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Cruyff does a turn for Focus

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Dan Walker | 07:21 UK time, Thursday, 30 September 2010

"I know you were in Los Angeles last week but how does Johan Cruyff in Amsterdam sound?" said Football Focus editor Mark Cole last week.

Johan Cruyff always sounds good. Just as we had done with Jurgen Klinsmann, we were interviewing Dutch legend Cruyff for Gary Lineker's documentary this coming Sunday but sneaking in a few questions for Focus.

I spoke to Cruyff back in April when he became honorary president of Barcelona - a role he held for all of two months before Joan Laporta's replacement gave him the heave-ho.

This time we were meeting at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, venue for the 1928 Games, where Cruyff was having an annual day for his foundation and trying to get 1,500 children with disabilities involved in sport.

Meeting and interviewing Dutch master Johan CruyffMeeting and interviewing Dutch master Johan Cruyff.

I met cameraman Martin Bobbin at Heathrow at 4.45am, conquering an oaty yoghurty thing before heading out on the 6am flight to Schiphol airport.

We arrived at the plane to be told that fog in Amsterdam was going to delay us for at least an hour but there would be treats to keep us entertained! I don't know if you've ever flown for a certain Dutch airline but the stewardesses all wear the sort of powder-blue trousers that even Ian Poulter would relegate to the back of the wardrobe.

Anyway, they were just about to approach us with iced buns and selected nibbles when the pilot intervened.

"Good news," he announced. "The fog has lifted in Amsterdam and we have a landing slot but only if we leave now. Cabin crews to your take-off positions please."

Great news about the flight, bad news about the iced bun.

We got to the Olympic Stadium at 10am and had plenty of time to set up the shot we needed in the old wooden seats just behind the ones for the Dutch royal family. In the Netherlands, Cruyff is pronounced either Krayfe or Krife but I stuck to Cruyff for fear of sounding like the one bloke in the pub who talks about the "Bernabay-oo" and the "Camp Now". You may be right, chief, but you sound like a gibbon.

From the far side of the stadium, I spotted a fella in a bright orange shirt who was steadily making his way through the sea of handshakes towards our interview position. Cruyff may be 63 but he walks a bit like a dancer - in a nice way.

I never saw him play but he sneaks into my all-time top three footballers, just behind Maradona at two and Zinedine Zidane at the top of the shop. The two games the Frenchman starred in against Spain and Portugal at Euro 2000 remain two of the best individual performances I have ever seen and I think Zidane will stay in the gold medal position for some time.

Anyway, Cruyff was a true gent and spoke with real understanding about the problems with English football, the issue of foreigners and why Bert Van Marwijk's side offended him at the World Cup both as a Dutchman and as a footballer.

Cruyff's point is that no-one will remember the good stuff the Netherlands played in South Africa because of what they did in the final. They still talk about the football his side produced in the 70s because it was "unforgettable".

After 10 minutes, I got a jab in the back from his representative but ploughed on for another five before the second jab was accompanied by a hearty cough and a wide-eyed glare. We thanked Cruyff and watched him as he swam through his adoring public.

Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane and Maradona - my favourite footballers ever.</Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane and Maradona - my favourite footballers ever.

Cruyff has flirted with controversy at various points in his career but he is held in high regard in the Netherlands. There are pictures and statues of him all over the Dutch capital. Before we left the city, we went across town to the Amsterdam Arena to film the various Cruyff shrines that adorn stairwells and corridors throughout the stadium.

Bizarrely, I was stopped outside by two girls. They asked for my autograph and a picture. I think I looked a little confused and one of them said: "You are Kurt aren't you?" "Kurt?" I responded. "Ya, Kurt from the TV!" It turns out there's a bloke on Dutch TV called Kurt who sings a bit and looks a bit like me. Sadly, I had to let them down and my attempts to sell the merits of Football Focus fell on deaf ears.

We got a taxi back to Schiphol, nailed a chocolate croissant and headed home. You will be able to see the interview with Cruyff in a couple of weeks on Focus but he will also be featuring in a BBC Two documentary on Sunday entitled Can England Win The Next World Cup? (2130 BST).

Before I sign off, I should tell you about a cracking show we have coming up this week. We'll hear from Jose Mourinho and Gary Lineker, while Lord Sugar will also be spending some time on the sofa.

John Obi Mikel and Emmanuel Eboue will preview the game between Arsenal and Chelsea, while Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah will give us the inside track at Sunderland. We'll also have a special report on German side St Pauli, the self-styled coolest team in world football.

See you on Saturday for that. In the meantime, if you've got any questions for Lord Sugar or you'd like to send me your choices for the top three footballers ever - with or without Cruyff - then fire away.

The best place to follow the build-up to the show is on twitter. You can find me at


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Three top footballers, in no particular order:

    Bobby Moore
    George Best
    Thierry Henry

    Does Lord Sugar have any interest in getting involved with the Football Association to see if he could sharpen things up there?

    Michael Knight

  • Comment number 2.

    These blogs are a real waste of time. The constant foods references are getting to be a little bit sad at this stage. It may have been vaguely funny the first time but its pretty depressing to see a partially publically funded organisation waste money away on these mundane trivialities.

