Argentina is a rich country when it comes to soccer players, from Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, to Juan Roman Riquelme, skill, talent, and at times a little bit of viveza is the mark of Argentine soccer players.

This list sadly omits great players like Alfredo Di Stéfano, who never played a World Cup for Argentina, and Juan Roman Riquelme, who despite playing in 1 World Cup had issues with virtually every coach he ever had.

Those that made this list truly left a mark on the Argentine national team at the World Cup level, here are 25 great World Cup players for Argentina.

25. Sergio Goycochea

El Vasco Sergio Goycochea became a national hero in Argentina after making decisive penalty kick saves in games against Yugoslavia and Italy in the World Cup of 1990. Not privileged with an amazing club career, Goycochea had an incredible national team career which saw him win three titles with Argentina.

24. Jorge Valdano

Jorge Valdano was the perfect play off partner to Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup. Only 7 goals in 23 matches but the best was saved for last as Valdano scored 4 goals in the 86 tournament. Valdano did not see eye to eye with coach Carlos Bilardo after the 86 tournament and was dropped from the squad while playing at Real Madrid.

23. Fernando Redondo

Fernando Redondo was one of the most skilled Argentine players of all-time, despite only playing the 1994 World Cup, the former Real Madrid defensive midfielder left a huge mark on the national team. Redondo won 2 championships with Argentina and was regarded as one of the most professional players to put on an Argentina kit. Injuries and an inexplicable fight with coach Daniel Passarella over getting his hair cut left Argentina without one of its best players of the 1990s.

22. Leopoldo Luque

A skilled striker Leopoldo Luque scored 22 goals in 44 games for Argentina, none bigger than his 4 goals in the 1978 World Cup. Luque only played one World Cup but is extremely respected and remembered.

21. Oscar Ruggeri

A leader at the back and tough defender Oscar Ruggeri was not the most skilled or athletic defender, but he certainly was a talker and could get under the skin of his opponents. Despite a checkered history, El Cabezon, won two Copa Americas, 1 Confederations cup, and the 1986 World Cup. Ruggeri played in three World Cups with 7 goals in 97 matches for the national team.

20. Hernán Crespo

A great goal scorer for the national team, Hernán Crespo’s curse was that he was behind Gabriel Batistuta in the pecking order. Nonetheless Crespo has 35 goals in 65 games for Argentina. Crespo managed to play in three World Cups with 2006 being the only one he started in scoring 3 goals in that tournament.

19. Alberto Tarantini

One of the greatest left backs in the country's history, Alberto Tarantini played 61 times for Argentina and won the 78 World Cup and played in two tournaments. Alberto Tarantini played all the way until 1988 enjoying success at River Plate, Boca Juniors, and Toulouse in France.

18. Claudio Caniggia

With a rockstar look, Claudio Caniggia was a big force for Argentina with his emergence in 1987. The forward was pure speed and finishing skill playing in 50 games and scoring 16 goals. Caniggia won 4 titles with Argentina and played in the 1990, 1994, and at the age of 35, 2002 World Cup as Marcelo Bielsa wanted to give the blonde forward another chance on the national team. Caniggia scored four goals in 8 World Cup matches.

17. Guillermo Stábile

No Argentine striker has done more at a World Cup than Guillermo Stábile in 1930, scoring 8 goals in only 4 games. Guillermo Stábile was the first ever Golden Boot of the tournament and his contribution should not go without mention. Guillermo Stábile also has the honor of scoring in every game he played in for Argentina with an average of two goals per match.

16. Daniel Bertoni

A skilled right winger, Daniel Bertoni scored 12 goals in only 31 matches for Argentina and won the 1978 World Cup. Bertoni would return in 1982 but then was phased out of the national team, but not without showcasing his skill for 7 years.

15. Américo Gallego

Often overlooked because he was just a hard worker on teams filled with superstars, but Américo Gallego was the glue that held the defense and offense together. El Tolo was a hardnosed midfielder with great ball stealing skills and played 73 times for the national team. Gallego won the 78 World Cup and played in the 1982 tournament. Gallego went on to become a successful manager winning titles with River Plate, Independiente, Newell’s Old Boys, and Toluca in Liga MX. 

14. Jorge Burruchaga

The understudy or co-star of Diego Maradona in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, Jorge Burruchaga was a skilled winger with great finishing skill. It was El Burru’s run that won the 1986 World Cup for Argentina, 3-2 over West Germany. Jorge Burruchaga played in two World Cups and made it to the final in both.

