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FIFA 100: World’s Greatest Footballers on American Soil


In 2004 Pele named the FIFA 125 greatest living footballers as part of the celebration of FIFA’s 100th Anniversary. If you were to believe everything you read in the European press about football in this corner of the globe you’d believe we’d never seen good football or world class footballers before David Beckham touched down in Carson.

But the below list proves otherwise. A full one fifth of the list has played club football in the US or has made a significant contribution to the game in this country. I haven’t taken the time to compare the list to the numbers that have played in the English, Italian or Spanish leagues historically but the numbers are probably only slightly lower than those who have played in those nations domestic leagues. This is all the more impressive when you consider

Carlos Alberto (NASL- New York Cosmos)

Pele (NASL- New York Cosmos)

Romario (USL- Miami FC)

Hristo Stoichkov (MLS- Chicago Fire, DC United)

Elias Figueroa (NASL- Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

Carlos Valderrama (MLS- Tampa Bay Mutiny, Miami Fusion, Colorado Rapids)

Gordon Banks (NASL -Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

David Beckham (MLS – LA Galaxy)

Franz Beckenbauer (NASL -NY Cosmos)

Jurgen Klinsmann (USL- Orange County Blue Star)

Lothar Matthaus (MLS- Metrostars)

Gerd Mueller (NASL- Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

Hong Myung Bo (MLS- LA Galaxy)

George Weah (US Resident- living in Weston, FL)

Hugo Sanchez (NASL- San Diego Soccers, MLS-Dallas Burn)

Johan Cryuff (NASL- LA Aztecs, Washington Diplomats)

Ruud Gullit (MLS- LA Galaxy, Manager)

Rob Rensenbrink (NASL – Portland Timbers)

Johan Neeskens (NASL – NY Cosmos, Minnesota Kicks USL – Fort Lauderdale Sun)

George Best (NASL- LA Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, San Jose Earthquakes)

Romerito (NASL – NY Cosmos)

Nene Cubillias (NASL- Fort Lauderdale Strikers, USL – Miami Sharks, USL- Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

Eusiebo (NASL – Boston Minutemen, Toronto Metros-Croatia, Las Vegas Quicksilver, ASL – New Jersey Americans)

Enzo Francescoli (Owner, GOL TV USA)

Michelle Akers

Mia Ham

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  1. Don

    April 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Great stuff! Really brings back memories. Johan Cryuff against the NASL Sounders where he dribbled into the Seattle corner, was trapped by three Sounders and dribbled out again. I still don’t know how he did it. They don’t either.

    My other favorite was Tommy Hutchison(not on the top 125 list) when he joined the Sounders. He announced his arrival in the league with his first touch. He took the ball deep in Sounder territory and proceeded to dribble diagonally thru virtually the whole opposing team before making an excellent cross. The crowd went wild.

  2. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    April 17, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Sadly Etcheverry and Donadoni were not named to the list. Part of the deal with Valderrama is that he led Colombia to their only three World Cup appearances since the 60s. These lists are as much if not more so determined by international performance as club performance. Etcheverry was better than El Pibe in MLS- he is the greatest ever in the league. But that’s not what Pele/FIFA based the list on.

  3. oscar

    April 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I second Stu, also Roberto Donadoni should be on the list.

  4. Stu

    April 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Marco Etcheverry is missing from this list. If Valderama is on here, then El Diablo MUST be here as well.


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