  • Comment number 3.

    Dan, 3 truly world class players, a phrase bandied about a lot today about good players who haven't really achieved, unlike your top 3.
    I was too young to see Cruyff in action but my dad says he was the best ever along with George Best. My top 3 would have to be Maradona, Zidane and Hoddle, purely because he was my boyhood hero!
    Good article, looking forward to watching the programme.

  • Comment number 4.

    I make a distinction between greatest players ever and my favourite players - those that I most enjoyed watching. Whilst the greatest list has Maradona at number one my personal favourites are:
    1. Johan Cruyff
    2. Michel Platini
    3. Franz Beckenbauer

  • Comment number 5.

    I am similar to fuzzbug, my favourite players are probably not necesarily the best players ever, however for what my tuppenth is worth

    1) Eric Cantona
    2) Paulo di Canio
    3) Paulo Maldini
    (4) Maurice Malpas)

    Keep up the good work Dan

    Hulk Hogan

  • Comment number 6.

    The Netherlands has always had a miniscule population and yet for the last forty years has produced a disproportionate number of world class players, in every position: it speaks volumes for their coaching system and the country's culture. It was the first place Sir Bobby Robson headed for when he'd finished with the England job; he advised Steve Mclaren to do the same.

    Three favourite (if not necessarily 'best') players:


    Serious Football

  • Comment number 7.

    My favorites that I've been lucky enough to see in the flesh

    1 Paul Gascoigne
    2 Gianfranco Zola
    3 Ronnie Glavin (as a barnsley fan he always gave me that feeling something was about to happen)

    best ever based on old tv footage and what ever

    1 Edison Arantes do Nascimento (the only biography I've read twice)
    2 Johan Cruyff (helped make people look at football in a different way)
    3 Diego Armando Maradona (a flawed genius)

    just my opinions of course
    look forward to the programme

  • Comment number 8.

    Again favourites, rather than best.

    1. Marco van Basten
    2. Eric Cantona
    3. Roberto Baggio

    Stringfellow Hawke

  • Comment number 9.

    1 Pele 1,200 odd goals part of three world cup winners squad(Scored in final at 17!)
    2 Di Stefano Five times European Champion and the man Pele thinks was the best player of all time
    3 Should be Maradona(Wins world cup single handed in 86 but he is a cheat no not the hand of god! the drugs) so that rules him out
    3 Cruyff. At his best almost unplayable. Ajax European champion three times and but for a travesty should have been world champion.

    Bubbling under:Zidane, Platini, Puskas,Eusabio and a half dozen Brazilians
    George Best? Poor man's Jimmy Johnstone(Who is the best player I ever saw in the flesh at his peak)

  • Comment number 10.

    Dan, great you didn't succumb to slipping into a Steve McClaren comedy Dutch accent ;)

    Did you point out to Krayfe that the reason why 'Holland won't win the the next World Cup' (to borrow a title from the forthcoming England documentary) might well be that they have legendary ex-players like himself constantly banging on about 'copying' the good old days - trying to force the new crop of talent to play to a style they're not capable of? The Dutch team in S.A. get hypocritically criticised by too many people for trying to win with the tools available whilst many club teams like Blackburn and Stoke get lauded for their up and at them, win at all costs approach.

    Looking forward to the St Pauli report - from what I've read they break the mold when it comes to their Punk cult image.

    Please ask Lord Sugar if he's seen 'Sith Apprentice' and if he thinks Stuart Pearce is a good Padawan or will be turned to the Dark Side?

    Kurt Angle

  • Comment number 11.

    Zidane isn't fit to be spoken about in the same sentence as Cruyff and is only talked up in footballing administration circles for reasons of political correctness (you get my drift). Those of us of a finer vintage recall how back in 1976 Holland destroyed England at Wembley during a friendly and the slayer-in-chief was one J.Cruyff who produced what is still the finest playmaking performance I've ever seen. We lost 0-2 nd were lucky to get nil. The man had everything: great touch, balance, vision, heading ability, shooting ability, dribbling ability all which combined with great athleticism and blinding pace puts him in my opinion only fractionally behind the two greatest players that ever lived, Pele and Maradona. Think of Steven Gerrard and then imagine 10 times better. He would easliy therefore make my it into my all time greatest eleven as playmaker being the other two aforementioned individuals.

  • Comment number 12.

    Top blog Kurt...sorry I mean Dan!

    Will deffo be watching this week, also nice one for the heads up on the doc 'Can England win the next World Cup', my favorite 3 players have got to be...

    3. R. Baggio
    2. Gazza
    1. Van Basten (just for that goal in the euro champs in '88)

    Peace + Love


  • Comment number 13.

    have to say jimmy "jinky" johnstone is up there as 1 of the best!! "jinky", Best and Zidane in no particular order. have to say Lubo for celtic just coz the man was a an exceptional player but thats just my bias peronal opinion!

  • Comment number 14.

