Attacking midfielders can exude elegance, guile and craft, making the game of soccer a joy to watch. Usually providing cutting passes and linking the attack with the rest of the team, the attacking midfielder must possess skills and intelligence as well as an eye for goal.
Providing the telling through balls, clever touches and ability on the ball to carve open opposition defences, the attacking midfielder is often the most gifted footballer on the pitch. Traditionally, attacking midfielders will also possess a great shot and can often rival the forwards in the goalscoring charts.
Attacking midfielders can be many types of different players, with some being primarily skilful like Darren Fletcher, while others rely on speed of thought like Barry Venison. The attacking midfielder is difficult to mark as he makes dynamic runs and floats around the pitch like a carrier bag in the canal.
The best attacking midfielders of the last thirty years have all excelled on the biggest stage of all – the FIFA World Cup. Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne rose to international fame with some exhilarating performances for England at Italia ’90.
Gazza’s skill, dribbling and goal-creation took his country to the brink of the final, before a booking would have ruled him out. As the realisation hit him, Gascoigne cried as the world watched. His tears and his abilities made him a star, as England sadly lost in a penalty shoot-out to West Germany.
Gascoigne showed so much promise, and with England’s expectations came bitter disappointment. He suffered horrific injuries and his career suffered in much the same way. He rekindled some of the flame at Euro ’96 with one of the best goals of the tournament against Scotland, before another semi-final shoot out defeat at the hands of Germany.
Although Gascoigne possessed skill of such a high standard, his ability is dwarfed by the Frenchman Zinedine Zidane. A genius with a football, Zidane would win every trophy in the game and amazingly become an international hero with his last soccer action – headbutting the annoying Marco Materazzi.
Zidane played at the very highest level, and always looked a different class to everybody else. He possessed every skill needed to be a great footballer, although his temperament was somewhat questionable as shown in the FIFA World Cup Final 2006.
Zidane’s honours include three UEFA Champions League finals (with a solitary victory), two Serie A titles, one La Liga title, various cups in France, Italy and Spain as well as the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship. Zidane has also won FIFA World Player of the Year on three occasions and been transferred for a world-record 76 million euros.
The heir to Zidane’s throne, and with the possibility of being even better, is the AC Milan and Brazil player Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, known as Kaka. At the age of 26, Kaka has already won the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League and various other cups and league titles.
Kaka is very similar to Zidane in his ability to pick out a defence-splitting pass, as well beat players with speed and trickery. Kaka has currently played 58 times for Brazil scoring an impressive 22 goals. His club football has seen him play for Sao Paulo and AC Milan, while a host of clubs have attempted to tempt him away with multi-million pound offers.
Attacking midfielders of the likes of Gascoigne, Zidane and Kaka make the game of soccer what it is. Their skill and passion for the game are paramount to their teams’ ability to score goals and win games. As part of the midfield unit they help make the ball move fluently from defence to attack and make the game a feast for the supporters’ eyes.
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