Football is a game of highs and lows, where players can be at the top of their game one day and a shadow of their former selves the next. As fans, we all have our favorite players who we adored at their best. In this article, we’ll look back at five footballers who were unstoppable in their prime and made a significant impact on the game.
Hazard at Chelsea: The Belgian Maestro
Eden Hazard was undoubtedly one of the best players in England during his time at Chelsea. After joining the club in 2012, he played a pivotal role in the two league title wins with Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte in 2014/15 and 2016/17. His outstanding performances culminated in a man-of-the-match display in the Europa League final against Arsenal in 2019.
Neymar at Barcelona: The MSN Linchpin
The ‘MSN’ trio, comprising Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar Jr., was one of the deadliest attacking forces in the history of football. Neymar was the linchpin of the trio and played a significant role in Barcelona’s success during his four seasons at the club. His exceptional free-kick against PSG in the Champions League, his dismantling of Bayern at the Allianz, and his starring role in the Champions League final against Juve are some of his most memorable performances. In 186 appearances for the Catalan club, Neymar scored 105 goals and won the league twice.
Pogba at Juventus: The French Maestro
Paul Pogba’s time at Juventus was undoubtedly his best in football. Under Antonio Conte, he was sensational and part of a 3-man midfield with Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal. Pogba helped Juventus reach a Champions League final and win three consecutive Serie A titles. He was also part of the FIFProXI for 2016 before returning to his boyhood club, Manchester United, for a world-record fee. While opinions on his time at Manchester United may differ, there is no denying that Pogba was a reflection of Zinedine Zidane in his Juventus days.
Torres at Liverpool: The Spanish Striker
Fernando Torres was one of the greatest Spanish strikers of all time during his time at Liverpool. His quick feet and brilliant awareness made him almost unstoppable in the box. In the 2007/08 season, he scored 33 goals across all competitions, finishing second behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the Premier League golden boot race with 24 goals. His partnership with the likes of Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard was particularly deadly and remains a fond memory for Liverpool fans.
James at Colombia: The World Cup Wonder
James Rodriguez’s world-class performances in Colombian colors during the 2014 World Cup remain unforgettable. He became the first player since Rivaldo and Ronaldo to score in all of his team’s opening fixtures of a World Cup, collecting three man-of-the-match awards in the process. His sensational volley against Uruguay in the Round of 16 won him the FIFA Puskas award. In the entire 2014, he scored nine goals, his highest tally in a calendar year. While his career may have gone downhill since then, his fans will always have the memories of 2014.
As football fans, we love to reminisce about the good times when we loved watching certain players create magic. These five footballers were unstoppable in their prime and made a significant impact on the game. Whether it’s Hazard’s brilliance at Chelsea, Neymar’s role in the ‘MSN’ trio, Pogba’s reflection of Zidane at Juventus, Torres’ deadly partnership with Kuyt and Gerrard, or James’ unforgettable World Cup performances, they all had their moments of glory that we will cherish forever.
As time goes on, footballers may decline, but we will always have the memories of their prime. It’s important to remember what made them special and how they made us fall in love with the beautiful game.
Who knows, maybe we’ll see another generation of unstoppable footballers in the future. But for now, we can relish in the memories of the ones who have already left their mark on the game.