    Three favourates that I have seen in the flesh (although I must admit that seeing someone in the flesh and seeing someone on a screen doesnt really inflict on their talent!):

    1) Henrik Larrson

    2) Eric Cantona

    3) Jurgen Klinsmann

    Jimmy "superfly" Snuka

  • Comment number 15.

    Hello Dan

    Top blog as per usual. You are having a right time of it jetting around the world meeting icons of the modern game! With your TV presence increasing do you think you may make a foray into mainstream TV? Maybe a game show or perhaps the next host of Points of View?

    I think the sign of a 'great' player is producing at the highest level when it matters, thus my top three are (in no order)
    1. Zidane
    2. Maradona
    3. Van Basten

    "Superfly" Jimmy Snooka

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    great blog dan, again for pure favorites mine would have to be


    for having the ability to get you off your seat with briliance

  • Comment number 18.

    My top 3 of all time:


    My favourites:


  • Comment number 19.

    My top 3 footballers of all time have to be:

    1) Zidane
    2) Gazza
    3) Tony Adams

    Adams is a strange choice I know but the leadership and natural ability has to make this man one of the all time greats! Don't you think?

  • Comment number 20.

    3 of my favourites I have seen in the flesh

    1. Henrik Larsson
    2. Brian Laudrup
    3. Paolo DiCanio

    3 of the greatest in the world in my era

    1. Zidane
    2. Ronaldo (Brazilian)
    3. Cantona or Zola (Can't make up my mind lol)

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with earlier posters that top 3 best and top 3 favourite players don't match. For what it is worth (also these are players I've actually seen "live" on the telly or in the flesh, not old footage)

    Fav 3
    1) Marco van Basten
    2) Ronaldo (Brazil)
    3) Mon Dieu (King Eric)

    Best 3
    1) Maradona - just can never fully appreciate him after '86
    2) van Basten - just very awesome
    3) Zidane

    Peter Davenport

  • Comment number 22.

    I was lucky enough to see Cruyff play several times, absolute genius with a ball at his feet, putting defenders on their backside was his trait. In terms of pure dribbling he was the greatest i've seen.

    Suprise inclusion, Franz [Der Kaiser] Beckenbauer, I remember seeing him at the 66 world cup. Never realising he'd become by 74 the best leader of a team I will ever see. A midfielder who could score goals and a sweeper who read the game better than anyone i've ever seen , a conductor of his orchestra.

    Finally a toss of a coin, Diego or Zidane, probably Zidane because he was sheer beauty on a pitch whilst Diego was pure inspiration.

    I would have loved to have seen Di Stefano play, from what I have seen on film, he had the attributes of all the above.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great blog, best 3 I've seen in person would be Zidane, Stoichkov and Figo. Though Cantona, Ginola in his pomp, Hagi and Gazza come in close.

    Funny how people never mention defenders in this, have probably seen some of the best over the years. 3 greatest from my era would be:

    1. Zidane
    2. Ronaldo (Brazilian)
    3. Michael Laudrup

    Seems I favour an artistic midfielder in general given my choices. Shame England haven't really had one since Gascoigne.

  • Comment number 24.

    Good Discussion thread going on here...

    My 3 Fave players that I am old enought to see are:

    1 - Maradona
    2 - Bergkamp
    3 - Van Basten


  • Comment number 25.

    Just like to say to poster #7, glavstillno1, that referring to Pele as Edison Arantes do Nascimento puts u firmly in the camp of those blokes down the pub who sound like gibbons!

  • Comment number 26.

    The people who pronounce foreign football teams names correctly and also pronounce the names of their stadiums correctly tend to be the poeple who watch foreign football. Far from being 'gibbons' it's an obvious thing to do as when watching la-liga where you hear presenters and pundits (Armstrong, Balague etc) pronouncing the names correctly to then do so yourself, if you know the correct way of saying someones name you would have to be a tad dim to then continue to use the wrong pronunciation because of a fear of sounding like a 'gibbon'. Most reporters and presenters in this country have watched about as much foreign football as their mothers (Lawro, Gray etc) and have no idea what is going on in foreign leagues let alone be able to pronounce players, teams or stadiums names correctly so don't bother trying which is fair enough. However to label people who do have a knowledge of the foreign leagues 'gibbons' because they use correct terms instead of wrong ones is a tad silly, to continue to pronounce the name of one of the great footballers of all time wrongly when you know the correct way to say it because you think someone might mistake you for a gibbon suggests serious mental problems.

    Who are you anyway?

    Who did you play for again?

  • Comment number 27.

    #26 arab87
    Whooooa there - taking a light-hearted blog just a little bit too seriously perhaps.....?

  • Comment number 28.

    I am sorry you missed out on your Iced Bun and also not seeing the great man play. I would certainly put him as the best or most influencial european player. His autobiography is a must read too. Especially his comments on the traffic lights in Amsterdam. Apparently he ignore them as they are in the wrong place? And finally, is Amestrdam the Captial?

  • Comment number 29.

