25 years of #unisportlife - who’s been the best players since 1995?

29.11.2020

Written by William Neuvonen

25 years of football love. It’s a long time. We want to look back and see which players who have influenced the world of football the most.

Football is the most beautiful sport in the world. We can all agree on that. There are millions of people playing it all over the world - right in this moment. And there are always some moments, games and goals that we will remember forever. Some of the most memorable and iconic things are made by the greatest players. And we want to honour that.

Unisport has existed for 25 years. In those years we’ve seen an unbelievable amount of talented players on the big stage. Now we want to see who has been the best in the past 25 years. It’s a tough process but we want to create our own line up of the 11 best players since 1995. We’re using a classic 4-4-2 formation. And the terms are simple: The players in this team have either won a ton of trophies, set records or made a significant impact on the position that they played or are playing. We already know that you might disagree with some of our choices. But these are the players that we want to acknowledge:

Goalkeeper - Iker Casillas

Nicknamed ‘San Iker’ - ‘Saint Iker’. The Spanish legend made his Real Madrid debut in 1999 aged 18. He then went on to play 725 games for Los Blancos! And not just that. After his debut in 2000 for the Spanish national team, he has played 167 games in total. A record amount of games until Sergio Ramos beat this in 2019. And if you’re still not impressed, let’s take a look at the titles he’s won; 5 Spanish championships, 3 Champions League, 2 Euro’s and 1 World Cup.

We think it’s fair to say that this guy deserves a spot in this team. A true legend!

Right back - Dani Alves

This guy showed us that a defender isn’t just meant to defend. A defender can also be used as an extra player when the team is attacking and to create more chaos on the opponent’s half. He was also great on free kicks and showed that you shouldn’t be afraid of showing your technical skills - even though you’re a defender. Dani Alves has won 42 titles for club and country, including 6 La Liga titles with Barcelona, 3 Champions League and Copa América 2 times.

Center back - Sergio Ramos

What is there to say about this guy? Just like Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos showed us all that you can show the coolest skills even though you’re playing in the defence. He’s known for being extremely powerful in his headers and he’s clinical on penalties. Thus he has scored more than 100 goals in his career (!) for both Spain and Real Madrid. And many of them have been extremely important. Most known is his equalising goal against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League final in the 93rd minute - and Real Madrid went on to win the game. Like Casillas, he has 1 World Cup and 2 Euro gold medals.

Center back - Alessandro Nesta

This guy is one of a few OG’s on this team. One of the most elegant centre backs to ever enter a football pitch. We feel so lucky at Unisport to have witnessed him in action. Nesta was known for his touch on the ball, his brilliantly timed tackles and his perfect passes. He played 10 years in Lazio, where he was a part of the team who won Serie A in 2000. They were nine points behind Juventus with eight games left but managed to secure and lift the trophy on the final day of the season! He later moved to AC Milan where he won the Serie A and Champions League twice. He was also a part of the Italian team who won the World Cup in 2006.

Continued below

Left back - Paolo Maldini

Last defender and another Italian. And he was in a perfect duo with Nesta. Everybody should know about Maldini. If you haven’t heard about him, it’s about time. One of the best defenders of all time. And he might be the most iconic ‘one club-players’ ever. He played in AC Milan from his debut in 1984 until 2009…! He ended up with 902 games for the club. He has won Serie A 7 times and Champions League 5 times (out of 7 in total in the club’s history). Unfortunately he never won a title with the national team, being a part of the final in both the 1994 World Cup and the 2000 Euro’s in which Italy lost. He got third place in Ballon d’Or in 1994 and 2003 and was nominated for the team of the tournament in two World Cups and three Euro’s. He was so good that AC Milan have retired his number 3 shirt forever.

If you want to know how to defend, just go to YouTube and search for ‘Paolo Maldini’. You’re welcome.

Right wing - Luís Figo

One of the few who made the illegal move from Barcelona to Real Madrid. But Los Blancos wanted him so bad they had to get from their rivals. So they made him the most expensive player in the world, paying 62.000.000 €. He had the La Liga records for most assists until Messi broke it (106). He won the Ballon d’Or in 2000. He played 127 games for Portugal where he was a part of two World Cups and three Euro’s - including a final in 2004.

Luis Figo was known for his creativity and his ability to get past defenders on the wing. And his hair looked soooo good!

