March 7th, 2011

The Kickette Query: Who Is The Most Influential Man In Football?


We assume that everyone who frequents this site is painfully aware that our primary criteria for deciding the relative importance of someone’s role in the game is based on how hot they are. We also realise, however, that your love for the beautiful game runs deeper than our shallow kiddie pool.  Given your recently demonstrated voting prowess, combined with your willingness to flaunt your not inconsiderable football knowledge at the slightest provocation, we have decided to up the ante.

The WAG poll was merely a warm-up, people.

In these times of unprecedented wealth and exposure, it often seems that football has a life, vernacular and momentum all of its own. As with most things in life that generate huge incomes for the few, the progress and direction of football is as carefully managed as all other diffuse entities can be.

From the powerbrokers at FIFA to the poppets on the pitch, everyone has the ability to shape how the wider world perceives football -  whether it’s inspiring the players and fans of the future to get involved or using the fame generated by their on-pitch prowess to widen the existing audience.

But who do you think has contributed the most? Is it direction or inspiration from top managers that will define the game we are watching in ten, fifteen, even twenty years time? Or has a certain spotted-record president convinced you that his job is the most crucial component?

To sum it up into handy chocolate drop sized pieces, who is the single most influential person in football?

There are five categories to choose from and we make a case for each, using representatives from each ‘office’ to help you decide. Bear in mind that while you may not favour the men we’ve selected, we’re ONLY asking for your opinion on the category itself.

The world is watching, Kickettes. Make your vote count.

The Powerbroker

Let’s get the boring but necessary out of the way first. You see, much as we hate to admit it, world governing body FIFA has a massive, if not decisive influence over the global game. Their controversial decision to award the World Cup to two ‘emerging’ football nations over established, more popular choices showed us that in no uncertain terms.

They are also responsible for the way the game is played; the ongoing ‘technology in football’ debate, their ability to dish out punishments to players and teams, the rules and regulations applied all have a massive impact on what we see. You must decide whether they are there to apply controls to an existing entity or they are the entity.

The most vocal and visible of the bureaucrats is Sepp Blatter. We have no doubt he would be thrilled to feature on Kickette.

The Ambassador

The ambassadors of football are mostly made up of former players who use the reputation they developed during their prime to promote the very principles which once helped them shed excess water weight and pull birds at the bar.

We kid.

The recent 2018 World Cup bid demonstrated the perceived power of these men, with The Netherlands (Joann Cruyff and Ruud Gullit) Russia (Alexey Smertin) and Spain/Portugal (Luis Figo) all putting on a pony show with their former pros for extra incentive purposes. Should you be one to run with an intellectual crowd, then you’ll be familiar with TIME magazine’s thoughts on Didier Drogba.

Our man? David Beckham, of course. Not only does he hold the accolade of being this site’s inspiration (a massive boost to the game, you will agree) but the dapper Englishman is a figure of global recognition. So much so that he was believed to be an integral part of England’s successful World Cup bid (right up until the point they lost it). He is loved the world over, has inspired thousands, if not millions of kids to take up the game and thousands, if not millions of women to start watching it.

In other words, he’s the face on the body of world football.

The Manager

Using stretches and statistics to hone the bodies and skills of players in order to give the trophy cabinet some company, managers have long been seen as vital to opening the world of football up to a wider audience. Namely us.

Few would argue that Jose Mourinho is the most successful manager on the planet (his recent award kind of confirms that) but we have chosen Arsene Wenger (left) to represent, as his work at Arsenal is widely regarded to have been a catalyst for the way the game is played today. (Image: Getty Images/Daylife)

You want to argue that his breed of Adorkables don’t have a shout as the cutest bunch of baby ballers on the planet? No. Thought not.

The Player

Why did you start watching football in the first place? Even the boys, who occasionally feel the need to look down on females in the game, would admit that they began to follow football because they were inspired by a player.  These boys are the blood that runs through this game’s veins, providing the spectacle, the excitement, the beauty.  To be frank, football as we know it today wouldn’t exist without them.

Cristiano could have made a case, but we’ve gone with Leo Messi as our rep for this category. How could we not? A bow tie wearer and ‘Balon D’or’ recipient whose antics in a Barcelona shirt regularly stun even the most cynical of crowds.

Can you imagine what a kid feels when they see Messi effortlessly dribbling his way around a hapless flat back four and slamming the ball into the roof of the net?

It’s enough to make you weep. 

