :   1978, 1982, 1986 (13 Games)
Club Honours :  5 Times Italian Series A
2 Times Copa Italia
1977 UEFA Cup, 1984 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
1985 European Cup, 1983 Runner-Up
International Honours : 1982 FIFA World Cup Winners                         
Individual Achievement : 1980 UEFA Euro Team Of Tournament

Marco Tardelli is widely regarded as the greatest Italian defensive midfielder ever and is the greatest defensive midfielder in the World during the 1st half 1980s. He was well known for his battling qualities, primarily his stamina and mentality as well as his ruthless tackling. He was also known for his technical abilities and his ability to score vital goals. Tardelli spent the majority of career part with Juventus in ten seasons and scored 51 goals. Tardelli is one of a few players in history to win all three titles of European competition. He is particularly remembered for his famous goal celebration in the 1982 FIFA World Cup final match. According to italian media rating, Tardelli could be considered in world-class in 3.5 domestic seasons. Tardelli was selected by many journalists in in all-time Juventus XI. Tardelli was nominated in Ballon'Dor once time in 1982.

18. Danny Blanchflower

Date Of Birth  :  10 February 1926
Nation : Northern Ireland, Caps : 56 Games
Height : 173 cm, Position : Wing-Half
Major Club : Tottenham Hot Spurs
World Cup Participation  :   1958 (5 Games)
Club Honours : 1 Time English Top League
2 Times FA Cup
International Honours  : None                     
Individual Achievement : Tottenham Greatest Player Ever
1958 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team
2 Times FWA Footballer Of The Year (1958, 1961)

Danny Blanchflower was ranked as the number one greatest player in Spurs history by The Times in 2009, is remembered as one of the great tacticians in the history of the game, renowned for his passing as an outstanding right-half. He was an indispensable for Spurs during lately 1950s to early 1960s and help them won their first double champion ever. He was the man who ran the show, and what a show it was. Always keeping the ball moving, would wait for an opening and find a pass that the opposition had not seen and an angle that didn’t seem to exist. He did the most important role for Northern Ireland as well, Led them reach the deepest round in World Cup in history of his country at quarter-final round in 1958. Blanchflower is not too great in defensive quality but excellent as a game controller in deep-lying midfield area, hardly scored by himself. He was nominated in Ballon'Dor three times.

17. Fernando Redondo

Date Of Birth  :  6 July 1969
Nation :  Argentina, Caps  :  29 Games
Position : Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height : 186 cm, Major Club  :  Real Madrid
World Cup Participation  :   1994 (4 Games)
Club Honours :  2 Times Spanish La Liga (1995, 1997)
1 Time Copa Italia, 1998 Intercontinental Cup    
3 Times UEFA Champion League (1998, 2000, 2003)
International Honours  : 1993 Copa America Winner
1992 FIFA Confederation Cup                           
Individual Achievement : 1992 FIFA Confederation Cup Golden Ball
2000 UEFA Champion League Most Valuable Player

Fernando Redondo is the most talented defensive midfielders of all-time, is one of the greatest holding midfielders in history of the game. He could perform in either a defensive or creative midfield role with his great left-foot. Redondo was a master of creativity, ball controlling and passing abilities. All of these were perfectly performed as usual. Nevertheless, Redondo's qualification is characterized as an abnormal function as his superb set of offense in technical and creative ability is even superior to many attackers but also possesses a considerable defensive quality. Sir Alex Ferguson ever said that Redondo’s boots is comparable to magnetization. He played for Argentina less than 30 matches because of refusing to cut his long hair and this was a rule of Passarella. Redondo's career was interrupted by serious injury frequently. He was named in La Liga Best XI twice and also nominated in Ballon'Dor twice times.

16Luca Modric

Date Of Birth : 9 September 1985
Nation : CroatiaPosition : Central Holding Midfielder
Height : 174 cm, Caps  : 104 Games
Major Club : Dinamo Zagreb, Tottenham, Real Madrid
World Cup Participation:  2006, 2014
Club Honours : 3 Times Croatian League, 1 Time La Liga
2 Times Croatian Cup, 1 Time Copa Del Rey
4 Times UEFA Champion League (14,16,17,18)  
3 Times FIFA Club World Cup (14,16,17) 
International Honours  :  None
Individual Achievement :  8 Times Croatian Footballer of the Year 
2 Times Spanish La Liga Best Midfielder
4 Times Eastern European Footballer of the Year 
2017 UEFA Champion League Best Midfielder
2018 UEFA Men Player of the Year
2018 FIFA Best Men Player

Luca Modric is one of the best midfielders in the World during the mid-2010s. In his early career with Dinamo Zagreb, he achieved winning 3 consecutive Croatian league titles. He moved to Tottenham where he won the club player of the year in his third season. Modric become a key midfielder for Real Madrid in its glory era that won 4 UEFA Champion League Titles. A diminutive midfielder, he is best known for his excellent vision, being able to change the course of the game with deft pass. He is also able to play with both feet and combines with his swift, offensive positioning off-the-ball. He is a central creative midfielder  who set tempo of the game as master of "pre-assists" sometimes adopt as a defensive midfielder tracking back to win the ball. He is namex in FIFPro World XI 3 times and UEFA Team of the year twice as well as 4 times UEFA Champion League team of the season. His best place in FIFA best player awards is 6th in 2017.     

15. Gerhard Hanappi

Date Of Birth  :  16 February 1929
Nation : Austria, Caps : 93 Games (12 Goals)
Position : Central Holding Midfielder
Height : 169 cm, Major Club : Rapid Vienna
World Cup Participation  :   1954, 1958 (8 Games)
Club Honours  :  7 Austrian League
1 Austrian Cup, 1951 Mitropa Cup
International Honours  :  1954 FIFA  World Cup Third Place
Individual Achievement : 1955 Austria Sportsman of The Year
3 Times Austrian Footballer of The Year (1950, 1954, 1955)
Rapid Vienna Greatest Player Ever

Gerhard Hanappi is an famous Austrian legend, a versatile midfielder. Hanappi was very combative player, tireless runner and brilliant technician, was very intelligent with excellent sense of anticipating which made him very useful in defensive duties, and also enabled him to make well timed runs in the box and to score a lot of goals. Hanappi mainly played as wing-half and was also remarkable in playmaking skill. He started his career at SC Wacker Wien, Deemed as Austria's biggest football talent, he then controversially moved to play for big city rivals Rapid Vienna where he proved to be very successful, He also captained the side for seven years and was chosen in Rapid's Team of the Century in 1999. Hanappi was voted 3rd greatest Austrian footballer ever by IFFHS’s poll. After retirement, He worked as an architect. He planned the Weststadion in Vienna, which was renamed to Gerhard Hanappi Stadium after his death. 

14. Mario Coluna

Date Of Birth  :  6 August 1935
Nation  : Portugal, Caps :  57 Games
Position:  Central Holding/Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height : 172 cm, Major Club : Benfica     
World Cup Participation  :   1966 (6 Games)
Club Honours : 10 Times Portuguese League
6 Times Portuguese Cup
2 Times European Cup Winners (1961, 1962)
3 Times European Cup Runner-Up (1963, 1965, 1968)
International Honours   :  1966 FIFA World Cup Third Place
Individual Achievement :  1966 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team

“The Sacred Monster” Mario Coluna is the best midfielder ever to born in the Africa and is the best midfielder in history fo Benfica and Portuguese Liga, is best remembered as the best assister to Eusebio in Portugal’s glory year. Some call him as "Didi of Portugal". His primitive race was Mozambique as well as Eusebio, captained the legendary team of the "Magriços". Regarding his style of play, Strong at midfield, Coluna was known for the way he played on the field because of his elegant and efficient style with accurate passing and superb vision and ability to read the game. Coluna used to score long distance goals with ease. He was also known for is stamina, that allowed him to control all the areas in the field. In 1967, He was selected as a starter FIFA World XI against Champion of Europe “Spain” Coluna scored around 150 goals in 677 matches for Benfica. Coluna finished highest place in Ballon'Dor at 13th in 1966. 

13. Steven Gerrard

Date Of Birth  :  30 May 1980, Height : 188 cm
Nation : England, Caps :  107 Games (21 Goals)
Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder, Major Club :  Liverpool
World Cup Participation  :  2006, 2010 (9 Games)
Club Honours : 2 Times FA Cup, 3 Times League Cup
2005 UEFA Champion League Winners, 2007 Runner-Up
International Honours : None
Individual Achievement : 2000 PFA Young Player Of The Year
2005 UEFA Champion League Most Valuable Player      
2005 Bronze Ball European Footballer Of The Year
2006 PFA Player’s Player Of The Year
2009 FWA Footballer Of The Year
2 Times England Player of The Year (2007, 2012)
Liverpool's Greatest Player Ever
Order Of The British Empire

“Stivi G” Steven Gerrard was one of the best midfielders in the World and was one of the most popular superstars in the World during the second half 2000s. Gerrard has already been selected as the second best ever of Liverpool club by The Times. He started well-known as a prominent defensive midfielder in the premier league in his early career. He switched to play as central midfielder and attacking midfielder later then but still had a full of defensive awareness. Gerrard is a modern midfielder who is remarkable in movement in many midfield areas, organizing, work rates, leadership and superb long-shot with a high spiritual attitude of athlete, became one of the most important scorers of his club, scored more than 20 goals in three seasons. According to media rating, Gerrard could be considered in 3 - 4 world-class domestic seasons. Gerrard finish in top 8 FIFA World Player of the Year four times. He was selected in PFA team of the year in seven times and holds the record most winners in Premier League players of the month with six, all of them are awarded in different seasons. Gerrard was named in UEFA Team of the year and FIFPro World XI three times

12. Luis Monti

Date Of Birth  :  15 May 1901
Nation : Argentina, Position : Destroyer
Height : 167 cm, Major Club  : Juventus
Caps : 16 Games For Argentina, 18 Games For Italy
World Cup Participation  : 1930, 1934 (9 Games)
Club Honours  :  4 Times Argentina League
4 Times Italian Series A, 1 Time Italian Cup
International Honours  :  1934 FIFA World Cup Champion    
1930 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up   
1927 Copa America Winner
1928 Silver Medal Olympic Games          
Individual Achievement : San Lorenzo Greatest Player Ever
2 Times FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1930, 1934)

“The Double Wide” Luis Monti is considered as the greatest Half-Back in the pre-war era. Monti was gotten his nickname because of his coverage on the pitch, was a rugged and ruthless player, but had good technical skills to go with his strong tackling. He played as an attacking centre half in the old-fashioned Metodo system. As such he would mark the opposing centre forward when his team were defending, but would be the main midfield playmaker when his team was on the attack. He played in two World Cup finals with different team, fist won runner-up with Argentina and changing to play for Italy and winning the 1938 World Cup after then. A match against Austria in World Cup 1934 was one of the best remembered games of his, Monti responsible for marking Matthias Sindelar who was one of the greatest attackers in that era, This task was a lot of success completed. 


