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Most Underrated Footballers of the Millennium

The beautiful game has seen some of the most exceptional footballers in the world, from Pele, Diego Maradona to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the new millennium has also witnessed the emergence of some players who may not have reached the same level of fame but were equally talented and impactful on the pitch. Here are some of the most underrated footballers of the millennium.

Claude Makelele

Makelele was the ultimate defensive midfielder and was an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team that won back-to-back Premier League titles in the early 2000s.

He was nicknamed “The Water Carrier” due to his ability to do the dirty work in midfield, breaking up opposition attacks and distributing the ball to his more attacking teammates. He was important to the team, but other, more famous teammates like Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba often took over.

Getty Images/ Sky Sports | The former Argentina international played a pivotal role in helping keep the Foxes in the Premier League last season

Philipp Lahm

Philipp Lahm is widely regarded as one of the best full-backs of his generation, yet he often goes unnoticed in discussions about the greatest footballers of all time. The German was integral to Bayern Munich’s success in the 2010s, helping the team win numerous Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2013. He was known for his impeccable positioning, reading of the game, and ability to play multiple positions.

Esteban Cambiasso

Esteban Cambiasso was a vital member of the Inter Milan team that won the treble in 2010. The Argentine midfielder was a tireless worker who could break up opposition attacks and create chances for his teammates.

He was also a goal threat, scoring some crucial goals for Inter in the Champions League. Despite his success, he never received the same recognition as some of his more high-profile teammates, such as Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o.

Matt Pearson/ Getty Images | Lahm entered Bayern Munich’s Hall of Fame on May 27, 2017

Wes Brown

Wes Brown played as a solid defender who played a crucial role in Manchester United’s success in the early 2000s. He was a part of the team that won three Premier League titles in a row between 2007-09, and he was also a regular in the United team that won the Champions League in 2008.

Michael Ballack

Michael Ballack was one of the best midfielders of his generation, yet he often goes unnoticed in discussions about the greatest footballers of all time. The German was a key player for Bayern Munich and Chelsea, helping both teams win numerous titles. He was known for his passing ability, powerful shots from a distance, and leadership on the pitch.

Javier Zanetti

Javier Zanetti was an Argentine defender who spent his entire career at Inter Milan, playing over 600 games for the club. He was known for his versatility, playing in multiple positions, and his tireless work rate. He was also a leader on the pitch, serving as Inter’s captain for over a decade. Despite his success, he never received the same recognition as some of his more high-profile teammates, such as Ronaldo and Francesco Totti.

Matt Pearson/ Getty Images | Javier Zanetti is one of the most iconic players in Italian football history

Dietmar Hamann

Dietmar Hamann was a crucial member of the Liverpool team that won the Champions League in 2005, famously coming off the bench to score a crucial penalty in the final against AC Milan. The German midfielder was known for his tough tackling and ability to read the game. He was successful but not as famous as some of his teammates, like Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso.

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