The Greatest Soccer Players You Haven't Heard of
There’s no denying how massive a sport soccer is around the world. The vast majority of people will have no trouble naming the greats in the sport – whether current or even from the last twenty years.
But while names such as Messi, Zidane, Pele, Maradona, and Ronaldo are on everyone’s lips, you can’t help but wonder which excellent players are rarely mentioned. We’ve scoured the internet and found some names that you might have forgotten about – or simply never even heard of before.
So, here are our top picks for the greatest soccer players you’ve never heard of.
A massively prolific striker, the Austrian-born forward Josef Bican has put more than 800 balls in the back of the net in officially recognised matches. This number puts him far out of the reach of any other player in history.
His most memorable spell came from his time at Slavia Prague, where he netted 395 goals in a mere 217 games. He was also known for running the 100 meters in as little as 10.8 seconds, which rivalled many Olympic runners at the time.
During a time when physicality was arguably the most important trait in soccer, Austrian striker Sindelar, nicknamed ‘paperman’ paved the way for modern football with his reliance on technical excellence and ball control over strength.
Many believe Sindelar to have been the greatest of the pre-war players, having scored goals against the highest-rated national teams of the time, including Hungary, Italy, and England. He was also the first to step into the withdrawn forward role, which saw few mastering it again until after the 1950s.
After Germany annexed Austria, however, Sindelar stepped out of the game, refusing to play for the national team. He died of mysterious circumstances soon after, which many believe was a move made by the Gestapo.
Nicknamed the Greek Maradona by many, Vasilis was born to political refugees in Tashkent, the capital city of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.
Making his professional debut at the young age of 17 in the Soviet First League, he soon stepped into the Soviet Supreme League in 1972. His dribbling skills made it seem as if he were dancing around defenders on many occasions. He was named in the New York Cosmos World XI in 1984 but could sadly never step into the big clubs due to an overly binding contract from Iraklis.
One can’t help but wonder what he might have accomplished with Arsenal, Porto, Lazio, and many other clubs who were more than interested in signing him.
Considered one of Europe’s most underrated players by many, his excellence outshone the leagues of Yugoslavia, where he spent the majority of his prime years.
His many accolades include finishing third in the Ballon d’Or behind George Best and Bobby Charlton, winning 17 trophies with Red Star Belgrade, of which five were league titles, and being named the greatest player from Serbia and Montenegro in 2004’s UEGA Jubilee Awards.
His dribbling, crossing, and free kicks were all phenomenal, and while he certainly enjoyed massive success, we believe he would have made an even better stamp on the sport had he joined a major league club.
Lee Wai Tong
Born in Hong Kong, this Chinese striker is regarded by many as the greatest player ever to come out of China.
From the 1920s to 1940s, he helped establish South China AA – his club at the time – as the nation’s most successful club. He was named in the top five greatest players of all time by a German magazine in 1976 and played at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
His play at the Olympics drew the attention of big-name clubs such as Arsenal, but none of the interested parties ever succeeded in signing him. It is said that he scored a reported 1260 goals throughout his career.
While many remember his much more famous son – Pele – Dondinho was a prolific Brazilian player in his own right.
He never played for the Brazilian national team, but he scored a reported 859 goals over 786 games of his career. After he finally moved to a bigger club – Atletico Mineiro – he received a crippling injury on his debut, which unfortunately meant that he would never play for the club – or any other big club – ever again.
Considered the greatest player to ever come from El Salvador, Magico drew the eyes of many big Spanish clubs during his time in his home country.
After joining Cadiz, he became loved by the fans almost immediately for his massive goals and flourishing technical skills around the ball. His most famous goal was against Barcelona, where he dribbled all the way from his team’s half to eventually put the ball in the back of the net.
That concludes our picks for the greatest soccer players you’ve never heard of. While these are all our own opinions, no one can deny the skills of the players mentioned.