11. Willem Van Hanegem

Date Of Birth  :  20 February 1944
Nation : Netherlands, Caps : 52 Games
Height : 178 cm, Position : Central Holding/Box-To-Box Midfielder
Major Club : Feyenoord Rotterdam
World Cup Participation : 1974 (7 Games)
Club Honours : 3 Times Dutch Champions
2 Times Dutch Cup, 1974 UEFA Cup
1970 European Cup, 1970 Intercontinental Cup  
International Honours : 1974 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up                      
Individual Achievement :  Feyenoord Greatest Player Ever

“The Crooked” Willem Van Hanegem is regarded by many Dutch old-timers as one of their greatest footballers ever, is one of the most complete box-to-box midfielders the world has ever seen and is one of the most underrated midfielders of all-time as he was never voted in top ten Ballon'Dor. He is respected for his tactical insight. Both his way of sprinting (he had bandy legs), and his skill to give the ball a curve achieved by striking the ball with the outside of his left foot. He is also well known for his fantastic passing range, his ability with the ball at his feet and his excellence in the air. Mainly played as defensive midfielder for Netherlands, Van Hanegem was a good tackler and not afraid to go physical challenges, he anyway was never fulfilled his talent in international country competitions as one of the most prominent players in the world. He had an impressive record scoring almost 100 goals around 300 games for Feyenoord.

10. Johan Neeskens

Date Of Birth  :  15 September 1951
Nation : Netherlands, Caps : 49 Games (17 Goals)
Height : 172  cm, Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder
Major Club : Ajax Amsterdam, Barcelona
World Cup Participation : 1974, 1978 (12 Games/5 Goals)
Club Honours  : 3 Times Dutch League
 2 Times Dutch Cup, 1 Time Copa De Rey
1979 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
3 Times European Cup (1971, 1972, 1973)
1972 Intercontinental Cup    
International Honours :2 Times FIFA World Cup Runner-Up (74,78)   Individual Achievement : 1974 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team
1976 Best Spanish League Foreign Player

“Johan The Second” Johan Neeskens is one of the most completed central midfielders ever and was the best central midfielder in the World in the first half 1970s, is best known for being a partner with Johan Cruijff in Ajax Amsterdam, Barcelona and Holland national team. He began playing as right-back until the end of 1970-1971 season which he was a starter in European Cup final. Neeskens transformed his position to central midfielder because of his tireless running, great technical skills and scored his fair share of goals. He was a mercurial midfielder who could fulfill any role – ball winner, creator or scorer. Always one of the fittest players on the pitch, He was also deadly on penalty kicks. He personified the “Total Football Style” as well as Johan Cruijff. Neeskens is one of three midfielders to score five goals in a world cup and is regarded as the best central midfielder in the 1974 World Cup. In 1974, He finished 5th European footballer of the year.  According to El Mundo rating, He was the La Liga Best player in 1975 - 1976 season. Within 5 seasons in Spain, he was named La Liga team of the season three times.

9. Josef Masopust

Date Of Birth  :   9 February 1931
Nation : Czechoslovakia, Caps : 63 Games (10 Goals)
Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height : 177 cm, Major Club  :  Dukla Prague
World Cup Participation : 1958, 1962 (9 Games)
Club Honours : 8 Times Czechoslovakian League
3 Times Czechoslovakian Cup
International Honours  : 1962 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up
Individual Achievement : 1960 UEFA Euro Team of The Tournament
1962 FIFA World Cup Best Playmaker - All Stars Team
1962 European Footballer of The Year
UEFA Jubilee Award (Czech Republic)
IFFHS Czechoslovakia Greatest Player of The Century

“Czech Knight” Josef Masopust is the greatest Czechoslovakian footballer of all-time, is the best midfielder in Europe during the early 1960s. A World-Class deep-lying playmaker, his exploits in the 1962 World Cup tournament helped him become the first player from Eastern Europe to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or as Europe's finest player in 1962.  In the final match against Brazil, Masopust could easily have taken the ball from Pele but held off, seeing the Brazilian's distress. Pele returned the compliment by putting the ball out of play. He spent the majority of his career with ATK Prague scoring 79 goals in 386 games before moving to Belgium where he spent three seasons with Crossing Molenbeek. When his playing days were over, he took up a coaching career with stops at Zbrojovska and Hasselt of Belgium before returning to coach Dukla.

8. Ernst Ocwirk

Date Of Birth  :  7 March 1926
Nation :  Austria, Caps  :  62 Games
Height  : 183 cm, Position : Box-To-Box Midfielder
Major Club : Austria Wienna, Sampdoria
World Cup Participation  :   1954 (5 Games)
Club Honours :  5 Times Austria Bundesliga
3 Times Austrian Cup
International Honours: 1954 FIFA World Cup Third Place                          
Individual Achievement  : 1951 Austrian Sportsman Of The Year
Sampdoria Greatest Player Ever
1954 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team

“The Clockwork” Ernst Ocwirk is considered as the second greatest Austrian footballer of all-time, is one of the most underrated footballers of all-time. A very completed midfielder, he was voted by IFFHS’s poll as the second place Austria’s player of century only to Matthias Sindelar. He is often cited as the last of the old-fashioned attacking centre-halves; he was known for his multifunctional skills for the aesthetic and technical style of playing, his heading ability, and his passing range. The fans loved him for his modest and fair personality. The international media of the era saw Ocwirk as "the best center-half in the world". In 1953, His international successes earned him the honour of twice being named captain of the "FIFA World team". Ocwirk was chosen in Austria’s team of the century in 2001.

7. Paul Breitner

Date Of Birth  :  5 September 1951
Nation : Germany, Caps : 48 Games (10 Goals)
Position : Box-to-Box Midfielder
Height  :  176 cm, Major Club : Bayern Munich
World Cup Participation : 1974, 1982 (14 Games)
Club Honours : 5 Times Bundesliga Champions
2 Times Spanish Liga
1 Time Copa Del Rey, 2 Times DFB-Pokal
1974 European Cup Winner, 1982 Runner-Up
International Honours : 1974 FIFA World Cup Winner,1982 Runner-Up
1972 European Championship Winner              
Individual Achievement  :  1972 UEFA Euro Best XI
1974 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team
1981 German Player Of The Year
                                                     1981 Silver Ball European Footballer Of The Year

Paul Breitner is the most controversial player of Germany. During the first half of his career, He operated as left-back, most outstanding in support offensive game as wing-back. Kicker rated him as a world-class player during his four years with Bayern Munich in one seasons and two international-class seasons. Afterwards, He moved to play for Real Madrid for three seasons. This affected him not to be called for West Germany for six years because of Jupp Derwall’s rule that would not include any player who played outside the country. However, He backed to play for Bayern again and switching his position to central midfielder that he was rated 2.5 world-class seasons and 3.5 international-class seasons. Breitner became one of the best midfielders in the world for this position. According to German Footballer of the year voting, He was German midfielder of the year four times and was named in Bundesliga team of the season six times. Breitner also finished 4th place Ballon'Dor in 1974 as a defensive lateral. 

6. Falcao

Date Of Birth  : 16 October 1953
Nation :  Brazil, Caps  :  34 Games
Height : 183 cm, Position :  Box-To-Box Midfielder
Major Club  :  Internacional, AS Roma
World Cup Participation  :   1982, 1986 (7 Games)
Club Honours   :   3 Times Brazil National Champions
1 Time Italian Series A, 1984 European Cup Runner-up
International Honours  :  1991 Copa America Runner-Up
Individual Achievement  :  1982 FIFA World Cup Silver Ball
1979 Bronze South American Footballer Of The Year
1982 Silver Ball South American Footballer Of The Year
2 Times Brazilian League Footballer of The Year (1978, 1979)
Internacional Greatest Player Ever
Brazil Football Museum Hall of Fame

“8th King Of Rome" Falcao is the greatest central midfielders in the World in the late 1970s to 1980s. He is also one of the greatest players ever of AS Roma which he was chosen as a starter in their all-time XI by many journalists in Falcao is the most central talented midfielder of all-time. He played as a deep-lying playmaker or box-to-box midfielder. An elegant and technically gifted player with an eye for goal from midfield and ability to orchestra his team attacking's moves and is known for his flair, vision, passing and long-range shooting ability as well as his tactical intelligence, organizational ability and leadership. After winning best players award in Brazilian League twice, Falcao was rated by Guerin Sportivo in all four world-class Series A seasons and was also rated as the greatest foreign player in the 1982 - 1983 season. He was also selected in 1975 Brazilian championship best XI.