    Morning Kurt,

    The 3 greatest players of all time are (in order, of course):

    1. Diego Maradona (flawed genius perhaps, but won Mexico `86 almost single-handed)
    2. Pele (never seen him, but I'll bow to peer pressure)
    3. Michael Laudrup (genius, a better team player than most candidates)

    The 3 greatest that I have ever witnessed were:

    1. Hristo Stoichkov (the man was a beast - could score from anywhere)
    2. Jurgen Klinsmann (perpetual motion - defenders would be left dizzy chasing him!)
    3. Henry Templeton (local legend!!)

    Loving the food chat. Would it not have been worthwhile to depart a little later in order to sample some dutch iced buns?

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ 26 - Why so serious? I have the number of a good chip removal service for your shoulder if you like....

    Fave 3:


    Best 3:


    Keep up the good work Dan.

    Gus Caesar

  • Comment number 31.

    For me Cruijff is the best player ever, not just for the amazing performances on the pitch, but for what he did for football as a whole, along with Michels he transformed football and the 1974 Dutch side were the greatest team of all time, without them, who knows where football would be now?

  • Comment number 32.

    @26 Lighten up, you big gibbon!

    My best 3 of all time (who I've actually seen play)
    1. Maradona
    2. Zidane
    3. Ronaldo (pains me as a City fan, but hey he's good!)

  • Comment number 33.

    Morning Dan,

    Good read as usual. Just thought I'd let you know I received some abuse on a local Isle of Man football blog for commenting on your blog. See the 'Was it something I said?' section.

    You also received some abuse, probably mild compared to some moaners on here, "After getting over my distain for the boy Walker (lets face it he's no Manish?!)". If you're reading Norton or Dalrymple, I had to snitch to teach you a lesson.


    David Reeves

  • Comment number 34.

    My favorite players would be, in no particular order...

    1. Jovo Bosancic (as a Barnsley fan I always admired his commitment and passion)
    2. Gary Lineker
    3. Paul Gascoigne

    I would say that the best 3 of all time would be...

    1. Pele
    2. Diego Armando Maradona
    3. George Best

  • Comment number 35.

    Best, Zidane, Steve Bull ;)

    Oh, and just a quick gripe (as you posted a blog about wolves' treatment of Joey barton a couple of weeks ago) but following that game and the media circus that revolved around Joey Barton and the Zamora injury, it was nice of the beeb -who tried to make some folk-devil of Karl henry along with many other media outlets- to clearly ignore the Guedioura broken leg and not even mention it on MOTD... Double standards

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.


    C. Ronaldo
    L. Messi
    R. Giggs



    Bret "The Hitman" Hart

  • Comment number 38.

    My best


  • Comment number 39.

    My three favourite footballers from my TV viewing lifetime

    1) Gheorghe Hagi - never mind bending the ball, this guy could bend a brick, absolute magician with eyes on the back of his head.
    2) Romario - not the flashiest or strongest of Brazilian forwards but by God this guy was clinical, can't recall him ever making making a bad touch in the last third of the pitch, had such a fluid and efficient style (along with being notoriously lazy) that he remained a potent goal scorer into his late thirties.
    3) George Weah - beast of a striker, scorer of the greatest individual goal I ever saw (ran full length of the pitch in about 14 seconds after defending a corner, leaving 6 players for dead in about the 87th minute of a game vs Verona).

    Honourable mentions to Cantona, Stoichkov, Le Tissier, Del Piero, Henry, Litmanen, Savicevic and Yeboah.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good morning everyone. I trust all is well and it's great to see some healthy rage about both food and football.

    Some quality suggestions for top 3's and I think I was always intending it to be a list of favourites rather than a definitive 'top 3'.

    Anyway... to matters in hand.

    JoeDavisRoach (#2) you're clearly a vegetarian! I'm kidding of course. Listen, food based banter is all part of the fun and if you find it gets in the way then there is plenty more on this website to justify your licence fee. Thanks for the comment and I shall endeavour to keep food references down to single figures.

    JoC (#10) no Dutch accent you'll be pleased to hear. Good point about style but I think that if there is one bloke who can legitimately say 'it was better in my day' it's Brother Cruyff.

    Puma_brothers_pires_n_wiltord (#19) I don't mind sticking my neck out on this one and saying you might be the only person in the world with Tony Adams in your top 3!

    Arab87 (#87) I like the way you get progressively angry as the comment continues and save the painful insults until the end. If you are genuinely interested in my career than I will mention my 6 seasons at Hazelwick Secondary School where I was once runner up in the 'player of the year' category in 1994-95! Take that.

    I'll have you know that Lawro watches more football than most other TV pundits put together. Also, my comment about pronunciation was not about celebrating ineptitude but rather a lighthearted jibe at those people who put on a foreign accent when they say names. When I used to present on BBC world you had to use the 'correct' pronunciation so I am all for 'camp now', 'krayfe' and 'bernabayoo' when they are required.

    And Dave Mathieson (#33) I've finally made it... criticism on an isle of man football blog. Thanks for drawing my attention to it. I will try harder to reduce his levels of disdain.

    Keep the comments coming comrades. See you soon.

    Mr Motivator

  • Comment number 41.

    I have a fav 5 (there's always one!) as I couldn't leave anyone out really. Players that have excited me the most in order......

