Old age is when you begin to say: "I've never felt so young". The Jules Renard adage could have been written for Roger Milla. The Cameroon striker, a figurehead of African football, exploded onto the international scene at the ripe old age of 38. A fine technician with remarkable vision, Milla carried his team practically single-handed to the quarter-finals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup ItalyTM. Incredibly, he also played four years later in the USA.
Some players control games, some are capable of outstanding pieces of skill, while others impose themselves through sheer physical strength. Paolo Rossi didn't fit into any of these categories. He was quite simply a born goalscorer. At the 1978 FIFA World Cup ArgentinaTM and even more so at Spain 1982, the Italian allied economy of movement, perfect positioning and innate opportunism to become one of the finest strikers on planet football.
With the exception of Diego Maradona, nobody shines brighter than Mario Kempes in Argentina's star-studded football firmament. "El Matador" was born in Córdoba (Argentina) on 15 July 1954. His father, who had been an amateur footballer in his youth, encouraged the young Kempes to start playing when he was 9 years old. Seven years later he led his local team to the regional championship as leading goalscorer. He made his first division debut on 5 October 1973 for Instituto de Córdoba in a game against Newell's Old Boys, finishing on the losing side (0-1).
Very few players have earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as Pele, Beckenbauer and Diego Maradona. Although he never won an international title at country level and played in only one World Cup, Johan Cruyff is one of them. Such was his natural talent, the Dutch Master enjoys an undisputed reputation as one of the game’s all-time greats.
Some things never lose currency in Argentina - beef, women and dulce de leche (a caramel dessert) among them. Football is another source of comfort for the masses, and one player in particular has provided more than his share of tender loving care - Diego Armando Maradona. The former national team captain headed the queue when the football muses visited the republic. And in a land which looks to the game for its daily bread, he is considered nothing short of divine.
A rock, a workaholic, a perfectionist: Dino Zoff is one of the greatest goalkeepers the world has known. The facts speak for themselves: he played in the FIFA World Cup™ three times, winning in 1982, won 112 caps and holds the record of 1,142 minutes without conceding a goal.
A survivor of the Munich air disaster, a FIFA World Cup™ winner, a Knight of the British Empire but above all, a great and an honest player. Bobby Charlton is one of football’s true ambassadors.
Pele. The God of football. "O Rei". Whatever the name, the memory is the same - of a world-beating superstar - a record-breaking footballing icon. Above and beyond his unequalled achievement in winning three FIFA World Cups™, Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, or Pele, was a genius who was constantly reinventing the game of football.
Franz Beckenbauer is without doubt one of the greatest players and managers of all time. He redefined the role of 'libero', lifted the FIFA World Cup™ as captain in 1974, before repeating the feat as a manager in 1990.
Michel Platini never did win the FIFA World Cup ™, the ultimate prize for a footballer. In fact, it is the only trophy missing from his impressive trophy cabinet, but that surely does not detract from his status as a footballing legend. His technical ability, reading of the game and amazing ruthlessness in front of goal made him one of the game's all-time greats