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Top 20 Colorful Personalities in Soccer History

Traditionally seen as the working man's game throughout Europe and South America, one of the reasons soccer is so loved is because of the characters that have blessed the game. The sport seems to be a magnet for eccentric's and big personalities. It can be the case that characters such as the one's on this list, can attract those from outside soccer, who are not normally interested in the game, towards it.

When it comes to players, the biggest personalities can sometimes be the most difficult to manage. With managers, the big characters can often be the most beloved, but for the most brash one's with the biggest ego's, they need success in order to avoid looking foolish. Whilst some of these colorful characters divide opinion, most are universally liked and loved figures.

The game needs colorful personalities and these players sure do the game favors. While opinions may vary on these players, fans of the game can't deny that the game wouldn't quite be the same without them. After all, we shouldn't all want robots walking around out there, would we? Not only are these players packed with talent, but they have the a certain presence about them that piques our interest as well.

The media and press focus in more recent years means there is an inevitable bias towards the modern game in this list. There will, no doubt, have been some great personalities of the game between the turn of the century and the Second World War, but sadly, far less is known of these figures. Here are the top 20 personalities in the history of soccer:

20 Gianfranco Zola

Ben Radford/Allsport

19 Francesco Totti

via youtube.com

18 Lionel Messi

REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

17 Mohamed Aboutrika

via fifa.com

16 Jose Mourinho

via fourfourfeed.com

15 Jose Luis Chilavert

via aldia.cr

14 Stan Bowles

via stanbowles.net

13 Andrea Pirlo

via thebeermag.com

12 Frank Worthington

via whoateallthepies.tv

11 Roger Milla

via taringa.net

10 Eric Cantona

via theguardian.co.uk

9 Sir Bobby Robson

via inveterate.com

8 Diego Maradona

Claudio Fanchi (Enviado Especial) / jcp

Perhaps the most divisive figure on this list, a large number of people will refuse to admire Diego Maradona, and they have every right to do so. A cheating cocaine addict, Maradona is perhaps not what you would call an ideal role model, but despite such flaws most find it difficult not to revere the pure genius which was Diego Maradona in his prime.

7 George Best

Colorsport/Stewart Fraser

6 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

via potins.net

5 Rene Higuita

via performgroup.com

When you hear that someone is nicknamed 'the Madman' it is probably a safe assumption to make that they are a bit of a character, and Rene Higuita most certainly is that. The 'sweeper keeper' role which Higuita made his own was one that always left the possibility of humiliation, but when carried off successfully was quite a sight. The likes of Manuel Neuer and other goalkeepers who partake in more play than is expected of them owe a lot to Higuita, who was the first man to experiment with this style.

4 Paul Gascoigne

Billy Stickland /Allsport

3 Bill Shankly

via pinterest.com

2 Socrates

via pinterest.com

1 Brian Clough

via gqmagazine.com

The greatest manager England never had, Brian Clough is the greatest personality in the history of football, if not the history of sport. A prolific striker whose career was cut short through injury, Cloughie immediately turned to management. Another man plagued by alcohol addiction, before he began hitting the bottle heavily, he was arguably the greatest manager in the history of the game. He guided Derby from second division nobodies to league champions before taking Nottingham Forest from equal obscurity in the second division and transforming them into consecutive European Cup winners.

His quotes and epigrams are so pithy, so witty  and so great in volume that they have been transformed into entire books. When asked how he dealt with player disagreements, he said, "We sit down. We talk about it for 20 minutes. And we decide I was right." With regards to his philosophy of the game he said, "If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there." And, of course, never short of self-confidence, "I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business, but I was in the top one." Clough's outspoken nature and wit caused him some disagreements over his career but for the most part, they made him the most beloved and interesting figure of the English game.

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Top 20 Colorful Personalities in Soccer History