When people talk about complete strikers of 90s and early 00s; Ronaldo Nazario, Inzaghi, Del Piero, Nistelrooy, and Henry come into the mind, but there was another player from the small country Ukraine, who lit up European football in the best possible way.
Sheva was a blessing to watch in his prime with his subtle runs behind the defence and his ability to know his mark and finish with ridiculous ease. Unlike many strikers back then, Sheva was technically complete, and used his athletic figure to even drop to the wings and create goals.
He grabbed the attention of a Dynamo Kiev scout despite failing a dribbling test, and thanks to heavens he was selected, and by the time he was 16 he had already made his debut for Kiev. He spent 5 seasons with them, and won the league title in each season, where the pinnacle being inflicting a 4-0 drubbing to Barcelona where Sheva scored a hat-trick.
Milan went all guns blazing for him, and eventually secured him in 1999. Sheva never looked back. He scored 175 goals in 322 games in a league where strikers found it hard to sustain such tackles. He went on to win the Balon d’or, and everything seemed to go right for the Ukrainian.
However, in 2005 he decided to move to Chelsea, and the English club with the money from Roman Abramovich thought of securing the striker back then by paying £39.49 million. Things didn’t go well for him, and add to that those constant injury woes, Sheva looked like a pale figure from his Milan days.
He was shipped back to Milan on loan, but his magic had faded, but he did win the best player in Ukrainian league after moving back to Kiev to draw curtain on his career.
The Spaniard ran riot against Manchester United whenever Liverpool met United and was a nightmare for the duo of Vidic and Ferdinand.
Torres began his career playing for Atletico Madrid, the club he loves till date and it was his grandpa’s insistence, which got him through the trials, and he was soon their best asset after being registered on their books in 1995. Torres made a slow start, but quickly grew into a modern-day striker known for his scoring as well as dribbling and passing abilities. He switched to Liverpool in 2007, and under the guidance of Gerrard, became a goal scoring machine banging goals from every angle.
In all fairness, his form dipped during the fag end of his Liverpool days, and that was best manifested when he was dropped to the bench in Spain’s historic 2010 World Cup triumph. When Chelsea came knocking with £52.65 million, Liverpool saw no other option, and he donned the famous Blue jersey soon.
What followed was a might fall, and Torres was never the player he once was. His infamous open goal miss against United, coupled with his erratic behaviour on the pitch didn’t help his cause, and despite winning the Champions League with Chelsea, he was shipped off to Milan on loan, but soon he realized his boyhood club was the best place.
His move to Atletico proved to be a better decision, and he did play quite well although his scoring rate had already dropped to bare minimum. He now plays for Sagan Tosu, and looks to end his career in China.
At one point of time, there was no better player on the planet than Kaka, and yes that includes the magician Messi and the wrecking ball Cristiano Ronaldo. His burst of pace coupled with outstanding touches made him one of the finest Brazilians ever to play football.
He was in the books of Sao Paulo since he was 15, and after scoring 23 times in 58 matches, AC Milan acquired his services for “peanuts” as described by owner Silvio Berlusconi. Playing in behind Sheva, Kaka made the mighty Pirlo say that teams have no idea how to stop Kaka. His famous goal against United was a feat of beauty and he scored such goals at tandem without any fuss.
He helped Milan lift the UCL and was blessed with Balon d’or in 2007 for his achievements. Everything seemed to go well for Kaka, and 95 goals to his name in 270 games, Kaka found his calling in Spain with Real Madrid.
Pouched for £60.3 million, second highest at that time, Kaka joined Real with Cristiano under Perez’s rule, but he was soon hit by an injury, a recurring theme throughout his 4 seasons. However, Kaka was excellent everytime he was on the field and participated in a goal every 0.5 games. His relationship with Mourinho and his never ending injuries meant he went back to Milan, Orlando City, Sao Paulo and again Orlando before calling it a day in 2018.
To see Kaka end his career in this fashion breaks a football fan’s heart, and one can only imagine the greatness he could have achieved playing alongside Ronaldo in Real Madrid.