Football is the most popular sport on the planet. With passionate supporters based all over the world, football is a global game that dominates day-to-day conversation in pubs, offices and schools across every continent.
One of the main reasons for the growth of football betting and the popularity of the sport is the people involved in football – both past and present. In recent years, iconic characters like Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimović have grasped audiences on the touchline, in the studio and on the pitch.
Sadly, some of football’s biggest icons are no longer with us. However, their legacies will live long in the memory at their respective clubs. Here are 10 football legends that we would’ve loved to interview here at 888sport:
Sir Matt Busby
Busby was manager of Manchester United for 25 years and he led the club through their darkest times following the Munich Air Disaster. Eight players tragically lost their lives but Busby defied the odds to survive despite a bleak outlook.
The Red Devils manager went about rebuilding the club and Manchester United secured their first European Cup just 10 years later. It was a miraculous turnaround and the ‘Busby Babes’ will forever be remembered for their impact and influence across the globe.
One of the most naturally talented footballers of all-time, Cruyff was a key figure during the ‘total football’ era. Playing for Ajax and Barcelona for the majority of his club career, Cruyff made a name for himself on football’s biggest stage.
The Cruyff Turn is still one of the best skills for young footballers to learn and the Dutchman will go down in history as a true icon of the beautiful game. His legacy as a superb manager also lives on to this day.
Arguably the most influential figure in Liverpool’s history, Paisley averaged 2.2 trophies per season during his nine-year stint as a manager. Shankly led the club to unprecedented levels of success prior to Paisley but Paisley’s impact as his assistant did not go unnoticed.
To this day, Paisley is one of only three managers to win the European Cup three times – an incredible feat. It would’ve been great to talk to Paisley about how this current Liverpool side compares to the dominant force in the 1970s.
Moore captained England to victory at the 1966 World Cup and he was a respected figure across the country. The England legend spent most of his club career at West Ham United and he is widely regarded as the club’s greatest ever player.
Interviewing Moore about that World Cup success would be a dream come true for any young football fan. To this day, England have yet to win a major tournament – though our Euro 2020 guide suggests maybe that could change this summer.
Sir Bobby Robson
One of football’s good guys, Robson was particularly loved by Newcastle United fans after his managerial exploits at St James’ Park. However, it would be foolish to ignore his impact at Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Ipswich Town as well.
Awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, the former England manager did great things during his career and he was always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to help those less fortunate than himself.
Speed was somewhat underrated as a player but he was incredibly loyal wherever he went. In fact, he retired having played over 200 matches for Leeds United and Newcastle United while also appearing in over 100 games for Bolton Wanderers.
At the time of Speed’s death, only David James and Ryan Giggs had played more Premier League matches than the Welshman. To this day, Wales fans are reaping rewards from his hard work with the national squad – their place at Euro 2020 has been confirmed.
‘One club’ men are a rarity these days but McNeill certainly fits the bill. He was totally committed to Celtic, spending over 60 years at the Glasgow club as a player, manager and club ambassador – McNeill will go down as one of Celtic’s greatest ever players.
He captained Celtic’s Lisbon Lions to European Cup glory in 1967 while also leading the club to nine successive Scottish league titles. McNeill played the entirety of his 18-year career at Celtic Park and fans still sing about the club legend on the terraces.
The one and only Brian Clough simply has to feature on this list. Clough really changed the game for managers in English football, bringing a unique mix of humour and integrity into the sport – and he was a terrific goal scorer as a player as well.
Labelled as the ‘greatest manager England never had’ by some, Clough always tried to put a lighter spin on discussions. An interview with the man responsible for some of football’s funniest quotes would certainly have been one to relish.
The first question we’d have lined up for Banks would be: how on earth did you pull off that save from Pele? The clip of the England goalkeeper getting down to keep the Brazilian out has been watched millions of times around the world – it is an iconic piece of footage.
Banks played every minute of every game in England’s World Cup triumph in 1966 and fans will be forever grateful for his efforts during that campaign. While Peter Shilton holds the all-time goalkeeper caps tally, Banks might just be England’s greatest.
Shankly was a true icon of British football and he is still widely regarded as one of the best managers to grace England’s top flight. His influence at Anfield is still clear to see, even 60 years after he first arrived at the club.
At the beginning of the season, many fans believed that Liverpool would win the title this season but not even the most ardent Red would’ve expected to be this far ahead of the rest. Without a doubt, Shankly will be smiling down on this current crop of Liverpool stars.
*Credit for the main photo belongs to Jon Super / AP Photo*