5. Xavi Hernandez

Date Of Birth : 25 January 1980
Height : 170 cm, Nation :  Spain, Caps :133 Games
Position : Central Holding Midfielder, Major Club :  Barcelona
World Cup Participation : 2002,2006,2010,2014 (17 Games/2 Assists)
Club Honours  : 7 Times Spanish La Liga, 1 Time Copa Del Rey
3 Times UEFA Champion League (2006, 2009, 2011)
2 Time FIFA Club World Cup (2009, 2012)
International Honours : 2 Times UEFA Euro (2008, 2012)
2010 FIFA World Cup Champion
Individual Achievement : 1999 La  Liga Young Player Of The Year
2005 Spanish Player Of The Year, 2008 UEFA Euro Best Player
4 Times IFFHS World Best Playmaker, 2009 UEFA Club Best Midfielder
2009 Spanish National Sportsman of The Year
2009 Bronze Ball World Soccer Player of The Year
2009 Bronze Ball Ballon’ Dor, FIFA World Player of The Year
                                                        2010 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team
                                                      2 Times Bronze Ball FIFA Ballon'Dor (2010, 2011)  

"A Puppet Master" Xavi Hernandez is one of the most team decorated footballers of all-time and was one of the most valuable players in history of Spanish football, was the best midfielder in the World in the very late 2000s to the beginning 2010s. He is a key man of the achievement for Barcelona and Spain that meet their golden era, has made more than 180 assists for his club. Xavi is not a style of spectacular and all-round player style but full of intelligent and effectiveness in central midfield area as an indispensable organisor with reliable ball controlling and his ability to find and exploit spaces and made very accurate short passing as an embodiment of Tiki-Taka tactical strategy, having assisted to a lot goals. Xavi won the best player of Euro 2008 tournament plus man of the match in 2009 UEFA Champion league final round.Xavi holds the record most appearances in UEFA Champion League. Xavi was named in UEFA Team of the year five times and FIFPro World XI six times In 2008, Xavi was also voted 5th European footballer of the year. Xavi made around 180 assists in overall career.

4. Jozsef Bozsik

Date Of Birth  :  28 November 1925
Nation  : Hungary, Caps  : 101 Games (11 Goals)
Position : Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height  : 173 cm, Major Club :  Kispest Honved
World Cup Participation : 1954, 1958 (8 Games)
Club Honours : 5 Times Hungarian League
1959 Mitropa Cup
International Honours : 1952 Olympic Game Gold Medal
1953 Central European Champion
1954 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up
Individual Achievement : 1954 FIFA World Cup All-Stars Team
1952 Hungarian Football Federation Player of the Year

“Cucu” Jozsef Bozsik is regarded as the greatest deep-lying playmaker in history of European football and was the best midfielder in the World during the mid-50s, was one of World-Class players but was overshadowed by the gifted attackers “The Magic Magyars” The Hungary Golden team. He was known for his flawless technique, flair, tactical nous, passing accuracy in both short and long range with the right moment, reliable ball possession with very difficult to lose the ball and control the game with ease, although he suffered from a lack of pace. He was an extremely intelligent player and was often used as a deep lying playmaker where his tackling ability was also helpful. He holds the record most Caps and most consecutive years of Caps for Hungary national team.Throughout his career, Bozsik won many honours. Bozsik was voted 6th European footballer of the year in the first year of this award. Besides, He was voted the third place Hungary’s player of century by IFFHS’s poll.

3. Frank Rijkaard

Date Of Birth  :  30 September 1962, Height :  190 cm
Nation : Netherlands,   Caps   :  73 Games (10 Goals)
Position   :  Defensive Holding Midfielder
Major Club  :  AC Milan, Ajax Amsterdam
World Cup Participation  :   1990, 1994 (8 Games)
Club Honours  :   5 Times Eredivisie, 3 Times Dutch Cups
2 Times Italian Series A, 1987 UEFA Cup Winners Cup
3 Times European Cup (1989, 1990, 1995), 1993 Runner-Up
2 Times Intercontinental Cup (1989, 1990)
International Honours  :  1988 European Championship Winners
Individual Achievement :  2 Times Dutch Golden Shoe (1985, 1987)
2 Times Bronze Ball European Footballer Of The Year (1988, 1989)
1988 European Championship Team Of Tournament
1992 Guerin Italian Series A Footballer Of The Year

Frank Rijkaard is the greatest defensive midfielder of all-time. His primitive race is Suriname. He started his professional career as central defender but he was transformed into a world-class holding midfielder at AC Milan and became an indispensable player alongside his comrades like Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten to build their glory year. Rijkaard basically played as man’s marker for Netherlands national team. He is one of the strongest players ever. possessed tremendous determination and excellent technique, both of which served him well in controlling the middle of the field. His vision and ability to advance forward also made him a formidable defensive force. Rijkaard was remembered of his unsuitable behavior spat in Voller’s hair. This led him to be sent off and Holland finally lost to West Germany. He ended his career with a luxury scene winning the first UEFA Champion League in 1995.In spite of being a defensive player, He scored more than 150 goals in all club competition. He also finished in top ten World Soccer Player of the year in the early 1990s twice.

2. Didi

Date Of Birth  :  8 October 1929
Nation  : Brazil, Caps  : 68 Games (20 Goals)
Position : Central Holding Midfielder
Height : 174 cm, Major Club   :   Botafogo
World Cup Participation : 1954,1958,1962 (15 Games)
Club Honours : 4 Times Campeonato Carioca
International Honours : 2 Times FIFA World Cup Winners (1958,1962)
3 Times Copa America Runner-Up (1953, 1957, 1959)
Individual Achievement : 1958 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball
Brazil Football Museum Hall Of Fame                                

"The Prince of Ethiopian" Valdir Pereira “Didi” is considered as the greatest south american central midfielders ever and was the best midfielder in the World in the late 1950s. He had incredibly accurate passing, ball controlling, vision, great stamina and strength. He played as holding creative midfielder and created many of assists to Brazil’s strikers and scored a lot of goals by his own. Didi is credited as the inventor of the unpredictable “Dry Leaf” or “Banana” free-kick technique, where the ball would swerve seemingly downwards at the right time resulting in a goal. Despite his great reputation after the 1958 World Cup which his performance is considered as the best central midfielder ever of the tournament, He moved to Real Madrid and played only 19 matches for the Spaniards and often clashed with the team leader Alfredo Di Stéfano, who felt offended by the divide in the fan’s attention with this newcomer; this situation precipitated his exit from the club. Didi was voted 20th World’s player of century by IFFHS’s poll.

1. Lothar Matthaeus

Date Of Birth  :  21 March 1961
Nation   :  Germany
Position  :   Box-To-Box Midfielder
Height   :  175 cm
Major Club  :  Inter Milan, Bayern Munich
Caps  :  150 Games (23 Goals)
World Cup Participation  :  1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 (25 Games)
Club Honours  :  7 Times Bundesliga Champions
1 Time Italian Series A
2 Times DFB-Pokal
2 Times UEFA Cup (1991, 1996)
2 Times UEFA Champion League Runner-Up (1987, 1999)
International Honours    :   1990 FIFA World Cup Champion
1986 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up

Individual Achievement

1978 Bravo Award
1990 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball
1990 World Soccer Player Of The Year
1990 IFFHS World Best Player of the Year
1991 FIFA World Player Of The Year
European Footballer Of The Year : 1990 Gold, 1991 Silver
2 Times German Footballer Of The Year (1990, 1999)
1988 European Championship Team Of Tournament

“The Superman” Lothar Matthaus is the greatest central midfielder of all-time, was a powerful dynamo midfielder, has played in five World Cups more than any other outfield player, and holds the record for the most World Cup appearances with 25 games. He also played in Euro for four tournaments. He is the most capped German player of all time with 150. The first half of his career was performed as a box-to-box midfielder. Kicker Magazine rated him as a world-class player in World Cup 1986, 1990 and 7.5 international-class seasons as a midfielder in Bundesliga. However, He also reaches 3 world-class years at Inter Milan where he won many big individual awards. Aside from 1990 and 1991, He won 4th in Ballon’ Dor in 1989. Afterwards, He moved down to play as Libero, was rated a half world-class season and 5.5 seasons international-class, noted for his two years injury. He was renowned for his perceptive passing, positional sense, movement, tireless, acceleration and well-timed tackling, as well as his explosive shot. According to German Footballer of the year voting, He also finished second place three times, is German defender of the year three times and German midfielder of the year four times and was most appeared in Bundesliga team of the week in twice seasons in 1985 and 1994. He played in professional level for 22 seasons. Matthaus was voted 15th World’s player of century in IFFHS’s poll and the same place in UEFA Jubilee’s poll. 

The Memorial

Duncan Edwards

Date Of Birth  :  11 October 1936
Nation  :  England, Caps  : 18 Games
Position :  Defensive Holding Midfielder
Height  : 180 cm, Major Club : Manchester United
World Cup Participation : None
Club Honours : 2 Times English Top Division
International Honours    :   None
Individual Achievement  :  
1957 Bronze Ball European Footballer Of The Year

“Big Dunc” Duncan Edwards is the most regrettable losing in history of football. He was one of the victims who died as a result of the Munich air disaster when his age was just 21 years old. Nevertheless, Edwards had gotten everything indicating that he would go on his road to be as one of the greatest British footballers ever and one of the greatest central midfielders of all-time. He was a starter to play for Manchester United at his only 17 year olds of age and already played for almost five seasons with 177 games and won twice top division titles. Also, He was caps 18 matches for England. Moreover, He won the third place in European footballer of the year in 1957 despite his only 20 year olds. In abilities, Duncan Edwards was a completed and versatile midfielder, is one of the strongest footballers the world has ever seen. As a defensive midfielder, He could switch to play as center-back or even striker when needed. His greatest asset is physical strength, stamina, toughness, his level of authority on the pitch and dynamic coming forward, the power and timing of his tackles, his ability to pass and shoot equally well with both feet, his surging runs up the pitch and was equally skilled at heading the ball and at striking fierce long-range shots. 


