The penultimate post in my all-time positions series is upon us and it is my top five right midfielders ever.
Up first is probably the most recognizable footballer in history as his football career has led him to be a global superstar and brand in his own right.
David Beckham is one of the greatest set-piece takers of all-time and as well as his dead ball expertise he also has an amazing crossing and passing ability. Beckham has played for Preston, Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and he currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain, he has accumulated over 700 club career appearances so far and 129 goals, many of which come from his famous free-kicks.
He has won six Premiership titles, two FA Cups, four FA Community Shields, one Champions League, one Intercontinental cup, one La Liga, one Supercopa de Espana, two MLS cups, two MLS Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Western Conference. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2009, he also won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement award in 2010. He is currently England’s all-time record appearance holder for an outfield player with 115 caps. He is also credited with scoring the best England goal of all-time after his 2001 stoppage time free-kick against Greece which enabled England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.
Second up is a player who is one of very few to play for both Barcelona and Real Madrid after signing for Los Blancos in 2000 for a world record fee of £37million. Luis Figo is one of Portugal’s most famous exports and is famous for his dead ball ability and his ability to take on defenders with consummate ease.
Figo played for Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, accumulating 795 club career appearances, scoring 133 goals. Figo’s decision to join Real Madrid from Barcelona was receieved with much hatred from the Barcelona faithful, when he returned to the Nou Camp in 2002 he got a heated reception from the faithful who started throwing objects at him, including a pig’s head. During his career, Figo won one Taca de Portugal, four La Liga titles, two Copa Del Rey titles, three Supercopa de Espana titles, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, two UEFA Super Cup titles, one Intercontinental cup, one UEFA Champions League, four Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia and three Supercoppa Italia titles.
Internationally, Figo is the most capped Portuguese player in history with 127 caps, he also scored 32 goals. Individually, Figo won the Portuguese Player of the Year six years in a row, he won the Balon D’or in 2000 and a year later he won the World Player of the Year.
Third up is thought by many pundits and experts as the greatest dribbler in history. Garrincha was known for his remarkable control and dribbling skills which he combined with his cat-like agility, he was also dead ball specialist who was known for taking free kicks and corners with the outside of his foot.
Garrincha was born with several defects to his legs (his right leg bent inwards, his left leg bent outwards and was shorter than his right) and instead of hindering him, Garrincha’s defects managed to help him. The fans in Brazil knew him as Anjo de Pernas Tortas (Angel with Bent Legs) and it is his defects that seemed to aid Garrincha in his right wing exploits.
Garrincha spent the majority of his club career at Botafogo, with spells at Corinthians, Flamengo and Olaria. He accumulated 348 career club appearances, scoring 103 goals. Garrincha won two National Brazilian Championships, two Rio-Sao Paulo Championships, three State Championships and one Interstate Cup. Internationally, Garrincha was part of Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 World Cup winning sides, he was named top scorer and Player of the Tournament in the 1962 tournament and he also won World Player of the Year that year as well. Garrincha played 50 times for Brazil, only ever losing once, scoring 12 goals, creating a formidable partnership with Pele up front.
Fourth in the right midfielders of all-time list is Garrincha’s natural successor to Brazil’s right wing position, Jairzinho. At the 1970 World Cup, Jairzinho was one of Brazil’s best players, making history by scoring in every game he played in the campaign.
Jairzinho’s club career, like his hero, was spent mainly at Botafogo; he also had spells at Marseille, Cruzeiro, Portuguesa and Noroeste. He made over 430 club career appearances, scoring 198 goals. He won one Copa Libertadores Americas, three Torneio de Caracas, one Taca Brasil de Futbol, two Rio-Sao Paulo Tournaments and two State Championships.
Internationally, Jairzinho played 81 times for Brazil, scoring 33 goals. Seven of these coming in Brazil’s successful 1970 campaign where he scored in every game he played in.