Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a brilliant reader of the pattern of the game being played in front of him. Greece winning Euro 2004 still registers as the most seismic shock in international tournament football history, and Theodoros Zagorakis, the captain, was the engine of the success.
Clubs: Cobreloa, Udinese, Colo Colo, River Plate, Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester United. He cannot be ignored. Both Ajax and Barcelona continue to play with the philosophy he promoted as a coach, which was an extension of his supreme intelligence as player. Gareth Bale may have won multiple Champions League titles with Real Madrid, but no Welshman is held in higher regard on the European continent than John Charles. Clubs: Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, LA Galaxy. How does one measure true greatness? Ricardo Gardner spent 14 years at Bolton, including 11 in the Premier League, as a versatile player who made contributions to attack and defense. Ajax’s number 10 had a unique role, offering the first line of defence by pressing the back line and midfield. Argentina has Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. Main position : Last update : Iniesta, Rashford, & Co.: Debutants Under van Gaal–“He knows better than me”. Position: Forward. Born: Sept. 26, 1970, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, Clubs: Destroyers, Bolivar, Albacete, Colo Colo, American de Cali, DC United. The answer can be an endless debate. He was not the artist playmaker – Jari was the antithesis of modern art – but he was functional and brilliant. Chapuisat was selected as the Golden Player of Switzerland in European governing body UEFA’s 50th year celebration in 2003. The American World Cup missed out on a player who went on to become one of the greatest players in Major League Soccer history. Louis van Gaal – the attacker’s new manager – and Litmanen worked side-by-side on their paths to greatness at Ajax. A supreme finisher, he starred as Galatasaray won the 2000 UEFA Cup and Turkey finished third at the 2002 World Cup finals. While it may have seemed like scant consolation at the time, he also finished third in the voting for the Ballon d’Or as he personal game reached its zenith.

Pavel Nedved won the European Footballer of the Year award in 2003, the year he was denied playing in the Champions League final by a yellow card in the semifinal. It wouldn’t be until 1990 that FC Lahti would see ‘Litti’s’ predatory instincts, lurking like a shadow on the edge of the box, waiting for a slip or a moment of weakness. Born: Feb. 23, 1973, in Kristiansund, Norway, Clubs: Clausenengen, Molde, Manchester United. His career came at a time his home country was divided by conflict in the Balkans, but as an emigre to German football, Hasan Salihamidzic was celebrated for his energy, versatility and intelligence. The team would grow exponentially, taking Europe by the throat. Few have worked harder to get to the top than Ronaldo, who built himself from a tricksy, willowy winger into a goal machine with the physique of a supreme athlete. Clubs: Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Ajax, Inter Milan, Arsenal, West Brom, Portsmouth. Born: Sept. 2, 1961, in Santa Marta, Colombia, Clubs: Union Magdalena, Millionarios, Deportivo Cali, Montpellier, Real Valladolid, Independiente Medellin, Atletico Junior, Tampa Bay Mutiny, Miami Fusion, Colorado Rapids.
It meant that Jari’s abilities were, at first, somewhat stifled due to his defensive duties. Clubs: Dinamo Zagreb, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window). Despite the setbacks, he was a player of immense quality, a lionheart made of glass, complete with talent that places him amongst the true greats of the game. Litmanen’s second season would see him grow into a player who would lay waste to the league. The player who broke the Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo decade-long stranglehold on the global individual awards in 2018 was Croatia’s inspiration as his country was runner-up in the World Cup. Clubs: Millwall, Everton, New York Red Bulls, Shanghai Shenhua, Hangzhuo Greentown, Melbourne City, Millwall, Jamshedpur. Where does the world-class talent of Jari Litmanen rank? Hidetoshi Nakata was a star of Italy’s Serie A in the late 1990s, the first Japanese player to succeed in what was then the world’s strongest league. As a result, a Catalan cull had begun in earnest and seven of those that departed were van Gaal’s men from the Ajax team of 1995. Tony Yeboah is famous in England for his spectacular goals in a Leeds shirt, including a pair of blockbusters against Liverpool and Wimbledon, but Yeboah also is an idol in German football. But who is the best soccer player in their country? Born: Sept. 15, 1971, in Titograd, SFR Yugoslavia, Clubs: Budu?nost Podgorica, Red Star Belgrade, AC Milan, Red Star Belgrade, Rapid Vienna. Whoever is chosen depends on the eye (or age) of the beholder. Jari Litmanen’s vision and creativity made him an idol at Ajax Amsterdam, on a team that won the Champions League in 1995, bringing back memories of that club’s 1970's golden era. More importantly, his reputation in Amsterdam was growing, and the fans took to calling him ‘Merlin’ due to his unfathomable ability to drift between tackles. In his day, few players were such a pleasure to watch, his dribbling ability truly bewildering at times.

For Litmanen, there would be no Indian Summer. His death brought back memories of the Zaire team he captained that qualified for the 1974 World Cup. Clubs: Stal Mielec, Lokeren, Atlante, Polonia Hamilton. The season would follow a very similar pattern to the last: Ajax would win the league and reach the Champions League final, however, this time, fate was not on Jari’s side. Navas also was a leading light and inspiration of the Costa Rican national team that reached the quarterfinals of 2014 World Cup.

Spain wasn’t kind to Litmanen and his reputation was getting battered from all angles as he began to become an insular character. His mastery of the goalscorer’s art is best shown by his performances at the 1990 World Cup. The waif that arrived in Amsterdam had returned. The midfield metronome of a Spain team that lifted a sequence of Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. When Juventus sold Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid in 2001, they managed to replace him with a player who is just as cherished in the Italian city of Turin. This is not the tale of bad kid come good, nor did he pull himself up by his bootstraps.

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