By Nations/ Continent

Germany   : 6
Brazil : 6
Netherlands : 5
England : 4
Argentina : 4
Austria : 4
Scotland : 4
Spain : 3
France : 2
Soviet Union : 2
Ireland 2
Uruguay : 1
Italy : 1
Yugoslavia : 1
Northern Ireland 1
Portugal : 1
Belgium : 1
Hungary : 1
Croatia : 1
Czechoslovakia : 1
Africa : 1

By Decade

1920s : 2
1930s : 2
1940s : 3
1950s : 11
1960s : 7.5
1970s : 8
1980s : 6
1990s : 5.5
2000s : 6
2010s : 1.5

By Position

Box-To-Box Midfielder : 18
Central Holding Midfielder :14
Defensive Holding Midfileder : 13
Destroyer : 4
Wing-Half : 2


Class : Crown

Class : King






Lothar Matthaus

Class : Queen

Didi, Frank Rijkaard, 
Joszef Boszik, Falcao, 
Luis Monti, Josef Masopust, 
Ernest Ocwirk, Paul Breitner
Xavi Hernandez, 


Willem Van Hanegem, 
Obdilio Varela, Steven Gerrard, 
Johan NeeskensGerhard Hanappi,
Danny Blanchflower, Gerson
Jose Pirri, Fernando Redondo
Fritz Szepan, Mario Coluna, 
Igor Netto, 
Jean Tigana, Marco Tardelli, 
Bryan Robson,  Patrice Vieira, 
Osvaldo Ardiles, 
Frank Lampard, Luca Modric,
Nestor Rossi


Graeme Souness, Billy Bremner
Toninho Cerezo, 
Karel Pesek Kada, Josef Smistik
Herbert Prohaska, Johnny Giles, Stefan Effenberg, Jim Baxter, 
Zlatko Cajkovski, 
Michael Ballack, Danilo Alvim,
Dave Mackay, Valery Voronin, 
Roy Keane, Zito, Edgar Davids  
Horst Szymaniak, 
Clarence Seedorf, Xabi Alonso

Substitution Group : First Class

Dino Sani    :  Brazil/50s
Walter Mausch : Austria/30s
Fulvio Bernardini : Italy/Late 20s to Early 30s
Uli Stielike   : Germany/late 70s to Early 80s
Paul Pogba : France/2010s
Bauer : Brazil/Late 40s to Early 50s
Puck Van Heel  :  Holland/30s

The Highest Central Midfielder's Peaks of All-Time

1. Lothar Matthaeus
2. Didi
3, Falcao
4. Willem Van Hanegem
5. Josef Masopust
6. Frank Rijkaard
7. Jozsef Bozsik 
8. Ernst Ocwirk
9. Fernando Redondo
10. Steven Gerrard


  1. Zito has been newly added in 41th.

    1. Really interesting read, but I can only see the skills ratings for 33-21. Would be great if you could put them back up for the rest of the players.

    2. It was completely provided but I have removed because those skill rating is too inaccurate and I am doing the skill evaluation project in another thread. Thanks for interesting.

    3. Did I miss Pirlo in this list he just not good enough?

  2. Can you please, for the name of God, care to explain how can Steven Gerrard be so low placed, and especially how can he be lower than Bryan Robson??

    1. Previously, I name Gerrard superior to Robson primarily for his big advantage in international club. But still, when I give some special point to legend much impact on history of his team, in negative way it would deduct point as Gerrard’s mistake in previous season is largely influenced to Liverpool’s missing champion of premier league and once again he mistook in World Cup. Robson played the game with more accuracy even not played in lower speed and not as spectacular as Gerrard who is seen to more often in ineffective passing although Gerrard’s peak is considered as a slight better.

    2. Alright, Gerrard's mistake in last season could have happened to anyone, it's not like he made a wrong pass, or was dispossessed when he tried to dribble someone. He just slipped, he couldn't have done anything about it. And you said that he made a mistake in world cup. I have to emphasize this: IT WAS NOT HIS MISTAKE, how many times players battle in the air like that and someone headers the ball and it goes backwards, probably 5-10 times in every game, but the defense let Suarez get the ball, they were all poorly positioned and just let him take the ball and score. It wasn't Gerrard's mistake!

    3. Why wasn’t his mistake with England when he headed the ball in unexpected direction resulted from indivisible relation between his position, jumping and heading. For Liverpool, that scene is rare for such a legend to make a big mistake and it was caused by his mistook decision, unfortunately that is very important match and very effect to lose champion.

    4. Yes, he did head the ball in unexpected direction, but that happens in every game multiple times, but it doesn't result in receiving a goal because defense is there to clean it up. And in that game against Chelsea, well it was just bad luck, he slipped, and that's it, it did cost a lot, but me, as a Liverpool fan I don't hold it against him, nor does any real Liverpool fan.

    5. Yes, Great spirit of Liverpool supporter. I'm not liverpool fan but really expect them to win the trophy but finally disappointing.

    6. I just think that Robson is in no way better than Gerrard. Just look at how adaptable Steve G has been first central mid, than attacking mid who controled the attack and always presented a threat for opposition by long range shooting and heading when he runs in the box, and in last season and in this season defensive mid who starts the attack who is always there to help center backs (i think that he does more defensive work than Liverpool's CB's), he can do everything and in his whole career he has been a leader who made sure that Liverpool doesn't touch rock bottom. Player of the match in Champions league finals and fa cup finals, best player of champions league in 2005 and one on 3 or for best players in the world at that time. Premier league player of the season in 2009, UEFA euro team of the tournament in 2012, 3 times liverpool top scorer (from midfield!) 3 times Uefa team of the year 3 times FIFA team of the year, and 8 times Premier league team of the season (record), robson was 6 times in team of the season in English league. I have HUGE RESPECT for your work and think that you are one of the best experts on the internet (probably THE BEST) but this absurdly low ranking of Gerrard throws a big stain on your work. I hope that you will consider my suggestions. Best wishes from Serbia. I didn't mention that my favorite club from my country is Crvena Zvezda, I saw that you are their fan too.

    7. I am wondering why Andrea Pirlo has not made this list

    8. He did play as CM in similar to Valderrama style which I also not include them in the list because they are just great in offensive quality while CM definition in this list required players to qualify in defensive and strength/stamina ability. Pirlo is named in AM list.

  3. where the hell is Paul Scholes

    1. He is considered as AM not CM. Scholes even performed as forward in his early career and then he switched to AM as primary role although occasionally just base on central midfield area with a good quality of defensive function.

      Also he is very closed to top 50 AM in my list when I consider his technique is much lower than average of legendary range. He is also rated in world-class in one domestic season (Premier League). Scholes has no highlight in NT career even he totally performed well in his standard. I understand Glenn Hoddle is generally rated ahead of Scholes by English ? and Hoddle is just 50th.

    2. No. Paul Scholes is widely regarded as the best central midfielder of his generation; see endorsements from the likes of Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo Lippi, Bobby Charlton, Zinedine Zidane, Roy Keane (type in 'Paul Scholes quotes' and see what you find. Paul Scholes's passing, vision, and shooting is undoubtedly among the best of his generation. Glenn Hoddle was a fraction of the player Scholes was.

    3. Also worth noting that Scholes was played out of position (left wing) for the majority of his career with England.

    4. I agree Scholes is more consistent and successful than Hoddle. It is always not easy to make a divisible result of comparison as Hoddle is also much more talent than Scholes. However, not only Ballon'Dor voting where Scholes was never finished in any top 20 but media rating also shows him rather low point (Best at 2002 - 2003 season).

    5. Hoddle had more talent than Scholes? Seriously? Hoddle played further forward for most of his career, so he used his talent differently to Scholes, but until the likes of Xavi and Pirlo were used correctly, no one controlled a game in midfield like Paul Scholes. His football brain was second to none, and its genuinely not exaggerating that United wouldn't have won the treble in 1999 without him.

      Just to put an exclamation mark on it:

    6. I have made an issue for this comparison in bigsoccer with a full version of support detailed and information.
      Not mean I’ll apply the vote result to my ranking but it would be helpful if any expertise came into the comment. Anyway, even Hoddle is selected out, I’m not sure Scholes is more deserved to come in than Veron.

    7. Expertise? Are there any better experts than past players and coaches that have worked at the highest level? Just saying.

    8. Honesty the past professional footballers or coaches are closed to the real event and they would have a great sight of players’ playing skill. But all-time performance is another story which people must take studying with complying data and have a great analysis in comparison between a large number of players, is surely not a jobs for players/managers. As the easiest example, Pele’s top 100 living footballers list is one of the most criticized lists as he omitted so many greater legends.

  4. Dear readers

    As there are some well-matched players between central midfielder and offensive midfielder such as Didi, Gerson, Lampard, etc, they are considered to be sightly more similar to other players in this list (Matthaus in example) than AM list which includes many advanced AM likes Maradona, Zico, Gullit, Zizinho, etc. In case of Lampard, he is not considered a natural pure AM when he is based on central area before go advance and his strength and stamina is high enough and his technique is also low enough to be categorized as CM.

    1. Did you just say Lampard has low technique?

  5. People who saw Fernanado Redondo play at his best during the late 1990s will say 19th place is just a ridiculously harsh ranking. Arguably the best I've ever seen in that position

    1. I’ve never refused Redondo is one of the best prime central midfielders and honesty he is my favorite player of all-time. Unfortunately, his international career is a big absence due to his hair style. In my opinion, it should be a minor thing of player to consent cutting his hair because the career is more important and this list is rated base on how much players have contributed to his club and national team.

  6. The list is very good, and you deserve congratulations for compiling the information that you have. However, your rankings are flawed, and this is basically down to a definition problem. Your restriction of central midfielders based on their defensive capabilities discounts one of the most important and influential central midfield roles: the deep lying playmaker. Only rarely involved in the defensive side of the game, the deep lying playmaker is the deepest midfielder and provides creativity when more offensive players are closed down higher up the pitch. They are very difficult to pick up, have an excellent passing range, and what they lack in actual tackling skill, they make up for in high quality positional play, blocking off angles for passes, intercepting and generally reading the game well. Sometimes they are played higher up the pitch and focused on retaining possesion and dictating the pace of the game. I have already discussed with you how Xavi played this role for Spain in 2010 (the Spain entry of your International Legendary Museum). These players often have even higher contributions to their side's success than more defensive holding midfielders, and rather than be penalised for their supposed lack of defensive skill, they should be rewarded for moving beyond the parameters of their position and providing a higher level of contribution to their team.

