FourFourTwo's 100 Greatest Footballers EVER: 90 to 81

A hot-headed Bulgarian, Argentina’s tractor and a Welshman who twisted blood for two decades in the second part of our countdown

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90. Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos

Why are they here?
The diminutive Brazilian spent 11 seasons flying down the left flank at the Bernabeu, helping Real Madrid to three Champions League titles.

His attacking ability originally earned him a call-up to the national team aged 18, when he was playing for Uniao Sao Joao. He followed that by joining one of Palmeiras’s best-ever teams and then Inter, before Real Madrid came calling. There he became a cult hero for carrying a smile almost as big as those monster thighs which allowed him to fire the ball towards goal at 105mph. No wonder goalkeepers (and fans in the stands) feared him.

Career highlight
The 2002 World Cup winner could defy the laws of physics. Striking the ball with his three outside toes, a free-kick that was apparently heading to the corner flag curved back and hit the net in a 1-1 draw against France at the 1997 Tournoi.

Words: Marcus Alves

89. Hristo Stoichkov

Hristo Stoichkov

Why are they here?
A roving forward of glorious unpredictability, Stoichkov was a mainstay of Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ Barcelona side that won four league titles on the trot - and the club’s first European Cup – in the early 1990s.

The Bulgarian was famously improvisational and infamously hot-tempered (you can see why Cruyff took to him), and complemented his direct dribbling with a handy habit of catching goalkeepers off-guard with rocket-powered shots from unlikely distances.

Stoichkov turned in a similar level of performance for his national side, most notably at the 1994 World Cup. His six goals in the U.S. took Bulgaria to the semi-final and made him joint top-scorer of the tournament.

Career highlight
His frustratingly fleeting partnership with Romario during the 1993/94 season, the Dream Team’s fourth title campaign, which reaped 54 goals and will go down as one of the all-time great forward pairings.

Words: Alex Hess

88. Allan Simonsen (Denmark)

Allan Simonsen

Why are they here?
A hard-working, fiercely committed centre-forward with a knack for important goals, Simonsen is recognised as one of the most important Danish footballers of all time and enjoyed a splendid three-year spell at Barcelona.

Yet his most impressive exploits came in Germany, where he helped Borussia Monchengladbach to three consecutive Bundesliga titles in the mid-'70s. He’s also the only footballer to have scored in the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup finals.

Career highlight
Winning the Ballon d’Or in 1977, beating Kevin Keegan and Michel Platini in the process, and becoming the first Danish player to take the honour.

Words: Alex Hess

87. Javier Zanetti

Javier Zanetti

Why are they here?
Because if he's not the finest right-back the world has seen, he may have remained a world-class performer for longer than any other individual on this list.

During 19 years at Inter, which followed his early club career in Argentina and came amid some of the Milan side’s most volatile years, he made a club-record 858 appearances and won 16 trophies before retiring aged 40. The stamina and footballing brain that made him such an outstanding full-back were complemented by a technical ability that meant he also later excelled in midfield.

Career highlight
Captaining Inter to the Treble in 2010, which ended their 45-year wait to regain the European Cup.

Words: Dec Warrington

86. Gabriel Batistuta

Gabriel Batistuta

Why are they here?
Never has a man been able to kick a football with such murderous ferocity as Gabriel Batistuta. Batistuta was something of an Alan Shearer counterpart back in the '90s: both enjoyed coinciding heydays, and were no-frills, all-round centre-forwards who enjoyed nothing more than bludgeoning the ball into the net from an absurd array of angles and distances.

Both, too, ended their career with medal hauls that were an insult to their talent and output, but neither’s reputation has been harmed as a result. Batistuta has a slight upper hand internationally, however, ending his career with 54 goals in 77 games for Argentina. A staggeringly complete goalscorer.

Career highlight
His 20-goal haul helped a simply glorious Roma side – led by Fabio Capello, and replete with Cafu, Walter Samuel, Vincenzo Montella and Francesco Totti – win a ferociously competitive Serie A in 2001.

Words: Alex Hess