From the majestic Zinedine Zidane to the tough-tackling Patrick Vieira, here are the best midfielders of the 1990s.
The talisman, Zinedine Zidane sparkled in his five years in Turin winning the Scudetto in his first two years with the club. He earned the Ballon d’Or in 1998 following his historic World Cup for France and was named the Serie A Footballer of the year twice. Perhaps the greatest ever, he dazzled fans with his majestic play and legendary vision.
Patrick Vieira established a new breed of player in the Premiership, a tough-tackler that could also excel on the offensive side of the field. While not a prolific goal scorer, he helped the side win both the Premier League and FA Cup three times. He also participated in France’s World Cup 98 victory when he was just 22 years old and would go on to win the Euros in 2002.
Celebrated for his lengthy one-club career at Manchester United, the 90s version of Ryan Giggs was remarkable. A dynamic midfielder, he was ultra-competitive and set high-standards both on the field and off. The most decorated footballer in Premiership history won the Premier League 13 times along with four FA Cups, three League Cups, and two Champions League titles. He’s also the holder of the Premiership most assists all-time with 271.
Roy Keane captained the Manchester United side for eight years during Manchester United’s most successful period that saw the Red Devils win four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and a Champions League trophy. Praised for his leadership and grit, the Irishman was mired in controversy near the end of his career for openly criticizing his teammates.
Well-known as a reliable scorer who mastered the art of set pieces, the iconic David Beckham played eleven years at Manchester United and made over 400 appearances for the club. He played a key part of the side that won the Treble in 1999, ending his career at Old Trafford with 61 goals.
Recognized as a complete midfield player and considered the best in the world in his prime, the German Lothar Matthäus scored 100 goals in 410 appearances for Bayern Munich. Although he left the club for a few seasons to play at Inter Milan, he returned to play another eight years in Bavaria, winning for more Bundesliga titles, two DFB Cups, and 1996’s UEFA Cup. He also spent two decades playing with the West German side, captaining the side that won the World Cup trophy in 1990. He won the Ballon D’Or that same year.
The long-legged forward joined Barcelona in 1997 where he scored 109 goals over 5 seasons, none more magnificent than the bicycle kick that completed his hat-trick against Valencia and got Barcelona into Champions League. Winner of back to back La Liga titles in 98 and 99, where he was the league’s top scorer, Rivaldo won FIFA Player of the year and the Ballon d’Or in 1999. Making 74 appearances and winning a World Cup for the national side, Rivaldo also scored a breath of important goals to earn the status as one of Brazil’s best ever.
The crafty attacking midfielder played five years with Barcelona where he teamed up with the likes of Ronaldo and Patrick Kluivert to win two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey, a Spanish Super Cup, and a UEFA Super Cup and Cup Winner’s Cup. He scored 45 goals in 249 appearances.
Along with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes played his entire career with Manchester United. In a 700-game Old Trafford career, the midfielder won a total of 25 trophies for the club, 11 of which were Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, and 2 Champions League trophies. His 155 goals make him the 10th leading club scorer of all-time.
A creative midfielder, known for his sharp passing skills and balance on the ball, Michael Laudrup excelled as part of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” at Barcelona. From 1991 to 1994, Laudrup played with an arsenal of other talented players including Pep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, and Txiki Begiristain to lead the Catalan side to a 1992 Champions League along with four La Liga titles. He also achieved a league championship with Real Madrid and Ajax in the last year of his career.
Zvonimir Boban spent a decade with the AC Milan side, making 231 outings and scoring 30 goals, along the way earning four Italian League titles, three Supercups, runners-up in the 1994 Champions League final. In 1998, he helped the national side in a third place at the World Cup in France. An intelligent midfielder with superb technique and creativity, Boban secures his places as one of the best Croatians to play the game.