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Top 20 Mavericks in Soccer History

Footballing mavericks are sadly a dying breed. Players who go against the grain, play their own way and live their own way. In the modern game, social media and instant news mean as soon as someone does anything with a hint of controversy they are roundly condemned, often leading to footballers living restricted lifestyles. While on the pitch, only very few genuine maverick players still exist.

The term 'maverick' is defined as "an unorthodox or independent-minded person", and the players on this list certainly fit that description. There are those who are mavericks off the pitch, living wild or exciting lifestyles and often on the edge of self-destruction. Then there are those who are mavericks on the pitch, often frustrating managers due to their failure to follow instructions but making the team due to their outstanding natural ability. Often though, those who are mavericks on the field are also mavericks outside of the game.

There are a high number of British players from the late 1960s and 70s, which could be considered the peak of mavericks within the game, when the long hair, party lifestyle and rock 'n roll ideals of pop culture bled into the British game. The sport itself has had a great many mavericks over the years, meaning there are a number of unfortunate omissions. Here are the top 20 mavericks in soccer history:

20 Tony Currie

via thestar.co.uk

19 Peter Osgood

Colorsport

18 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

via BigStockPhoto.com

17 Charlie George

via twitter.com/Arsenal

16 Stan Bowles

via dailymail.co.uk

15 Jose Luis Chilavert

via panamericanworld.com

14 Alan Hudson

via independent.co.uk

13 Rodney Marsh

via worldsoccertalk.com

12 Eric Cantona

via theguardian.co.uk

11 Robin Friday

via getreading.com

10 Crazy Gang

via Mark Leech/Offside

9 Paolo Di Canio

via dailyrecord.com

8 Paul Gascoigne

via conversationsabouther.com

7 Edmundo

via futbologia.net

The South American game is not without its mavericks, and few have been as bonkers as Brazilian Edmundo. A talented second striker who played at the highest level in both Brazil and Italy, and later Japan. Despite his terrific talents, Edmundo was very inconsistent, especially towards the end of his career, something which is sometimes put down to his eccentric personality. He won 39 caps for Brazil and seven trophies in the country's domestic leagues.

6 Len Shackleton

via ahalftimereport.com

5 Frank Worthington

via whoateallthepies.tv

4 Brian Clough

via gqmagazine.com

3 Diego Maradona

via goolll.com

2 Rene Higuita

via youtube.com

There are mavericks and then there are maniacs. Rene Higuita was both. Known as 'El Loco', or 'the Madman', his nickname should give you some indication of his character. He was the most eccentric goalkeeper the game has ever seen. He took the 'sweeper keeper' role to new extremes, and became world famous for his scorpion kick at Wembley Stadium in a game against England. He won 68 caps for Colombia, and scored 44 career goals.

1 George Best

Colorsport/Stewart Fraser

The greatest maverick in football history is surely George Best. He paved the way for the likes of Frank Worthington, Robin Friday and others who followed him that also made this list. Best was the ultimate playboy footballer. Off the pitch he was known for his stylishness, womanizing, drinking and partying. On the pitch, he was known as the most technically gifted player in Britain, if not the world. A European Cup and Ballon d'Or winner in 1968, Best self-destructed like so many of his ilk at a young age.

He talked about retirement from as early as the age of 25, and it became a reality at 27 when he left Manchester United. Although he did make a return to the game, it was only for minnows and NASL sides, at an age when he should still have been the best player on the planet. Drinking was ultimately his downfall, as he destroyed his first liver before wrecking another following a transplant. Best died in 2005, aged 59.

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Top 20 Mavericks in Soccer History