Roy Keane has been voted Ireland’s greatest footballer of all time in a nation-by-nation poll of the game’s most legendary talents.
The Cork-born Manchester Utd icon has been ranked the best player to represent the Republic of Ireland, while, unsurprisingly, George Best was voted Northern Ireland’s finest-ever soccer star.
Past and present players from the 60 leading international teams were analysed by experts from popular US-based sports site, ‘Stadium Talk’.
Some decisons were clear-cut, with iconic stars Pele, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer topping the ‘Best Soccer Players by Country’ rankings for Brazil, The Netherlands and Germany respectively.
But votes for other leading soccer nations, including for World Cup holders France and South American giants Argentina, went down to the wire.
In France’s case Zinedine Zidane got the nod over Michel Platini, whilst Barcelona ace Lionel Messi edged out legendary compatriot Diego Maradona to be crowned Argentina’s greatest-ever player.
Closer to home Bobby Charlton is described as “the leading light of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966”, whilst Wales legend John Charles edged out Gareth Bale and Kenny Dalglish beat off the challenge of Denis Law to be voted Scotland’s best-ever player.
In a glowing tribute to George Best, the Manchester Utd and Northern Ireland legend is described as “the most talented player born in the British Isles”, whose talent “burned brighter than anyone else of his generation”.
But the writers also acknowledge the Belfast-born legend’s tragically short career, which “was lost by his mid-20s as the ravages of alcohol took hold”.
Roy Keane is also singled out for praise as the Republic’s best-ever player and “one of football’s born leaders”.
The writers note:
Roy Keane was a fearsome presence in Manchester Utd’s midfield, a player who drove his teammates on to higher planes of achievements. He is known for his fire and power, but he also was
a player of genuine class and poise.
Meanwhile, other notable mentions in the extensive poll include Spain’s Xavi, Italy’s Paolo Maldini, Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas, Portugal’s Chirstiano Ronaldo, former Norway international and Man Utd coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Egypt and Liverpool star Mo Salah.
In summing up the attributes that make a great player, the site’s judges added:
“What constitutes true greatness in a soccer player?
It can be many things: the sheer number of goals, unmatchable skills, leadership ability and inspirational character.
The greatest players in soccer history possess at least one of these qualities. Some exhibit them all.”