Most loved football players of all time
Many players in the history of football had their fans and haters. But some players transcended this rule and became everyone's favorite by being equally brilliant on the field and charming outside of it. They were worshiped by every football fan around the world, no matter the jersey they were wearing or the achievements they accomplish.
While many will argue that players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the most loved footballers of all time, given their incredible fan base and popularity in social media, we at SportMob believe that these two superstars are not even close to the level of popularity the following stars enjoyed during their career. No football fans nicknamed them Penaldo or Hobbit and they enjoyed popularity in its most global sense. So without further due, let us go through the list of the most loved football players of all time.
Everything about the most loved players of all time
Players like Maradona and Pele are considered as the best and most popular players in the history of football. There are also players who were worshipped by fans all around the globe for their pleasant personalities and the quality they possessed in football. The following is the list of the 15 most loved soccer players of all time.
Despite retiring a long time ago and facing all sorts of controversies, EL Diego is the most popular player in his homeland, Argentina as well as among the fans all around the world. He reached a god-like status in Argentina after restoring national pride against England in the 1986 world cup, when he scored two of the most memorable goals in the history of football.
Maradona scored the first one with his hand and the goal is famously known as the hand of god goal. Then scored the winning goal after dribbling the entire England defense and putting the ball into the net. No wonder there is an actual religion in Argentina in which people worship Diego Maradona. He is without a doubt one of the most loved football players of all time.
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While even many of Messi and Ronaldo fans would rank the Brazilian wizard, Pele above their favorite stars, few would disagree that he is truly one of the most loved football players of all time. Pele achieved everything in football and many of his records, like winning the world cup three times and scoring more than a thousand goals are yet to be beaten.
In his prime, Pele was one of the most famous and loved world figures next to Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela. Pele was especially so popular in Brazil that when European giants tried to sign him, the president of Brazil canceled the move, labeling Pele as a national treasure. To this day Pele is considered one of the most loved soccer players ever.
The scorer of Spain's world cup winning goal in 2010 is considered as one of the most loved soccer players of all time. The pale-skin midfielder had a shy and reserved personality, but there was nothing shy about his magic on the football field. Iniesta was one of the few players who enjoyed a standing ovation from Real Madrid diehard fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Iniesta was somehow a one-club player. He helped his childhood club, Barcelona wins everything in his 16 years tenure with the Catalans. When he finally decided to call the time on his Barcelona career, he opted to move to Japan, so he would not have to face Barcelona in any tournaments.
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Nicknamed as "The Saint", Spain and real Madrid legendary goalkeeper is rightly among the most loved football players ever. Casillas was always a gentleman on and off the field. He rarely argued with the referee and never disrespected any opponent. Like the other players in this list, Casillas enjoyed numerous successes as well as popularity.
The Spaniard was a key member in Spain's all-conquering golden generation which won two back-to-back European Cup and the World Cup from 2008 to 2012. He was a fan favorite around the world, though his time in Real Madrid had a sad ending. After a season-long dispute with then manager, Jose Mourinho Casillas was considered surplus by Los Blancos. He busted in tears in his last press conference as a Madrid player. A scene that still gives us goosebumps whenever we think of it.
Seriously, who would not love Gigi Buffon and his forever young personality? The 42-years-old has been in the game for more than two decades now and just recently signed another one-year contract with his beloved club, Juventus.
Like many players of his generation, Buffon was faithful to his club. He was one of the layers who decided to stick with Juventus when the Old Lady was relegated to Serie B. he stayed all his playing career in Turin except for one season which he played for Paris Saint Germaine. The veteran goalkeeper is among the most loved football players of all time and there will surely be tears in everyone's eyes when he finally calls and ends to his illustrated career.
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The prince of Roma was certainly one of the most loved football players of all time, and the fact that he decided to stay with Roma all his career proves he is a true legend of the game. Totti was amazing whenever he played and many big clubs tried helplessly to seduce him out of AS Roma.
Real Madrid came close to securing his services when Florentino Perez was building his "Galácticos" in Madrid. Yet Totti resisted the temptation and stayed at Roma although it meant he wouldn't get the individual and collective awards he deserved. It was a different story with the Italian National team as Totti won the world cup with Nerazzuri in 2006.
A true professional of the game, Carles Puyol earned a ton of respect from fans all over the world. Though fearless in defense, Puyol was all about morals on the field. Time-wasting was not on his dictionary and he always looked for ways to honor the opposition. His barging at Gerard Pique when the latter wanted to waste time in one of the most heated El Classicos of recent years is a testament to his great personality.
