For so long the nearly-men of international football, Spain enjoyed a golden generation of talent in the late 2000s, who helped La Roja claim three straight major international trophies.
Prior to their 1-0 victory over Germany in the final of Euro 2008, it had been 44 years since the country last claimed silverware. However, once the Spanish side had a taste for glory, they quickly followed it up with victories at both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
It’s no surprise then to see FourFourTwo’s recent countdown of the 10 greatest players ever to represent Spain packed with players from the most successful period in their history.
So tough, in fact, was the competition for places that there is no room on the list for Fernando Torres – Spain’s goalscorer in the Euro 2008 final.
Let’s now take a look at the top 10 in full, which includes some of the finest technical players ever to grace a pitch.
The 10 greatest Spanish players ever (as ranked by FourFourTwo)
10. Xabi Alonso
9. Gerard Pique
8. Carles Puyol
6. Sergio Busquets
5. Sergio Ramos
MADRID, SPAIN – JUNE 10: Sergio Ramos of Spain celebrates scoring during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group F match between Spain and Sweden at Bernabeu on June 10, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
4. David Villa
3. Iker Casillas
2. Andres Iniesta
Vicente del Bosque – who led Spain to both their 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship triumphs once described Xavi as being “more important than the coach” to the national side.
The midfielder was also tipped to “become the brain behind Barcelona for many years to come,” by his former boss Pep Guardiola.
MADRID, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 14: Xavi Hernandez of Spain goes to take a corner kick during the International friendly match between Argentina and Spain at the Vicente Calderon stadium on November 14, 2009 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Ironically, Pep was spot on, as Xavi is now in charge at the Camp Nou – where he works alongside a host of Spanish youngsters including Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati.
A major force in Spain’s glory years, Xavi deservedly tops the countdown and looks set to be a significant influence on the future of the national side.
Xavi eventually taking charge of La Roja probably shouldn’t be ruled out, either.
UNSPECIFIED – JULY 12: (L-R) Sergio Ramos, Xavi Hernandez, Pedro Rodriguez, Carles Puyol, Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres celebrate with the World Cup trophy during the Spanish team’s flight home on board a plane from Johannesburg to Madrid following their victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup on July 12, 2010 in flight, Unspecified. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Just beaten to first place by his former Barcelona colleague is majestic playmaker Iniesta.
The Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament hung up his international boots after the 2018 World Cup – at which time he also parted company with Barca.
The 38-year-old has resisted the call of retirement, though, still plying his trade with Japanese side Vissel Kobe today.
DAEJEON – JUNE 12: Raul of Spain celebrates scoring the third goal during the Spain v South Africa, Group B, World Cup Group Stage match played at the Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon, South Korea on June 12, 2002. Spain won 3-2. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)
While nine out of the 10 stars to make the final cut played their respective parts in Spain’s period of dominance, Real Madrid legend Raul missed out altogether, having been dropped by then-coach Luis Aragones in the months leading up to Euro 2008.
For years considered Spain’s best player, Raul can consider himself a little unlucky not to have international honours to his credit.
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