13. René Houseman

The world was mesmerized by René Houseman’s dribbling techniques in 1974 and 1978. An incredible talent, few have had the dribbling skills of René Houseman, unfortunately all that talent was wasted due to his addiction to alcohol, despite that he scored 13 goals in 55 games for the Albiceleste and won the 78 World Cup. His coach César Menotti stated, “Houseman is a mixture of Maradona and Garrincha.”

12. Gonzalo Higuaín

A club career that spans River Plate, Real Madrid, Juventus, Napoli among others, Gonzalo Higuaín was a talented striker. 31 goals in 75 games, El Pipa is sadly known for his misses in finals of the Copa America and the 2014 World Cup, but along the way Gonzalo Higuaín scored 5 World Cup goals and played in three World Cups. 

11. Ubaldo Fillol

Considered to have revolutionized the position of goalkeeper, Ubaldo Fillol was a lanky but quick on his feet goalkeeper who won the 1978 World Cup. Fillol was a part of three World Cups for Argentina and was goalkeeper of the tournament in 1978.

10. Diego Simeone

A hardnosed defensive midfielder Diego Simeone is widely respected all over the world for his passion on the pitch. El Cholo played in 108 games and scored 11 goals. Known to be an obsessive, he won two Copa Americas and participated in three World Cups with Argentina.

9. Luis Artime

No striker has had the scoring ratio of Luis Artime, who scored 24 goals in 25 games for Argentina. Artime was a fierce goal scorer who played in the 1966 World Cup and impressed in three storied South American clubs, River Plate and Independiente in his native Argentina and Nacional of Uruguay where he is beloved by the Tricolor fans.

8. Javier Zanetti

One of the most well-respected Argentine soccer players of all time, Javier Zanetti was a rock at the back for Argentina from 1994-2011 playing in 145 games and scoring 5 goals. The Inter Milan full back had elegance, class, and lungs on his flank playing in only two World Cups and inexplicably left off of the 2006 and 2010 rosters when Zanetti was at the height of his career.

7. Sergio Agüero

The former Manchester City striker, Sergio Agüero was a formidable goal scorer for the Argentine team scoring 41 goals in 101 caps. Agüero was always consistent be it starting or coming in off the bench and was a part of three World Cups for Argentina.

6. Javier Mascherano

A solid defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano was a true leader and often the glue that kept the Argentine national team together. With over 140 caps with Argentina Javier Mascherano played in 4 World Cups and was said by Diego Maradona to be a more important player than Lionel Messi at one point.

5. Daniel Passarella

One of the greatest defenders of all time, Daniel Passarella was the captain of the World Cup winning team of 1978. Passarella was an exceptional man to man defender and a goal scorer, having 22 goals in 70 games for Argentina. Passarella represented Argentina in two World Cups and technically has won both world titles, but never played a match in Mexico 86 due to illness. Passarella also coached the Argentine national team during the France 98 cycle.

4. Mario Kempes

Before everyone wanted to be Maradona or Messi, Mario Kempes was a national hero for Argentina scoring two goals in the 1978 final against the Netherlands. Kempes scored 20 goals in 43 games for the Albiceleste and played in three World Cups. The importance of Mario Kempes has been lost to the sands of time, but he was a legendary forward who played for River Plate and Valencia among others.

3. Gabriel Batistuta

One of the most feared goal scorers of his generation for almost two decades, Gabriel Batistuta was the all-time leading scorer for Argentina until Messi surpassed him. Nonetheless BatiGol scored 56 goals in 78 games and represented Argentina in three World Cups.

2. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi has broken every record on the Argentine national team, he is the most capped and the all-time leading goal scorer. One of the most brilliant soccer players of all time, Messi has shown all his skill on the national team, winning 1 Copa America and to jump up a spot over Maradona he needs a World Cup. Messi is to many the greatest player of all time having represented Argentina in 4 World Cups with Qatar being his 5th. Messi made it to the final in 2014 but fell short in extra time.

1. Diego Maradona

No one has dominated a World Cup like Diego did in 1986, almost single handedly taking Argentina to their second world title. Maradona is more than a soccer player; he was a national icon for the Argentines, and after his passing the world. Maradona is the rebellious spirit of a sport that over time has become too structured. To describe Maradona, you need only one word… breathtaking. Diego Maradona represented Argentina in 4 World Cups and played the finals twice in 1986 and 1990. 

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