FIFA World Cup countdown: Top 10 Argentine players of all time

As part of the countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Sports Mole looks at the top 10 players in the history of Argentina.

With two World Cup titles to their name, Argentina are justifiably considered amongst the powerhouses of world football and will be among the favourites to reach the latter stages of the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

They are currently third in the FIFA World Rankings and boast some of the best players that will be on show at this summer's tournament.

Indeed, they are renowned for producing special players and have been able to call upon the services of some of the greatest in the history of football throughout the years.

Here, to continue Sports Mole's countdown to the World Cup, we take a look at the top 10 Argentine players of all time.



10. Ubaldo Fillol (1974-85, 58 caps)

Just edging out a host of other memorable players is Ubaldo Fillol, a man widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of South American football. There is good reason for such high praise too, with 58 caps to his name over a successful 11-year period for the national team.

Fillol took part in three World Cups with his country, winning the tournament and being named best goalkeeper in 1978. He was also included in the side for the 1974 and 1982 editions before narrowly missing out on selection for the successful 1986 campaign, despite having helped the team qualify.

He spent the vast majority of his club career in Argentina and is most closely associated with River Plate, where he made 360 appearances and won numerous domestic honours. Individually, he was named Argentina's Footballer of the Year in 1977, becoming the first goalkeeper to win the award.



9. Javier Zanetti (1994-2011, 145 caps, 5 goals)

When it comes to longevity and loyalty, few can match Javier Zanetti. The Inter Milan right-back is still playing for his club side at the age of 40, almost two decades after moving to the Italian capital.

He can boast five Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias, a Champions League, a UEFA Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup to his name during that time. 'Il Capitano' is the highest appearance maker in the club's illustrious history and led them to an unprecedented treble in 2010.

His international career has not been quite as laden with trophies, but individual honours have never been far away for Zanetti. His staggering total of 145 caps is the most in the country's history and doesn't look like being topped any time soon.

Javier Zanetti in action for Argentina on Jul 06, 2011.© Getty Images



8. Mario Kempes (1973-82, 43 caps, 20 goals)

Mario Kempes will always have a place in the hearts of Argentine football fans for his performances in the 1978 World Cup campaign. With a young Diego Maradona controversially left out of the squad by manager Cesar Menotti, Kempes stepped up to steal the show on home soil and fired his side to their first title.

He ended the tournament as the top scorer with six goals, including two in the final against Holland to help his side to a 3-1 victory. Unsurprisingly, he was also voted the best player at that year's tournament and named South America's Footballer of the Year for 1978.

He also featured in the 1974 and 1982 campaigns having made his name at club level with a prolific record at Rosario Central and Valencia. He won the Copa del Rey, the Cup Winners' Cup and the European Super Cup during his time in Spain, as well as two consecutive Pichichi awards, given to the top scorer in La Liga.

Mario Kempes in action for Argentina on August 01, 1978.© Getty Images



7. Omar Sivori (1956-57, 18 caps, nine goals)

While his international career with Argentina was short, Omar Sivori established himself as one of the best players to come out of the country during his time in Italy with Juventus. Linking up with legendary Welshman John Charles, Sivori fired the Old Lady to unprecedented success in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

He won three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia crowns with the club and remains their fifth-highest scorer of all time, with 167 goals in just 253 appearances. Internationally, he won the Copa America title in 1957 before being banned from the national side by the Italian government following his move to Juventus.

He went on to play for Italy instead, scoring eight goals in nine games and taking part in the 1962 World Cup. Individually, Sivori was awarded the prestigious Ballon d'Or award in 1961.



6. Jose Manuel Moreno (1936-50, 34 caps, 19 goals)

Jose Manuel Moreno's international career was largely disrupted by the onset of World War II, while Argentina's refusal to take part in the 1950 World Cup robbed one of their greatest ever players of the chance to play on the grandest stage.

Despite that, Moreno's reputation remains intact, with IFFHS ranking him as the 25th best player of the 20th century and fifth greatest South American player from the same period. He was arguably the most important cog in River Plate's legendary attacking lineup of the 1940s, helping the team to five league titles in the space of nine years.

He also enjoyed success on the international stage despite his absence from the World Cup, winning three South American Championship titles, now known as the Copa America. He was the top goalscorer in the 1942 competition, scoring a joint-record five goals in a single match, and was named the best player in 1947.



5. Gabriel Batistuta (1991-2002, 78 caps, 56 goals)

No player in the history of Argentine football can match Gabriel Batistuta's goalscoring exploits for the national side. His tally of 56 goals is more than anyone else, while his average of more than 0.7 goals per game puts him among the elite in international football history.

He shot to fame with Fiorentina in the 1990s but only picked up his first Serie A title following his move to Roma at the turn of the century. 'Batigol' featured in three World Cup competitions for Argentina and won two Copa America titles, finishing as top scorer in the successful 1991 campaign having only just broken into the side.