Image: AP Photo/Daylife

The Writer

Clearly we would like to nominate ourselves for this category, on the basis that our contribution towards global football has been nothing short of thightastic. But asking our beloved readers to vote for us would render the poll somewhat pointless as you all love us so much. Snork.

It’s all in the dissemination, you see. Unless you are a regular attendee at your local side’s ground, players antics on the pitch, results and information are all witnessed by a bunch of journos, who then hasten to their laptop to swiftly tell you what they think. Opinion is a powerful driving force in global footie, and while it’s unusual for rules to be changed off the back of an article, there are many managers who would insist that the reason behind their sacking, appointment, failure or success was the nature of the coverage they received from the press.

We’ve decided to nominate Sports Illustrated journo Grant Wahl as our writer representative. Not only is he a great journalist, but he’s shares our views on shirt removal too. WINNING! 

Image via Grant’s Twitter

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62 Responses to “The Kickette Query: Who Is The Most Influential Man In Football?”

  1. Del says:

    In Arsene We Trust.

  2. @DebStimson says:

    "There are five categories to choose from and we make a case for each, using representatives from each ‘office’ to help you decide. Bear in mind that while you may not favour the men we’ve selected, we’re ONLY asking for your opinion on the category itself."

    I do have to agree with the Kickettes who think that the fans are very important to the sport of football (soccer). But since that's not one of the categories given, I will go with the manager.

    Ask any player what the catalyst behind their success is and most of them will say it was a coach(manager) somewhere along the way that made them who they are today. The coaches are the ones teaching them the skills, getting inside their head mentally to push them, etc. Without these coaches, we wouldn't have the Messis, CR7', Xavis, Ozils, Drogbas, Ronaldos, Giggs, (oops…almost for got Bale (sorry Blake ;) ) etc. that kids grow up idolizing. And we wouldn't have the beautiful football that fans love to watch.

  3. Aggie says:

    He's not on here, but I'd say Cristiano Ronaldo because, well I'm from Canada and I know who he is. (this is impressive because we generally don't care about anything outside of hockey)

  4. DavidVilla7_Lover says:

    i want to say Joan cruyff, he chance the world of football couse he maked the Barca way to play at, he started the best team in the world……! without him there wouldn't be that amazing team and i really thank him for that!
    if not Joan i think Jose Mourinho or Alex Fergusson :)

  5. C16 says:

    The one and only Jose Mourinho, of course. He is, after all, The Special One.

  6. Crackers says:

    I'll go with the managers being most influential- just look at what happens to clubs when their players aren't used to their best potential, or players who may be individually brilliant but don't really work so well get bought into the same team. Good management is essential to the success of a team, even the most talented players would be wasted otherwise.

    As for who among this group is the most influential…..I'll hand my vote to Sir Alex, even if I'm not a fan of his club.

    (among footy writers, btw, I really like Sid Lowe- and before him, Brian Glanville- I don't think anyone's voting for the writers here, sadly- self included!)

  7. gi0ia says:

    Don`t know about contribution, but I`m afraid it`ll always be the manager, e.g. someone like Fergusson…

  8. Ayicha says:

    hands down ARSENE WENGER!!!!!!

  9. nogreenplease says:

    Thierry Henry of course!!!
    He is so powerful, he "kicked" out an Ireland singleHANDEDly… bwaahahahahaaaaaaaa!

    P.S. And rightfully so.

  10. Influential? FIFA, for worse.
    Important? The players. Lionel Messi is also an inspiration to us all.

  11. shay says:

    Sir Alex for sure.

  12. The manager of course! The prowess of the Special One reaches far and wide. Sometimes watching Mou aggravate the spectators or seeing Pep's furrowed brow on the sidelines is more entertaining than the actual game.

  13. Lilly says:

    If by influential u mean inspirational, then my vote goes to 2 people: Wenger and Ronaldinho.
    Wenger has achieved the tough task of resisting cynicism in exchange for results and instead aims at nurturing talent. He's very supportive and patient with his players and almost too classy for this job. And dignity is good as is rare.
    Ronaldinho was the perfect example that football is meant to be entertaining. Forget money, winning, refereeing scandals. Football is about enjoying yourself, both watching and playing it. His permanent grin and crazy skillz remind me football is (or should be) play, not business.

