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Top 10 Footballers To Play In North America

Jermain Defoe is set to head over to the MLS to play for Toronto FC following in the footsteps of many international superstars over the last 40 years. takes a look at the top 10 players ever to turn out in North America.

10. Carlos Alberto

The flying right back stayed longer in North America than most of the international superstars that swung by after first joining the New York Cosmos in 1977 and leaving for the second time in 1982. In between his two spells in the Big Apple he enjoyed one season with the sadly now defunct California Surf. He also managed in the USA after his playing days were over with the Miami Sharks.

9. Gordon Banks

The legendary keeper enjoyed two stints in the US, firstly on loan in 1967 with the Cleveland Stokers where he played a handful of games before returning at the age of 40 to impress for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Banks only stayed a season before returning to England to take charge of Telford United.

8. David Beckham

Becks shocked the world when he decided to head to LA Galaxy after leaving Real Madrid in 2007 as he was one of the few international stars to head to the States still in his prime. Whether or not he caused a revolution in the sport in America can be debated but he spent five years with the Galaxy playing over 100 games for the club.

7. Gerd Muller

Der Bomber is one of the greatest goal scorers of all time and he continued to find the back of the net in the US at the end of his career. He moved to Fort Lauderdale Strkers from Bayern Munich in 1979 and banged in 38 goals in three seasons before retiring in 1981.

6. Franz Beckenbauer

The German legend joined Carlos Alberto at the New York Cosmos in 1977 and spent four seasons with the club. He returned to his homeland with Hamburg for a couple of years but enjoyed his time in the US so much that he went back to the Cosmos for the last season of his career in 1983. His three titles in America added to the string of Championships he won with Bayern Munich.

5. George Best

After leaving Manchester United in 1974 Best played for a whole host of clubs and they included three stops in America with the Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes. He scored a total of 57 goals in the US so made quite an impact before finally leaving those shores in 1982.

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4. Bobby Moore

For many, Moore’s career may as well have ended when he left West Ham in 1974 but he played for a number of years post-Upton Park including spells with both the San Antonio Thunder and Seattle Sounders. He finished his stay in the States with the latter in 1978 before a brief spell in Denmark and then retirement.

3. Johan Cruyff

Arguably the greatest Dutch player of all time headed off to play for Los Angeles Aztecs in 1979 then went on to turn out for Washington Diplomats in a couple of impressive years across the pond. One of the more interesting things about his trip to the US is that he returned to Holland to win two more titles with Ajax and then another with Feyenoord showing that he still had plenty to offer.

2. Eusebio

The late great Eusebio travelled extensively after leaving Benfica in 1975 including four clubs in North America, all of which are now defunct. His first stop was Boston Minutemen in 1975 before appearing for Toronto Metros-Croatia, Las Vegas Quicksilvers and New Jersey Americans. 18 goals in 25 games in Toronto and then five in four for New Jersey proved he still had it.

1. Pele

The Brazilian great was semi-retired when he was signed by New York Cosmos in 1975 but that did not stop him banging in 64 goals in three seasons for the club, helping them lift the title in 1977. Pele is largely credited with popularising the sport in the US in the first place and his performances there only further enhanced his reputation as the greatest player in history.

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