View Full Version : The greatest players you have (possibly) never heard of

January 20th, 2021, 12:46 PM
I noticed a day or two ago that people where commenting on the lack of activity on the Football forum and it's a fair point really. A lack of people combined with a kind of zombie football that we have right now during Covid has left us with not really a great deal to talk about.

So I thought why not try posting some content?

Some of you (actually only one person I think) may be aware that I was giving serious thought to writing a book named the same as the title of this thread. But as per usual life got in the way and I get bored easily when effort is involved...

However I do have loads of content from this project that is just sitting there doing nothing so I thought maybe I should post some of it on here.

The concept is easy, I am an old git these days who regularly gets into football conversations with young people with 5 haircuts and stupid names, now me being old yet also having a love for some pretty niche football eras and regions I often bring up names that result in blank faces staring at me. These brilliant footballers that nobody has heard of were a big part of me getting into football as a kid so it's like a duty of mine to try and teach (bore) people about them.

So other the next few months I will post a different player every couple of days/week, obviously it would be nice to get some feedback or for you to tell us about players the rest of us may not be aware of.

What constitutes a great player you (probably) have never heard of?

Well the probably is a very important word there that I have used to get away with some players who may be somewhat known but who I find people don't realize how good they really were.

So in this thread you will find players who you genuinely may not know from all over the globe, loads of Eastern bloc players of course, players from nations who never got to major tournaments, players who for some reason never even get to play at International level and a couple who were cult players etc.

So yeah, enjoy (possibly).

January 20th, 2021, 12:58 PM

1. Lajos Detari (Hungary)

Clubs Played For: Honved, Eintracht Frankfurt, Olympiacos, Bologna, Ancona, Ferencvaros, Genoa, Neuchatel Xamax, St Polten, BVSC Budapest, Dunakeszi VSC


Bring up the topic of Hungarian footballers and people will always mention the Mighty Magyars of the 1950s, the likes of Ferenc Puskas,Sandor Kocsics and Nandor Hidegkuti are probably on par with Brazil 82 as being the finest team never to win the World Cup (They were beaten finalists in 1954 when they inexplicably lost to a West Germany side who they battered 8-3 in the group stages and took a 2 goal lead after 8 minutes in the final).

Other than this halcyon era for Hungarian football the national team have been relative minnows on the world stage however in the early to mid 80’s it looked like the Magyars were making a bit of a comeback. A decent showing at the 1982 World Cup in Spain reignited Hungarians passion for football. However a thumping 10-1 over El Salvador and a creditable 1-1 draw with an elite Belgian side was not enough to see the Hungarians progress to the next round after a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of a Diego Maradona inspired Argentina.

The post tournament feeling was that Hungary had a decent side but it was also an aging, workmanlike side that lacked a bit of creativity. For the Hungarians to go to the next level in time for the 1986 tournament in Mexico (Originally Colombia) not only would they need to replace some veterans but they also needed a creative spark. A superstar of their own,one who could do turn draws into wins with a flash of magic.

As usual in Hungarian football back then the answer lied in Budapest and their soon to be dominant side Honved and their young blonde playmaker Lajos Detari.

Born in Budapest in 1963 Detari made his debut for Honved as a 17 year old in 1980, a series of fairly barren years for the Lions presented an opportunity for him to quickly began to establish himself in the team.

Normally an attacking midfielder with great technique and a brilliantly gifted set piece taker the presence of Detari reinvigorated Honved and they started to climb up the league table. By 1983 they were once again the top side in Hungary and they went on to win the league title in 1983-84,1984-85 and 1985-86 with Detari being their fulcrum, not only providing assists for International team mates Kalman Kovacs and Lazslo Dajka up front but also by scoring goals himself from midfield with regularity with the highlight being the league and cup double victory in 84-85.

Mexico 86 came around and hopes were high for the Hungarians. With such a superstar in their ranks alongside a solid spine of Diztl in goal, Nagy in defence and Marton Esterhazy of AEK Athens in attack they could not fail to impress and they went into the tournament as darkhorses.

And then the wheels came off. A 6-0 battering at the hands of the Soviet Union meant that Hungary already required a miracle after only 1 game. Detari managed to score the second in a shoddy 2-0 victory of debutants Canada before a 3-0 reverse against France meant that the dream was over before it even began. Detari is still the last ever World Cup scorer for Hungary, in fact they have never qualified since then.

