Best La Liga players of the 1990s

fourfourtwo.com 96 days ago

Spain's top flight was home to some of the world's finest footballers in the 1990s. Here, a look at the cream of the crop...

Barcelona's Rivaldo and Real Madrid's Roberto Carlos in a Clasico clash in 2000.
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La Liga was one of Europe's strongest leagues in the 1990s and at that time, Spain's top flight was home to some of the world's best players.

The league itself was dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid, with only Atletico able to break the duopoly with their double triumph in 1995/96.

There was Spanish success in Europe, too. Barcelona won the European Cup for the first time in 1992, while Real Madrid claimed the Champions League in 1998. Barça and Zaragoza also won European Cup Winners' Cups in the 1990s.

Here, a look at the finest footballers from a memorable decade of football in Spain...

32. Meho Kodro

Meho Kodro in action for Barcelona against Israeli side Be'er Sheva in 1995.
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Bosnian forward Meho Kodro moved to La Liga in 1991 and would stay in Spain for the remainder of the decade.

One of the competition's best strikers in the early 1990s, Kodro scored 81 goals in 146 games across four seasons at Real Sociedad, before spells at Barcelona, Tenerife and Alaves on loan.

31. Emilio Butragueno

Emilio Butragueno in action for Real Madrid in 1985.
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Emilio Butragueno is more associated with the Real Madrid sides of the 1980s, but the Spanish striker was still going strong in the early 1990s.

Butragueno helped Los Blancos win La Liga in 1990, scored 20 and 25 in the next two campaigns and netted in the 1993 Copa del Rey win over Zaragoza. A fading force affer that, he left the club in 1995 with another league title.

Yugoslavia team-mates Predrag Mijatovic and Milinko Pantic out shopping during France 98.
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Milinko Pantic spent three years at Atletico Madrid in the 1990s and was key to the Rojiblancos' success in their double-winning season in 1995/96.

A creative midfielder with an eye for goal, Pantic excelled under Radomir Antic and scored 17 times en route to La Liga and the Copa del Rey. He was also the top scorer in the 1996/97 Champions League with five goals.

29. Andoni Zubizarreta

Andoni Zubizarreta in action for Valencia in 1996.
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Considered by many as Spain's greatest goalkeeper, Andoni Zubizarreta extended his long career into the late 1990s with Barcelona, Valencia and Spain.

The Basque won four La Liga titles in a row as the Dream Team's goalkeeper in the early 1990s and was between the sticks as Barça won the European Cup in 1992. He retired in 1998 after four seasons with Valencia.

28. Mauro Silva

Deportivo La Coruña's Mauro Silva slides in to dispossess Manchester United's Ryan Giggs in a Champions League game in 2001.
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Mauro Silva won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994 and spent over a decade at Deportivo La Coruña between 1992 and 2005.

A hard-working defensive midfielder, Silva was a key component in the Super Depor teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, helping the Galicians win the Copa del Rey in 1994/95 and La Liga in 1999/2000. The Brazilian was later voted as the greatest player in the club's history.

27. Gheorghe Hagi

Gheorghe Hagi celebrates a goal for Barcelona against Bayern Munich in 1996.
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One of the most talented footballers of the 1990s, Gheorghe Hagi spent two years at Real Madrid and later another two at Barcelona – and he was perhaps unfortunate with the timing of both those moves.

The Romanian won just a Supercopa at each club. While he was at Madrid, Barça were more successful – and vice versa. That is no fault of his and there were flashes of his genius at both clubs, but he did not truly make a lasting impression with either.

26. Claudio Lopez

Claudio Lopez in action for Valencia in 1999.
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Claudio Lopez spent four seasons at Valencia in the late 1990s and excited fans with his dribbling, his link-up play and his goals.

The Argentine attacker hit 33 goals in all competitions in 1998/99 as Valencia won the Copa del Rey and finished fourth in La Liga. He moved to Lazio in 2000.

25. Alfonso

Alfonso Perez celebrates a goal for Real Betis in 2004.
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Real Betis were an exciting team in the late 1990s and Alfonso Perez was a big part of the Seville side's success in that period.

