The media coverage of the football legends of the moment is constant. Considering that association football is the single most popular sport in the world today, and its best players have considerable star power, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. The history of football is, in turn, filled with legendary players that you hardly ever hear about. I’m not talking about Pelé, the protagonist of one of the most stunning sports comeback stories in the history of the sport but legendary players who were world-famous in their time but you pretty much never hear of them anymore – but they’d make a kick-ass team in FM. Here they are.
Goalkeeper: Helmuth Duckadam
Helmuth Duckadam is one of the best goalkeepers you’ve never heard about. This is partly due to the fact that his career was cut short: on the doorstep of fame, he was sidelined by a rare blood disorder that ended his football career for good. Not before proving his worth in the field, though, in one of the most memorable matches.
The 1986 European Cup final played by the Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti against FC Barcelona went down in history as the first-ever European Cup final that ended without a single goal, even after overtime. The result of the match was finally decided by a penalty shootout. Barcelona conceded two of them while the Romanian team’s goal line remained unpenetrable thanks to Duckadam, whose performance earned him the nickname of “the Hero of Seville”.
Forward: Ferenc Puskás
Ferenc Puskás is a legendary Hungarian forward, part of the country’s “Golden Team” – the Hungarian national team that went on a winning spree of 32 consecutive games in the 1950s. Puskás played in 350 league games for his home team Budapest Honvéd, scoring almost 360 goals, and was capped 85 times for the National Team, scoring 84 times. In 1958, he transferred to Real Madrid, playing in further 180 league games with the Spanis club, scoring more than 150 times there as well. He is recognized by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics as the top goalscorer in the 20th century.
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, known as Eusébio for short, was the first African player to make an impression in an international game. Born in Portuguese Mozambique, he started his career at a local team in Maputo before moving to Lisbon in his late teens and joining Benfica. During his time there, he won eleven Primera Liga trophies and, according to Wikipedia, he scored 733 goals in 745 matches during his professional career.
Manuel Francisco dos Santos went down in history as the “Bent-Legged Angel” – he was born with a deformity that caused his spine and legs to be bent. He spent most of his professional career with Botafogo, a team in Rio de Janeiro. He was, in turn, a vital part of the Brazilian national team during the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, winning the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot in the same tournament for the first time in history. His dribbling skills – which are considered to this day perhaps be best in the history of football – made him immensely popular among the fans, earning him the nickname “Alegria do Povo” (The People’s Joy).
Defender: Paolo Maldini
Not many players spend their entire career with a single team nowadays – Paolo Maldini is the big exception from this rule. After graduating from Milan’s youth squad, he joined the senior team at the age of 17, he was part of Arrigo Sacchi’s world-famous “Immortals” squad along with Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. He was at the core of Milan’s legendary defence, strong enough to only concede 14 goals during the 1987-88 Serie A season.
Upon his retirement, Milan also retired the number 3 jersey, reserving it for the case one of Maldini’s sons ever joins the team.