  14. Tora says:

    I think Gerard Piqué should have been listed as the writer. :D Just kidding. :D

  15. *Sunshine* says:

    Wenger? I think he's a great manager, but I didn't think he was that influencial, sincerely.
    Sepp Blatter, that… man (I dislike him sooo!) ¬_¬

  16. IrishBlue says:

    I think I'll have to go with Sir Alex. In my opinion he is the most successful manager in the world, he has stood the test of time, when other managers come and go he is still there leading the way. He sums up pretty much everything that a young manager starting out would strive to be like. This shows in how so many of his former players have taken up managerial postions (e.g.- Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Alex McLeish, Paul Ince, Mark Hughes etc…)
    He has made Man Utd a global brand, recognisable the world over for who they are and what they have achieved. He took over them when they were down near the bottom of the league and changed them for the better, to be a high-flying team that so many young players in this world dream of playing for some day.

    People in the footballing world listen to what he has to say and to be honest, what he says is usually right. SAF-The Hairdryer God.

    I would also say that players such as Pele, Messi etc are bound to have an influence on others. Pele played many years ago but his legend lives on, he will always have fans. I think that in the future, the same will be said of players like Messi. They may play for only a certain amount of years but they are the kind of people that live on in the minds of football fans for a long time. Their talents have longevity in the eyes of those who they inspire to become interested in football to begin with.

  17. C.C. says:

    i would say it was the players, if you mean in regards to spreading the sport and inspiring people to take it up.
    as a new fan, i am not qualified to talk about a lot of the people on here, but i think that is exactly what makes me want to choose the players. you don't (ok, I didn't) have to know about all these other people to get into the game. when i first started watching, i didn't even know all the rules, but that didn't stop me because it's such a beautiful game–and i'm NOT talking about the way the players look, i'm talking about how some players have a natural sort of…grace(?) about them. scoring is really great, i love when my team gets those 3 pts, but my favorite part of a match is seeing players like xabi alonso pass the ball; his control and skill impress me to the point of speechlessness.

  18. xbabyshakesx says:

    he's got my heart and vote!
    I feel that he is overshadowed by Fergie and is always looked down on for not winning any trophies in awhile.
    but he is a great manager and has built up many great young players.
    And no one has a goal celebration like his!

  19. Spanishlover says:

    Zinedine Zidane!!!!
    a) he is hot
    b) he is internationally cited as one of the greatest players of all time, by players and commentators alike
    c) he still is involved w/football (helping out at Real Madrid, endorsing Qatar's WC bid)
    d) one word (two words?): HEADBUTT. That priceless moment made him easily one of the most recognized footballers, particularly here in the states.

  20. torontonian.madrista says:

    I love fergie , ’nuff said. & mou is just amazing just the fact that he hasn’t lost a home game since his managing days in Porto. I think that’s skills.

  21. Joyce says:

    Always Leo, yes to Arsene but only because Pep is much too young to be that influential, but he definitely has a lot of potential. Look at the things he's done with Barca….
    Becks being up there should be no debate, although I'm starting to think that maybe some of the Spaniards have potential too. Xabi Alonso is a god.

  22. @AgnesWonka says:

    defo…..JOSE MOURINHO!!!
    He leaves the world speechless whenever he talks, and his results are a great proof of his intelligence and his talent.
    Great coach and tremendously charismatic!!!

  23. Nihaal28 says:

    David villa cuz he’s the reason i started watching soccer

  24. Kait says:

    Players are the most influential. Because let's be honest, it may be the love of the sport or a team that gets us watching, but it's the brilliance of the players that keeps us interested. And it doesn't hurt if these men are ridiculously good looking. So I vote players, because it's always the players names we remember and cheer for.

  25. mochara says:

    I wish it was Arsene but I think I have to admit it's José Mourinho……..

  26. Jo_ says:

    Since you're asking about influence regardless of good or evil, I'll say Blatter. He is a disgrace but the little troll has power and throws his weight around like a drunken elephant.

  27. Ava says:

    Kickette, please don't start using Charlie Sheen's catchphrase. You realise he abuses women?

  28. Sharmin says:

    King Kenny, hands down.

  29. Elisa says:

    I think that it really depends on who you're influencing because different countries/regions have different relationships with football. In the UK, I'd go with Ferguson or Wenger. In Spain, probably Mou. In Argentina, it's Messi or maybe someone like Maradona.

    In terms of my own country, I live in the US and here, hands down, it's Landon Donovan.

    I guess in terms of worldwide, international recognition, it's probably Beckham. He's the only footballer I can think of who truly is a celebrity in every single country that plays soccer–albeit, he's oftentimes famous for his, erm, abilities outside of the pitch.

