In 1899, Futbol Club Barcelona was founded by Swiss, English and Catalan footballers in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. 117 years later the symbol of Catalan culture has become the second most valuable football club in the world. It has also become the breeding ground for some of the greatest footballers the game has ever seen.
Barcelona is the first Spanish club to complete the intercontinental treble-winning the La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League. They did it in 2009 and in 2015, they became the first European team to achieve the treble twice. The Catalans have also produced a record of 11 Ballon d’Or winners and another record of FIFA Player of the World awardees.
Let’s take a look at the Top 10 FC Barcelona players of all-time:
Photo: Daily Mail UK
His curling free kicks were like poetry in motion. Vitor Borba Ferreira ‘Rivaldo’ was signed to replace compatriot Ronaldo and he was able to fill in the big shoes.
Known for his wicked left foot, dribbling ability and the knack to convert free kicks, Rivaldo was a talent that was rarely seen. He won the FIFA Player of the Year and Ballon d’ Or after guiding the Catalans to the 1999 La Liga crown. But perhaps his most memorable moment came during Barcelona’s last game of the season in 2001.
Rivaldo completed arguably the best hat trick ever with a bicycle kick from outside the box at the 90 minute mark to give Barcelona a 3-2 win over Valencia.
A very common name for a very special player. Born César Rodríguez Álvarez, César was one of Barca’s most prolific goal scorers and a key member of the club’s legendary forward line during the 50’s.
César read the game very well. He possessed a strong header, good dribbling skills and power in both feet. These football qualities made him a great player but his humility made him even more impressive.
César scored 27 goals in 24 games during the 1947-48 Spanish league. He was the club’s all-time leading goal scorer in official games for sixty years until Messi recently overtook him. Known as ‘Wigman’ for his early balding, he won five La Liga titles in two decades with the club.
8. Johan Cruyff
The Dutch legend joined Barca over Real Madrid because he did not want to play for a club related to the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. But that’s not why he is on this list.
In Johan Cruyff’s first season with Barcelona, he led the Catalans to their first La Liga title in 14 years, picking up the second of three Ballon d’Or in the process. In 1999, he was named European Player of the Century and was 2nd to Pele in the World Player of the Century award.
Barcelona die-hards will always remember his memorable goal against Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou as well as the popular 0-5 victory over Madrid in 1974 at the Bernabeu.
7. Carles Puyol
At first look, you’d think he’s a rockstar. Actually, he is one of the best defensive players of his generation.
Having played his whole professional career with Barca, Puyol is one of the most important players in club history. After taking the armband from Luis Enrique in 2004, he became the undisputed leader of the most airtight back lines in Europe. As team captain, he helped the Catalans win six League titles and three Champions League crowns.
Puyol’s place in history is secured with his iconic gesture of kissing the captain’s armband in the historic 2009 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu and letting Éric Abida hoist the Champions League trophy in 2011 at Wembley.
6. Josep Guardiola
The defensive midfielder who served as the fulcrum of the 1990’s Dream Team which won four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991-1994.
Popularly known as Pep, Josep Guardiola was the team playmaker. He always seemed to know where to pass and almost always made the best option. Guardiola was technically gifted and read the game well. He won an Olympic gold medal in the 1992 Olympics playing for the Spanish side. With the Catalans, he was an integral part of 6 La Liga titles, 1 European Cup ( the club’s first ), 1 Cup Winners Cup and 2 Copas Del Rey.
Players like Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta confessed that Guardiola was their role model and hero growing up.
5. Andrés Iniesta
Like the other greats Messi and Xavi, Andrés Iniesta was a product of FC Barcelona’s Youth system.
AI8 ( Andrés Iniesta #8 ) isn’t just one of the best midfielders the Catalans ever had. He is the best midfielder ever. His game isn’t about scoring many goals, it’s hooking up with his teammates. His passing triangles with Xavi was a trademark of Guardiola’s teams.
His goal at Stamford Bridge paved the way for a chance to play Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League Finals and then win the historic treble, which was the first for a Spanish club.
This man thrilled crowds with his elite dribbling, fascinating trickery and energetic finishes. He only played five seasons with the Catalans but there is no doubt he was one of the top FC Barcelona players of all-time.
Ronaldinho was named FIFA Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005. He was also awarded the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 2005. With Ronaldinho’s wizardry, Barcelona won two league titles, 1 Champions League trophy and 2 Spanish Super Cup victories.
Ronaldinho received a memorable standing ovation after scoring two incredible goals during the Catalans’ 3-0 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu in 2005.
3. László Kubala
Along with other Eastern European refugees, he formed a team called Hungaria and arrived in Spain in 1950 to play a series of friendlies. He was spotted by Josep Samitier and persuaded to play for Barcelona. It took long before he played but once he did, he was immediately idolised by the Barcelona faithful.
Kubala was a leader on pitch and a master with the free kick. With him in 1951-52, Barca won everything there was to win. Injuries forced him on and off his form in the next years but he was still able to thrive at the end of the decade under Helenio Herrera.
Kubala was given an emotional homage at Montjuïc in 1993. He died in 1992 and was awarded the gold medal of merit.
2. Xavi Hernandez
Photo: FC Barcelona Forum
The conductor of the FC Barcelona orchestra is statistically the most successful athlete in Spanish football history.
A product of the club’s youth system La Massia, Xavi Hernandez exemplified its values. As a midfielder, he always picked the players with the best position and had a extraordinary vision that created space you though wasn’t there. He wasn’t the strongest but he always outwitted the opposition in every play.
In 2011, he was runner-up to Lionel Messi for UEFA Best Player in Europe. One year earlier, he was World Soccer Player of the Year. He was also La Liga Midfielder of the Year from 2009-2011. He’s part of eight League titles, four Champions League crowns and 3 Copas del Rey.
1. Lionel Messi
Often called the Best Player in football and also considered as the Greatest of All-time, Lionel Messi is the top FC Barcelona Player of all-time.
Messi is the only player in history to win five Ballon d’Or awards, including four consecutive. He is also the first footballer to win three European Golden Shoes. He holds the record for most goals in La Liga, most goals in a La Liga season, most assists in La Liga and most assists in the Copa America. With him at the helm, Barcelona has won 8 La Liga titles, 4 UEFA champions league titles and 4 Copas Del Rey. Do we need to add more? The list could go on and on.
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