FourFourTwo's 100 Greatest Footballers EVER: 100 to 91

The original box-to-box man, Sweden’s kung fu goal genius and the player set to overtake Pele's Brazilian record as our countdown kicks off

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100. Gheorghe Hagi

Gheorghe Hagi

Why are they here?
With one of the odder career trajectories among modern-day greats, Hagi spent the best part of a decade as an impossibly prolific attacking midfielder in Romania’s top flight, before two hit-and-miss years at Real Madrid and later a similar spell at Barcelona.

Sandwiched between his time at the two Spanish giants was a heartwarming two years in Italy, where he was part of Mircea Lucescu’s ‘Little Romania’ contingent at Brescia. He endured relegation in his first season but stayed loyal to the club despite better offers, and fired them back into Serie A.

Aged 30 and supposedly winding down towards retirement, he joined Galatasaray, where he spent a laughably fruitful half-decade cementing living-legend status and hoovering up another 10 medals.

Career highlight
USA 94, when Romania reached the quarter-final of the World Cup (knocking out Argentina on the way), inspired by Hagi and his magical left foot.

Words: Alex Hess

99. Mario Coluna

Mario Coluna

Why are they here?
Despite only standing at 5ft 7in, Portugal’s diminutive 1966 World Cup captain was a formidable presence for both his country and Benfica, with whom he won two European Cups in the early 1960s.

The original box-to-box midfielder, team-mate Eusebio described Coluna as "the glue who held us together". He could also play at the back or up front, and cajoled his team-mates with a mixture of humour and passion.

Career highlight
In 1961, he thumped home an unstoppable effort from long range in his side's 3-2 victory over Barcelona in the European Cup final in Berne.

Words: Jon Spurling

98. Mario Kempes

Mario Kempes

Why are they here?
Only four Argentines have been crowned as top scorer in La Liga, and Kempes is one of them. He was feared as a burly and effective striker for Valencia, scoring at will, especially in 1976/77 and 1977/78. Kempes also led the club to a European Cup Winners' Cup triumph in 1980.

However, he is best known for his explosive finishes during the 1978 World Cup on home soil. He nabbed six goals and was top scorer of the tournament.

Career highlight
How about scoring two goals in a World Cup final for a highlight? Kempes netted twice against Holland, including the all-important winner in extra time.

0:55 for those goals

Words: Michael Yokhin

97. Neymar


Why are they here?
Neymar is the next big thing after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The 25-year old has not only taken football to new frontiers, but he’s also sustained an incredible level of performance. It’s unbelievable to see how much he has already achieved with Barcelona, Santos and the Brazilian national team (where he's scored 52 goals already, so Pele's record of 77 is an achievable target).

Assuming his personal life and aggressive career management don’t harm his game, he should be able to prove - along with Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho - that his country’s best days are definitely not behind it.

Career highlight
Neymar was the subject of criticism over his conduct as national team captain, but overcame that pressure to win Brazil’s first Olympic gold medal in men's football in 2016.

Words: Marcus Alves

96. Obdulio Varela

Obdulio Varela

Why are they here?
A holding midfielder with Penarol who was equally as comfortable at centre-half, Uruguay’s captain played a pivotal role in his country’s shock win over Brazil in the 1950 World Cup.

After the coach had left the dressing room before the match, Varela instructed team-mates to ignore instructions to play a defensive game, and instead to attack their hosts “without any fear”. Uruguay did precisely that – and stunned Brazil by overturning a 1-0 deficit to win the World Cup.

Career highlight
Varela deliberately began spats with English referee George Reader to slow the Brazilians down and prevent them building up a head of steam after going ahead - and his playacting worked a treat.

Words: Jon Spurling