Despite the Hungarians poor performance Detari still shone brightly enough to attract the interest of a number of European sides and after 72 goals in 134 appearances for Honved with three seasons as the leagues top scorer he was on his way to Bundesliga mid table also rans Eintracht Frankfurt for a fee of 3.6M marks.

Detari started well for Frankfurt and in the 87-88 season he managed 11 goals from 33 games answering whether he could step up to a higher level with relative ease. His Free kick prowess was on show again as he netted the only goal in the DFB Pokal final against Bochum. Frankfurt were on the up and the Hungarian was going to be the one to lead them to glory.

Only glory can be quite fleeting. By the summer of 1988 Detari was a hot topic amongst Europe’s elite clubs. Talk was of Juventus,Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich wanting to sign the midfielder however Detari was only in the first year of his contract at Eintracht and a sizable fee would be required to prize him away from The Eagles. Frankfurt were willing to deal at the right price but that price would need to be a figure that eclipses the previous world transfer record paid by Napoli to Barcelona for Diego Maradona. Eintracht were hoping that a large fee would put potential suitors off but it did not and a world record 6 million pound bid came in.Where would the worlds most expensive player be playing his football in the 1988 season? The Nou Camp? The Olympic Stadium? Bernabau?

Nope, he was off to the Karaiskisas Stadium in Piraus, home of Olympiacos. Quite how the Greek club were able to afford a world record fee nobody quite knew. More importantly why would Detari want to move to Greece? It was certainly not one of the elite leagues of Europe.

Detari’s father in law was also his agent and along with the Hungarian Football Association they decided that his best move would be to chase the money, quite simply Olympiacos would pay the highest salary, everyone gets a cut and Detari can dominate the Greek league for years to come. What a waste.

Detari quickly established himself as the Greek leagues predominant playmaker, the problem was he did not have a great amount of talent around him. Greek football was in the gutter in the 80’s and the league was littered with journeyman footballers looking for one last paycheck in the sun.Although he continued his goalscoring exploits with 33 goals in 55 games for the red-whites picking up a Greek cup victory on the way it wasn’t enough.Olympiacos’ fans wanted the league title and despite having the worlds most expensive player in their ranks (soon to be matched by the fee AC Milan paid PSV for Ruud Gullit) the league title was no nearer to being won and then the wheels fell off at the club when their owner being embroiled in an embezzlement scandal and the team was quickly disbanded.

Serie A beckoned next for Detari and he spent 2 seasons at Bologna where he continued to score goals from midfield (14 in 42 games) before moving on to Ancona for a season in 1992-93 where has 9 goals where not enough to stave off the threat of relegation. His time in Greece combined with a series of niggling injuries led to the final years of Detari’s career being somewhat of a journeyman bouncing around the Hungarian and Swiss leagues where had had a bit of a resurgence at Neuchatel Xamax in 1994 scoring 12 in 38 games in a rare injury free season.

After hanging up his boots in the lower leagues of Hungary in 2000 he had amassed 173 goals in 402 appearances t go with his 13 international goals in 61 games. His next step was into management where he had even more of a journeyman career with 18 roles spread around Hungary and Greece. His last job was his biggest at fallen Hungarian giants Ferencvaros after years of mismanagement resulted in them being relegated. 2012 was his last season in management.

Peter Griffin
January 20th, 2021, 1:10 PM
Good idea for a thread. Will read up properly later.

January 20th, 2021, 1:53 PM
Weirdly I thought about your book the other day and meant to ask you how you had progressed with it.

Great idea to do it here.

January 20th, 2021, 2:41 PM
Yes. Love it. More.

January 21st, 2021, 5:54 AM
Great idea for a thread. I'm probably not going to read about it at all, but I might steal the idea.

The Rosk
January 21st, 2021, 6:14 AM
I love MMH.

January 24th, 2021, 9:23 AM

2. Lakhdar Belloumi (Algeria)

Clubs played for: GCB Mascara, MP Oran, MP Alger, GCR Mascara, Al Arabi (Qatar), USM Bel Abbes, ASM Oran


Ask anyone who the best player of Algerian decent to ever play the game is and they will more than likely say Zinedine Zidane and obviously you cant argue with that. However if you were to ask any Algerian they would say Lakhdar Belloumi and it wouldn't even be up for debate. Known for his "no look" passing ability and his goalscoring Belloumi was a genuine superstar who could make things happen from anywhere on the pitch and often didn't even have to be facing play to do so.