The striker arrived from Real Madrid in 1995 and fired Betis to fourth in La Liga in 1996/97 as he hit 25 goals. Alfonso was also on target in a Copa del Rey final loss after extra time to Barcelona in 1998, when he was named Spanish Player of the Year.

24. Patrick Kluivert

Patrick Kluivert in action for Barcelona against Hertha Berlin in 1999.
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Patrick Kluivert was one of a number of Dutch players brought to Barcelona by Louis van Gaal during his tenure in the late 1990s.

The former Ajax striker formed a mouthwatering front three alongside Rivaldo and Luis Figo in a team which scored plenty of goals en route to winning La Liga in 1998/99. Kluivert went on to net 122 times in 257 games for Barça.

23. Predrag Mijatovic

Predrag Mijatovic on the ball against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in 1998.
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On an individual level, Predrag Mijatovic's best season in Spain came with Valencia in 1995/96, when the Montenegrin scored an impressive 34 goals in 49 appearances.

But the big moments and prizes came after he joined Real Madrid in the summer of 1996. The former Yugoslavia striker was less prolific with Los Blancos, but netted the winner in the 1998 Champions League final and also won La Liga, a Supercopa and an Intercontintenal Cup during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

22. Christian Vieri

Italian footballers Christian Panucci and Christian Vieri in action for Real Madrid and Atletico in a derby match in 1998.
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Atletico Madrid fans must wonder what would have happened if Christian Vieri had stayed at their club for a little longer.

Vieri's sole season at Atleti was extraordinary, with the former Italy striker on target 24 times in 24 La Liga games. But he was soon on his way back to Serie A with Lazio in 1998 and Atletico were relegated a couple of years later.

21. Fernando Morientes

Fernando Morientes on the ball for Real Madrid against Numancia in 1999.
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After emerging at Albacete and two impressive years at Zaragoza, Fernando Morientes moved to Real Madrid in 1997 and became a popular player at the Santiago Bernabeu.

A starter for Madrid in the late 1990s, the former Spain striker was part of the Champions League-winning side of 1997/98 and scored 100 goals in 272 games for Los Blancos before eventually losing his place in the Galactico era.

20. Lyuboslav Penev

Lyuboslav Penev in action for Bulgaria at Euro 96.
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Lyuboslav Penev spent virtually the whole of the 1990s in Spain, where he played for Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Compostela and Celta Vigo.

The Bulgarian forward scored consistently for all of his clubs, but especially excelled at Atletico as the club's top scorer in a La Liga and Copa del Rey double in 1995/96. He was surprisingly sold the following summer. 

19. Ivan Zamorano

Ivan Zamorano in action for Real Madrid against Ajax in 1995.
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Ivan Zamorano spent six seasons in La Liga in the 1990s and was particularly productive during his time at Real Madrid.

After two years at Sevilla, the explosive Chilean striker signed for Los Blancos and went on to score an impressive 101 goals in 173 appearances for the club. He won La Liga, a Copa del Rey and a Supercopa with Madrid.

18. Clarence Seedorf

Real Madrid's Clarence Seedorf looks to get away from Barcelona pair Luis Figo and Pep Guardiola in a Clasico chash in 1997.
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Clarence Seedorf enjoyed a long playing career and was one of the best midfielders in the world at his peak.

The former Dutch international was part of Real Madrid's Champions League-winning team of 1997/98 and went on to win the trophy four times with three different clubs. He also won La Liga in just over three years in Spain before moving to Inter in 1999.

17. Romario

Barcelona's Romario takes a shot against Manchester United in 1994.
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Romario was not at Barcelona for long, but the Brazilian forward made a significant impact in his short stay at Camp Nou.

The diminutive striker scored 32 goals in 47 games as Barça won La Liga and made the Champions League final in 1993/94. He hit some stunning strikes in that time, but was back Brazil just six months later. He briefly returned to Spain for two short spells at Valencia.

16. Davor Suker

Real Madrid pair Roberto Carlos and Davor Suker with the Intercontinental Cup in 1998.
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At his peak, Davor Suker was an outrageously talented striker, one of the best in the world – and much of that time was spent in La Liga.

