Recent data suggests that 81% of the world's population are right-footed, leaving only 19% of the world's population as left-footed, and these numbers are reflected in the world of soccer, with roughly the same ratio of right to left footed players. Despite this, some of the greatest players to have ever graced the game were predominantly left footed. An all-time left footed XI against an all-time right-footed XI certainly wouldn't reflect the numbers which should vastly favor a right-footed team.
Left footed players are often accused of being too "one-footed", an accusation that is rarely thrown in the direction of a right-footed player. There is no evidence to suggested that left-footed people have a poorer weak foot than right-footed individuals, meaning this observation is most likely in people's heads due to them being more accustomed to watching right-footed players.
Left footed players often seem to be able to confuse defenders. Even if a defender is aware that a player is left footed, they're just so accustomed to defending the other side that they can constantly be beaten by the same move.
Two-footed players such as Alfredo di Stefano, Johan Cruyff, Bobby Charlton and Paolo Maldini, who have previously been labelled left-footed are not included. All the players included in this list are very clearly left-footed, and most experts consider the four aforementioned players to have been predominantly right footed anyway. Here are the top 25 greatest left-footed soccer players of all-time:
25 Cesar Cueto
24 Bryan Robson
23 Ashley Cole
22 Edgar Davids
21 Dejan Savicevic
20 Gheorghe Hagi
19 Silvio Marzolini
Silvio Marzolini isn't a household name like Paolo Maldini or Roberto Carlos, but he was comfortably one of the finest left-backs that the game has ever seen. The reason Marzolini is sometimes overlooked is because he spent his entire career playing in Argentina, mostly for Boca Juniors, where he spent 12 years as a player, playing over 400 games and winning five league titles and a Copa Argentina, before adding another league title as manager.
18 Gareth Bale
Officially recognized as the most expensive footballer in history, Gareth Bale transferred from Tottenham to Real Madrid for a fee of $130 million. Although it took some time for the Real Madrid supporters to take the Welshman to their hearts, however winners in the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals against rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively should have endeared him a little more.
17 Daniel Passarella
15 Giacinto Facchetti
The third of five left-backs to make this list of the 25 greatest left-footed soccer players in history, Giacinto Facchetti is one of the great figures of Italian football and the game in general. He spent his entire career at Inter Milan, spanning 18 years and playing 629 times. He was at the heart of the team nicknamed 'Grande Inter' for the way they played and the success they had throughout the 1960s, Facchetti won four Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia and reached four European Cup finals, winning two.
13 Dragon Dzajic
One of the greatest forgotten stars in the history of the game, it is a real shame that outside of Serbia and the countries which formerly made up Yugoslavia his name and legacy is rather unknown. Dzajic was a wonderful footballer, particularly noted for his dribbling, crossing, pace and free kicks. Had he played in Spain, England, Italy or the likes of those countries, he would most likely be hailed as one of the game's all-time greats.
12 Roberto Carlos
A loveable and hugely entertaining player, Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos has been described as the most attacking full-back in history. With him on the left and Cafu on the right, Brazil had possibly the most attacking defense in the history of the game. Carlos himself was famed for his incredible power, nicknamed the 'Bullet Man', and 113 goals over his entire career.
11 Piet Keizer
Considered by many as the truly unsung hero of the Ajax and Holland teams of the 1960s and 70s, Piet Keizer is adored in his native Holland. The Dutchman spent his entire 13 year career at Ajax, playing 364 games, winning six league titles, four KNVB Cups, three European Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, an Intertoto Cup and an Intercontinental Cup.
10 Mario Kempes
8 Ryan Giggs
7 Hristo Stoichkov
5 Juan Alberto Schiaffino
4 Nilton Santos
A spot in the World Team of the Twentieth Century reflected Nilton Santos' reputation as the greatest left-back of all time. Santos wasn't just a great player, he also changed the course of the game forever. Before him, a full-back was a defender, pure and simple. The fact that we now see full-backs who are more gifted going forwards than backwards is down to Santos. His marauding runs down the left showed the width, danger and pace a full-back could add to attacking moves.
3 Ferenc Puskas
Into the top three and we are now talking about three of the greatest players that the game has ever seen. Ferenc Puskas was not only one of the most talented men on this list, but also one of the most solely left-footed. He rarely struck the ball with his right foot or head, yet he still managed well over 650 goals over the course of his career. Puskas played for two of the most famous teams in history, namely the Real Madrid team of the 1950s and 60s and the Hungary team of the 1950s.
2 Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is already regarded by some as the greatest player of all time, and it's a reasonable view to take, but he will have to settle for second place on this list. The Barcelona forward had a quite incredible career to date, smashing all kind of records before even hitting his 30s. He has won the Ballon d'Or four times, more than any other player in history. Aged 28, he already holds the record as La Liga top scorer, most assists in La Liga history, Barcelona top scorer, most goals in a single season, most goals in a calendar year, most El Classico goals, most Catalan Derby goals and many, many more.
1 Diego Maradona
It is another Argentine who pips Messi to first place as the greatest left footed soccer player in history, and quite possibly the greatest overall. Messi may well exceed Maradona one day, but as things stand, Maradona's accomplishments at the 1986 World Cup place him just ahead. Never has a nation been so reliant on a single player to win them a major tournament as Argentina were on El Diego. The fiery attacking midfielder/forward had everything required to be a footballing god. The whole world knew what he was capable of in '86, but they were still powerless to stop the little magician.
Maradona is one of the most skillful players in history. He had an explosive turn of pace, exceptional close control, tremendous vision and a thunderous strike. All these ingredients created a maestro who was simply unplayable on his day. Maradona's left foot scored some of the greatest goals and created some of the most famous moments in football history. Maradona won trophies in Argentina, Spain, Italy and of course internationally when he won the World Cup in 1986. Maradona was voted the FIFA Player of the Twentieth Century by supporters, although FIFA shared the award between him and Pele.
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