Another one-club player in our list, Carles Puyol won every possible trophy with Barcelona and Spain National Team. The Blaugrana Capitan famously let Eric Abidal-who just had recovered from Cancer- to lift the Uefa Champions League in 2011 to acknowledge his fighting spirit.
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One of the most popular figures in the history of Italian football, Roberto Baggio was all about peace. Known as the little Buddha for his kind and noble personality, Baggio was so much loved in his home-land that even missing the penalty kick against Brazil in the 1994 World Cup Final did not hamper his popularity. He also was sensational in the 1990 World Cup and almost single-handedly guided Italy to the semi-final, where they were beaten in penalty shoot-outs to Maradona's Argentina.
Baggio is a rare case in the list of most loved football players of all time, as he was not a one-club player. He played for more than a quarter of Serie A's 20 teams but was loved by all of those team's fans. He suffered a lapse in form after the 1994 world cup but was on fire again for Euro 2000, but sadly Dinho Zoff did not include him in the final squad, a move which makes many Italy fans angry even to this day.
Let's face it! If you love football and you hate Ronaldinho, you cannot call yourself a true football fan. It is as simple as that. From facing extreme poverty in childhood to sitting on top of the world as a footballer, Ronaldinho never stopped smiling. The joy he transmitted to the fans all around the globe was out of worldly. Even Real Madrid fans couldn't help to stand and applaud the Brazilian Magician when he absolutely terrorized Madrid's defense as Barcelona won 3-0 in Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldinho won La Liga and UEFA Champions League and the Ballon D'or with Barcelona as well as the 2002 World Cup with Brazil. He played football with such eagerness and childlike enthusiasm that fans nicknamed him rightly "The Poet of Football". No wonder why he is considered one of the most loved football players of all time.
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If you are doubtful why Ronaldo Nazario is one of the most loved footballers of all time, just remember that he played for four teams who absolutely hate each other and yet his overall popularity was intact.
Ronaldo Nazario played for Barcelona and Real Madrid and managed to score goals against each team. He also played for both Inter and AC Milan and scored for both teams in Milan Derby. He broke every German football fan with his brace in the 2002 World Cup final and yet he has always been a fan favorite all over the world. "The Martian" won three Ballon Do'rs and many trophies in his career, but suffered many heartbreaking injuries as well and had to quit football at a relatively young age of 32.
Zidane were known to play his best games in decisive matches. He demolished Brazil with a brace in the 1998 World Cup and scored an incredible volley for Real Madrid against Valencia in the 2001 UCL final. His popularity was so grand that when he got himself sent-off against Italy in the 2006 world cup final after head-butting Marco Materazzi, France ordered a statue of him to be placed in Paris.
Despite his once-in-a-while high tempered actions, Zidane was a generally a polite player. A characteristic he has carried well into his managerial career. Just as in his playing days, Zidane is a natural-born winner as a manager and has won three back-to-back Uefa Champions League with Real Madrid. A feat never achieved by any team in the history of football. Zidane is definitely one of the most loved football players of all time,
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David Beckham is a rather unusual choice in the list as he was everyone's enemy in his own home-land when he costed England the 1998 World Cup after he was sent off against Argentina. Yet the enigmatic midfielder made amends four years later as he scored a 95th-minute equalizer against Greece with a sensational free-kick and sent England all the way to the 2002 World Cup.
Beckham first shone in the famous Manchester United's Class of 92 as he and some other young talents such as Paul Scholes, Nikki Butt, the Neville brothers and Ryan Giggs grew up to win everything for the Red Devils. He later moved to Real Madrid in the famous Galácticos era and had successful spells with Los Angeles Galaxy and Paris Saint Germaine as well.
A global fashion icon and one of the most handsome guys in the world, beckham is definitely a fan favorite among girls, but his amazing qualities made every football fan to fall in love with him. He was absolutely amazing with the ball and was among the best free-kick takers in the history of football. A true footballing legend of the game who was always a gentleman on and off the pitch. He recently started a new career as a club owner with Miami FC and his popularity will see many great stars joining his team in the near future.
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Andrea Pirlo, Raul Gonzales, George Best, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, Zico, Socrates, Garrincha, Robin Van Persie, Thierry Henry, and Alan Shearer
So what do you think of our list of most loved football players of all time? Is anyone missing out?
Let us know in the comments below.