    1)Ronaldo (Brazil)- for his power and skill
    2)Messi- for his unbelievable 'playstation' dribbling abilities.
    3)Rivaldo- so underated. He was much more dangerous than Ronaldinho or Zidane just check out this youtube footage
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    That hat-trick against Valencia when he scored the over-head, well I was watching that game live and it was unbelievable. For his incredible goals and shooting.
    4)Ronaldinho- for his tricks and magical dribbling.
    5)Zidane- for his complete technique and skill.

    I also used to look forward to watching Schmeichel play for Man U. He was simply awesome and the only keeper who can share this company as like these players he could do the impossible.

  • Comment number 42.

    Surrybloke, cracking way to kick-off the comments! Michael Knight - legend.

    Great blog again Dan. Keep it going.

    Favourite footballers is a tough one though. I have so many. Bearing in mind that "favourite" doesn't necessarily mean "best"!!

    In terms of world football, i'd say my top 3 favourite players ever are:

    1. Zidane
    2. Ronaldo (Brazilian)
    3. Batistuta

    In terms of English football (players who have graced our pitches):

    1. Dennis Bergkamp
    2. John Barnes
    3. Patrik Berger (if only for the fact he was called "Steve Burger" on Sensible Soccer. Oh, and his jack hammer of a left foot!)

    I just loved watching all those guys play in their prime. Magic.

    Cyril Sneer

  • Comment number 43.

    My favourites are:

    1. Dennis Bergkamp, sublime control and a great guy, who sounds more articulate in English than most English players (not that hard I know).

    2. Ruud Gullit for that outrageous haircut he first sported, which seemed to make his headers even more impressive, and his determination to play sexy football.

    3. Zinedine Zidane. Even if he'd done nothing else, just for the way he finished his career. To me that's the ultimate in cool. Bow out in the world cup final, by getting sent off for a head butt.

  • Comment number 44.


    Great call on Batistuta, can't believe I left him out of my honourable mentions, Bergkamp should be in there too I suppose, if only for his hat-trick against Leicester.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.


    No particular order either. Its only when you try to think about why you'd choose three players, you realise what a difficult question it is to answer. There are favourite players, then there are those recognised as the best. The lists often cross over, and its too hard to pick out individuals! If you asked me again in a week, it may well have changed..........

  • Comment number 47.

    Player's I've seen in the flesh

    1. Ryan Giggs - purely for his acheivements as the most decorated player in the permiership ever....
    2. Cantona - unabashed arrogance. Quality
    3. Andy Booth. Can't believe he's not been mentioned on here already - Jean-Luc Picardn is never wrong, people...

    All-time (no particular order)

    1. Best
    2. Maradona
    3. Pele (largely because of Escape to Victory....)

  • Comment number 48.

    Dan, That clock on the wall, No not that one, the one Im pointing at,


    Yes thats it, take it down and clean it,

    And hum the flight of the valkyries,

    It will please me.

    ben the frenchman

  • Comment number 49.

    maradonna good, pele better, George Best.

    To be true, if I could fit cruyff in i Would. I reckon if he'd won a world cup he'd be higher regarded than Maradonna, especially since he wasnt a doper....

  • Comment number 50.

    Andy Connor, you are one random dude. And I salute you for it.

    John Craven.

  • Comment number 51.

    #35 Newcy_Brown

    I don't feel you and other Wolves fans will have to worry about Karl Henry maintaining his credibility. The focus on him was concentrated and intense due to the two events being so close together, but I reckon most would be of the opinion the Zamora episode was in no way intentional.

    As for the Barton episode, the rights and wrongs of Henry's heavy-handedness has already been a can of worms. But in a round-about way it was perhaps an important milestone for Barton himself to reach, showing people that he can control himself in the face of some sort of provocation.

    I felt on FF a few weeks back it was refreshing how well Karl Henry and David Jones came across. Two footballers talking in a down to earth, humorous, cliche-free manner. Henry's (in the the lay-off role) subtle "couldn't have done it without you" comment to Dan during the free kick stuff was class.

    As for Guedioura, I believe the BBC are waiting on confirmation from #26 Arab87 on how to pronounce that one before they say it on air.

    Egil Ostenstad

  • Comment number 52.

    Top 3 I've seen in the flesh are:

    1. Ryan Giggs
    2. Thierry Henry
    3. Chris Waddle

    and an honourable mention to Claudio Reyna (who was an exception to the rule in Peter Reids Sunderland team)

    Top 3 ever ?

    1. Pele
    2. Johan Cruyff
    3. Marco Van Basten

    Maradona misses out, simply fo the cheating and drugs.

  • Comment number 53.

    #48 I think you might be the equivalent of Eddie Izzard for the surreal nature of your posts. I hope the nurse gave you the correct medication this morning ;-)

    I'm off for a Belgian Bun.

    Devon Miles

  • Comment number 54.

    Zidane mauls up the credability of your top 3, regards of how much we all loved and liked the lad.

    Maradona falling in behind him is just plain LAUGHABLE. Maradona is always no.1 or no.2 and only ever falls into the number 2. slot behind Pele.


