Which footballers are the brainiest and which are the ballsiest?

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Football is a game of balls vs brains in a number of ways. There is the literal ball rolling around the pitch, and the brains of the players trying to weave this ball into the opponent’s goal, and then of course there is the figurative definition of balls–and brains. There are players with a courage of mind, stoutly and resolutely forging opportunities based solely on effort and bravery, and on the flip side are cunning strategists who create via clever movements and tactics. The best players, surely, have healthy doses of both brains and balls–and the lads on this list are no exception.

Who are the brainiest players?

Frank Lampard shooting and scoring for Chelsea FC

Frank Lampard shooting and scoring for Chelsea FC

Frank Lampard has often been quoted as the smartest Chelsea footballer of all time, scoring a 150 on an intelligence test–the highest that testers at the club had ever encountered, and a score that puts Frank in the top 99.9% of intelligence for the entire population. Clever lad. Lampard is not the biggest nor the fastest midfielder that we’ve ever seen but what he lacks in pace he makes up for in precision and brilliance. Now playing for New York City Football Club in the MLS, Lampard sustained a magical career in the Premier League as well as playing for England in international fixtures for 20 years.

Dennis Bergkamp was half genius, half magician. Any man with this masterful of a touch is clearly considering the game on a different level than his competitors. While playing for Arsenal this striker earned a degree in Medical Engineering at the University of Bath. While other players may be going out to parties, Bergkamp was steadfastly studying the complex and challenging engineering textbooks like a proper student. Now an assistant manager at Ajax, he can share his knowledge to the best young Dutch players.

Dennis Bergkamp ball control - Arsenal statue

Dennis Bergkamp ball control – Arsenal statue

Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, or more commonly known by his single name (as is Brazilian tradition), Socrates, was the captain the Brazilian national side. Known as “the doctor”, Socrates was one of the few licensed medical doctors to ever play professional football.

Who are the ballsiest players?

Vinnie Jones is now perhaps known primarily as a film actor, generally portraying the role of “hard man” in movies such as Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, was once known for playing the “hard man” role throughout european midfields in the 90s. Jones was so effective as a hardman, he even earned caps with the Welsh international side. What he lacked for technical skill–he made up for with pure balls.

Lionel Messi may be the greatest football player to ever live, and it is due in part by his unwavering belief in himself. Standing just 5’7” Messi plays with the courage and panache of a giant. Messi sees an opportunity in a position that no one else could even attempt. Surely, Messi has an abundance of technical skill–but his most inspirational trait is his courage on the pitch.

Lionel Messi dribbling multiple opponents

Lionel Messi dribbling multiple opponents

Brian McBride was a London favorite and captain of Fulham for a time in the mid 2000s. This American striker was strong and tough, and would challenge for any and all balls in his area. Where other strikers may be divas or pretty boys, McBride would do the dirty work and score scrappy goals with his head and by fighting for balls deep in the box.

To even be remembered for a list like this takes both balls and brains, along with a host of natural talent. All of the players listed here have (and continue to leave, in some cases) an indelible impact on football and its fan base. Which players are your favorites? The ballsy or the brainy?

Sources: telegraph.co.uk / youtube.com / wikipedia.org