  30. Kid Gooner says:

    I say Wenger is a proper selection for Manager. Everyone thinks Jose & SAF would be good choices, but I disagree. You must consider that Wenger's pocketbook is not as deep as SAF's & Jose's. Plus, his side play the best football in England and soon to be the World (after 2moro night). Moreover, he's has won everything they have won (except CL & CC) and hes' gotten through a league season unbeaten (SAF & Jose wish they could say that). 'Nough said!!!

    I'd go with C-Ron for the Player. He only set a World Record transfer fee, dates Irina Shayk and pays-off Surrogate Moms. Not too shabby…

  31. SoccerrLoverrr says:

    Im glad arsene made it on this kickette post! :)

  32. athenarena says:

    May I put a word in here for Moyes as a contender? I mean of course he cannot compare to Mourinho or Ferguson. But he is just behind Ferguson and Wenger in the longest serving managers. He can get the best out of any player. He has constructed a squad wih little or no money. Also, in a short space of time he has transformed Everton from a struggling always in relegation side -a slide since 1995- into an European contender pretty much every season and got us Champions League football. (Ok we did disastrously). He can transfom a team at half time and is amazing with the press.
    Just spare him a thought. Although, if I had to Ferguson and Mourinho both go before Wenger but all three have decent size budgets which I think must be taken into account when choosing a manager.

  33. Soon2beWifeOfNAsri says:

    Arsene Wenger is without a doubt one of the most influential managers ever graced world football alongside Mourinho,and ofcourse the God Father SAF! What Arsene has done from the moment he arrived at Highbury in 1996 is just spellbinding, transforming the EPL league with his brand of football and philiposhy and am soo happy KICKETTE has highlighted him on this site. Dont get me wrong SAF is up there too, but Wenger's philosophy in football is just incredible.

    And i first got into football when i used to watch the Dutch national team with my dad and Bergkamp,Overmars and Van Bronckhort used to play in the national squad and i just fell in love with them and found out they played for the GUNNERS and thats how i first fell in love with ARSENAL and been a gooner ever since.

  34. Alera says:

    I get in the grand scheme of things he hasn't done as much as mou or wenger but I like Pep a lot and not just cause he's cute. I have never heard him say a bad thing about anyone player or manager and that means a lot to me. And like Mou and Wenger he seems to have a relationship with his players plus I liked how he said players like Jack Wilshire are good for the game of football as a whole. I think choosing a top manager is hard I see where you all are coming from.
    I will give you Beckham even though I think he is funky and the thing you call hair on the top of his head creeps me out. But you have my whole support with Messi he is simply adorable!

  35. In Arsene We Trust :)

  36. Beth says:

    Definitely hate to say it but has to be FIFA for the most influential: picking 'new' footballing countries for the world cup, the stupidity of still not introducing goal line technology even though it has been proved numerous times how useful it would be, and punishments for players which don't really seem consistent. Blatter really frustrates me sometimes…well most of the time actually.

    Think ambassadors come second if talking about just Beckham, otherwise the players definitely come next.

  37. Rachel says:

    Definitly Leo .. always Leo

  38. barca2397 says:

    where's Pep? he's the greatest and hottest manager that you will ever see. he's god in a Spanish, hot, successful form!

    • Sergz says:

      Pep has had two good years, I think it will require a few more years before you can call him "the greatest". Don't get me wrong, he's great! But to be THE greatest two good years isn't enough.

  39. blake2108 says:

    The Players. Football wouldn't be as appealing if they were all munters, lets face it.

    But SAF is the footballing God

  40. ella says:

    leo definitly leo….i have always been a football fan…but every since i saw leo for the first time…ever since i saw him made his dribbles and runs…i have become a football lover..i have not missed a game for him since….and i will not….btw kickettes the way u described leo is perfect….

  41. Ana says:

    Sir Alex Ferguson.

  42. Sarah, Madrid says:

    Now, to say who I think is the most influential in the game in the past players, but right now you can have the best players in the world but end up winning nothing, so I would say MANAGERS! no good manager no good team!

  43. Summer says:

    Even he isn't in the list, even if I'm not a United fan, but without doubt as best manager I'm all for Alexander Chapman Ferguson. I love him as a manager in every way..

  44. aninjasdream says:

    I <3 this blog more for choosing Arsene Wenger. A mix of Le Boss and Le Beckham; all the reasons I log on to the blog every morning.

