Across history, several football players will forever be remembered for the good memories and impact they had. On the other hand, there are underrated players who will forever remain unsung heroes.
Not for the lack of trying on their part, but the underrated stars are just not being celebrated as they deserve and regularly get overlooked by the media, fans, and other stakeholders.
Here, TOP SOCCER BLOG presents you with 10 players in football history whose achievements and contributions are not getting the recognition that they deserve.
1. Miroslav Klose
A prolific goalscorer, Miroslav Klose was a large and powerful striker who was known in particular for his ability in the air as a center-forward due to his strength, timing, elevation, and heading accuracy, as well as his finishing ability.
He’s arguably the most underrated player ever, as his achievements and record always get downplayed compared to his more famous counterparts.
He is the all-time top scorer for Germany and also holds the record for the most goals scored at the FIFA World Cup — with 16 goals scored over 4 editions of the tournament between 2002 and 2014.
He won several titles while playing for the likes of Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich, and Lazio.
Klose is best known for his performances with the German national team. He was part of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup, having previously finished second (2002) and third (2006, 2010) in the competition.
Furthermore, he finished as runner-up with Germany at UEFA Euro 2008 and joint-third place at UEFA Euro 2012.
2. Gheorghe Hagi
Nicknamed “The Maradona of the Carpathians,” Gheorghe Hagi was a creative advanced playmaker renowned for his dribbling, technique, vision, passing, and shooting. He is said to be one of the soccer players with the best names.
He was one of the best players in the world during the 1980s and ’90s and is regarded by many as the greatest Romanian footballer of all time.
Fans of Galatasaray called him “Comandante” (“The Commander”), while he was known as “Regele” (“The King”) to Romanian supporters.
Hagi is one of the few footballers to have played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Throughout his club career, he won numerous titles while playing in four different countries.
Sensationally, Gheorghe Hagi led lowly Romania to the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where he was named in the World Cup All-Star Team.
Garrincha is highly underrated simply because he came at the same time (and even played) with Pele. But there is no denying that he’s one of the greatest dribblers ever seen on a soccer pitch.
Football writer Scott Murray, when writing for The Guardian in 2010, even said: “…the bottom line is uncontestable: Garrincha was the greatest dribbler ever.”
Due to his immense skills, Garrincha was called Alegria do Povo (People’s Joy) and Anjo de Pernas Tortas (Bent-Legged Angel) in his native Brazil.
He played a vital role in Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cup victories. In 1962, when Pelé got injured, Garrincha led Brazil to a World Cup victory with a dominating performance throughout the tournament.
He also became the first player to win the Golden Ball (Player of the Tournament), Golden Boot (Leading Goalscorer), and the World Cup in the same tournament. He was also named in the World Cup All-Star Teams of both the 1958 World Cup and 1962 World Cup.
In 1994, he was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team. To many, he is one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Moreover, Brazil never lost a match while fielding both Garrincha and Pelé.
4. Jimmy Greaves
Almost forgotten and grossly underrated — possibly for the caliber of clubs he played for then — but Jimmy Greaves was one of the greatest strikers of all time and one of England’s best-ever players.
He is England’s 5th-highest international goalscorer with 44 goals (which includes an English record of six hat-tricks) and is Tottenham Hotspur’s second-highest all-time top goalscorer.
Greaves is the highest goalscorer in the history of English top-flight football, with 357 goals.
He finished as the First Division’s top scorer in six seasons, more times than any other player, and came third in the 1963 Ballon d’Or rankings.
He is also a member of the English Football Hall of Fame.
5. Fernando Torres
Unfortunate to have shone when Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi emerged, Fernando Torres’ incredible heroics often get overlooked.
The Spaniard was simply unstoppable at Liverpool, where he became the fastest player in the club’s history to score 50 Premier League goals.
He was one of the youngest captains in football history.
What affected his reputation, though, was his move to Chelsea, where he failed to replicate his form — obviously weighed down by the then-British record transfer fee paid for him.
Nevertheless, Torres got his hands on the trophies he desperately wanted as he won the FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, and UEFA Europa League.
His record at the international level is terrific but grossly underrated. With Spain, El Nino participated in 6 major tournaments: UEFA Euro 2004, the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, and the 2014 World Cup.
Spain won the three consecutive international tournaments from 2008 to 2012, with Torres scoring in the finals of both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.
Also, he scored the winning goal in the final of Euro 2008 and won the Golden Boot for highest goalscorer in 2012.
6. Michael Laudrup
Michael Laudrup was one of the most effective and versatile attacking midfielders ever, as well as one of the most skilful and elegant players in the history of the game.
The Dane is one of the best passers of all time and one of the most technically accomplished players ever seen.
During his playing career, Laudrup won league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus, playing mainly as an attacking midfielder, although he was also capable of playing in other attacking positions.
He was a member of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” at Barcelona, where he won 9 trophies, including four successive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994 and the European Cup in 1992.
Laudrup moved to arch-rivals Real Madrid in 1994, with whom he won his 5th La Liga title in a row.
He starred in the 1986 FIFA World Cup for Denmark and helped his country win the 1995 FIFA Confederations Cup tournament.
