Top ten best midfield players of all time

Our list of the 10 best football midfielders who contributed greatly to their team's offense.

Deciding who should feature in the list of the top ten best midfield player of all time is not an easy task. It so happens that there were exceptional midfield players decades ago. The emerging world-class talent does not make the job any tranquil. Even so, we ought to celebrate those that stand out and this list accomplishes this purpose.

Michael Laudrup won nine trophies, including four straight La Liga titles for Spanish club Barcelona10. Michael Laudrup

Place of Birth: Frederiksberg, Denmark
Years Active: 1981-1998

Michael Laudrup played for the La Liga’s arch rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, Ajax and Juventus. He has won seven league titles with the clubs as well as a European Cup title. His clinical finishing, fine passing, creativity and great vision made him an exceptional player.

In 1999, Laudrup was recognized as the best foreign player in Spain for the previous 25 years. At the international level, he is a prolific Denmark player having scored 37 goals in 104 games and for leading his team to win the 1995 Confederations Cup.

George Best is described by the Irish Football Association as the greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland9. George Best

Place of Birth: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Years Active: 1963-1984

George Best is a Manchester United legend from the Northern Ireland. Playing as a winger, he usually utilized his pace and apt technical skills when effecting an attack posing a major threat to every defense. Best aided Manchester United in winning the 1968 European Cup.

He might not have been graced at the international level, particularly the FIFA World Cup, but Best was a memorable player for the Manchester based club. He was named the European Footballer of the Year in 1968 and came in third in 1971.

In 1991, Lothar Matthaus was named the first ever FIFA World Player of the Year, and remains the only German to have received the award8. Lothar Matthaus

Place of Birth: Erlangen, West Germany
Years Active: 1979-2000

Lothar Matthaus played as a defensive midfielder. He was the ideal versatile player, helping the team by creating goals, scoring goals and aiding in defense. He featured in five World Cups with the West Germany, including the 1990 World Cup that the team won under his captaincy. Matthaus played a record 25 World Cup matches.

He played for Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern Munich and Internazionale. As a result, he has six German domestic cup honors and seven league titles. Matthaus also won the European Footballer of the Year, the FIFA Player of the Year and two German Player of the Year awards. That is a clear indication of the kind of player he was and grants him an express ticket to the list.

Zico is regarded as one of the best playmakers and free kick specialists, able to bend the ball in all directions7. Zico

Place of Birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Years Active: 1971-1994

Zico was a Brazilian player who emerged when the South American nation boasted of the best players. He featured in the World Cup three times, 1978, 1982 and 1986. His 48 goals in the 71 appearances for Brazil makes him the fourth top goalscorer after Pele, Ronaldo and Romario.

Zico clearly had ample talent as he managed to win the World Player of the Year in 1983. In addition, he was named the South American Footballer of the Year in 1977, 1981 and 1982. Zico is probably the best player of the 80s if the prestigious individual and club honors he garnered are anything to go by.

Sir Bobby Charlton became renowned for his attacking instincts and passing abilities from midfield and his ferocious long-range shot6. Bobby Charlton

Place of Birth: Ashington, Northumberland, England
Years Active: 1956-1976

Robert Bobby Charlton played for the England national team and spent most of his career at Manchester United. He was part of the English squad that won the 1966 World Cup, the country’s only major trophy. He was such a significant player in the tournament that he was awarded the Golden Ball.

While playing for Manchester United, Charlton won three Premier League titles, the European Cup and the FA Cup. He is the leading goalscorer for England with 49 goals and the all-time top scorer for Manchester United. He has won the Ballon d’Or and is regarded as possibly the greatest English footballer ever.

Renowned for his elegance, vision and technique, Zinedine Zidane was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll5. Zinedine Zidane

Place of Birth: Marseille, France
Years Active: 1989-2006

Zinedine Yazid Zidane was a special player in his time considering he was the World Player of the Year three times. Zidane started off his successful career in his home country, France, before moving to Italy and then to Real Madrid. At Madrid, he was a sensational player owing to his skills in initiating attacks and scoring goals.

Zidane helped the France team to win the 1998 World Cup and the European Championships in 2000. He was the best player of the tournament for the latter competition and was the European Footballer of the Year in 1998. Even after retiring from international football, he was recalled to the national team in 2006 and Zidane was quite instrumental in helping the team to reach the World Cup final.

In 1999, Garrincha came seventh in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote4. Garrincha

Place of Birth: Pau Grande (RJ), Brazil
Years Active: 1953-1972

Garrincha was part of the Brazilian team that won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962. He was instrumental for the Brazil team in the 1962 tournament since Pele was out with an injury. He ended up as a top scorer and was awarded the Golden Ball for being the best player.

Garrincha had a distorted left leg, shorter than the right one by about six centimeters. Nonetheless, he had impeccable acceleration and great dribbling skills making him a constant threat in his role as a winger. He is ranked in the seventh position in the FIFA Player of the Century.

Michel Platini came sixth in the FIFA Player of the Century vote, and was chosen on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team3. Michel Platini

Place of Birth: Joeuf, France
Years Active: 1972-1987

Michel Platini is currently known to many as the President of UEFA. He played in the midfield and was good in taking free kicks. He played a vital role in the France national team, becoming the top scorer before Thierry Henry bettered his record of 41 goals in 2007.

Platini was the best player and the leading goalscorer in the 1984 European Championships, which France won. He was also the top goalscorer in the 1985 European Cup. Platini was at his best during this period as he went on to win the Ballon d’Or thrice, all between 1983 and 1985.

Diego Maradona captained Argentina during the 1986 World Cup and led them to victory over West Germany in the final2. Diego Maradona

Place of Birth: Lanus, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Years Active: 1976-1997

Diego Maradona definitely makes it to the list as he was a great attacking midfielder. He had absolutely great dribbling skills and was a player to be relied upon, by clubs and the Argentina national team. The extent of his skills fuels the unending debate on whether he beats Pele as the Best All Time Player.

In 1982, Maradona got the attention of prominent clubs when he played for Argentina in the World Cup. He was immediately signed by Barcelona though a series of injuries hampered his career. It is after moving to Napoli that he began to shine once more and fans adored him. He received the Golden ball in the 1986 World Cup and was named the Player of the Year.

Johan Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 19741. Johan Cruyff

Place of Birth: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Years Active: 1964-1984

Hendrik Johannes Cruijff known as Johan Cruyff was famous for his dribbling skills and his contribution in the attacking position. His brilliant vision was key in helping the Dutch team and Barcelona to win games. He is best remembered for the famous total football, typically applied by the Dutch team.

Cruyff has nine Dutch League and six Dutch Cup titles to his name. He has won three successive European Cups with Ajax and Barcelona. Cruyff made it to the 1974 FIFA World Cup final with the Netherlands team, only for them to lose to Germany. However, his impact in the tournament secured him the Golden Ball.