5. Jaap Stam
Jaap Stam was a Dutch football player who played for several clubs in Europe including Manchester United, PSV Eindhoven, A.C. Milan and Lazio. He was a very gifted center back in the 1990s, and he was a key player during his 4-year stint with Manchester United. In fact, fans loved him so much, when he was in a one-on-one situation, they used to chant “Get past him if you can.”
Previous to playing for Manchester United, Stam played for Dutch teams PSV Eindhoven, Willem II and SC Cambuur. He began his professional career with PEC Zwolle. In addition to several club trophies, he has also won several personal awards throughout his career. This included being voted as the best defender in both the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 seasons of the UEFA Champions League. As a member of the Netherlands national team, Stam has played 67 matches and scored three goals. He was also on the team for three European Championships as well as the FIFA World Cup in 1998.
Stam was known for three things as a player: his strength, speed and his ability with controlling the ball. He also was known to have a great sense of positioning. He retired in 2007, and in 2008, he became a scout for Manchester United. He worked as an assistant coach for PEC Zwolle in 2011, and in 2013, took a three-year contract as an assistant coach with AFC Ajax, but left the team in 2016.
He has also been involved in Soccer Aid, and has appeared in the 2nd, 4th and 5th series of the event. In the 5th series of the event, Stam was named the Man of the Match.
4. Lothar Matthaus
Lothar Matthaus is the only German player to ever be named a World Player of the Year. He led West Germany to the win in the FIFA World Cup in 1990, and he was named European Footballer of the year. He began his career in 1979, and for most of his career, he played with Bayern Munich. During that time, he won five FIFA World Cups, which is more than any other men’s outfield football player, and he holds the record for the most matches in the World Cup by one player. Matthaus was also voted the German Footballer of the Year in 1990 and 1999.
Matthaus was well known for this positional sense, passing and tackling. He was also a very powerful shooter. He played as a midfielder for most of his career, but late in his career, he began playing as a sweeper. He was the most capped German player in history, and he retired with 150 appearances in his 20 years of play. He is also part of the FIFA 100 list of the Greatest Living Football Players, chosen by Pele.
Matthaus retired from playing soccer in 2000, and by 2001 began his career as a coach, though his coaching career has, thus far, been less distinguished than his playing career. He has not coached since 2011, when he coached the Bulgarian national team. Since then, he has served as a commentator for Al Jazeera Sports, Sporttv in Brazil and IRIB in Iran.
3. Luis Figo
Luis Figo was known as one of the top Portuguese footballers of all time. He was a winger for a number of teams including Sporting CP, Real Madrid, Barcelon and Internazionale. He also played for the Portugal national team.
Known for his creative play and his ability to pass defenders, he is regarded as one of the best wingers of the 1990s. In La Liga, he made 106 assists, the most in the leagues history, and only Lionel Messi has more. He is also one of the only players who played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona. For his transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid, he set a world record for the transfer fee, which was 62 million Euros.
Throughout his career, he won several trophies including four La Liga titles, the Portuguese Cup, three Spanish Super Cups, two Spanish Cups, a UEFA Champions League title, four Serie A titles and three Italian Super Cups. While on the Portugal national team he scored a total of 32 goals and represented the country at two World Cups and three European Championships.
Luis Figo retired from soccer in 2009. Today, he is a business owner and an ambassador for the Stop TB Partnership, which works to fight against the spread of tuberculosis. He also serves as an ambassador for Internazionale. Figo also found a private member’s only networking site for professional footballers called Network90.