I can't count the number of threads on these forums that get derailed by discussions of what 'position' a player occupied (Is he a 'false 9' or a 'number 10' or a 'second striker' or an 'modern day inside forward' or a 'trequartista' or an 'attacking midfielder' or a 'ponta de lança'). Different football cultures have different names for the same positions, then things get even more confusing when people try to make numbers into positions. The same names also mean different things to different football cultures. I propose that we identify outfield players by their roles/functions in the team as oppose to a position in an effort to make things more clear. I would like to try to enlist the forums help in identifying all the different roles a player can have in the simplest and broadest sense. To me there are a few very clear roles that stand out. Now almost all players will preform more than one role in a team, the best players preform multiple functions at a very high level, e.g. create chances, finish chances, dictate that pace of the game etc. I would content that almost all players have a primary function despite doing multiple things. Cruyff for example finished chances often getting in the box and scoring on headers and rebounds etc, he also dictated the pace of the game by dropping deep and working short passes or winning the ball back with tackles. Despite these important roles I would argue his clear primary role in the team was to create chances with his dribbling and passing. Roles Finisher: This is self explanatory, the primary role of these players are to finish chances created by other players. This is not just goals either. For a modern example I am familiar with look at Theo Walcott. He has strong assist numbers for Arsenal but I would not count many if any of those assists 'chances created'. Walcott is usually released by a through ball (the chance created) and Walcott either goes for goal or squares a simple ball to an arriving midfielder who scores the chance. In this scenario Walcott and the arriving midfielder are both finishing the chance while the midfielder who played the through ball created it. Another player I would categorize as a finisher despite player at 'wide-forward' is Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid. At Man U he was much closer to a 50-50 split between chance creation and chance finishing. At Real he is the teams primary finisher of attacking moves. Other obvious historic players can be ranked here like Muller, Kocsis, Romario, etc etc. Chance Creator: Their primary role is to create a goalscoring chance where there was none before. This can be done primarily by dribbling past an opponent or making a key pass that puts a teammate in a position to score a goal or threaten the goal. Many times a player finishes a chance he creates (i.e. a player receives the ball outside the box where there is no apparent danger and then dribbles through multiple players, creating the chance, and then scores himself, finishing the chance) which somewhat complicate classifying them if they do this very often (e.g. Messi). Some players are pure chance creators like old school wingers Garrincha and Matthews. Cruyff and Maradona are both clearly chance creators but do some other things as well. Other players like Xavi straddle the line between creating chances and dictating the pace of the game, or Messi who straddles the line between and chance creator and finisher. Controller/Dictator: I can't come up with a good name for this role but it is a very common one played by most modern day midfielders and can be accomplished in a number of ways. Basically the player is attempting to control/dictate the pace of the game. This can be done by moving the ball with short passes and not allowing the other team possession (Xavi), releasing wingers and chance creators with long diagonal passes (Scholes/Pirlo), winning the ball back with aggressive tackling high up the pitch (Viera/Keane) or shielding defenders with midfield positioning and preventing opposing attacks from starting (Makalele) etc. This role encompasses most non attacking midfielders and Beckenbauer style sweepers imo. Some players are clearly and completely play this role ala Roy Keane and Edgar Davids who was strictly concerned with dictating the game with short passing, tacking, positioning, and energy. Other players were split pretty evenly between controlling/dictating and chance creation (Xavi, Didi, Scholes etc) and some a fairly evenly split between controlling/dictating and defending (Rijkaard). Defender: Their primary role is to stop opponents attacks from turning into goals. Man markers, Italian style sweepers, center backs, and some modern fullbacks (Maldini) all play this role. A full 100% defender would be someone like Jurgen Kohler or Jaap Stam. Players like Baresi and Moore both use their passing and technical skills and help control/dictate but they are clearly defenders. Other defenders, especially modern fullbacks and aggressive sweepers play straddle the line between multiple roles. Players like Krul were pretty even between dictating and defending. Some players like Roberto Carlos are almost a even split between defending and chance creation. Those are the four major roles/functions that jump out to me. They cross all time periods and all formations/tactics. There are always players finishing chances. creating chances, controlling/dictating and defending. The hardest position for me to pin down with one of these roles is the modern fullback. Are they jacks of all trades who do a little chance creating (crosses), a little controlling/dictating (using pace and energy and run up and down the whole flank tackling high up the field), and defending (marking winger etc) or are have they established a unique role where in modern times they now attempt to control a whole side of the pitch with their energy making runs up and down (although you could call this by definition a controller/dictator just operating on the sides of the pitch as oppose to through the middle). Is their a major role you think I have missed? Should more roles with more specifics make sense? I personally like the idea of having four major roles that every player can partake it. I will go through commie's top 5 at each position and assign roles based on percentages to help you guys get a better idea of how I envision these roles. "Strikers" 1. Ferenc Puskas (Hungary) Finisher: 60% finisher, 40% chance creator. Early in has career he appeared to be closer to pure finisher. Once he began to play with Kocsis for club and country he moved to close to 50-50 finisher and creator with excellent passing and vision. At Real he transferred back to almost a pure finisher. 2. Ronaldo (Brazil) Finisher: 65% finisher, 35% chance creator. Most of his chance creation was in his early days when he created many chances with his explosive dribbling, but even as a young player he never quite reached 50-50 creation and finishing. Later in his career he was 90% or so finishing. 3. Gerd Muller (West Germany) Finisher: 95 finisher, 5% chance creator. Pure finisher. Did have some good assist numbers but many were really part of finishing a move as oppose to creating it. 4. Eusebio (Portugal) Finisher: 65% finisher, 35% chance creator. Very similar to young Ronaldo imo. Primarily a scorer but created many chances with explosive dribbling. 5. Marco Van Basten (Holland) Finisher: 70% finisher, 30% creator. Could create chances out of nothing with quick turns and good passing but primary role was always finishing. "Forwards" 1. Pele (Brazil) Finisher: 55% finisher, 45% chance creator. He was a tough one. In his young days he created many chances with his dribbling and passing but to me his primary role was always scoring goals even if he had another player ahead of him. The 1970 version was probably a chance creator 60% and finisher 40% but as a whole I would but him as a finisher by an narrow margin. 2. Johan Cruyff (Holland) Chance Creator: 60% chance creator, 30% finisher, 10% controller. Already discussed him upthread. 3. Zico (Brazil) Chance Creator: 60% chance creator, 40% finisher. He was a great finisher and scored many goals but for me his primary role was still creating chances with his great passing and vision. 4. Juan Alberto Schiaffino (Uruguay) Chance Creator: 80% chance creator, 20% finisher. Pretty close to a pure chance creator from what I have read. 5. Matthias Sindelar (Austria) Chance Creator: 60% chance creator, 30% finisher, 10% controller. From what I have read he was primarily a creator despite playing center forward. Would drop deep to dictate sometimes, was know for his dribbling and long solo runs through the defense to score eye catching solo goals. Also a great passer. I imagine him having a similar role in the team to Cruyff. "Attacking Midfielder" 1. Alfredo di Stefano (Argentina) Finisher: 45% finisher, 30% controller, 30% chance creator. Maybe the hardest player for me to classify. His role as a young player in Argentina was clearly to finish chances while the creation was left to the famous elder statesmen he played with. At Real his role was to do everything. He is very interesting and unique role at Real in my opnion, where his two biggest roles were finishing and controlling, as oppose to chance creation the common role of the attacking midfielder (Not saying he did not do this, but it was not his primary role). The main chance creator of the team from what I saw was Gento. A very common passage of play from was di Stefano winning the ball back in the midfield or receiving it from the back, then playing a few short passes and the getting the ball wide to Gento, who in turn beats a player with pace and gets in a cross. In the mean time di Stefano has charged into the box and heads in the cross or picks up a poor clearance and smashes it home. The combination of controller and finisher seems unique to me. 2. Diego Maradona (Argentina) Chance Creator: 80% chance creator, 15% finisher, 5% controller. Clearly a primary chance creator, and maybe at his peak with the best ever at purely this role. Early in his career in Argentina was maybe up to 30% or 40% finisher. 3. Michel Platini (France) Chance Creator: 70% chance creator, 20% finisher, 10% controller. Slightly more varied than Maradona but still clearly a chance creator. More of a finisher than Maradona because most of the time Maradona scored a goal he also created it with great dribbling, whereas Platini scored many "easier/opportunistic" goals by getting himself in the box and cleaning up rebounds or scoring headers. 4. Bobby Charlton (England) Chance Creator: 40% chance creator, 35% controller, 25% finisher. A very well balanced player. Early in his career was a forward who was probably close to an even split between goalscoring and chance creation. Late in his career was a well rounded midfielder who scored goals, created chances, and was combative in the midfield. 5. Ruud Gullit (Holland) Chance Creator: 50% chance creator, 35% finisher, 15% controller. Scored goals and created chances with great proficiency. Also would put in a shift in the midfield dropping deep and passing/tackling. At PSV more of a pure finisher/creator "Wingers" (combining left and right) 1. Garrincha (Brazil) Chance Creator: 95% chance creator, 5% finisher. Could have gone 100% chance creator but he showed that in certain situations he can get in the box and score goals (1962 World Cup). Basically had one job for his teams dribble past players and get the ball in the box. 2. George Best (Northern Ireland) Chance Creator: 65% chance creator, 30% finisher, 5% controller. A far more varied player than Garrincha. Closer in role to someone like Cruyff. Created tons of chances with his dribbling but getting in the box and scoring goals was an important part of his game as well. Also would drop deep and put in a shift trying to win the ball back and build up play. 3. Paco Gento (Spain) Chance Creator: 80% chance creator 20% controller. Late in his career moved much more centrally and was involved in midfield play. 4. Stanely Matthews (England) Chance Creator: 100% chance creator. Pure creator, was not interested in scoring, only dribbling and crossing. 5. Zoltan Czibor (Hungary) Chance Creator: 75% chance creator, 25% finisher. Showed more finishing skills and desire to get in the box than many other wingers in WM or pyramid formations. "Defensive Midfielders" 1. Jozsef Bozsik (Hungary) Controller: 70% controller, 30% chance creator. From what I have seem was largely focused on dictating pace and controlling the midfield. Also helped created chances. 2. Lothar Matthaus (Germany) Controller: 60% controller, 20% chance creator, 10% finisher, 10% defender. Had different roles throughout his career but his predominant role was always to control the game. With Inter he was heavily involved in chance creation and finishing. Later he became a sweeper and defended far more. 3. Jose Leandro Andrade (Uruguay) Controller: 70% controller, 20% defender, 10% chance creator. Guessing a bit here but from what I read controlled the midfield, and by definition of his position spent a fair amount of time marking opposing wingers. I am sure he created chances as well with his dribbling and passing. 4. Ernst Orwirk (Austria) Controller: 90% controller, 5% defender, 5% chance creator. His nickname "Clockwork" exemplifies the role of controller. I do not think he spent a lot of time marking opponents or chance creating but not sure. 5. Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands) Controller: 55% controller, 40% defender, 5% chance creator. A major part of his game was marking opponents best players, spent a fair amount of his career an out and out defender. Still mostly concerned with controlling the game imo. "Sweepers" 1. Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) Controller: 70% controller, 15% chance creator, 15% defender. A classic controller for me dictating from the center of the pitch with his passing, whether playing as a midfielder or sweeper. 2. Franco Baresi (Italy) Defender: 80% defender, 20% controller. Mainly concerned with defending but contributed to controlling with his passing. 3. Daniel Passarella (Argentina) Defender: 60% defending, 20% controlling, 15% finishing, 5% chance creation. A defender who did a number of other things including getting in the box and scoring and controlling the game with with passing to support the attack. 4. Gaetano Scirea (Italy) Defender: 90% defender, 10% controller. Very similar role to Baresi but slightly more conservative. 5. Ruud Krol (Netherlands) Controller: 50% controller, 40% defender, 10% chance creator. Struggled with this one a little put the total football influence in his game caused him to spend a lot of time tackling high up the pitch and supporting the attack with his passing and positioning. "Center-backs" 1. Bobby Moore (England) Defender: 70% defender, 20% controller, 10% chance creator. A true dedicated defender who supported the attack and chipped in with chance creation through his excellent passing. 2. Jose Santamaria (Uruguay) Defender: 100% defender. From what I can gather was solely interested in defending. 3. John Charles (Wales) Finisher: 55% finisher, 40% defender, 5% chance creator. Played most influential parts of his career as a dominant striker who chipped in a little chance creation. Also played central defender where he dominated in the air and would mark opponents top striker from the game. But even as a defender still focused on scoring on set pieces so I had that as his primary role looking at his who career. Unique overall. 4. Marcel Desailly (France) Defender: 90% defender, 10% controller. Played some in the midfield but even then was mostly concerned with defensive duties (Man marking opponents, winning headers in defensive half etc). 5. Karl-Heinz Forster (Germany) Defender: 100% defender. From what I can gather was solely interested in defending. Fullbacks (Right and left combined) 1. Paolo Maldini (Italy) Defender: 90% defender, 10% controller. In his younger days would get higher up the pitch to support attack but no matter where he played he was always focused on defending. 2. Djalma Santos (Brazil) Defender: 60% defender, 30% controller, 10% chance creator. A well rounded fullback who was still primarily an excellent defender. Getting up the pitch and supporting the attack/creating chances was important to him but not his primary role. 3. Nilton Santos (Brazil) Defender: 70% defender, 25% controller, 5% chance creator. Similar to Djalma but from what I have read/seen slightly more conservative about getting forward. Also played more as a central defender as opposed to the new modern fullbacks role he and Djalma were creating. 4. Cafu (Brazil) Controller: 50% controller, 35% defender, 15% chance creation. In my opinion his main role was to control a whole side of the pitch using his tackling, dribbling, passing, and most importantly endless energy. He also put some importance on defending and creating chances. 5. Giacinto Facchetti Controller: 40% controller, 30% defender, 15% chance creator, 15% finisher. At Inter he developed a unique role at fullbacks, constantly pressing up the pitch and supporting the attack. Also created many chances and got in the box and scored a remarkable number of goals from open play for a defender. Did not neglect defensive duties and later in his career would use his defensive skills to become a sweeper. Overall I struggle with how to finally classify players. If I was going to do an all time ranking of "Chance Creators" I would be ranking Roberto Carlos (A fullback who I feel his primary role was to create chances) in the same group with Maradona and Cruyff. Would it make more sense to rank pure one role players together (players with 80% or more in one role) and then make separate categories for for players well balanced in a couple of roles? Let me know what you think of the idea.