  • Comment number 55.

    1. Zidane
    2. Bergkamp
    3. Maldini/Baresi

    I have to comment on players that I have actually seen. Bergkamp is the most under-rated player in football history (I beleive that he is the only other player who Mr Cruyff rates in the same bracket as himself - praise indeed!!!)

    "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

  • Comment number 56.

    My faves:

    1. Robbie Fowler: Not sure if Robbie has been mentioned yet but surely the most natural forward player to play in premiership

    2. Iain Dowie: A monster of a player, both literally and figuratively

    3. Kevin Moran: Brutal in the tackle, famously to his cost but latterly he was central to Blackburn's surge in the early 90's.

    actual greatest - Zidane. Never seen someone control a football as well as him, ironic considering he was prone to losing control of his senses.

  • Comment number 57.

    Whoever #48 is, is a legend.

    And #26 - chill out man!

    Top 3 from football viewing for:

    Terry Henry
    Zinedine Zidane
    Francesco Totti

  • Comment number 58.


    Give it ten years, then Zizou will be regarded as one of the footballing greats. It takes time to ferment in peoples mind how good a player is. Zizou won all there was to win. Period.

  • Comment number 59.

    Dan Walker:

    I seriously hope that's a personal favourite Top 3 based on, well on favouritism rather than anything substantial.

    As for Zidane and Portugal I'm baffled, French determination and organisation ruled the day. Portugal blew it and nearly all the class football came from them and their midfield. Great game, but French tenacity overcame Portugese temprement at the end of the day.

    As for Zizou, I've always said that great players win the league when in great teams and Zidane reguarly let down club sides with his inconsistency. Brilliant on occasions, but over ran and strikingly lacking on influence more often than not. Tis why he was suited to tournament football. A couple of brilliant games in a World Cup or a Euro can be the difference, but consistency is needed to be the very best and to close out League campaigns and Zidane never had it.

    Just watch the Juventus v Man Utd battles from the late 90s to see how good Zidane really was & harking back to my last point, 3 league title in over a decade with the best clubs in Italy at the time (Juventus) and Spain (Real Madrid), says it all.

    As for my favourite 3 players, I'd always go 1: Puskas, 2: Cruyff, 3: Muller.

    As for the best 3 players overall it's a pretty clear 1: Pele, 2: Maradona, 3: Cruyff.

    Zidane would then enter into the lower regions of a group of players containing Puskas, Sindelar, Zico, Beckenbauer, Charlton, Best, Muller, Di Stefano, Platini, Ronaldo and a few more.

    Good read, but Zidane the world best........ Not by quite some way.

  • Comment number 60.

    OK - keeping this list to players that I have witnessed play in my lifetime.

    1) Cristiano Ronaldo
    2) Lionel Messi
    3) Zinedine Zidane

  • Comment number 61.

    My favourite 3 players are:

    1. Matt Le Tissier- always remember in the early years of the EPL was the awesome goals he scored.

    2. Peter Schmeichel- The best goalkeeper in my era and was for me, the foundation of a great Man Utd side (although it pains me to say the latter part).

    3. Gary Mabbutt- A gentleman and a great professional of the game, underrated in my personal opinion as a player (in regard to England)

    Keep up the good work Dan, love the Blogs and I liked the interview with Klinsmann.

    "Macho Man" Randy Savage

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    best i seen in my time;

    Michael Laudrup
    Marco Van Basten
    Ronaldo (Brazil)

    honourable mentions;
    Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Bergkamp, Henry, Romario, Lothar Mattheus, Riquelme, Zidane

    Scifo, Hagi, Gascoigne

  • Comment number 64.

    left wanting more this week Dan, which i suppose is your job i guess. Just wanted a little more from this week, my personal favouraites are:


    few others are:

    Ronaldo (brazilian)


  • Comment number 65.

    Arab87 (#26) I can see where you're coming from.

    Having lived in Madrid for two years it rankled me a little when, on my return to England, my friends asked my opinion on the Camp Noo or Burn-a-bow. After a while though, you do get used to it and learn to ignore it.

    However, one that still winds me up today is when commentators & pundits talk about Ath-letico Madrid.


    Their Europa League run last year was especially painful to watch. Just had to get it off my chest, thanks.

    Top 3:

    1) Maradona
    2) Ronaldo (Brazilian)
    3) Zidane

    All 3 geniuses, all 3 helped & hindered their teams in separate World Cups.

  • Comment number 66.

    sorry post #25 gunnerslovvers2007 it was an AJ Hartley moment you are the winner hook line &.

    ps you can stop monkeying around know

  • Comment number 67.

    @ mrmojorisin55

    poor man's jimmy johnstone? thats like calling Messi a poor man McGeady!

    Best by name and Best by nature followed by pele and maradona.

    Great some of the names coming up here though and remembering those players!

  • Comment number 68.

    JoeDavisRoach get a life. The food comments are class, insightful and welcomed. Puts some structure and feeling into what Dan is doing on these trips. Good grief, lighten up.