Individually, he was voted as the Argentine Player of the Year in 1998 and came third in the voting for World Player of the Year in 1999. He also earned plaudits from players past and present alike, with Maradona once describing him as the best striker he had ever seen.

Gabriel Batistuta celebrates scoring for Argentina on June 14, 1998.© Getty Images



4. Daniel Passarella (1974-86, 70 caps, 22 goals)

Daniel Passarella holds the unique distinction of being the only player to feature in both of Argentina's World Cup-winning campaigns. His role in the 1978 tournament cannot be overstated as he became the first Argentine player to hoist the trophy above his head having captained them to success on home soil.

The 1986 campaign was not as memorable for Passarella on an individual level as he suffered from illness and fell out with star player Maradona and coach Carlos Bilardo. He later went on to spend a controversial spell in charge of Argentina himself, leading them into the 1998 World Cup.

At club level he spent most of his career with River Plate but also played for Fiorentina and Inter Milan in Italy. His goalscoring exploits were remarkable for a player in his position, and he ended his career as the highest-scoring defender of all time, a record that has since been overtaken by Holland's Ronald Koeman.

Argentina's Daniel Passarella lifts the World Cup on June 25, 1978.© Getty Images



3. Alfredo di Stefano (1947, six caps, six goals)

In terms of international contribution to Argentina, Alfredo di Stefano does not stack up against the other names on this list. However, as a player, there are few who can match him in the entire history of football. He was the lynchpin of Real Madrid's all-conquering side of the late 1950s and remains a towering figure at arguably the biggest club in football.

In a team widely regarded as the greatest club side of all time, Di Stefano was undoubtedly the biggest attraction as Madrid won five consecutive European Cups, eight La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey. He also shone in his brief spell with Argentina, winning the Copa America in 1947 before going on to play for Colombia and Spain later in his career.

A host of football legends, including Pele, Eusebio and John Charles, have described him as the most complete footballer of all time and he finished second in the voting for the inaugural Ballon d'Or award before winning it twice in the next three years.

Alfredo di Stefano poses with a football on June 12, 1956.© Getty Images



2. Lionel Messi (2005-present, 83 caps, 37 goals)

At just 26, Lionel Messi is already being lauded by some as the greatest footballer of all time. His achievements at Barcelona have warranted such high praise, with the striker on course to break every scoring record in Spanish football. His goals to game ratio in recent seasons is virtually unparalleled in the history of football, a remarkable feat considering the tightening up of defensive tactics over the years.

Like Di Stefano before him, Messi is undoubtedly the star attraction of a team that many have called the greatest of all time, with Barcelona's class of 2009-11 taking their place among history's elite. Overall, he has won six La Liga titles, three Champions League crowns and two Copa del Reys in the last nine years.

His list of individual accolades is too long to list here, but arguably the most impressive achievements are his unmatched four FIFA Ballon d'Or awards and world-record 91 goals in a calendar year. The only thing keeping him off the top of this list is his relative lack of success at international level, although his tally of 37 goals still leaves him second in Argentina's all-time goalscoring list.

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against Paraguay during a Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match at Defensores del Chaco stadium in Asuncion, Paraguay, on September 10, 2013© Getty Images



1. Diego Maradona (1977-94, 91 caps, 31 goals)

Widely considered as the greatest player ever alongside Pele of Brazil, Diego Maradona was as controversial as he was brilliant. His career could perhaps be summed up by the World Cup match against England in 1986, when he punched the ball into the back of the net with an assist from God before scoring a goal many regard to be the greatest of all time.

It is that 1986 tournament that is the pinnacle of Maradona's illustrious career as he almost single-handedly dragged Argentina to their second title. He was voted the best player of the tournament, scored the second most goals and picked up the most assists in an emphatic display of his unparalleled talent.

His trophy cabinet at club level is perhaps not as full as a player of his talent may have expected, but Maradona's achievements run deeper than the silverware he did pick up. He took an unfashionable Napoli side and inspired them to two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup, while he also won trophies at Barcelona.

Diego Maradona of Argentina lifts the trophy and celebrates winning the FIFA World Cup final in Mexico City on June 29, 1986 © Getty Images


Argentina will face Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria in this summer's World Cup, and you can follow every single match live with Sports Mole.

Continuing our 50-day countdown to the tournament, we will be looking at the greatest Australian players of all time tomorrow.

Who is the greatest Argentinian footballer of all time?

Diego Maradona
Lionel Messi
Alfredo di Stefano
Daniel Passarella
Gabriel Batistuta
Jose Manuel Moreno
Omar Sivori
Mario Kempes
Javier Zanetti
Ubaldo Fillol
Other
Diego Maradona
32.6%
Lionel Messi
43.1%
Alfredo di Stefano
3.5%
Daniel Passarella
0.6%
Gabriel Batistuta
1.9%
Jose Manuel Moreno
0.6%
Omar Sivori
0.8%
Mario Kempes
0.8%
Javier Zanetti
1.2%
Ubaldo Fillol
0.4%
Other
14.6%
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi gives a thumbs up on September 18, 2013
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