Image source: Prelvini, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
To name a stadium after a player is probably the best way to acknowledge how remarkable that player is/was. Only the greatest ones can enjoy this honor from Ferenc Puskas to Maradona. We’ve taken a look at the most famous stadiums named after legendary players. Let’s see them below.
One of the most famous football stadiums in the world, the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be named after one of the best players of all time, Pele. The new name of the stadium will be Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Rei Pelé, which means the Stadium of Pele King. A perfect name which truly symbolizes the greatness of the only player with three world cup titles. Other great players of football history have also received this honor before. From the captain of the legendary Golden team, Puskas to three-time Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff. We might see in the future a stadium with the name of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo too. But let’s take a look at the current most famous stadiums named after legendary players.
Top stadiums named after legendary players
1. Puskas Arena
The Hungarian national football stadium was named after one of the greatest football players of all time, Ferenc Puskas. He was the key player of the legendary Hungarian Golden team which won 6-3 against England in 1953. And also finished as a runner-up in the 1954 World Cup. Puskas is still a national hero in Hungary even though he fled the country in 1958. The former People’s Stadium was renamed after him in 2002. While the brand new stadium also kept his name in the new title, Puskas Arena. The stadium has already hosted a few prestigious matches like the 2020 UEFA Super Cup and Champions League games. And according to the plans Puskas Arena will also hold games during the European Championships this summer.
2. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
We can find the huge stadium of Real Madrid in the stadiums named after legendary players. As the Bernabeu got its name from the former player, manager and president of the club, Santiago Bernabeu. At the time he was a player, in the 1920s Real was a small club. But everything changed when Bernabeu became the president of the club. He managed to sign the best players for the club including Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano. And made one of the strongest clubs from the Los Blancos.
His work was also crucial to organize the new tournament, which has become today’s Champions League. While Bernabeu also helped to build the current stadium, which was named after him in 1955 honoring his work for the club. The team is currently in third place in La Liga, online sportsbooks in Spain offer the odds of 5.50 for their victory at the end of the season.
3-4. Estadio Diego Armando Maradona – Stadio Diego Armando Maradona
There are two stadiums named after one of the greatest football players of all time, Diego Maradona. We can find the first one in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he started his career in 1976. The stadium is the home of the Argentinos Juniors, which plays in the top division and won the Copa Libertadores once before. Maradona made his professional debut in the team at the age of only 16 and stayed here for five years. Scoring 115 goals in 167 appearances. The stadium was named after Maradona in 2004 after its refurbishment.
While another of his former clubs, S.S.C. Napoli named after him their stadium following his death last year. No wonder as Maradona was loved by the fans after he led the team to its first Seria A title in the 1986-87 season. He also won the UEFA Cup with the club in 1989 and the Coppa Italia in 1987.
5. Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Staying in Italy we have another great stadium named after a legendary player, the home of Inter Milan and AC Milan. It is the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza which got its name after one of the best Italian football players of all time. Giuseppe Meazza played mostly for Inter in the 1930s and won three Serie A and one Coppa Italia titles with the club. He was also a key player in the Italian National team which won two consecutive World Cups in 1934 and 1938. Meazza was a prolific striker, he won the Seria A’s top goal-scorer award three times. With his 33 goals for the national team he is still the second highest goalscorer in its history. The famous San Siro, the home of both AC and Inter Milan was named after him in 1980.
6. Johan Cruyff Arena
Three-time Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff also deserved to have a stadium named after him. As the Dutch player and manager had a huge impact on the philosophy of football besides his great successes with his clubs. Cruyff started his career at Ajax where he won 8 Eredivisie and three European Cup titles. While he also led the national team to the 1974 World Cup final. Then he joined FC Barcelona and won one La Liga and Copa del Rey title with the Catalans. Barca will also feature in this year’s Copa del Rey final where online gambling sites in Spain favored them against Athletic Bilbao. After his retirement Cruyff also managed both teams and added more titles to his list. In 2017, a year after his death the Amsterdam Arena, the home of Ajax was named after him.
7. Ali Daei Stadium
Legendary Iranian footballer, Ali Daei also has a stadium named after him even though it might not be as famous as the others. It’s located in Ardabil, in Iran and has the capacity of 20,000. The stadium opened in 2008 and was named after Daei who started his career here. The striker later played in the Bundesliga for teams like Arminia Bielefeld, Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin. And he was the captain of the Iran national team between 2000 and 2006. But he is most famous for his record of being the world’s all-time leading goalscorer. As he scored 109 goals for Iran in 149 appearances.