Best Players In The World 1961 – Part 5: 1-20

Our list reaches it’s climax today as we reach the top 20 and reveal the very best players in the world 60 years ago. The winner is no surprise, but there will be some names that might be new to you and worth investigating further.

If you have missed any of this five-part series the whole list can be viewed here..

Rob Fielder

1. Pelé (Santos) – Inside-forward 

The young king of world football. Has every gift you could hope for and has shone at every level. For both Santos and Brazil he’s an irresistible figure who brings joy to spectators around the globe.

2. Omar Sivori (Juventus) – Inside-forward

Impish forward who plays with a precocious brilliance. Superb dribbler  who is unafraid of the hardest opponents and never shies away from challenges.

Hungary3. Ferenc Puskas (Real Madrid) – Inside-forward

He might have added a few pounds, but it’s doing Puskas no harm with scoring goals. Now an out and out striker, his ferocious left foot and marvellous touch mean he goes from strength to strength.

4. Luis Suarez (Barcelona) – Inside-forward

Last year’s Ballon d’Or winner, the Barca man is a playmaker of the highest order. Able to dictate play with his incisive passing and special awareness, he’s at the heart of everything that happens on the pitch.

5. Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid) – Centre-forward

Since his arrival in Europe the blond arrow has swept all before him, elevating Real Madrid to the pinnacle of football. Scores goals, makes goals and directs play at all times.

6. Jimmy Greaves (Tottenham Hotspur) – Inside-forward

Extraordinary goalscorer of subtle brilliance and deadly finishing. Excelled at Chelsea before moving to Milan but now back in England and making the best team in the land even better.

7. Mario Coluna (Benfica) – Inside-forward

Midfielder who has helped Benfica to the summit of the game. Inspired leader, deft of touch and able to always find a pass, he’s the centrepiece of the European champions.

8. Danny Blanchflower (Tottenham Hotspur) – Half-back

Metronomic playmaker for Spurs’ double winners. Sets the tempo and pattern of the game and acts as a manager on the field with his football brain.

9. Lev Yashin (Dynamo Moscow) – Goalkeeper

The Black Spider is roundly viewed as the best keeper in the game thanks to his bravery, athleticism and shot stopping ability. A European Championship winner last summer and a formidable presence in the Soviet goal.

10. Uwe Seeler (Hamburg) – Centre-forward

Seeler cannot stop scoring for either Hamburg or West Germany. Stockily built, powerful but surprising mobile, he is the shining star of German football.

11. John Charles (Juventus) – Centre-forward

Has enjoyed tremendous success with Juve and continues to dominate defenders in Serie A. His size, ability in the air and all-round game have made him an enormous favourite in Turin.

12. Jose Sanfilippo (San Lorenzo) – Centre-forward

Top goalscorer for the last four seasons in Argentina, Sanfilippo is one of the most dangerous strikers in the game. Led the way at the 1959 Copa America and closely watched by all the top clubs.

13. Denis Law (Torino) –  Inside Forward

His performances at Manchester City were enough to earn a record transfer to Serie A where he is now finding his feet. Slightly built but never lacking in bravery, he has all the attributes you could wish for in a modern forward.

14. Garrincha (Botafogo) – Outside-right

The “little bird” is renowned for the brilliance of his dribbling, his effervescent character and the joy he brings to the game. A maverick with few peers, he’s unplayable at times.

15. Johnny Haynes (Fulham) – Inside-forward

Majestic passer of rare vision and class. While Fulham have shown few signs of challenging for major honours, nobody can doubt the brilliance of Haynes.

16. Germano (Benfica) – Centre-half

Defensive bulwark of the European champions whose shrewd positioning and reading of the game are notable attributed. Capable in central midfield as well.

17. Bobby Charlton (Manchester United) – Forward

Having come through at a young age as a virtuoso talent, Charlton is maturing into the finished article. Great body swerve, venomous shot and excellent range of passing.

18. Paco Gento (Real Madrid) – Outside-left

El Supersonico ranks among the fastest players in the game but also boasts an array of tricks to deceive opponents. Part of all five European Cup wins for Real Madrid.

19. Raymond Kopa (Reims) – Forward

Diminutive midfielder dubbed Napoleon for his stature and command of the pitch. Superb eye for a pass and ability to unpick a defence.

20. Jose Emilio Santamaria (Real Madrid) – Centre-half

Dominant central defender who has become a dual-international since his move to Madrid. Tough tackler and robust figure who has been a fulcrum around which the successful Real Madrid team is built.

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