These number 7s are some of the greatest players the world has ever seen
There have truly been some iconic number 7’s who have graced our sport. Manchester United has a whole list of players who donned the number 7 jersey and went on to achieve great things, while their bitter rivals Liverpool have also had some legendary number 7s.In football, if we consider the traditional 4-4-2 formation, the number 7 jersey is usually donned by the winger or the supporting forward thus making him one of the most important players on the pitch.Choosing the best 7 out of a long list of iconic number 7’s is no easy task, but we have picked the seven best players and there are some truly amazing footballers on this listNote: Out and out forwards like Raul and Suarez are not considered as they best epitomise the number 9 position, even though they wore the number 7 jersey
#7 Robert Pires
Arsenal legend Robert Pires was one of the most crucial members of the Arsenal side which went unbeaten throughout the entire system in 2003/04. The Frenchman has enjoyed a long career full of trophies at both the domestic and international level.
Pires earned 79 caps for his country during which he won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 Euros followed by a COnfedaration Cup triumph in 2001 where he was the player of the tournament. Despite all his achievements with the national team, Pires is best remembered for his time at Arsenal.
The French winger spent time from 2000-2006 with the Gunners winning three FA Cups and two Premier Leagues along with a Champions League final appearance. Pires was one of the key architects in Arsenal’s stunning 2003/04 season.
The Arsenal legend finished that season with an impressive tally of 14 goals and seven assists in the Premier League. He was Arsenal’s second top scorer (behind Thierry Henry) and had the joint amount of assists (along with Dennis Bergkamp) that season.
The impact Pires had at Arsenal in just 6 years can be seen from the fact that he was voted as the 6th greatest player in Arsenal’s history.
#6 Eric Cantona
One of the most charismatic and controversial footballers to play the game, Eric Cantona was a supremely gifted and talented footballer. Another legendary number 7 to play for Manchester United, the Frenchman is considered to have played a vital role in the revival of Manchester United’s fortunes.
Cantona walked about on the football pitch with a natural swagger and he is famous for wearing the number 7 shirt with his trademark upturned collar. The Frenchman had something of a cult status at Manchester United with fans affectionately calling him “King Eric.”
On 25 January 1995, Cantona got into what is now known as the “kung-fu” incident when he kicked and punched a fan in the crowd for abusing him. At a press conference called later, Cantona gave perhaps his most famous quote saying:
“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much”
United fans will always remember Cantona for his stunning performances on the pitch. The Frenchman scored a total of 64 league goals for Manchester United, 11 in domestic cup competitions, and 5 in the Champions League, bringing his tally to 80 goals in less than five years.
#5 Luis Figo
Luis Figo is the most capped player of Portugal having made 127 appearances for the national team in a long and distinguished career. Renowned for his creativity and having the ability to get past defenders, Figo is regarded as one of the greatest wingers of his generation.
The Portuguese superstar’s creativity can be seen by the fact that he is second on the list for the most assists in La Liga, only behind Lionel Messi. At his physical peak, Figo was a quick, elegant, highly skilful player with a dribbling ability that allowed him to frequently take on and beat defenders in one on one situations.
Capable of delivering pin-point set pieces, Figo also scored some crucial goals due to his powerful striking ability from distance and his accurate free-kicks.
One of the greatest Portuguese players of all time and a winger who truly epitomised the number 7 role, Figo was one of the best number 7s to ever grace the game.
#4 George Best
Charismatic and supremely talented, George Best was the first in a long line of truly great number 7s to play for Manchester United. United fans were so enamoured by the stunning displays he put in that banners of ‘Maradona Good, Pele Better, George Best’ became common.
Best mainly played as a winger and he sometimes played in the attacking midfielder role. He was at the peak of his game from 1966-1972. In 1968 he won the European Cup with Manchester United and was named the European Footballer Of The Year and FWA Footballer Of The Year.
The Irish football association described him as the “greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland”
Best’ standing in the game was seen when even the legendary Pele called him the greatest footballer.
Pele once said “George Best was the greatest player in the world”. Best was once quoted as saying, “Pelé called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life.”
George Best was one of the first true superstars of modern football.
#3 Kenny Dalglish
Scottish footballer and Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish was an integral part of the all-conquering Liverpool sides in the late 1970s and 1980s. Dalglish took over the number 7 jersey from another great player, Kevin Keegan and he went on to achieve even greater things than his predecessor.
He won six Football League First Divisions, two FA Cups, four League Cups, three European Cups and one UEFA Super Cup. For these achievements and his style of play he was given the name King Kenny by Liverpool supporters.
Dalglish usually played as a right-sided forward or a supporting striker creating and scoring crucial goals for Liverpool. In 1983, the Scotsman came second in the Ballon d’Or voting lists for his amazing performances in that season.
Dalglish’s contributions to Liverpool were so popular that even as late as in 2006, he topped a Liverpool fans’ poll of “100 Players Who Shook the Kop.”
King Kenny is truly the best number 7 and the greatest player ever to play for Liverpool
Winner of two World Cups and considered to be one of the most talented players ever, Garrincha was an iconic number 7 for both Brazil and his club side Botafogo.
Widely regarded as the best dribbler in the history of football, Garrincha mainly played as a right winger. In the 1962 World Cup, Garrincha in the absence of Pele led Brazil to glory and he was the best player in the tournament receiving the World Cup Golden Ball for player of the tournament, the Golden Boot as leading goalscorer, and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team.
Adored by the Brazilian public due to his innocence, carefree attitude and ability to entertain in making fools of opposing players, Garrincha was referred to as “Joy of the People”. He is one of the few players to have scored direct from a corner, a feat he managed to do 4 times in his career.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, he was voted into the World Team of the 20th century, came seventh in the FIFA Player Of The Century grand jury vote, and was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team.
Some people in Brazil considered Garrincha to be an even better player than the legendary Pele.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo
One of the two stand out footballers of this generation along with Lionel Messi, Ronaldo is one of the greatest players ever to play the beautiful game. Ronaldo’s goal scoring exploits have been mind boggling considering the fact that he plays as a winger on most occasions.
The Portuguese superstar first captured the world’s attention at Manchester United, putting in some stunning performances, leaving defenders flat-footed with his dazzling skills. After his move to Real Madrid, Ronaldo took his game to a whole new level becoming one of the best goalscorers ever to play the game.
Having a burning desire to be the best, Ronaldo has worked hard to hone his undoubtedly prodigious talent. Ronaldo is capable of scoring all types of goals be it stunning long-range efforts, free kicks, simple tap-ins or even powerful headers.
Among the top footballers to have ever played, Ronaldo takes the top spot and is the best number 7 to have played in the history of football.
Honourable mentions (players who just missed out): Franck Ribery, Kevin Keegan, David Beckham and Bryan Robson