    Top three:

    Pele (The following blank real estate is supposed to show how much better he was than anyone else)

    Di Stefano

    (unfortunately all impressions here come from old films, videos, dvd's etc.)

    Top 3 in my lifetime (born 1978):
    Cryuff (just)

    (Everyone will ask where is Maradona, but I will never be able to pick him)

  • Comment number 69.

    On the basis of what I've read and been told;

    1 Duncan Edwards

    in terms of skill and effectiveness within the team,

    2 Pele (3 World Cups)

    shades it over

    3 Maradona.

    Best players I have seen in the flesh;

    1 Maradona
    2 Gerrard
    3 Shilton

    How long do you think that this debate will go on for?

  • Comment number 70.

    Combine the talents of your favourite three footballers and you could easily make up about 50% of what George Best had on his own.

    The clue is in the name. Best comes top of any list.

  • Comment number 71.

    Top 3 British Players? (In my lifetime)

    Bryan Robson

    Best of the rest?


  • Comment number 72.

    Is the greatest players down to players seen or can we go back further?

    If we can go back further, then I'd like to mention....

    Ferenc Puskás
    Tommy Taylor
    Alfredo Di Stefano
    Tom Finney

    Tony Daley

  • Comment number 73.

    More Favourite 3's

    Goalies: Rene Higuita, Gordon Banks, John Lukic
    Defenders: Bobby Moore, Tony Adams, Kenny Sansom
    Midfielders: Ray Wilkins, Robert Pires, Paul Gascoigne
    Strikers: Thierry Henry, George Best, Jimmy Greaves

    Orange Trio Biscuits
    'Original' Charlie's Angels
    The Three Musketeers

    Stringfellow Hawke

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    My exciting XI. My favourite players to watch in each position since I started to follow football.

    1 Schmeichel

    3 R. Carlos
    5 Lucio
    6 R.Ferdinand
    2 Alves

    11 Ronaldinho
    8 Zidane
    4 Gerrard
    7 Messi

    10 Rivaldo
    9 Ronaldo (bra)

  • Comment number 76.

    what i dont get is why he had to interview Cruyff again if he'd interviewed him in April, couldnt they have combined the 2? - poor lamb having to flit between L.A and Amsterdam on licence payers money and being delayed

  • Comment number 77.

    So did they not come back around with the iced-buns after the seat-belt lights had been turned-off?

  • Comment number 78.

    I can't believe no one has mentioned Bobby Charlton in any of the 'best player' lists. Look again!

    Anyway, that's not what's got my goat, this has:

    Dan, can you please shed light on what determines what a BBC commentator (and if you can, an ITV commentator) refers to a player as during play? My question arises mainly due to Brazilian and Portuguese players where it is routine for them to be known by an adopted name rather than their 'given' name; Pele being the prime and obvious example.

    The commentators seem to adopt this without hesitation or query; all fine so far. So why, when it comes to Fabio and Raphael (as is on their shirts) do commentators insist on adding the 'da Silva'? If you want to tell me 'that is their name', there will be two L's in my answer, as the same commentators pandered to the ridiculous 'Hulk' monicker given to a bloke just because he looks a bit like Lou Ferigno! I didn't hear any of the commentators ignoring that and calling him Givanildo Vieira de Souza or, presumably, de Souza for short, so why do they not afford the two United players the same courtesy?

    I'm not as clear in my mind over why United chose to put Chicharito on Hernadez' shirt (I know what it means and why he is called it) but it's a similar story that commentators ignore that and call him Hernandez.

    So, Mr Football Focus Walker, pray tell!

  • Comment number 79.

    So my TV license fee is paying for crap like "can England win the next world cup?" . Should have just asked, no they cant

  • Comment number 80.

    Surreybloke, Can I have just one bite of your belgian bun?

  • Comment number 81.

    Cheers for the response Dan. I don't actually know anybody who puts on a Spanish accent when talking about the Camp Nou or any other foreign stadium or team name. They just say Camp Nou in there usual accent. Interesting though that if you work for BBC world you have to say things properly but if you work for BBC sport you don't - is this to accomodate Colin Murray perhaps? Strange that you use the correct pronunciation 'when required' but didn't think it was required when talking to one of the greatest footballers of all time.

    On the subject of Lawro - If 'Lawro watches more football than most other TV pundits put together' I presume they watch none whatsoever. This is the man who afterall when commentating on the WC has no idea who any of the players are other than PL players and those that play in the Champions League or against English teams in the Europa League. One of my all time Lawro favourites was when at the Euros in 2008 Klaas Jan Huntlelaar came off the bench for Holland and Lawro proudly annonced from his position in the commentary box that he had no idea who he was despite the fact he had scored about 80 goals for Ajax in the previous 2 seasons and was being courted by every major club in Europe.... A classic bit of Lawro research there, still you don't need to know who Klaas Jan Huntelaar is when covering Dutch games at the WC do you? As long as you can tell us how good Gerrard and Rooney are you're sorted.

  • Comment number 82.

