Becoming a football player seems like being under the spotlight for many young men. However, most of them are far from Ronaldo’s glory and income, although their talent is difficult to deny. Sadly, many outstanding players have been playing in the wrong team or in the wrong time to hold the top spot. So, we have prepared our subjective list of the least appreciated footballers ever who were either overshadowed by bigger names or failed to unlock their potential in second-tier clubs.
How will we rank players?
There are obviously too many talented players across the globe to put them in the top-10 of the most underrated. 99% of all footballers aren’t as adored as Leo Messi, but we cannot include everyone. Therefore, we have decided to pick footballers who match the following criteria along with explanations why.
- Players who are in their 30s. As there are many young players who don’t get enough appreciation, we won’t put them on the list. Active players under 30 still have plenty of time and opportunities to show themselves, while their older colleagues’ chances tend to zero.
- Recently retired players are also in. Many legends weren’t appreciated enough during their football career and they have no chance to get the recognition they deserve in future.
- Players who received few individual awards and modest attention from the media despite their high-class performance. Fans’ positive attitude also counts.
- Footballers who play or played mostly for European clubs.
Top-10 least appreciated footballers ever
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10. Andrea Pirlo
A former Italian midfielder is one of the most known European players and least honoured ones. 41-years old Andrea Pirlo retired from football 3 years ago after playing for such clubs as Inter Milan, A.C. Milan, and Juventus. During his career, he was often named one of the best exponents of this position. Fans adored his skills like ball control and passing, but all this didn’t bring him to the heights. He never reached even the top-3 at Ballon d’Or, with the peak position at #5 in 2007. UEFA also failed to honour him with individual awards and that’s a shame for it.
9. Gheorghe Hagi
55-years-old Gheorghe Hagi was once considered as the best Romanian player and one of the greatest in the 1980-90s. Adored by fans for his playing skills, he won a lot with Steaua București and Galatasaray. He also has been playing in Spanish clubs for 4 years. Hagi helped Real Madrid and Barcelona win one title each, but still received modest recognition in Europe. He finished 4th in the 1994 Ballon d’Or race, but at least Pele named him as one of the best players of his generation in his FIFA 100 ranking.
8. Gabriel Batistuta
A former Argentinian player is one of the least appreciated footballers ever. Gabriel Batistuta spent 12 years in Europe playing for Italian clubs: Fiorentina, Roma, and Inter Milan. He got most of his minor recognition for the performance in Florence. At Fiorentina, Batistuta was in his best shape and even broke a record for scoring in all 11 first matches of Serie A season. However, winning a total of 5 trophies in Italy wasn’t enough to put him in the top tier. By the way, if you follow Serie A, use Bet365 Sportsbook to stay tuned to the competition as soon as it will be on again.
7. Michael Laudrup
Michael Laudrup is considered one of the greatest footballers of his generation, although he wasn’t under the spotlight all the time. A 55-years-old Danish player won several league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus, but received very few individual awards. He was honoured only as the Best Danish Player twice, once as UEFA Golden Player, and twice as the Best Foreign Player. Laudrup got most recognition after retirement as Pele included him in the FIFA 100 and his home country named him the best Danish player ever.
6. Gaetano Scirea
Gaetano Scirea was a defender, most famous for his performance in Juventus. His tragic death at the age of 36 shocked fans who considered him as one of the best Italian players at that time. Scirea was outstanding in Juve and helped them win 14 trophies in 14 years. Thanks to him, the Turin club won 7 Serie A trophies, 2 Coppa Italia, and many international competitions. Unfortunately, he was never awarded individually for his performance and never will be.
Guti opens the top-5 of the least appreciated footballers ever. This gifted Spanish midfielder wasn’t lucky to play with the biggest football stars of a different time. He spent 15 years in a senior Real Madrid team, appeared in 542 games, and was a vice-captain, but always failed to shine. Guti was overshadowed by such titans as Raul, Beckham, Carlos, but definitely equal to them by skills. During his long career, Guti received just 2 individual awards – La Liga Top Assister and Top Scorer in Copa Del Rey.
4. Xabi Alonso
Another Spanish player is high on the list of the least appreciated footballers ever. Xabi Alonso had a long and high-performance career in Real Madrid, Bayern, and Liverpool. By the way, you can bet on the English club to win the EPL that is rescheduled for June 2020. Liverpool was the FC that made Xabi famous, especially after winning the 2005 UCL. However, his glory days passed in England and he didn’t succeed much in Spain and Germany. Although Alonso’s teammates called him vital, he should have stayed in Liverpool to reach fame and recognition.
3. Ronald Koeman
Dutch retired footballer Ronald Koeman was robbed of recognition in the 1980-90s. A former Ajax, PSV, and Barcelona player did a lot for his clubs, but was poorly awarded for his performances. He showed himself great both as a defender and goalscorer. He did his best to help Ajax and PSV win their leagues, but used his skills the most in Spain. While playing for Barca, Koeman won 4 La Ligue titles, 2 European Cups, and 4 other competitions. However, all he received on the individual level were two Dutch awards and a UCL Top Scorer title.
2. Francesco Totti
Football fans know Italian player Francesco Totti as one of the most dedicated players ever. He spent his whole career playing for Roma FC (1992-2017) and became its greatest player. Besides being referred to as the Roma legend, he is often among the best footballers of his generation, but was his talent appreciated enough? No. Through his skills and quite a large number of individual awards, Totti won just one Serie A and two Coppa Italia trophies. Such a great player deserved more, don’t you agree?
1. Andres Iniesta
Agree or disagree, we think that Iniesta is #1 among the least appreciated footballers ever. His performance in Barcelona was always high-level, while his dedication to the club is with admiration. Iniesta has been performing in Barca for 16 years, but wasn’t lucky enough to play alongside Ronaldinho, Puyol, and Messi, who simply overshadowed everyone around. Even if you are not a Barcelona fan, you cannot disrespect Iniesta for his fair-play (zero red cards for the whole career!) and talent. With the best regards to Lionel, it was Iniesta who deserved winning the Ballon d’Or in 2010, but he finished 2nd.