Laudrup was also an integral member of the Denmark team that reached the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup.
7. Edinson Cavani
Nicknamed El Matador (“The Killer”) or Cazador (“Hunter”) for his clinical finishing as well as his celebration, Edinson Cavani was one of the best strikers of his generation and one of Uruguay’s greatest-ever players.
He was renowned for his ability to score impressive goals, both with his head and with his feet, and for his tireless work-rate and energy across the pitch, as well as his willingness to track back and help his team defensively.
Moreover, he is an athletic player who is also strong in the air and who has a penchant for scoring from acrobatic goals.
But he often gets overshadowed by bigger stars: Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan at international level for Uruguay, Ezequiel Lavezzi at Napoli, Zlatan Ibrahimovic at PSG, and Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.
Cavani was part of the Uruguayan side that won the Copa America in 2011.
He also won several titles at the club level and was PSG’s all-time top scorer until he was recently overtaken by Kylian Mbappé.
During his time in Serie A, Cavani was named in the Serie A Team of the Year three times and was Serie A top scorer in the 2012/13 season.
At PSG, he was named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year three times, was awarded Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the 2016/17 season, and was the league’s top scorer in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons.
Edinson Cavani was awarded the Golden Foot in 2018 for his achievements in football.
8. Mikel Obi
Mikel Obi came into the limelight when he represented the Nigeria under-20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and won the Silver Ball for the second-best player at the tournament (behind Lionel Messi) as Nigeria finished runners-up to Argentina.
At the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, he was a key player for Nigeria as they went on to win their third continental title. He was named by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in the team of the tournament.
Furthermore, he helped Nigeria win bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Mikel starred at Chelsea for 11 years, where he won multiple titles, including two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and the 2011/12 Champions League.
He was initially an attacking midfielder but reverted to a defensive role, which was better suited to his abilities at the top level. He played his role well and was a mainstay for Chelsea under several managers.
Due to his position and few goals and assists stats, Mikel often gets underrated and isn’t lauded enough.
The recent hike in the fees of defensive midfielders (Declan Rice, Moises Caicedo, etc) further shows how invaluable Mikel was in his prime. The African football legend is very much one of the most underrated football players in history.
9. Sergio Busquets
Strangely, fans of ONLY goals and assists stats believe that he is overrated! I mean Sergio Busquets is undoubtedly one of the best defensive midfielders in football history.
In modern times, Sergio Busquets redefined the deep-lying midfield position by focusing on football intelligence, precision passing, and the ability to read the game rather than overwhelming strength or physicality.
A hard-working player, he excels at intercepting loose balls and breaking down opposition plays due to his positional sense, defensive attributes, tackling, tactical intelligence, and ability to read the game, despite his lack of pace.
Due to his vision, ball control, physical prowess, technical skills, calm composure on the ball, and accurate passing ability, Busquets rarely relinquishes possession and plays an important creative role in setting his team’s tempo in midfield as a deep-lying playmaker through his short passing game.
He made over 700 appearances for Barcelona, winning 32 trophies — including 9 La Liga titles, 7 Copa del Rey titles and 3 UEFA Champions Leagues.
In addition, he was part of the squads that won a continental treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League both in 2008/09 and 2014/15.
With Spain, Sergio Busquets won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2012.
10. Thomas Müller
Thomas Muller is the perfect example of “underrated.” The German is an attacking all-rounder whose versatility enables him to play in a variety of offensive positions.
Although he lacks physical strength, Muller has been praised for his maturity, technique, awareness, tactical intelligence, composure, finishing, and positioning.
He caught global attention at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he scored 5 goals in 6 appearances as Germany finished in third place.
He was named the Best Young Player of the tournament and won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer, with five goals and three assists.
At the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he played a major role in helping Germany win the trophy, scoring five goals again and receiving the Silver Ball as the tournament’s second-best player and the Silver Boot as the second-highest goalscorer. He was also named the World Cup All-Star XI.
A product of Bayern’s youth system, Muller has represented the club ever since. With Bayern he has won a record 12 Bundesliga titles, 6 DFB-Pokals, 8 DFL-Supercups, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 FIFA Club World Cups.
Thomas scored 23 goals in the 2012/13 season as Bayern won a historic treble; the league title, cup and Champions League.
He broke the Bundesliga record for assists by providing 21 in a season (a record in the top five leagues jointly held with Lionel Messi in La Liga) and scored 14 goals as Bayern won a second treble in the 2019/20 season.
Thomas Muller is the most decorated German footballer in history, with 33 trophies.
- Paul Scholes
- Julio Cesar
- Thiago Silva
- Alessandro Costacurta
- Ronald Koeman
- Edin Džeko
- Gabriel Batistuta
- Jesus Navas
- Keylor Navas
- Pavel Nedved
- James Milner
- Robert Pires
- Luis Enrique
- Gilberto Silva
- Lukas Podolski
- David Beckham
- Antoine Griezmann
- Franck Ribery
- Denis Irwin
- David Villa
- Olivier Giroud
- Michael Carrick
- Gianfranco Zola
- Claude Makélélé
- Dirk Kuyt
- Henrik Larsson.