    Not including this criteria as part of your central midfield discussion has caused you to dramatically underrate some of the players on this list, and miscategorise others. In my next post, I will provide a short list of players I believe you should revisit based on their role as deep-lying playmakers, along with my reasons.

  7. Xavi - was played further up the pitch later in his career for tactical reasons, but is essentially a deep lying playmaker with an excellent passing range, and an uncanny ability to find and block off space. In this manner, he was actually quite good at defending, and certainly contributed more to his domestic and international sides than the likes of Ernst Ocwirk, Josef Masopust, or Jose Leonardo Andrade

    Williem Van Hangem - was known for being notoriously slow, and as such your classification as a 'box to box midfielder' makes no sense. He did however, have excellent passing ability and highly intelligent positional play. Like Xavi, should not be punished for his lack of defensive capabilities.

    Mario Coluna - the true inspiration behind Benfica's success in the 60's. While your classification of him as a box to box midfielder is a fair one, the only thing that really differentiates him from a deep-lying playmaker is his work rate; aside from that, he was a pure creator. His job in that side was not to defend, and he should be rated based on his influence on the success of the sides he played in, rather than his ability to satisfy particular positional criteria.

    Didi - I actually agree with his ranking, but based on your definition of a central midfielder, he should actually be lower, because he wasn't much of a defensive player. He was however excellent at bringing the ball out of defence, had excellent vision and passing ability, and was able to dictate the pace of the game from deep in central midfield. Ranking him this well, but the others as poorly as you have doesn't make sense.

    There are other players in your Offensive Midfielder category that were in essence deep lying playmakers: Giancarlo Antognoni, Andrea Pirlo, and even Nils Leidholm (although he also played further up the pitch).

    I understand that central midfield is an obscure area and there are many different types of players, but that only makes it all the more imperative that you don't devalue certain midfield roles. If you insist on dividing 'Central Midfielder' and 'Offensive Midfielder' categories based on their relative contribution to either defence or attack, then I suggest that you incorporate the players I have listed above in that list rather than this one, as none of them were required to play as defenders. If you wish to keep those players in this list, then I suggest you include a new midfield classification, the deep-lying playmaker, and reevaluate their ratings based on their contribution to that midfield role, taking into account their tactical awareness, and in particular, their ability to prevent attacking moves by blocking off space and preventing angles for passes.

    Please note that I say all this with the greatest respect. I am a big fan of your work and want it to be as complete as possible, so please interpret this as a desire to help you present the most accurate representation of players abilities.

    1. Certainly this list is the most difficult to categorize and let to the most debatable as a mixture of offensive and defensive player. So, that’s always a good occasion to discuss more.
      Deep-lying playmaker or central holding midfielder who has a primary role in linking the game between functional lines and so do offensive midfielder who several times need to apply position deeper in the situation against condensed-defensive tactic. If notice, great player in Xavi style in history has been produced much less than other styles of player and I think it is stem from being unpreferable by many coaches for the limitation of role. In example, Ademir Da Guia who has a similar style to Xavi, was ignored by Zagallo and finally won only 9 caps. I'm not expect that central midfielder need to possess a great tackling or uncompromising attitude to win the ball and if not, I believe Barcelona or Spain have fulfilled Xavi’s potential because they have a prolific scorer in the front line so that is helpful as Xavi and even Iniesta supported the team to make scores in very few number in ratio. I’d expect Xavi to have been a better contributor in more advanced role when Barcelona or Spain was under pressure situation against ultra-defense and had a difficult time to find a gold opportunity to score an important goal. Thereby I would disagree that Xavi is more contribute to his team than Ocwirk, Andrade, etc because he is more dependent to specific tactical strategy, he need a destroyer behind him and need creative forward in front of him at the same time to fulfill his potential. Ocwirk could play in any team or tactic because he is more multi-functional player.

      In central midfielder categorization, some players have a both role of playmaking and box-to-box. I saw Van Hanegem played deeper for Holland in the first half 1970s and left Neeskens to go more advanced position as a box-to-box. Anyway, Van Hanegem have a more advanced centralized role in Feyernoord and more productive of scores. Probably I should have specified both position for Van Hanegem, Coluna, etc

      Didi is one of the least close to central midfielder position in this list but when player has been categorized in any list, they will be equal in comparison by no advantage/disadvantage of being fit to the position because I’m purpose to rank player base on the complete functional performance would be more fair.

    2. You raise some good counterpoints here. I suppose this is as much a discussion about football philosophy as anything: you think that great players should be able to fit into any system, while I believe that the best players should have systems built around them. Its true that the role of deep-lying playmaker has been under-appreciated at different points in the evolution of football tactics. But that just emphasises the fact that players who encouraged coaches to play with a deep-lying playmaker (like Xavi or Pirlo) should be rewarded for that. Xavi, and his style of play, has actually changed the way football is played in the modern age, with most clubs now striving to include a deep-lying playmaker in their team.

      You raise the example of Ademir Da Guia, a good example of this kind of player being overlooked by a coach. I never saw him play, but I would argue that he was left out not because he wasn't good enough, but because Brazil already had a better player in that role (Gerson).

      One more word about Xavi, though I know you're probably sick of hearing from me. You've mentioned the limitations of the deep-lying playmaker role, with two things in particular; goal scoring ability and defensive ability. To that I would make two counter arguments. Firstly, defensive midfielders, who usually play as deep as deep-lying playmakers, are not expected to score goals, so there's no reason to expect the latter to. And one of the biggest reasons deep-lying playmakers are under appreciated is because they are misunderstood. Xavi was actually an excellent defensive player, because he was tactically intelligent. He rarely had to make a tackle, but his positioning meant that a lot of passes got blocked off before they were even made. Isn't that the kind of defending that made the likes of Gaetano Scirea such great players?

    3. Gerson is different style from Ademir Da Guia. He had an extraordinary defensive quality and he is definitely greater in advanced role as he played as AM in club career. That’s why he is preferable by coach. However, between 1965 and 1972 which is an overlapped period of international appearance between Gerson and Ademir Da Guia, there are 89 official A matches, Gerson participated 60 games and Ademir won only 9 games from total 39 games left. Zagallo even give his personal preference to Dirceu Lopes (7 Caps) and sometimes used Piazza as Central Midfielder.

      I actually understand your point in the first argument but I just add another view of limitation as Xavi is generally known as a more offensive than defensive style of player (His creativity, passing and ball controlling is much better than his defensive quality). Certainly Xavi is not too bad in defensive task (at least better than Pirlo and Veron) but is still below average among all-time greatest central midfielders. Scirea’s sweeping style is very effective within area of defense and it should be much negatively different in application to midfield area where central midfielder need a heavier task and would be more expected in winning the ball when consider that number and quality of defensive performers per area of midfield zone is less than the area of defense. Iniesta who is more advanced midfielder even have made a better contribution in defensive task.

  8. How is Duncan Edwards 18th in 10x100 best defensive and box to box mids and here just an honorable mention?

    1. OK, I may overrate him but he is obtained greatness bonus in term of historical value. Now I name him at 35th.

  9. Are you sure that Gerson should be box to box and not central holding?

    1. He is more deep-lying midfielder in NT games and get more advanced role in club career. I agree at least central holding midfielder should be added.

  10. No Duncan Edwards in top 10 peaks?

    1. Now I'd prefer name Edwards in replacement of Redondo.

  11. Andreas Möller?

  12. Ademir da Guia, despite being very good in his day had players of his best and fastest position for that reason was called a few times.

  13. What do you mean by Falcao being the most talented midfielder of all time? More talented than Maradona?

    1. That is an incomplete sentence. I intend to mean the most talented central midfielders ever.

  14. Obdulio Varela has to be in front of Gerson according to the Evaluation Result.

    1. The secondary condition has been changed from basic score to peak performance.

    2. I understand, but in your Evaluation Result, Varela has 78.1 final score and Gerson has 77.5 final score.

  15. What do you think about Makelele? Where would he rank in this list, since his international career isn't great, his club career is great, and he's considered one of the best destroyers and defensive midfielders ever? I usually don't favor modern players, but I feel Makelele deserves a place in this list...

    1. Makelele is too limited in offensive function as one of midfielders. I understand how big importance of his role on his team but he is surely disadvantageous in comparison to other all-round central midfielders. Note that there are many defensive midfielders who has a greater offensive quality than Makelele likes Ocwirk, Redondo or even Roy Keane.

    2. Yes, that's the reasoning that I thought would be used, and of course you're entirely correct, a bit too one-sided. I typically don't show bias, but as a DM myself that molds his style of play to Makelele's, I just can't help myself. Thanks for responding!

  16. Looool! You just forgot the best deep lying midfielder EVER, Andrea Pirlo! How the hell you can put Mattheus number 1 and forget Pirlo!

    1. His best position is based on central midfield area but he played more advanced role several times through his career and he is also lack of enough defensive quality so he is named in AM list not CM.

    2. Matthaus is a much better player than Pirlo was, hope you aren't saying otherwise

  17. How in the hell is Gerrard 15? He is the most complete midfielder of them all. He played everywhere in midfield to a player of the year standard. He's a better version of Mathaus, who inherited a shitter club/country and hence didn't win as much. Ability-wise he has everything.

  18. Where is Didier Deschamps?

    1. Deschamps was a strong and very reliable player, rarely made the mistakes but his style of play is too smooth.

  19. Pirlo is definitely a classic Central Midfielder, he goes box to box, that makes him qualify, he grabs the ball behind mid field most of the time.

    1. This topic has long been debatable. The criteria is not considered only position but also style of play . I see Pirlo is more similar style to playmakers than central midfielder as his role is extremely a creative force and his position is intersected between CM and AM. In the early and the middle career (Around 2007 – 2009), he played as AM.

  20. Davids has to be Queen Bronze class and you have omitted the class of Seedorf.

  21. Xavi should be top of the list. he is greatest central midfielder ever,
    he redefined the classic role of central midfiled play.
    he is the main contributor of barca sixtuple in 2009 and quintuple
    in 2011 and spains eruo wins in 2008, 2012 and world cup 2010.

