Gianluigi Buffon tops list of the most-loved footballers in history

Gianluigi Buffon tops list of the most-loved footballers in history

While some footballers will go down as great or legends, they might not be universally loved by all of the fans in the sport.

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Keeping in the spirit of Valentine's Day, we take a look at a starting XI of the most loved footballers in history who were seen as heroes in the eyes of even their fiercest rivals.

While footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are loved and hated by fans, these footballers are loved all round regardless of where or who they played for.

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Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon - This was a hard choice as we could have gone with Oliver Kahn or Iker Casillas, but even those two admit that Buffon's longevity and sportsmanship transcend all.

The Juventus goalie is still going strong at 42 and despite playing two years in the top flight still has the passion of an 18-year-old. Regarded by many as the greatest in his position ever.

Right Back: Cafu - The Brazilian legend won the World Cup as captain in 2002 and has numerous other titles to his name. Regarded by some as the greatest right-back ever.

Central back: Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta - There was a period in history when these two were considered the best in the world in their position with Maldini always a feature on all-time greatest ever list.

Left-back: Roberto Carlos - Greatest left-back ever? Well, he has Maldini to battle that for. Everyone loves his bending free-kicks.

Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Zinedine Zidane - All three players have retired but they were really good during their playing days.

Lampard is probably the greatest goal-scoring midfielder ever.

Zidane is seen by many as one of the greatest if not the greatest midfielder ever. Who wasn't a fan of the Champions League-winning coach as a child?

Attackers: Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldinho - Pele and Maradona are seen as the greatest footballers ever and rightly so. They are still big celebrities despite retiring decades ago.

Ronaldinho takes out left attacking berth. Is there a footballer more loved that the always smiling Samba star and Barcelona legend?

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What do you think about our list?

Honourable mentions: Iker Casillas, John Terry, Andres Iniesta, Kanu Nwankwo, Johann Cruyff, Pablo Cannavaro, Thierry Henry, Ronaldo (the Brazilian).

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