Top 10 Midfielders of the 90’s
The 90’s wasn’t just the decade of britpop, girl power, dodgy hairstyles and fashion, it was also a decade that produced some of the best midfielders the world has ever seen. Here, we take a look at the 10 of the best midfielders the 90s had to offer.
10 Gheorghe Hagi
Gheorghe Hagi burst on to the world football scene during the 94 world cup final in the USA with great playmaking, imaginative passing and ferocious goal scoring ability. A diminutive player, he was often likened to Diego Maradona, with a low centre of gravity, Hagi beat players with precision dribbling and outstanding passing ability. One of few players to have played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, he didn’t fulfil his potential at the very elite level, Hagi played his best football at Galatasaray and Steaua Bucharest. A legend in Romania and Turkey, Hagi will always be remembered for the great goals he scored.
9 Zvonimir Boban
A graduate of the famous Dinamo Zagreb youth system, Boban earned a move to the Italian giants AC Milan in the early 90’s and soon established himself as an integral part of the hugely successful AC side after a brief period on loan to Bari. A box-to-box player with great skill and passing ability, Boban was also noted for his leadership qualities both for club and country. While hugely successful with AC Milan, international honours eluded Boban, a close loss to France in the semis of the 98 finals was the closest Boban would get to major international honours.
8 Paul Scholes
11 Premier League, 2 Champions League and 25 major titles in total makes Paul Scholes the most decorated English footballer of all time. A graduate of the famous Manchester United Youth system, Scholes initially started his United career as a striker. He settled into the United side as an attacking midfielder with great success. Scholes was a renowned goal scorer for club and country, often scoring from the outside the box. While a low profile character, Scholes was often picked out by top international players and managers for praise. Miss-used by successive national coaches, Scholes rarely played to his immense potential and ultimately quit international early to focus on his United career. A club man, Scholes even came out of retirement when United needed his leadership. While many are more famous, there are few who can rival Scholes in terms of achievements and talent.
7 Patrick Vieira
A tall, combative central midfielder, Vieira was the rock of the great Arsenal team in the late 90’s and early 00’s. An excellent holding midfielder, Vieira provided the base for the more extravagant Arsenal players to play to their full potential. A natural leader, Vieira was a pivotal part of the great French national side in the 90’s in winning the 98 world cup and European Championship in 2000.
6 Roy Keane
Juventus manager Marcelo Lippi once said of Roy Keane “he even comes to haunt me in my dreams”, this was the mark of the man, Roy Keane was all about intensity and winning at all cost. Often crossing the line of what’s acceptable on a football pitch. That’s what was so great about Roy Keane, a born leader on and off the pitch, he demanded 100% effort from himself and those around him. A tough-tackling Irishman, Keane was often in trouble with match officials, but that didn’t deter him one bit. Roy Keane was all about winning at all cost and giving as much as possible for team success.
5 Ryan Giggs
Before all the modern football superstars, there was Ryan Giggs, the original modern football pinup and he had the skills to back up those credentials. A product of the Machester United youth system, Giggs became the firsts of the “Fergie babes” to break through the ranks. A silky winger, Giggs tore defences to shreds, just ask the Arsenal defenders from 99 FA semi-final tie. A one-club man, Giggs was often linked with moves to Europes biggest clubs. One of the most decorated players in the history of the game, Giggs hold the record for scoring in consecutive seasons in any top league.
4 Luis Figo
An attacking midfielder of immense ability, Luis Figo was an outstanding player for club and country. One of the only handful of players to play for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, Luis Figo was one of the most in-demand players in the 90’s. A leader for club and country, Figo lead his national side to unprecedented heights, losing to Greece in the Euro Championship final. One those rare breed of players who could play equally well with either foot, Luis Figo was a blend of everything needed in a top attacking midfielder, pace, skill, control, passing ability and great finishing ability from any distance.
3 Lothar Mattiaus
The ultimate midfielder, Lothar Mattiaus could do all required of any position on a football pitch. Mattiaus could play as a defensive shield, out wide on the flanks, a box-to-box player, an attacking playmaker or as he did in his later career as a sweeper. There was simply no weakness to Mattiaus’s game, add to that the inborn German tanacity and will-to-win and great physicality and you one of the best midfielders to have ever played the game.
While Brazilians and flamboyant skilful players go hand-in-hand, the 80’s and the 90’s saw the rise of a more pragmatic style of players coming out of the land of the beautiful game, until Rivaldo that is. Rivaldo was skillful player who played for just the love of the game, and to showcase his skillful play. An individualist, Rivaldo scores outrageous solo goals whether an overhead bicycle kick or a 30-yard screamer. The playmaker for club and country, Rivaldo was an integral part of Brazil success in the 98 and 2002 world cup and Barcelona’s emergence as a global super club. While some may remember him for his shameful antics in the 2002 finals, many more will remember him for the outrageous talent he displayed for many seasons on the domestic, European and International stage.
1 Zinedine Zidane
The undisputed king of the midfield in the 90’s or probably any age has to be Zinedine Zidane. Known simply as “zizou”, Zidane dominated Italian, Spanish and international football throughout the 90’s. A graceful midfielder, Zidane moved on the pitch with supreme balance and poise. A extraordinary playmaker, Zidane possessed supreme ball and passing skills and while not a prolific goal scorer he often scored spectacular winning goals as he did in the 2001 Champions League final. A natural leader, he lead France to victory in the 98 world cup final against much-fancied Brazil.