Top 10/50/100

FourFourTwo's 100 Greatest Footballers EVER: 50 to 41

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45. Oleg Blokhin

Oleg Blokhin

Why are they here?
Ballon d'Or winner in 1975, Blokhin was an unstoppable striker on his day. Fast and skilful, he could run at defenders at full speed, but was also known for brilliant positioning in the penalty area.

He became a top star at an early age under the guidance of legendary manager Valeri Lobanovsky at Dynamo Kiev, and scored 266 goals in all competitions for his beloved club. With Blokhin, the Ukrainians won the Soviet league title six times, became the first Soviet club to lift a European trophy (the Cup Winners' Cup) in 1975 – and repeated the feat in 1986.

Career highlight
Blokhin was absolutely supreme in the European Super Cup against the Bayern Munich's great 1975 side, scoring all three goals as the Ukrainians won 1-0 away and 2-0 at home.

Words: Michael Yokhin

44. Didi


Why are they here?
“I'm nothing compared to Didi. I'll never be anywhere near as good as he is. He's my idol, he's the guy I look up to. The very first picture cards I bought were of him,” said Pele.

What else can you wish for? The Ethiopian Prince, as he was dubbed because of his elegant style, won the World Cup for Brazil in 1958 and 1962. He became famed for his free-kick striking, also called folha seca (in English, 'falling leaf)', a style still emulated these days by Cristiano Ronaldo. Didi had a brief stint with Real Madrid but didn’t get along with the Argentine Alfredo Di Stefano.

Career highlight
Didi masterminded the first two World Cup successes of Brazil and was named the best player of the tournament in 1958.

Words: Marcus Alves

43. Fritz Walter

Fritz Walter

Why are they here?
Walter mostly played in midfield yet managed to average almost a goal per game during his 20 years at Kaiserslautern, the beloved club he led to two German championship titles and refused to leave despite receiving very tempting offers from abroad.

Starring alongside younger brother Ottmar, a centre-forward, he was the leader not only for the club, but also for the West German team that won the World Cup in 1954 against all odds. Walter scored three goals during the tournament, but his overall contribution was much more significant. These days he has an award named after him (the Fritz Walter Medal), given to Germany's brightest youth prospects every season. 

Career highlight
Walter was magnificent in West Germany's sensational 3-2 win over Hungary in the 1954 World Cup Final, and had a hand in two goals.

Words: Michael Yokhin

42. Matthias Sindelar

Matthias Sindelar

Why are they here?
Nicknamed the Mozart of Football, Sindelar was one of the world's greatest stars in the 1930s, leading the magnificent Austrian national Wunderteam. Imaginative, inventive and outrageously skilful, he ran the show and made the Austrians a joy to watch as he scored 26 goals in 43 matches.

He was also the undisputed leader for Austria Vienna, winning a league championship title and lifting five cups. Sindelar made his political views known too, wildly celebrating his goal for Austria against Germany in 1938, in the 2-0 win right before Anschluss (the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany). His mysterious death at the age of 35 only added to the myth around the man.

Career highlight
Sindelar captained Austria as they reached the semi-finals of the 1934 World Cup in Italy, where they were controversially beaten by the hosts.

Words: Michael Yokhin

41. Gianluigi Buffon

Gianluigi Buffon

Why are they here?
Most footballers begin to wane when they hit 30, content to let time do its work as they recede gradually into the background. Buffon, though, has managed to balance quality and longevity less like a footballer and more like a 1970s Coppola movie.

He turns 40 in January, yet in the last five years has captained Juventus to five league triumphs and played in two Champions League finals. Touted when he came through as the heir apparent to Italian legend Dino Zoff, the two now stand together as the only goalkeepers to make the Ballon d’Or top two in the past half-century.

Career highlight
Promotion from Serie B with Juventus in 2007, capping a 12 months that entailed Juve’s demotion for their part in the Calciopoli scandal and Italy’s World Cup win. Buffon’s decision to stay and fight for promotion was a pivotal one in the club's history.

Words: Alex Hess

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FourFourTwo's 100 Greatest Footballers EVER