In every generation of footballers there are always a handful of servants that get deceived by history; their name is never brought into conversation when discussing the legends of the game despite reaching great heights in their careers. I am going to look at 5 players who I feel have not been given the true recognition they deserve.
An Ajax legend, Keizer played a vital role in arguably one of the finest teams to grace the field of play and was part of the side that featured in 4 European Cup final, being successful on 3 consecutive occasions. Keizer played on the left-wing and he managed to contribute a remarkable 146 goals along with a ton of assists and all this over 365 appearances.
He was more of an artist than a player; everything he did was poised with flamboyance and panache. During his time, Keizer was renowned for perfecting the ‘scissor’, this was his trademark move and often enabled him to pass an opponent with great effect. It became a common sight to see him go on endless runs leaving the opposition in nothing but despair as they could only watch him glide past.
Keizer also formed a deadly duo with Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, the two became known as the ‘royal pair’ and through their innovative attacking flair by interchanging and combining with one-twos nobody in the world could stop them.
2. Ladislao Kubala
A Hungarian born footballer who ended up fleeing the country due to it becoming a communist state, Kubala went on to represent an astonishing 4 different national teams over his elusive 23 year career. Kubala was a deadly No.9 who is one of the true Barça legends with 131 goals in 186 games.
Kubala was born in Hungary but had family from Czechoslovakian roots so at the
tender age of 17 he represented the Czechoslovakian national team, two years later he decided to play for Hungary but then due to the new communist regime he moved on to play for Spain and then later on Catalonia.
When he arrived at Barcelona the Hungarian grew a quick reputation for being a deadly free-kick specialist with a lethal shot. In his first season he managed to provide 26 goals in just 19 games, his season included scoring a staggering 7 goals against Sporting de Gijon an achievement even the great Lionel Messi has not achieved. Another impressive feat that Kubala has achieved is that he produced 14 hat tricks over his 10 year tenure with the club. During his time at the Catalan giants he managed to win 4 la liga titles along with 10 other domestic triumphs.
Josef Bican was an Austrian born striker with a pure instinct for goal; the player represented both Austria and Czechoslovakia in a career that spanned over 27 years.
Bican is one of the most prolific goal scorers to ever play the game; the Austrian managed a ludicrous 805 goals in just a mere 530 appearances across his entire career. If friendlies were to be added to this tally then maybe, just maybe could this man have had a greater goal scoring record than Brazilian legend Pelé?
It was rumoured that during his career at Slavia Prague (where he scored 395 goals in just 217 games) Bican didn’t actually train with his teammates, instead during training sessions he would entertain the fans by performing trick shots. The Austrian’s most renowned trick was that he would turn-up with a bag of empty bottles, which he would balance on the top of the crossbar. He would start at the penalty-area and take aim at the targets.
The Uruguayan international still plays today, but it was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s where he really established his name as a great. The creative midfielder enjoyed his most successful spell at Internazionale where he played an integral role in the winning of UEFA Cup.
Recoba made his emphatic debut for Internazionale on August 31, 1997 against Brescia in the San Siro, In the game he scored two brilliant goals, one was a powerful 30-yard shot that flew past the keeper, the other, a free kick into the top corner. This was the perfect introduction to the European stage for the then young Uruguayan.
Whenever Recoba was on the field there was always a sense that something magical could happen, he had the ability to produce truly unforgettable moments. Recoba’s most notable strengths were the pace at which he moved and his ability to keep the ball confined to his feet. He was also technically brilliant, he had the capability to play a wide array of passes that would unlock the opposition, as well as a fierce-some shot that could fly in from any distance.
Leonidas Da Silva, the black diamond, was a Brazil legend that created one of the most beautiful and breath-taking ways of scoring. The Bicycle kick. The Brazilian centre-forward scored just over 450 domestic goals in an illustrious career and he was also the top-scorer at the 1938 World Cup.
Leônidas first showed the people of Brazil his awe-inspiring invention in a match between Bonsucesso and Carioca in 1932. The rest of the world however was unable to witness the beauty of this technique until the 1938 World Cup where it was performed to the crowd’s elation. However when he performed the skill the referee was completely beguiled and he was unsure whether to stop play or not; in the end he decided to let play carry on.
All 5 of these players have, in one way or another, helped to develop the beautiful game to what it is today. And for their individual contributions to the game I believe they deserve to be given more credit and actually recognized as ‘legends’ of the game. So next time you are discussing who are the greatest footballers, just take a second and think about how these 5 players and possibly even give them a mention.