It’s hard enough to get the better of one opponent on the football pitch but what happens when they have an almost telepathic connection with a teammate? These are some of football’s perfect pairings
Famous football partnerships
Every so often, a club will sign two players that seem to form an instant understanding. They’re so in tune with each other that they instinctively know where the other is on the pitch. And when they click, opposing teams and fans can only sit back and applaud.
While Manchester United’s veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and young gun Marcus Rashford are being tipped to form a formidable duo at Old Trafford, here are some other renowned partnerships from down the years:
- Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp
- Alfredo di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás
- Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton
- Xavi and Andres Iniesta
- Franz Beckenbauer and Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck
Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp
They were two of the greatest imports into the English game and Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp formed a lethal attacking partnership. With their goalscoring exploits, the pair helped Arsenal to become one of the top teams in British football. They spent seven years together in North London scoring over 200 goals. Both were stars of Gunners sides that landed two Premier League titles and they were also part of the legendary ‘Invincibles’ who went through the entire 2003-04 season undefeated.
Throughout his career, Henry, who has a statue outside the Emirates Stadium just like the Dutchman, featured in teams alongside world superstars like Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho. But when asked who was the best player he ever played with, the Frenchman answered with the name of his fellow Arsenal legend: Dennis Bergkamp.
Alfredo di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás
In 1958, Real Madrid signed the Hungarian Ferenc Puskás to form an attacking line with two of the best forwards in football history. The Spanish giants already had a certain Alfredo Di Stéfano in their squad who would become an icon at the Bernabeu. The Argentinian was later voted fourth in a Player of the Century list by France Football, behind only Pele, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff.
Madrid’s dazzling style was dubbed “The White Ballet” and the duo’s goals fired the club to four championship titles and two European Cups. A highlight of their time together was undoubtedly the continental showpiece against Eintracht Frankfurt in Glasgow in 1960. Real won 7-3 with Puskás scoring four times, while Di Stéfano grabbed three.
Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton
Known as ‘SAS’ - Shearer and Sutton - Blackburn Rovers boasted a fearsome strike force as they blasted their way to the Premier League title in 1995. Alan Shearer scored a whopping 34 times that season while Chris Sutton contributed another 15 goals to land the Ewood Park outfit a first league crown since 1914.
Injury robbed Sutton of a prolific follow-up campaign and by the season’s end Shearer had left the club to move to Newcastle. Their partnership may have been brief, but it was enough to become legendary.
Xavi and Andres Iniesta
Great football partnerships are not always about forward players. From 2002-2015, midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez took football to new levels with FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. In hundreds of games, the pair became celebrated as exponents of the superior technique and ball control famously known as Tiki-Taka.
If there’s any doubt that these two are among the best midfielder partnerships ever, you only have to look at their trophy cabinets. Together they won …
- 7 La Liga crowns
- 4 Champions League trophies
- 2 European Championship titles
- the 2010 World Cup
Franz Beckenbauer and Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck
It wouldn’t be a list of football greats without two German stalwarts. The defensive duo of Franz Beckenbauer and Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck could not have been more different in terms of style but were key players for the all-conquering Bayern Munich side of the 1970s. “Der Kaiser” stood out for his technique while Schwarzenbeck was as uncompromising as his colleague was skilful.
Franz Beckenbauer is often said to have invented the role of the modern sweeper, or ‘libero’, but it’s unlikely he would have flourished in the position without the unsung hero alongside him. Together they won four Bundesliga championships, three European Cups and European and World titles with Germany.