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.

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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

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates

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.

  1. 1. Introduction
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