    1. I think he is perfect as a creative role but not all-round enough in overall ability. I mean he is limited to play for specific strategy which allow him to much independent from box-to-box role. I don't think he could play in 4-4-2 system effective enough.

      The trophies won by many great Spanish players. Xavi is a centralized role is true but let not overrate the fortune of the teammate factor.

  22. Hi Dearman,

    After I cross-checked your database, I found something inconsistent in this section.
    In section "World's All-Time Greatest Footballers", Breitner, Ocwirk, Monti, Masopust, Andrade, Neesken, Gerrard, Hanappi, Hanegem, Gerson placed 57th, 60th, 67th, 69th, 73rd, 74th, 76th, 79th, 80th, 81st, 99th; however, in this section, their places are 7th, 6th, 8th, 11th, 10th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 14th, 13th, 16th.

    Hope this help you to review & adjust. Best regards,

  23. Hi Dearman,

    After I cross-checked your database, I found something inconsistent in this section.
    In this section, Sastre placed 22nd (behind Netzer & Overath); however, in section "World's All-Time Greatest Footballers", Sastre placed 96th whilst Netzer & Overath are out the list.

    Hope this help you to review & adjust. Best regards,

    1. Thanks for checking but let understand criteria between World All-Time Greatest Footballer and Positional Hall of Game is the same. As WAGF is the more competitive group, congregating by all positions, the higher level of competition likes International country is given more proportion. For PHF, it is more flexible for players who was limited in international opportunity. The case of Messi ad Di Stefano is the best example.

  24. I am not aware that Matthaus won the "trophies bravo"

  25. What a flaw. Good information, bad ranking. Paul Scholes should be there. Top 5. Yes. He's a midfielder who score goals and he had never played as a striker. He's a pure midfield player. You missed Zidane too.

    1. You should aware this is one of seven positions and Zidane and Scholes are belonged to AM list. However, Scholes is not included in top 50. For reason, please reversely search the previous comments. I'd not repeat it several times.

  26. No Makelele?

    "Regarded as one of the greatest ever players in his position, Makélélé has been credited with redefining the defensive midfield role in English football, especially during the 2004–05 FA Premier League season, where he played a key role in helping Chelsea win the title with 95 points. In homage to Makélélé, many fans and pundits alike have dubbed the defensive midfield position as the "Makélélé Role." - From wikipedia

    How can such a monumental player not even make the top 50? This is outrageous.

    If individual regocnition is what makes you underrate so much Claude , you must understand that he played a very quiet role in a team full of marketing atacking monsters , so he is obviously overlooked.

    McManaman - “I think Claude has this kind of gift – he's been the best player in the team for years but people just don't notice him, don't notice what he does. But you ask anyone at Real Madrid during the years we were talking about and they will tell you he was the best player at Real. We all knew, the players all knew he was the most important. The loss of Makélelé was the beginning of the end for Los Galacticos… You can see that it was also the beginning of a new dawn for Chelsea. He was the base, the key and I think he is the same to Chelsea now.”

    Makelele is a must in such a list and should be in the front places.

    1. Makelele is easily a debatable issue. He is generally considered a one of the best destroyers ever with ability to win the ball that even came to his possession. But the central midfield requires some offensive ability and he failed to compete with a ton of legendary DMs. Moreover, his prime was succeed a bit too late when he moved to Real Madrid and became the starter at his 28 years old.

    2. "although he was also highly regarded throughout his career for being capable of functioning as a deep-lying playmaker for his team, due to his ability to dictate the tempo of his team's play in midfield with his short, efficient passing game, which allowed him to link up the defence with the attack effectively after winning back possession." - from his wikipedia

      I hope you aren't following Floro Perez' ugly words...

      Roy Kean was about as good a passer as Makelele and was a destroyer aswell , but even tough Makelele came after him , he is still said to revolutionise the defensive midfield role.

      I am telling you , such a list without Makelele is wrong. Otherwise it's looks overall like a great list.

    3. Roy Keane is a good organizer and several times he performed as box-to-box midfielder, moving to offensive midfield area and made some great long shots. Makelele just stay on his defensive line with an easy short-pass to his teammates in very closed distance.

    4. You should rely less on words thrown out of anger by Floro Perez for the huge mistake he made by selling Makelele and listen to opinions of great football minds.

      "I have a fantastic watch. It is run by battery. Claude is my new battery. Claude is very important for the future of Chelsea. Claude was one of the first players on my list. He is a playmaker. The best." - Claudio Ranieri

      "Makélelé is more than a mere defensive midfielder, but is actually Chelsea’s deep-lying playmaker, and Chelsea’s attacks are all channelled through him" - Chris Coleman

      ‘’Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?’’ - Zidane on Makelele's departure

      I'm not saying he was a world class passer or that he was better than players from the ranking at playmaking , but thanks to Claude , interceptions and positional awareness are a lot more valued in football now. He's the only player ever to have a role named after him.
      And as a paranthese , he was already a remarkable player since his Celta days but players in modern game from small teams don't recieve as many praise as in the past.

      I think the large majority of people would agree that he is a must in such a list and that is all. I hope you ultimately decide to include him in the ranking because this is a valuable list.

    5. I'll reply you tomorrow again. Please just wait.

    6. I would repeat explaining the value of CM. Multifunctional skill is extremely required to support the team situation. If you have a perfect destroyer when the team’s opponent made ultra-defensive strategy, they would contribute a little.
      Those mentions defining him as a deep-lying playmaker is depend on their own satisfaction to a destroyer role. I’m not define him as a deep-lying playmaker since his playmaking skill is little and it is unimaginable that he could play in 4-4-2 system with another destroyer behind him. His ball possession is just move his body back to shield the ball and pass back to defenders for the most scenes. He rarely made a long pass and also forget about his long shot.
      He is also lack of individual achievement. He was never chosen in PFA team of the year and I think because the rater’s view considered his limitation of playing style. Completely disappearing in UFEA team of the Year and FIFpro World XI, ESM tam of the year and World Cup all-stars team. He was nominated in Ballon’Dor just one time. He also had a short prime as aforementioned.

    7. He was actually nominated for the Ballon d'Or 4 times(2002,2003,2005,2006). And he didn't disappear from the FIFA team of the year. He did appear in the inaugural selection in 2005. But again I say , his individual recognition is false as great football minds said. He was clouded by spectacular football stars within his own team(stars wich incidentally all agreed that he was the best player).

      Also his prime wasn't short at all , for those who saw him play.
      When Budzynski first scouted the young Makelele , he was sure he had found the new Petit. And he became an integral part of the great Nantes generation , when they won the title and next season the reached the UCL semis. When he left Nantes for Marseille , the team fell apart.
      Also at Celta he was remarkable and was already creating the Makelele role , but as I said , players in modern era playing for small clubs recieve little recognition. Celta would not want to sell him even to Real Madrid as they knew he was the key player but he said he wouldn't train anymore unless he was sold.

      And it was the same whereever he played , Real Madrid , Chelsea... Whether popularity awards like UEFA All star teams included him or not , Makelele was a genius.

    8. Sorry for my omission due to time constraint. Anyway, My intention is that he got a vote in Ballon’Dor once time (I forget the later era some nominators are not receive a vote unlikes the previous era. I did overlook his 2005 FIFPro world XI anyway.
      It is depend on how you stipulate the prime but his years at Real Madrid and Chelsea brought him to be starter of France national team. With Celta, he was not even picked up to the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.
      As I checked his rating in dbscalcio, although I would not apply the rating into my own system directly, I see his rating between seasons make sense when he get highest point in 2005 conforming with his FIFPro award and Ballon’Dor ranking but the rest of seasons at Chelsea clearly get the lower rating. I would imply he achieve World-Class performance in only domestic season at Chelsea. His rating at 2004 is very low conforming to his disappearance in Ballon’Dor nomination.
      His NT career is also very limited when France failed in 2002 and 2004 tournaments. He had an only one great tournament of 2006. Importantly, he disappeared in NT games for a year between 2004 and 2005 due to the interval of returning from retirement. So his point of World Cup qualification is almost zero.

  27. Thanks for letting me know about all these people who had a lot of contribution in the field of sports. They are real human resources as they had a part in entertaining and achieving awards on behalf of nations. Recent matches can let you know about the upcoming sports star that you are supposed to know about if you are a real sports fan. You can also go for the latest sports news to know more about all these sports.

  28. Another player who is a must in such a list and conforms more with your criteria is Xabi Alonso. Look at his description:
    "A complete, consistent, hardworking and versatile midfielder, Alonso is regarded as one of the best players of his generation, and is effective both creatively and defensively. Gifted with good technique, excellent vision, and varied passing range, he excels in the deep-lying playmaking role, where he can best use his accurate long passing ability to create goal scoring chances for team-mates; he also possesses a powerful and accurate shot from distance, and he is an effective set-piece and penalty kick taker. Due to his height, positioning, and physical characteristics, Xabi Alonso is also effective in the air, often contributing with headed goals from set pieces when advancing into more offensive positions. In addition to his creative attributes, he is also capable of excelling as a defensive midfielder due to his strength and powerful physique, combined with his tenacity, tactical intelligence, aggressive tackling and his ability to read the game. He has at times been criticised, however, for occasionally committing rash challenges, and for his tendency to lose his composure and pick up unnecessary cards for particularly hard fouls"

    He has been a phenomenal player everywere he has played , in every club , league and even NT level , and they were the toughest leagues on the planet.

    -Legend for Sociedad , being named best Spanish Player of the Year above the likes of Raul,Xavi,Casillas etc.
    -Legend at Liverpool , winning a UEFA Champions League and reaching another Final and he was their most instrumental player in this period apart from Gerrard.
    -Phenomenal at Real Madrid , was rated several times as the best player in the world in his position , and added another UCL.
    -Always a monster at Spain , being an integral part of EURO and World Cup winning teams
    -And now he is also breaking records at Bayern with his abnormal passing.

    He should be very high up on the list.

