We have endeavoured to compile a list of the world’s most talked-about players – the most newsworthy players who, by definition, are the most important. We started by drawing up a list of the key players by league – starting with 50 each for the leading leagues in Europe (England, Germany, Spain), 40 for France and Italy, between 15 and 25 for middle-ranking leagues, and ending with between five and 10 for smaller leagues. We then added players who were important figures for their national sides and in their respective regions.
Robbie ROGERS – LA Galaxy/USA/12/05/1987
Robbie Rogers is a reluctant pioneer. In February 2013, weeks after being released by Leeds United, he became the first openly gay footballer active in a leading professional league; furthermore, he was also the only gay sportsman in any of America’s major sports.
Marcos ROJO – Manchester Utd/Argentina/20/03/1990
Left-sided defender dismissed as a panic buy last summer despite a fine World Cup.
RONALDINHO – Queretaro/Brazil/21/03/1980
Twice World Player of the Year and a Champions League winner, he made a surprise switch to Mexico last year.
Cristiano RONALDO – Real Madrid/Portugal/05/02/1985
Reigning World Player of the Year and top dog in Madrid – as Gareth Bale has discovered to his cost this season.
Salomon RONDON – Zenit/Venezuela/16/09/1989
Top goalscorer in the Russian Premier League this season and the most successful Venezuelan in European club football.
Wayne ROONEY – Manchester Utd/England/24/10/1985
Captain of club and country. Deployed in midfield by Louis Van Gaal this season but always at his best as a boisterous striker.
RUBEN NEVES – Porto/Portugal/13/03/1997
Midfielder who is being tipped for greatness. With Porto since the age of eight and the youngest Portuguese player to appear in the Champions League.
Albert RUSNAK – Groningen/Slovakia/07/07/1994
Attacking midfielder who failed to break through at Manchester City. Joined Groningen in January after a loan spell at Cambuur.
Matthew RYAN – Club Brugge/Australia/08/04/1992
Highly rated keeper who was a very solid performer for Australia as they won this year’s Asian Cup on home soil.
Nuri SAHIN Dortmund/Turkey/05/09/1988
Midfield playmaker who has re-established himself at Dortmund after disappointing spells with Real Madrid and Liverpool.