Born in 1958 in the market city of Mascara in central Algeria Belloumi was an unassuming looking player who did not give off the air of a superstar. An attacking midfielder who could also fill in on either wing if needed, Belloumi had a languid style that hid the brilliance within.

Staring his playing career at hometown club Ghali Club de Mascara (GCB) Belloumi burst into the scene during the 1977-78 season scoring 29 goals in only 26 games quickly catching the eye of one of the more successful clubs in Algerian football MC Oran where he quickly established himself in the side with 11 goals in 25 games in the 79-80 season.

During this time he started to gain international recognition for the Algerian National side quickly becoming an integral part of the team. Up to this point Algeria were generally seen as a second level international side, they could hold their own in various African Nations competitions but never really bothered the traditional African powerhouses and never qualified for the ANC during the 70's.

Building their side around Belloumi alongside other talents like midfield playmaker Ali Fergani and prolific striker Rabah Madjer both of Algiers side NA Hussein Dey, a golden generation of Algerian football was beginning to blossom.

Belloumi got a move to top Algerian side MCA who were the first Algerian team to win a continental trophy alongside 5 back to back championship winning seasons. It seemed to be a perfect pairing however Belloumi struggled with injury during his two seasons at MCA and the side failed to win the league title for the first time in years. After 10 goals in 30 games Belloumi was heading back home to GCM to settle down for a few seasons.

Led by Belloumi Algeria qualified for the 1980 Olympic games and surprised everybody by managing to escape their group alongside East Germany knocking out Spain and minnow Syria in the process, Belloumi scoring the all important equalizer in the 1-1 draw with Spain before being knocked out in the knock out stages at the hands of a brilliant Yugoslav side. The most important takeaway from the Olympics was that Algeria had not embarrassed themselves and had shown that they were becoming a genuine threat in African football.

On the horizon was the 1982 World Cup in Spain and for the first time there would be 2 African qualifiers for the World Cup, a two legged knockout competition would lead to the two winning semi finalists qualifying for the tournament.

Along with Cameroon Algeria qualified for their first ever World Cup beating Sierra Leone, Sudan, Niger and finally Nigeria and I one sided two legged affair dominated by Belloumi winning the tie 4-1 on aggregate with Belloumi scoring 2 goals, 1 in each leg.

These international exploits alongside his club form with GCM led to him winning the 1981 African Footballer of the Year ahead of legendary Cameroonian goalkeeper Thomas N'Kono and Algerian team mate Fergani.

And so came the 1982 World Cup. Algeria were given a tricky group containing Elite side and eventual finalists West Germany alongside a decent Austria side and unfancied South Americans Chile. Nobody really gave Algeria a chance but by evening time of the 16th of June 1982 Algeria and especially Lakhdar Belloumi were the hot topics of the football world.

After a solid but scoreless first half Algeria and Belloumi jumped into action and started to dominate the midfield battle against the Germans and remarkably took the lead in the 54th minute after goalkeeper Schumacher parried Belloumi's shot into the path of Madjer for an easy finish. The Germans had been woken up by this shock and immediately looked to get back into the game.

The West German's began to apply more pressure and it was only a matter of time before the game was tied at 1-1 when Karl Heinz Rummenigge scored a simple tap in after good work from Felix Magath.

Normally this set back would destroy an inexperienced side like Algeria but this side was different, this side had Lakhdar Belloumi. What followed was a perfect example of what to do after conceding a goal. Whilst the German's were still celebrating Algeria began to pass the ball around with control and purpose eventually finding the ball on the left flank a good cross came in and there was Belloumi, who else? to put the ball into the back of the net. The game had been tied for a total of 23 seconds, 9 passes it took to dispatch of one of the best sides in World football. A team goal right up there with Carlos Alberto's for Brazil in 1970.

The next group game was less successful, a 2-0 loss to Austria where Belloumi picked up an injury leading him to miss the final group game a 3-2 victory over Chile.

2 victories in the group stage should be enough to qualify for the next stage and Belloumi would be fit to play by then. All that was left was for Germany to beat Austria by more than one goal or indeed an Austria victory would suffice. The only result that would not see Algeria qualify would be a 1-0 victory for West Germany.