The Croatian hit 90 goals in 177 games for Sevila across five seasons and went on to win La Liga, the Champions League, a Supercopa and an Intercontinental Cup in a successful spell at Real Madrid later in the decade.

15. Gaizka Mendieta

Gaizka Mendieta celebrates after scoring for Valencia against Barcelona in the Champions League in 2000.
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For a period in the late 1990s, Gaizka Mendieta was one of the most exciting players in the world.

An all-action midfielder and scorer of spectacular goals, Mendieta was the heartbeat of a great Valencia team in the late 1990s and early 1990s, winning the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa in 1999 before reaching back-to-back Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001. He was never the same after leaving for Lazio in 2001.

14. Julen Guerrero

Julen Guerrero celebrates after scoring for Athletic Club against Galatasaray in the Champions League in 1998.
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Julen Guerrero broke through at the age of 18 years old and quickly became a fan favourite at Athletic Club, where he spent his entire career.

A two-footed attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, Guerrero was a prolific scorer for the Bilbao outfit and a fixture in the Spain sides throughout the 1990s before he declined in the early 2000s. One of the best of his generation.

13. Fernando Redondo

Fernando Redondo in action for Real Madrid against Rosenborg in 1999.
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Fernando Redondo was part of the Tenerife teams which twice denied Real Madrid La Liga titles on the final day of the season, but later became a legend with Los Blancos.

The Argentine was an elegant deep-lying playmaker who was hugely popular at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he helped the club win two La Liga titles in the 1990s, along with the Champions League in 1998 and again in 2000.

12. Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique in action for Barcelona in 1998.
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After impressing for hometown club Sporting Gijon in 1990/91, Luis Enrique spent the rest of his career at Spain's two biggest clubs – Real Madrid and Barcelona.

While there were some highs in his six seasons at Madrid, it was at Barcelona from 1996 onwards where Luis Enrique played his best football. The midfielder was a much more prolific scorer at Camp Nou and contributed to two La Liga wins in the late 1990s, having also won a title with Madrid in 1994/95.

11. Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman celebrates after scoring Barcelona's winner against Sampdoria in the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley.
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Ronald Koeman's spell at Barcelona coach did not work out well in the end, but the Dutchman will always be a legend for what he achieved as a player at the Catalan club between 1989 and 1996.

As sweeper in Johan Cruyff's Dream Team, Koeman was part of an exciting side which won four straight La Liga titles and he scored the most important goal in Barça's history – the winner against Sampdoria in the 1992 European Cup final. 

10. Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone in action for Atletico Madrid against Albacete in 2004.
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Diego Simeone was one of the best midfielders of the 1990s and the Argentine spent five years in La Liga – two at Sevilla and three with Atletico Madrid.

After playing alongside Argentina team-mate Diego Maradona at Sevilla, it was at Atletico where the all-action midfielder really made his mark, helping the Rojiblancos win a La Liga and Copa del Rey double in 1995/96. He later enjoyed great success as their coach.

9. Ronaldo

Ronaldo on the ball for Barcelona against Real Madrid in 1997.
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Ronaldo spent only one season in La Liga in the 1990s – but the Brazilian's impact in that campaign at Camp Nou was extraordinary.

Signed from PSV Eindhoven in 1996, Ronaldo scored 47 goals in just 49 appearances for Barça the following season and was at his explosive best during his year at the Catalan club. Injuries would later take their toll after a move to Inter and although he was still a great player on his return to Spain with Real Madrid in 2002, the 1996/97 Ronaldo was out of this world.

8. Fernando Hierro

Real Madrid defender Fernando Hierro tackles Dynamo Kyiv's Andriy Shevchenko in a Champions League game in 1999.
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Fernando Hierro started his career at Real Valladolid but played only with Real Madrid through the 1990s, joining in 1989 and staying until 2003.

The former club captain was an elegant central defender who was also comfortable in midfield. He scored 127 goals in over 600 appearances for Madrid and won a host of trophies with Los Blancos, including three La Liga titles and a Champions League in the 1990s.