    Hi Dan, totally agree with you in that Zidane is the best player of all time. The best make something look easy and Zidane empitimised the beautiful in the beautiful game. I can remember when he single handidly destroyed Man U in a champions league match at old trafford the skill level was out of this world. Those that critisise him for what he did in the final of the world cup are forgeting that he was responsible for getting france there in the first place and it was his last ever match as a proffesional. A team by the way that did not even get out of the group stages in this years world cup. The guy is a legend and something very special.

  • Comment number 83.

    George Best, Johann Cruyff and Zidane (also mentioned in despatches Pele)

  • Comment number 84.


    You are a Gibbon

  • Comment number 85.

    #74 don't remember reading anything controversial in what you wrote so don't know why you've been deleted?

    Sorry #80, long since gone I'm afraid.

    Ethelred the Unready

  • Comment number 86.

    I am a tad surprised no one has mentioned Vinnie Jones, Staurt Pearce or Ole Gunnar Solksjaer as one of their favourites (no one said they had to be the best in the world, but what cult heroes).

  • Comment number 87.

    and while Im at it how can you say Lawro knows nothing about European football, he has won the European Cup after all.

    You Gibbon

  • Comment number 88.

    Top 3 players of all time

    (based purely on skill, ie: their ability on the ball in a competitive game situation)

    1: Diego Armando Maradona
    2: Zinedine Zidane
    3: Garrincha

    That is all...

  • Comment number 89.

    Not sure how I got modded, surely my suggestions of:

    Beckham (most comitted to England)

    Aren't too offensive!?!?

  • Comment number 90.

    So Cruyff said that "...Bert Van Marwijk's side offended him at the World Cup both as a Dutchman and as a footballer" did he? Wow. Except, if you read the article in the link provided, it didn't say that. He didn't like the way they played and was indignant. I suggest you try expanding your vocabulary a little Mr Walker.

    Just another lazy example of a journalist trotting out a politically correct nonsense. (sigh)

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    Hmmmmmmm. LA last week with Klinsmann, Amschterdam this with Joanne Cruff, as Joe Mercer called him - nice work if you can get it.

    Top 3 players of all time?

    1. Maradona
    2. Pele
    3. Cruyff

    Can't agree with Zidane being on anyone's list, I don't think he'd make my top 10.

    As for my top 3 favourites:

    1. Mario Kempes
    2. Hugo Sanchez
    3. David Ginola

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Like your choices of matches of Zidane (Spain and Portugal, Euro 2000). He was majestic to watch. The only reason I wanted his teams to win was so that I could see him play again. There are so many matches where he has produced breathtaking football (My personal favourites are his many performances against Manchester United, against Bayern Munich in the quarter finals, Brazil in 1998 and 2006, Barcelona in 2002 (CL)). There was a post earlier about his inconsistency in a league format. I somewhat agree, he was a big match player and would reserve his talents for the occasions. Sound arrogant but he was an artist. What is going to get you in the mood, a league match against relegation contenders or a champions league final?

    Being a player who was so technically gifted, he was guaranteed to always be joy to behold. There are moments when players fail to control a ball or miss an easy chance that you feel that `even I could have scored that'. Not with Zidane. You knew his talents were beyond anything you have seen. Saying that, I have only been watching football since the 90s, so I don't want to comment on players which I have never seen play (not sure you can put Cruyff as your top 3 player if you have never seen him play, seems to be quite a naive thing to do). All I can say is that Zidane gave me by far the most joy when watching a game of football. I suppose that makes him the greatest in my eyes.

  • Comment number 95.

    Right... it makes sense now - you're not allowed to give your opinion if it criticises a player - not quite how i understood discussions to work!

  • Comment number 96.

    So many great players have been and gone in the game, which makes picking three players almost impossible, but I'd have to go for:

    Of all Time
    1. Maradona - Yeah, he cheated but there is absolutely denying his genius.
    2. Cruyff - Could create something out of nothing
    3. Pele - guarenteed goals

    To grace the Premiership
    1. Henry - carried his ability with a mix of arrogance and grace
    2. Cristiano Ronaldo - the most complete attacking player I have ever seen play the beautiful game
    3. Didier Drogba - Arguably the best striker in the world right now, when really age should be slowing him down, both in terms of movement and ambition.

    I dare not mention any additionals simply because I wouldn't know when to stop.

  • Comment number 97.

    There have been too many to mention really, but I am surprised that nobody has mentioned Stanley Matthews or Gerd Muller. Surely worth a mention?

  • Comment number 98.

    Favourite team to watch:





    Now that's entertainment!

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    I'm surprised @ response #2, compared to some blogs on this site which just rehash what people have read elsewhere I feel that you give us a bit of insite into something different Dan and I like reading it.

    My top 3 preferences:

    1. Pele
    2. Zidanne
    3. Maradonna

    1. Del Piero
    2. Leonardo (don't ask me why, WC 1994 was the first WC I genuinly remember)
    3. R Baggio

    Have seen in the flesh:
    1. Paul Scholes
    2. Ryan Giggs
    3. Eric Cantona

    You may detect a Man Utd bias there, that is not the case, but being a Hartlepool United fan I don't go to Premiership games often at all and when I do most of them have been at Middlesbrough who would only have Juninho close on that list.


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