    1. In the last year, I found he is disqualified for top 50 due to his injury interruption but now he has collected enough as I review rating of him by seasons and tournaments. At least he is better than Stielike for sure. Please give me a time. It should be finished within the end of this week. Thanks for important notification.

    2. For what it's worth , I'd eliminate Cajkovski. Stielike has a far better trophy cabinet and being named 4 times Spanish Foreign Player of The Year is a great achievement.

  29. As I see in the somments , separing players in this category is a tahnkless task , and you have done a great job to all of them but the one that is certain deserving for this list is Pirlo.
    You have ranked him in the offensive midfielder list , where it was made clear trought history that he didn't fit there and was far better here.

    "Tactically, Pirlo is capable of playing in several midfield positions, but is usually deployed by his club and national sides as a central midfielder, in the role of a deep-lying playmaker, due to his vision and passing accuracy. He started his career in a more advanced role, as an offensive midfielder, and also played as a supporting striker on occasion.[221] Although he was considered a talented young prospect, even drawing comparisons with former Italian footballer Gianni Rivera, Pirlo occasionally struggled in this role, due to his lack of pace, and competition from other talented and more dynamic players in his position.

    Because of this, he was later moved to a deep-lying playmaker role by his coaches Mazzone, Fatih Terim, and Ancelotti, where he was able to excel due to his unique capabilities. This position best utilises Pirlo's attributes, and allows him to operate creatively from a deeper position, in or even behind the main midfield line, in a seemingly defensive midfield role, where he is allowed more time on the ball to create scoring opportunities with long balls"

    It is very specific where Pirlo can play and where he struggles.

    1. I understand AM is not his best position but he spent several seasons as this role and the frequency of playing is one of the important factors in categorization. As aforementioned, his CM characteristic is still not completely categorized as a CM when his defensive quality is relatively low. When player based on central midfield area and specialize his playmaking role with very low contribution on defence, they're basically a more offensive player by their role even the position is deep enough and fit to CM requirement.

  30. I know his offensive qualities are better than his offensive ones but this true for most of the players here aswell. The frequency of him playing an offensive role was in his early career and was a big mistake as it was shown latter.
    Pirlo also played even deeped than CM. He has played as a DM at Juventus , similar to Xabi Alosno. A defensive midfielder who would send long diagonals as a deep lying playmaker. He has played as the deepest player above the defenders line with Pogba , Vidal and Marchisio in front of him so you can think about that as a counter balance.
    If anything , Frank Lampard has played a more offensive role in overall career and has been as good/bad in defensive qualities , so putting Pirlo as offensive and Lampard as Central doesn't make sense.

    1. Lampard performed in a more advance role but the gap between his defensive and offensive ability is much narrower than that of Pirlo. He was much stronger and his ability to tackle the ball is easily qualified. Lampard also played as CM in his first 6 seasons. His peak is a more AM but his style of play is not a natural AM when his ball controlling is limited and much depend on his teammates to support the creative approach because he couldn't possess the ball long enough. I think this style is similar to Box-to-Box midfielder who also go advanced role similar to what Bryan Robson, Gerson, etc did.

      Another issue, when manager put playmaker in deep position due to tactical reason and that player still much more contribute in offensive game than defensive game.

    2. I don't really see any clear superiority of Lampard above Pirlo in defensive game but maybe I'm wrong. He just never was good at defending , at all , and Gerrard also seemed more offensive oriented than Pirlo. I see Pirlo identical in role to Xabi Alonso apart from the fact that managers have misused Pirlo in early career while Alonso was used corectly from the start(this only speaking about their roles , not about qualities) , fact that in my opinion you should ignore because it was simply a tactical error that did nothing but postpone Pirlo's blooming as one of the world's best players.

    3. Pirlo defensive work rate is amazingly low for a player positionned so deep in the midfield that's why he needs one or several "bodyguards" such as Gattuso, Vidal...

      On the contrary, X.Alonso is much better from a defensive point of view and doesn't need anyone else to fullfill his defensive role.

      On the other hand, categories mixes position and role because Pirlo is playing deep-lying midfielder which is the same position than Makelele but each one has a different role.

      From a positionnal point of view I would have divided the midfield in three parts.
      Deep-Lying midfielders : Pirlo, X.Alonso, Makelele...
      Central-midfielder : Xavi, Kroos, Lampard, Gerrard, vidal ...
      Advanced-midfielder : Zidane, Riquelme...

      Based on different position Pirlo, X.Alonso, Xavi, Kroos, Zidane are playmakers... Gerrard, A.Vidal are box to box midfielder...

      So "central-midfielder" name can be confusing for this category but it's always difficult to classify players especially when they played at several positions with several roles.

      In a conclusion Pirlo is a playmaker playing at a deep-lying midfielder position with limited defensive work rate and abilities.

    4. Pirlo's position is deep-lying midfielder.
      Pirlo's role is playmaker.
      Pirlo has limited defensive work-rate and abilities contrary to X.Alonso or Lampard. That's why he is often associated with "bodyguards" such as Gattuso, Vidal...

      Considering this we can say pirlo's main role is offensive and classify him with offensive midfielders.

      In my opinion the confusion is about the name of the ranking "Central-midfielder" that mixes role and position.

  31. How far till Luka Modric will enter the ranking? All the ex yugo football fans I've spoke say he's a must in the all time XI. Clearly above Cajkovski.

  32. No offence but this list is a bit laughable and full of controversy. Tho I thank it for including lesser-known players but nonetheless deserving of a spot.

  33. The above list is complete nonsense. Players like Didi, Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards and Redondo were the original masters of the position. Players like Rijkaard and Matteus revolutionized how the central midfield position is played. Viera and Keane came along and revolutionized things even further. And then the likes of Xavi, Busquests and Pirlo revolutionized things even further. So I think this list below is a far more accurate list than the nonsense above

    23. Edgar Davids
    22. Deschamps
    21. Schweinsteiger
    20. De Rossi
    19. Yaya Toure
    18. Sounness
    17. Bobby Charlton
    16. Dunga
    16. Gattuso
    15. Toni Kroos
    14. Xabi Alonso
    13. Scholes
    12. Bryan Robson
    11. Ballack
    10. Patrick Viera
    9. Steven Gerrard
    8. Clarence Seedorf
    7. Busquets
    6. Pirlo
    5. Rijkarrd
    4. Roy Keane
    3. Redondo
    3. Didi
    2. Matteus
    1. Xavi

    1. The revolutionized tactic is modern era bolstered a high capability of team performance in comparison to previous eras but the individual style of play is more limited. Many CMs you ranked in the top places such as Redondo, Xavi, Pirlo, Dunga etc were one of the team' key men to fulfill the team's tactical strategy but they're not all-round enough in other sub-functions and not creates the benefits to the team enough consequently.

    2. Busquets in such a list is a bad joke.

  34. I love most of the lists on here. but i can't take this list serious if Scholes isn't included. You say Scholes is an AM, but he did play CM in Man Utd's most successful season mid to late 2000s. Gerard, i believe played more AM roles than Scholes did. Scholes is technically better than both Gerard and Lampard.

    1. This topic has long been one of the most popular. Because of Scholes' high technique and playmaking ability combined with ability to play in advanced role that he performed impressively during his early career, he is thus categorized as AM.

    2. Scholes see as AM may not reach your top 50. Why not ... but it is sad to not see paul scholes in any of your top 50. Versatile players seem to be at a disadvantage in your rankings.

    3. I reviewed several times but Scholes in UEFA Champion League is too limited and prevent him from being ranked in higher place.

  35. Just read your section on Davids. You've made a typo and typed Seedorf in place of Davids.

  36. Seedorf is in class Rapid : C-. In my opinion he should be C+.

    1. That seems to be fine as I admit these rating is now in a beginning step and the rating will be reformed after the skill rating project.

    2. Sounds interesting. How many people are working on the skill rating project ? How will they proceed ?

  37. For this thing I am not totally convinced but vieira was more a box to box midfilder no ?

    1. for me also vieira box to box/defensive holding.

  38. As it seems you don't reply on the 9x100 list :)
    What do you think about Ancelotti(as player),

    1. I was too young at the time of Ancelotti's prime but his rating by Guerin is not impressive enough.

  39. In my opinion Yaya Touré should be considered as a roaming playmaker. At his prime he was the heartbeat of city, driving forward with the ball to spearhead attacks as well as tracking back to cover defensively. He has physical attributes allowing him to maintain a high intensity but also the technical attributes to stamp his authority on the game.
    All this make me think he deserves to be considered as a playmaker and put higher in the 9x100 list.

    1. I understand about his great playmaking skill but his defensive ability is great enough to be categorized in DM list.

    2. I think, being a playmaker is more valuable than a defensive midfielder. Y.Touré may have been a little underrated, this is my opinion. I am not sure we can find so many players with the influence he had on the game during his prime.

      Always a pleasure :)


    3. His pure playmaking skill is also not competitive enough in playmaker list.

    4. Maybe on the longterm, as he becomes a roaming playmaker in city, so a few years of his career. However especially for him, I think his rating doesn't show the player he was and how he was important for city. If we had a category complete midfielder he may have been higher than only 88 as defensive midfielder.

      P. G.

    5. One again, it seems versatile players are put at a disadvantage in rankings.

    6. Yaya 83 looks better but not enough especially when I see player like Essien 55. Essien was awesome for OL and had three great seasons at the begining for Chelsea, but then he was a lot injured and decline. Neither in Real Madrid or Milan ac he managed to came back. I don't see why there is a so big gap between both. Also Yaya behind Cambiasso,

    7. Yaya has a short prime and his peak is not highly favorable. He played football with much lower speed than Essien. Anyway, I found to underrate him in 2012. As a result of rating increase, I rank him up 3 places.

    8. I agree for the short prime (3-4 years) as "roaming playmaker" in City but I don't understand what speed is for you, especially because you say "much lower". If you have 10 minutes to loose please have a look at :
      Yes, this is a video, and on a video you can make nearly anybody looks good but for yaya we have the achievements too. I am not sure Yaya was playing with "much lower" speed then Essien. He also manages to play tiki-taka style in Barcelona as defensive-holding midfielder. These are average clubs but we could see playmaking attributes in Olympiakos (where I discovered him versus Olympique Lyonnais) or Monaco.