7. Pep Guardiola

Barcelona midfielder Pep Guardiola on the ball against Arsenal as Dennis Bergkamp gives chase in a Champions League game in 1999.
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A stylish and cerebral deep-lying playmaker, Pep Guardiola was an extraordinary midfielder for Barcelona in the 1990s.

Guardiola did not score many goals but everything seemed to go through him in the role of pivot. Young Pep made hos debut in Johan Cruyff's Dream Team, winning the European Cup and four straight La Liga titles. He stayed at Barça throughout the 1990s and won six leagues with the Catalan club before joining Brescia in 2001.

6. Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos celebrates a goal for Real Madrid against Olympiacos in 1999.
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Roberto Carlos decided to leave Inter in 1996 after being used as a winger by the Italian club. The Brazilian wanted to play as an attacking left-back and, at Real Madrid, he became the best in the world.

Known for his marauding runs down the flank, his powerful left foot and threat from free-kicks, Roberto Carlos was also a charismatic and popular player who became a legend for club and country. He won La Liga in 1996/97 and was part of the Madrid team which claimed the Champions League the following season.

5. Luis Figo

Barcelona's Luis Figo is tracked by Bayern Munich's Bixente Lizarazu in a Champions League game in 1998.
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Luis Figo joined Barcelona in 1995 from Sporting CP and the Portuguese winger was a hugely popular player at the Catalan club in the late 1990s.

One of the world's finest footballers during that time, Figo was a key part of the Barça sides which won La Liga in 1998 and 1999. He also helped the Blaugrana to two Copas del Rey, a Supercopa, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and a UEFA Super Cup before his controversial move to Real Madrid in 2000.

4. Rivaldo

Rivaldo in action against Fiorentina in the Champions League in 1999.
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Rivaldo's first season in La Liga was spent at Deportivo La Coruña and the Brazilian's brilliant form in Galicia saw him signed by Barcelona in the summer of 1997.

At Camp Nou, he operated on the left and was a prolific scorer, bagging 28 goals in each of his first two seasons as Barça won back-to-back LaLiga titles. A creator and a scorer of spectacular goals, Rivaldo netted 130 times in 235 games for the Catalan club and also won the Ballon d'Or in 1999.

3. Michael Laudrup

Barcelona's Michael Laudrup evades the challenge of Sampdoria's Moreno Mannini in the 1992 Europea Cup final at Wembley.
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Michael Laudrup spent seven seasons in La Liga between 1989 and 1996 – five with Barcelona and two at Real Madrid.

An elegant playmaker and creator with a decent scoring record, the Dane was at the heart of Johan Cruyff's Dream Team which won four La Liga titles in a row and Barça's first European Cup in 1992. After a fallout with the Dutch coach, Laudrup moved to Madrid and won another league title there. He also played in 5-0 Clasico wins for both clubs.

2. Raul Gonzalez

Real Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez is challenged by Bayern Munich pair Stefan Effenberg and Steffan Effenberg and Nils Eric Johansson in a Champions League clash in 2000.
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Raul Gonzalez burst onto the scene as a talented 17-year-old in 1994, replacing Real Madrid legend Emilio Butragueno in the team and becoming the club's youngest-ever player.

An intelligent, hard-working and creative striker with an excellent goals record, Raul was Madrid's all-time top scorer until he was overtaken by Cristiano Ronaldo and later Karim Benzema. He won two La Liga titles in the 1990s and in 1998, he helped Los Blancos to a first European Cup in 32 years.

1. Hristo Stoichkov

Barcelona's Hristo Stoichkov is brought down during a European Cup semi-final against Porto at Camp Nou in 1994.
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Hristo Stoichkov joined Barcelona from CSKA Sofia in 1990 and the creative forward became a vital cog in Johan Cruyff's Dream Team.

The Bulgarian helped Barça win four La Liga titles in a row and a first ever European Cup for the Catalan club in 1992. He later spent a season on loan at Parma but came back to win more trophies and scored 117 goals in 255 appearances overall. Stoichkov also took home the Ballon d'Or in 1994.