Of course we all know what happens next. The Disgrace of Gijon, a game that changed the future of World Cup football.

West Germany took the lead after 10 minutes via target man Horst Hrubesch and then everything just stopped. No more efforts on goal, no tackles being made, 80 minutes of nothing. Algeria were screwed out of progress to the next round due to some dodgy deals by the Germans and Austrians.

During this time Belloumi had obvious attracted the attention of all Europe's biggest clubs. Barcelona were very interested in landing the Algerian in 1982 but due to Algerian laws at the time players were not allowed to play outside of Algeria until they were 27 years old. Belloumi would have to bide his time and wait another couple of years to get a move to the big stage. He was happy to do this and in 1984 led GCM to their one and only Algerian league victory in their history.

In the summer of 1985 European champions Juventus hosted the Algeria national team in a pre season friendly game where Belloumi shone enough for the Turin club to deem him as their heir apparent to Michel Platini who was coming to the end of his career. A bid was expected to come in for Belloumi at the end of the 85-86 season once Belloumi had hit 27 years old and also after competing in his first African Cup of Champions. The scene was set, Belloumi would lead his side to Continental glory before moving to Serie A to show the world exactly how good he really was.

In the first round GCM were drawn against Libyan champions Al Ittihad and what followed was a disgraceful show of thuggery by the Tripoli club.

A pulsating 4-3 victory by the Algerians was marred by what can only be described as a targeted destruction of Belloumi. They kicked lumps out of the midfielder after falling to a 4-0 deficit after the first leg. Time after time Belloumi was hacked down and it was enough to see them taken of their game. Eventually the pressure on Belloumi was enough that his leg was broken. GCM advanced to the next round, eventually losing to Congelese side AS Bilema in the quarter finals but it didn't matter their talisman was gone and so to was Belloumi's dream move to Serie A.

Eventually Belloumi would return from his injury and moved back to MC Oran and was still a force to be reckoned with in Algeria for a couple of years but his big chance had gone. He was about to hit 30 years old and none of the top sides were willing to take a chance on an aging foreigner with a major injury in his recent past.

Belloumi did appear at the 1986 world cup in Mexico but he came into the competition struggling with injury and had to make do with a place on the bench on their opening game against Northern Ireland. He managed to start two games against Brazil (lost 1-0) and Spain (lost 3-0) but there was nothing there. Fergani was basically retired by this point, Belloumi was a crock and Madjer could not do it all by himself and was often isolated up front. Algeria where heading home after gaining just one point ( a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland) and entered another barren spell on the International stage.

Belloumi continued to ply is trade in Algeria bouncing around numerous sides and still shone in flashes but he was never the same player.

To this day Belloumi claims that he was upset that he never got his big move abroad but does not regret anything as he was still a superstar in his homeland. This may very well be true but it still must have hurt especially when watching his compatriot Madjer scoring a goal in Porto's European final victory over Bayern Munich in 1987.

The career of Lakhdar Belloumi was a tragedy, not for the player himself maybe, but for the millions of football fans who only got to see him shine briefly when by rights he should have had so much more.

January 24th, 2021, 9:32 AM

The Rosk
January 24th, 2021, 10:28 AM

If you have done a book of sorts, I’d happily buy it off you if it’s on a format that I can download easily.

January 24th, 2021, 10:41 AM
Same but a proper book :wave:

EDIT: Or an e-book if that was more cost-effective

January 25th, 2021, 4:11 PM
Excellent thread MMH but you've said West Germany were winners of the '82 world cup instead of finalists. Sorry to be that guy.

January 25th, 2021, 4:59 PM
Excellent thread MMH but you've said West Germany were winners of the '82 world cup instead of finalists. Sorry to be that guy.

Yeah that's why I gave up on the book! Maybe if I do resurrect it you can by my proof reader!

Romford Pele
January 26th, 2021, 4:21 AM
MMH this is really good, well done.

January 28th, 2021, 5:36 AM

MMH you might be interested in this

January 31st, 2021, 7:04 PM
I've not really got anything to add here but these are great - would definitely be a good idea for a book if you ever get chance to revisit it

I know the name Belloumi because of that world cup goal but knew nothing about the rest of his career - really interesting stuff, and shows how much football has changed