Best Players from the 80's

Best Players from the 80's

The 1980’s were a golden era for soccer. It was one of the most innovative decades that was defined by talented players and memorable matches. There was an emergence of several icons, coaches, and new playing strategies that were being created to show off their skills, flair, and charisma. From South America to Europe, the 80’s produced a wealth of talent that dominated the world of football.

In no particular order, here are 10 of the most notable players from the 80’s!


1. Marceo van Basten

Marco van Basten was a Dutch striker known to be amongst the best centre-forwards in history. At the 1988 European Championship he steered the Netherlands to victory while also scoring one of the greatest goals in soccer history. He was well-known for his incredible finishing ability and acrobatic goals that got him awarded the Ballon d’Or three times and European Footballer of the Year twice.


2. Karl Heinz-Rummernigge

Rummenigge was a German striker who played for West Germany in the 1982 and ’86 World Cups, and is a well-regarded Bayern Munich icon. He finished as the Bundesliga’s leading goal scorer in the 1979/80 and 1980/81 campaigns, and his team was crowned German champions in both years. The versatile forward was named European Footballer of the year in ’80 and ’81, and is the star behind some of Germanys greatest footballing moments.


3. Socrates

The Brazilian midfielder, Socrates, was unlike any ordinary player. On the field he was a brilliant playmaker, who had a sense of creativity that other players admired. His trademark headband and full beard allowed fans to watch him from afar and catch him while he made some of the best penalty kicks of the decade. He played for Brazil in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, and he was a key member of the Brazilian team that’s considered by many to be the best team to never win the World Cup.


4. Paolo Rossi

Rossi’s most notable moments came from his performance at the 1982 World Cup as apart of the Italian national team. He scored six goals in that tournament, including a fantastic hat-trick, that led him to be named best player and the tournament’s top goal scorer.  Aside from the World Cup, he captured the attention of Serie A fans with a successful career winning the league title, the Coppa Italia, and the European Cup with Juventus.


5. Michel Platini

Michel Platini was a French midfielder who dominated the beautiful game in the 80’s. Known for his amazing passing and ability to make the best free kicks, he was a joy to watch on the pitch. He won three consecutive Ballon d’Or awards from 1983-1985, and played a major role leading the French national team to victory in the 1984 European Championship. Today he’s regarded to be not only one of the greatest players of the 80’s, but also one of the greatest players of all time!


6. Ruud Gullit

The second Dutch player to grace this list, Ruud Gullit was one of the most innovative players in the 80’s. His level of strength and ability to play multiple positions on the pitch made him stand out from the rest. He was a key member of the Netherlands team that won the 1988 European Championship and received the Ballon d’Or in 1987.


7. Franco Baresi

Baresi completed his entire career with Serie A club, AC Milan, where he captained the team for fifteen seasons. With three UEFA Champions League titles, six Serie A titles, two European Super Cups, and four Supercoppa Italian titles under his belt he was one of the most well-known faces of Italian football. He was a member of the squad that won the 1982 World Cup with the national team, and earned a spot on the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1990. After his final season in Serie A, AC Milan retired his number 6 jersey to commemorate his excellence.


8. Diego Maradona

Maradona is undoubtedly one of the greatest soccer players of all time, and his performances during the 80’s only confirmed his greatness. He led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup where he scored the famous “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century” against England. During this decade he also won the Italian Serie A with Napoli twice, and was named the FIFA World Player of the Year in ’86 and ’89.


9. Lothar Matthaus

Maradona himself considered Lothar Matthaus to be the greatest rival he ever faced. His career playing for the German national team and clubs including Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, showed off his versatility, leadership, and intelligence. He played in five World Cup tournaments for Germany, but his best run was when they were crowned winner at the 1990 World Cup. That same year he was awarded he Ballon d’Or to celebrate his legacy as one of the greatest midfielders to hit the pitch.


10. Hugo Sanchez

Sanchez made a name for himself in Spanish football during the 80’s where he dominated the competition throughout the decade. He’s noted to be one of the greatest Mexican players of all time, if not the greatest. His perfect technique and acrobatic ability made him a star player for Real Madrid, winning five straight league titles and leading the league goal scoring for four years in a row. Though he scored a handful of goals during his time, he was best known for “the Huguina”, which was his trademark overhead kick.



The 1980’s was a decade of great soccer players, and these are only just a few of the best. They not only entertained the world with their skill and creativity but also helped their teams achieve great success on the field. Their legacy continues to inspire new generations of soccer players and fans across the word! 

If you enjoyed this blog, check out our Best Soccer Players of All Time blog! You can see if any of these players from the 80’s made the list, and who else the world considers to be the greatest.





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