Central midfield - Andrés Iniesta

One of those players who just leaves you gasping for air when you watch him play. He played for Barcelona from 2002 to 2018. And was out of this world. He made the most incredible passes look easy. And he did it every single game. Like the other Spaniards on this list, he has also won to Euro’s and a World Cup. But this guy actually scored the winning goal in the World Cup final in 2010. That’s something that very few players have done in the history of football. Besides the national team, he also won a lot with Barcelona, including nine league titles and four Champions League trophies.

Central midfield - Clarence Seedorf

Here’s a player for the OG’s! Seedorf is a true legend if you’ve ever played Football Manager or FIFA in the beginning of the 2000’s. Well… he’s actually a true legend if you know just a little bit about football. He was part of the phenomenal Ajax team that won the Champions League in 1995 (the year Unisport was born) and has played in clubs like Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan afterwards. Like both Maldini and Nesta, he also played a long time in Milan - 10 years actually.

He’s the only player to have won the Champions League with three different teams. Besides Ajax he also won it with Real Madrid in 1998 and with Milan in 2003 and 2007. That’s a true baller right there. Go look him up on Instagram - you can’t tell that man is 44 years old!

Continued below

Left wing - Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs is one of the most legendary players in Manchester United’s history. He’s one of the most decorated players ever. We won the league 13 times, FA Cup four times and Champions League twice - just to name a few. He’s the only player to have scored 21 seasons in a row in Premier League and he’s made the most assists in the league’s history - 162. He played a wobbling 963 games for The Red Devils!

He was a part of the iconic team to win The Treble in 1999 and he has created iconic moments with one of the most successful teams in football.

Striker - Cristiano Ronaldo

Alright. We can’t avoid this guy. He just keeps on going at the age of 35. It’s hard to pick what to say about him. Known for his extreme commitment to stay healthy, deadly freekicks, sharp dribbles and goalscoring records. You either hate him or love him. But if you’re not impressed by him, there’s something wrong with you. Sorry!

He has won Ballon d’Or FIVE times. He has won 30 trophies in his career. This includes league titles with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus. He has lifted the Champions League trophy five times and won both the Euro’s and Nations League with Portugal. He was the most expensive player ever when he moved to Real Madrid in a transfer worth €94 million! He’s the most capped player for Portugal and also the topscorer for the team; 101 goals. Wow…!

He is also the highest scoring player in the history of Real Madrid. He played 438 games and scored 450 goals. He scored 61 goals in the 2014-15 season. His numbers are out of this world. And we’re lucky to be witnessing him play at the moment. Enjoy him! He’s one of the best players ever!

Striker - Lionel Messi

We had to pick Messi. Of course. Lot of football fans are calling him the best player ever - better than Pelé and Maradona. Haters say that he needs to win a World Cup to prove himself as the G.O.A.T. But in 2014 he carried Argentina to the final on his shoulders. And he’s one of those players that you just have to enjoy while he’s still here. His run with the ball, his shooting and the way he can dribble past defenders has never been seen before. He has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards. He has won 34 titles with Barcelona so far - including 10 La Liga titles, Champions League four times and six Copa del Rey.

He’s both a goalscorer and playmaker. He has the most La Liga goals ever - 445 and still counting. He has scored more than 700 goals in total during his career. He’s also the all time topscorer for the Argentina national team.

It’s actually hard to put words on Lionel Messi. He’s a magician and he should definitely be renowned as one of the best - if not the best - players in the history of football.

Manager - Sir Alex Ferguson

He was the manager of Manchester United from 1986 to 2013 where he won 38 trophies. He won the Premier League 13 times, the FA Cup five times and Champions League twice. If you put all of his trophies together, he is the most successful manager in the history of football. A true legend.

He has also inspired a lot of former players to become managers - including Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Ryan Giggs just to name a few.

In 2011, while still manager at Manchester United, the Old Trafford North Stand was renamed ‘Sir Alex Ferguson Stand’ in honour of his 25 year anniversary. So we have to conclude that 25 years is a pretty big deal!

We’re happy that Unisport has been a part of football along these great players and this manager. The past 25 years have gone by so fast. That’s what happens when you’re having fun and are enjoying everything that’s going on. And we’ve definitely enjoyed watching these guys. No we can’t wait to see who will make our team in 25 years now on. One thing is for sure - it’s going to be entertaining.

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