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Contemporary Stars

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New lovers of the world's favourite game need to have a reliable source of unbiased information on who really are the best of the best among the current crop. The list that follows has been compiled at the end of Euro 2008 and though football fans who are undoubtedly in love with a particular club or nation would dispute the veracity of selection of some of these superstars, they would no doubt agree that the players highlighted in this list are up there amongst the top two or three in their specific roles.

fernando_torres_1.jpg1. Fernando Torres (24, Liverpool, Spain)

Fernando Torres is a Spanish striker who currently plays for Liverpool FC. He joined Liverpool last year from Atletico Madrid. He is a striker who set the record for most number of goals from a foreigner in his debut season in the Premier League last year with 24 goals. Generally foreign players take some time to settle into English football, but there was no such problem for Torres, who netted a mammoth 33 goals in his debut season in all competitions. Torres won the Spanish 2nd Division title with Atletico, but his career's biggest triumph was lifting this year's European Championships in Austria and Switzerland with Spain.

Quotes and Trivia:

"We bought the lad from sunny Spain, he gets the ball and scores again" - Liverpool fans heard singing during games about Fernando Torres

Torres became Atletico Madrid's youngest ever captain when he was given the armband at the age of 19.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (23, Manchester United, Portugal)

Cristiano Ronaldo is a highly prolific midfielder playing for English club Manchester United and Portugal. He has scored more than 40 goals for Manchester United in each of the last two seasons, which is a phenomenal return for a midfielder. The player has expressed a desire to move to Real Madrid and was heavily linked with them this summer. But United succeeded in hanging on to him for at least another year. Ronaldo has been victorious twice in the Premier League and once in the Champions League with his current club.

Quote and Trivia:

Ronaldo became Manchester United's first Portuguese player when he signed for them in 2003.

"I'm living a dream I never want to wake up from" - Ronaldo on signing for United.

3. Lionel Messi (21, Barcelona, Argentina)

Lionel Messi is an Argentine winger/striker playing for Barcelona in the Spanish first division. Messi's talents were so profound and well known that people were talking about him being a star when he was just 15. He keeps the art of dribbling alive in a game which is becoming more physical by the day. Barcelona offered him a nine-year contract in 2005 to showcase how highly they rated him. He is just 21 and has already won the Spanish La Liga twice and the Champions League once. He has also tasted success at the international level by winning the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in 2005, and the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Quotes and Trivia:

Messi moved from Argentina to Barcelona with his family when he was just 11 because the club agreed to pay his medical bills, which were more than £500 a month, for the growth hormone deficiency he suffered. No other club in Argentina was willing to do that.

"Lionel Messi is a world class player. He's young and chasing him around has done my back in" - Chelsea full back Ashley Cole.

4. Cesc Fabregas (21, Arsenal, Spain)

Fabregas is a Spanish midfielder who plays his club football for Arsenal. His deft touch and neat passing skills are second to none. The fact that at the tender age of 21, he has played almost 150 games for Arsenal and is a regular starter for his national side bear testament to his extraordinary talent. He helped Arsenal in winning the FA Cup in 2005. He was also a major influence on the Spanish side that Lifted the European Championships this year. Fabregas has also been a losing finalist in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship and UEFA Under 17 European Championship with Spain.


Fabregas is Arsenal's youngest ever first team player (16 years and 177 days) and their youngest scorer in the Premier League.

In 2006, Fabregas also became the youngest player to represent Spain for 70 years, when he made his debut against the Ivory Coast.

5. Kaka (26, AC Milan, Brazil)

kaka.jpgKaka is a Brazilian playmaker who plays in the Italian Serie A for AC Milan. He is the current FIFA World Player of the Year and the European Footballer of the Year. Kaka can play anywhere in the forward line and is one of the most skillful players in the world game today. He has won the Champions League with Milan and the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, arguably the two biggest competitions in world football today.


Kaka'a actual first name is Ricardo, but his brother used to call him Kaka because of his inability to pronounce 'Ricardo' and the name has stuck with him ever since.

At the age of 18, Kaká suffered a career-threatening and possibly paralysis-inducing spinal fracture as a result of a swimming pool accident, but remarkably made a full recovery. He attributes his recovery to God and has since donated one-tenth of his income to his church.

6. Steven Gerrard (28, Liverpool, England)

Steven Gerrard is the captain of Liverpool, the only club he has ever played for. He can play all across the midfield, although he himself regards central midfield as his best position. Gerrard is the heart and soul of the Liverpool team and he has got them out of tough situations single handedly on numerous occasions. The late run from midfield which catches defenders off guard is Steven's trademark. He has been captain of Liverpool for more than half a decade now and has also skippered England a few times. Gerrard has won every major club competition in Europe except the Premier League.


Gerrard holds the distinction of scoring in the final of every major cup competition, viz. UEFA Cup, FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League finals.

Gerrard has played in every position on the pitch for Liverpool, except goal keeper.

The matter in brackets denotes age, club and country, respectively.


Photograph: Copyright: Nigel Wilson (Torres), Roberto Vicario (Kaka)