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The Best 25 Football Players From The Last 25 Years Have Been Ranked

The Best 25 Football Players From The Last 25 Years Have Been Ranked

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi take the top two spots in a countdown of the greatest footballers of the past 25 years - but there are some surprises elsewhere.

Barcelona's genius pips his long-time rival to first place, as football magazine FourFourTwo claims Messi "has as good a claim as any to the all-time crown, having paired brilliance with consistency to a degree we've rarely seen before."

Ronaldo is hailed for his remarkable longevity as he "continues to confound expectations" by cutting it at the highest level into his mid-30s.

His former manager at Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, is securely in third spot with the French playmaker's "remarkable gifts" praised.

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Two English players appear in the top 25, with Paul Scholes slotting in at 22, while Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are both absent.

Yet Scholes' long-time Man United teammate Wayne Rooney is the highest placed Englishman in 15th. FourFourTwo acknowledge he didn't quite live up to the early hype but is "among the most naturally gifted players English football has produced."

Both are ahead of Gianluigi Buffon (25, the only goalkeeper) and World Cup-winning striker Romario (23), which is a little controversial.

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At least Romario's fellow Brazil legends Ronaldinho and Ronaldo make the top five, while Arsenal legend Thierry Henry is in sixth. "Henry was a sensation in north London, a quick, skilful, charismatic forward," they claim - and that is one thing on this list that nobody can argue with.

The full 25 are below and you can discover FourFourTwo's reasoning for each placement here. We'll let you tell Zlatan Ibrahimovic that he hasn't made the cut.

25. Gianluigi Buffon

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24. Sergio Ramos

23. Romario

22. Paul Scholes

21. Raul

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20. Sergio Busquets

19. Luka Modric

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The 10 Greatest English Players Of All Time Have Been Named And Ranked

18. Eric Cantona

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17. Gabriel Batistuta

16. Luis Figo

14. Kaka

13. Ryan Giggs

12. Fabio Cannavaro

11. Rivaldo

10. Roberto Baggio

9. Paolo Maldini

8. Andres Iniesta

7. Xavi

6. Thierry Henry

5. Ronaldinho

4. Ronaldo

3. Zinedine Zidane

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

1. Lionel Messi

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Paul Scholes, Football News, Football, Lionel Messi, Premier League, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo