A-Z

A celebration of These Football Times’ writers’ favourite stars of the 2000s, from Alonso and Kaka to Zidane and Henry.

A-Z of the 2000s: Zinedine Zidane

Before hanging up his boots for good after the 2006 World Cup, two moments, across six years of this particular decade, defined Zinedine Zidane

A-Z of the 2000s: Fran Yeste

Is Yeste equal or superior to most of the other players on this list when it comes to sheer talent? Yes. Is he better than all the other Ys? Undoubtedly

A-Z of the 2000s: Xavi

“Xavi is eternal. Even when he is not at his very best level physically, he plays a kind of football that gives oxygen to a team. He is football”

A-Z of the 2000s: Abby Wambach

With two Olympics golds, a World Cup win and a FIFA Player of the Year award, Abby Wambach became the face of US soccer and a cultural movement

A-Z of the 2000s: Juan Carlos Valerón

Valerón will be best remembered for his part in the Depor side of the turn of the 21st century. A quiet, loyal man, his 13-year spell was seminal

A-Z of the 2000s: Tomáš Ujfaluši

Named as one of Fiorentina and the Czech Republic’s greatest defenders, Tomáš Ujfaluši was one of the 2000s most underrated players

A-Z of the 2000s: Fernando Torres

The Fernando Torres of the 2000s may not always have been blessed with world-class teammates, but he was a force like no other

A-Z of the 2000s: Andriy Shevchenko

Football has changed dramatically in the two decades since Andriy Shevchenko burst onto the scene, but his legacy remains unblemished

A-Z of the 2000s: Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney is the best British footballer of this century yet somehow he still doesn’t receive the recognition or accolades that he deserves

A-Z of the 2000s: Ricardo Quaresma

It is for his silky skills, not his various deficiencies, that Quaresma will be remembered as time slowly wears the memories of his fleeting career away

A-Z of the 2000s: Carles Puyol

Carles Puyol was the architect of an enduring legacy that heralds him one of the best defenders in Barcelona and world football history

A-Z of the 2000s: Michael Owen

You can choose to remember Owen in any way you want, but consider yourself lucky that you weren’t playing against him during his golden years at Liverpool

A-Z of the 2000s: Pavel Nedvěd

Despite falling short of the biggest prizes for both club and country, Nedvěd would go down as one of the best players of the decade, a Juventus legend

A-Z of the 2000s: Paolo Maldini

There’s a reason people who’d seen him play would joke, “If Paolo Maldini was the Minister of Defense, no country would want to attack Italy.”

A-Z of the 2000s: Frank Lampard

Gerrard was a monster, while Scholes was sublime. But if you take the raw stats and impact over a decade, no midfielder can top Frank Lampard

A-Z of the 2000s: Kaká

Unfortunately, Kaká never really belonged to us mere mortal. Nevertheless, so great were his gifts, football could not help but praise him on high

A-Z of the 2000s: Juninho Pernambucano

Try as they might, studying his game as fervently as they can, nobody will ever strike a dead ball quite like Juninho Pernambucano. Nobody

A-Z of the 2000s: Zlatan Ibrahimović

It was between 2000 and 2010 that Ibrahimović reached a peak he would maintain into the next decade and discovered what kind of man he wanted to be