    9. woooooooooow ! Didn't know Yaya was that impressive !

  40. But being a playmaking is mroe valuable than a defensive midfielder. Y.Touré may have been a little underrated, this my opinion.


  41. Why is Cambiasso not even in top 50? Any particular reason?

    1. His overall seasonal performance rating established by Italian media is not good enough.

  42. Patrick Vieira would be more accurate than Patrice :)

    1. Moreover in the description you are talking about Seedorf instead of Vieira and I would classify Vieira as box to box/central holding. Vieira was good during world cup 2006.

  43. Paul Scholes? ............ ummmm

    1. yes it seems Naratorn was not good enough in champions league for Naratorn but this is very hard to not see Scholes in top 50 list :(

    2. Yes his score in champion league is uncompetitive. In global acceptance likes Ballon'Dor award, he never achieved top 10.

  44. I'm not sure if Modric qualifies here or the AM section but he definitely has to be included high-up. He's the de facto best midfielder of his generation(since prime Xavi and Iniesta) and has been continuously praised as a footballing legend by players and pundits alike(Shevchenko said he's one of the greatest midfielders in football history in 2017)

  45. Toni Kroos as well. Best passer in the world for years, and 4 UCLs + World Champion as main midfield organizer.

  46. Instead of ranking players for which I imagine we don't have nearly any materials except reputation. In this list I think about Smistik, Monti, Szepan ...
    Wouldn't it be better to mention them outside of the ranking and put players for which we have enough materials : Kroos, Guardiola, Haan, Lerby...

  47. Quick question.

    If Jose Leandro Andrade were evaluated as a central midfielder, rather than as a defensive lateral, where would he fall in this list?

    Thanks in advance. Always respect the football history.

    1. Originally I rate him in central midfielder list, he was at 9th but he would be at 10th for my last update system. He is full of talent but he was tend down after lost an eye at his 26 years old.

  48. Could we have the ability ranking of Y.Touré Prime ?

    1. On behalf of Naratorn : 81.8
      Def 8.1, Stm 9.2, Pas 8.1, Crt 7.8, Agl 7.8, Drb 8, Spd 8.2, Str 8.9, Scr 8, Arl 7.8, Tec 8

  49. Modric World Cup MVP. He should be at least top 10 if not even higher than Xavi considering that reaching a World Cup Final with Croatia>anything Xavi's done with Golden Spain.

    1.'s just recency bias creeping into your analysis..He should be after falcao in my opinion

    2. Well that's 7th place so not that different of an opinion lol

    3. Thinking like this his champions league with Zidane's is not that good then ? Winning champions with real is easier no ?

  50. Modric has to be the number 17 and he has to be in the Queen Silver class now.

  51. Vladimir Jugovic not in the list of central or side midfielders?

  52. Naratorn, don't you agree that Modric needs a big re-ranking?

    1. I really forgot to update him to 17th as the scorecard was updated since the world cup had been ended.

  53. Can you update the "The Highest Central Midfielder's Peaks of All-Time" list? I want to see your ranking of peaks between so different players like Ocwirk, Rijkaard, Bozsik and Masopust.

  54. Masopust was a box to box midfielder or a deep-lying playmaker ? You say both. (Maybe a playmaking box to box :) )

    1. I specify him as box-to-box midfielder. If he is categorized as playmaker, he will placed in another AM list.

  55. Could rakitic enter the 9x100 list now ? He has become more and more important for Barcelona and a key player for croatia.

    1. I checked his overall performance but not qualify for top 100 for now. At the end of this year will be assessed again.


  57. What about players like Schweinsteiger, Busquets, Kroos or Scholes? Really players like Prohaska, Giles, Voronin, Baxter or Smistik are better than the others? compares the trajectories, the titles and their impact on their teams.
    Personally I think those 4 players should be in the top 50, because those midfielders have stood out and marked an era. Much more than the others did. PD: Sorry if my english is not good

    1. I never acknowledge Busquets is among the top players in Europe. Scheweinsteiger is really inconsistent according to kicker rating. Kroos and scholes is more AM in categorization. They both are much better in overall offensive skills than defensive skills.

  58. Modric best Playmeker IFFHS. win BALON D OR 2018

  59. Modric Balon d or .... iffhs best player and Playmaker 2018 ..

  60. You include the likes of Xavi, Modric - yet don’t include Paul Scholes, Andres Iniesta. Andrea Pirlo. Scholes played in a 4-4-2 at Manchester United in the middle. You include Gerrard who played as an AM under Rafa. Your logic baffles me. Pirlo like Modric was deep lying.

    I also didn’t see Claude Makelele. And put people like an injured inconsistent plagued Redondo in there - higher than the likes of Seedoft? A player who won the European Cup with three different clubs. Sergio Busquets technically miles better than most those DMs.

    1. Well, let understand about the border of categorization line. Pirlo is at the bottom area of AM just near the border of CM. I said many times he even performed as AM in at least 4 seasons and his defensive is not qualified for CM position.

      Redondo is injury in his late career but his peak is much better than other players in the same category. Makelele is competitively great in only defensive task. Seedorf's level of attribution to his club achievement in UCL is not very high. There were many other players in his club that is a key player to teh club's success.

    2. You can see Makelele first in the destroying table of evaluation skills

  61. Kante needs to be on this list after all his achievements, club, international and individual.
    Consider him and evaluate! Merci!

  62. Is Capello mistaken when he says redondo is better at defending than Rijkaard ?

    1. Interesting video. What do you think Naratorn ?

    2. You say about Redondo "However, the limitation in tactical fulfillment that he is not suitable as a destroyer in a heavy game and also would not fit to box-to-box midfielder alongside destroyer."

    3. I'm really have no idea why Capello said like this. Rijkaard is even a great central defender and a main destroyer.

  63. These categories don't really give a true representation. Pirlo and Makelele played in the same area of the pitch but have totally different styles and strengths. Players should be judged on their role in the team, not their position. Another example is Jose-Maria Bakero. I'm not saying he should be in this list by the way. He was an advanced midfielder, but his main job was to press the opposition and then with his knack of timing arrive late in goalscoring positions and score. In many ways he was similar, but slightly inferior to Bryan Robson, in playing style. Tough, hard working, good in the air, scored regularly, but Robson played a lot deeper. Yet they have more in common than Makelele and Pirlo(yes I know Pirlo also played AM but only till 24, and Makelele played a more advanced role for Celta by the way) who occupy the same area of the pitch. I'm not complaining about the site or you Naratorn. Your work is brilliant. I just think the way you rank players is a bit random. Compare like for like, then maybe compare the best of each to find the overall best

    1. I don't include Pirlo on this list but he is named in AM list so why are you talking about his role should not be the same as Makelele ?

    2. Because Pirlo spent the majority of his career as the deepest midfielder he should be in the centre midfield list. This my point. Geographically on the pitch he played in the same zone as Makelele. But had a totally different set of skills. So maybe a truer reflection of ranking would be to split it down in to def mid, deep lying playmaker, box to box, and rank each sub section separately. You have split forward and striker yet there is less variation in their roles as primarily they both score and/or assist. But centre midfield has many different roles but you have grouped them all as one

    3. They both play in the same zone but the role is really different. Makelele is the destroyer of the team while Pirlo cannot be the destroyer. Also, Pirlo played as offensive midfielder in some years as well.

  64. Why is Xavi so high? I appreciate his off the ball movement and close control and short passing we're brilliant, but he was in a team full of players taught to give and go and find space. It does make the job easier. When you take in to account his weaknesses in tackling, heading, scoring, pace. Doesn't that insult some of the players below him in the list? I would argue Didi is the same, but as I've only seen very limited footage, I may have not seen his best days. Great work by the way

    1. Well, you're a few of people has a thought to Xavi's limitation. I have a tendency to agree but the fact that his vision through tactical understanding, anticipation and sense of creativity combined with his ball control is very influential to his team's achievement.

      In conclusion, you can see his skill ranking is not as high as his performance ranking.

    2. Fair point. I didn't want to get bogged down in statistics and I find all the grading points a bit overwhelming. I just say what I see. Thanks

  65. I saw your comments above that you consider Scholes as an AM, but if so, then shouldn’t Lampard be an AM as well? I thought that Lampard had a more advanced role so he scored a lot of goals.
    And I think that Busquets deserves a mention. He was very important in all Barca successes and also won two major trophies with Spain. He is brilliant at reading the game and anticipating.

  66. i think the terminology is the problem. Attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder. both can play in exactly the same space and be defined by style/skill set. or it can describe an area of the pitch. you are mixing them both which could be causing the confusion. maybe a more useful categorisation would be

    deep-lying midfielder
    box-to-box midfielder
    advanced midfielder

    and then rate them on what they bring to the team rather that what fits the traditional stereotype historically for that position

  67. And the greatest deep-lying playmaker of all time is not on this list : Pirlo

  68. Who is the greatest left-halfback of the pre-WW2 era? I see you haven't included any in your ranking so I was curious.

    1. Jose Leandro Andrade. Which list I haven't include ?

    2. OK I actually include him in defender list.

  69. What was the playing style of clodoaldo ?

    1. I mean defensive holding ? Box to box ?

    2. I think he is more defensive holding midfielder.

  70. hi I thought that list was really good. Well done

  71. What makes Baresi a greater player than Scirea ? More champions league and a great performance in WC 1994 ? Does this compensate baresi didn't really play world cup 1982 ?

  72. Isn't Bryan RObson a little high ? Especially when I see him above Lampard. What makes the difference ?

    1. Robson is believed to achieve more world-class seasons than Lampard and he has more contributed to England than Lampard as well. I think it is fair as Robson is better in defense, greater orientation and movement. He played with lower quality teammates but still make outstanding contribution.

    2. What about Gerrard then ?

  73. Is Gerrard national career enough to be so high in the ranking ?