  45. JulieFromParis says:

    Mou is the most influencial. Whether people love him or hate him, they keep talking about the guy. I mean, he sneezes and its in Marca, El pais , l'équipe and all over the internet. + wht he has achieved with inter is sompthg i respect.
    On a more personal level, i love the relationship he develops with his players and how he always stands in the light so the focus and pressure isn't on his team. Mou is an icon and a dad. I may not always agree with his statements (Pellegrini's stuff) but i love him. L.O.V.E him.

    • mamaly says:

      L.O.V.E. him too

    • Leya_S says:

      Well said, I agree with this.
      I'd say Fergie comes pretty close bc lots of young talent has been harnessed at ManU (Crispy, Pique, Becks, Rooney,etc). However, I feel like Jose has the Midas touch at pretty much every club he's been at, which is a MAJOR achievement. He's a little crazy, but the best ones always are.

    • LDB says:

      How can you love this man? He's so mean and arrogant! I agree he's important and talked about but he is NOT likeable. I'm scratching my head here!

      • JulieFromParis says:

        Well, probably because Im mean and arrogant too… or dumb, lol, because I don't really get the mean and arrogant stuff. But if you wish to argument your POV, i'll be glad to discuss the matter with you. Or else, let's call it a" discord or conflict of personalities that has destroyed the legitimate ends of the kickette relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation", ;) .

        • LDB says:

          Haha, JulieFromParis, glad we can keep this disagreement on friendly terms ;) OK, he's very talented and all but I strongly feel like he has this weird entitlement to winning everything. He's arrogant so often that I'm finding it hard to know where even to start! Every press release? Every time he opens his mouth? I quote: "Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one"; Saying he's second only to God: "If I wanted to have an easy job… I would have stayed at Porto… beautiful blue chair, the Uefa Champions League trophy, God, and after God, me." I can go on and on here. One thing I hope we can agree on is that the man is easy on the eyes…easy on the eyes…

          • JulieFromParis says:

            Well, the fact that he keeps giving french interviews with that sexy as hell accent of his probably doesn't help ;) . Nevertheless, now i can see why we disagree on Mou. You take his comments all too seriously. First, he is proud of himself and perhaps a bit cocky BUT he is a successful coach and why on earth should we always apologize for being successful???? That said, Im sure from the bottom of my heart that the guy is deliberatly provocative and arrogant in front of the press and that, if he thinks he is a good coach (which I think he is), he likes to play the "full of himself drama queen" part and exagerates things because it highly amuses him to see how journalists likes to have entertaining crap to write about. And i repeat myself but that way, all those vultures keep their claws out of Madrid's inner business. And last but not least, Im so sick of social graces and fed up of the boring straight stuff ballers and coaches always come out with. For ex, i like Zidane but enough with political correctness and premixed reheated declarations!!!!! To sum it up, he is brilliant, doesn't give a f*** about what people might think of him, seems caring with his loved ones AND he brings sexy back. SO, YES I LOVE MOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! a virtual hug to you :)

  46. Ms. M says:

    I'd vote for the fans. We have multiplied and grown from strength to strength. We are the reason why there is so much of money in football today, and why football is the most popular game worldwide.

    • Drine says:

      hear hear! Why are the fans included in this post? The fans are what make the key difference in a side winning in tough games. There's a reason for the existence of "home advantage". The fans are widely considered to be the 12th man in a football team's starting 11.

  47. EllieLUFC says:

    I say the fans.
    I know we're not there, and not all fans are men, but you very rearly have a fantastic game with crappy fans. they create the atmosphere and drive the players on to do well.

  48. I like that Wenger is chosen. I'm tired of hearing Sir Alex this and Sir Alex that! Don't get me wrong, I respect Fergie, but let Wenger have his moment on Kickette.

    I think Kickette should do a poll on who has the best eyes, lips, nose, hair, head, chest, abs, short tent, thighs, legs and ass. After the pole is done they can mesh all of these parts together to come up with a Kickette mascot.

  49. black widow says:

    agreed with sergz — wenger is hardly the best or most influential manager in the world. either SAF or mou could easily take those accolades.

    i hate to say it — really, truly hate to say it — but if you're defining "influential" in terms of having an actual, physical impact on all aspects of how the game is played … from what can and cannot be worn (snoodgate 2011) to where it can and cannot be played (world cup 2018 and 2022 decision-making) to interfering in the actual scores of matches (goal line technology vetoing, FTL! (FTL = For The Lose, the complete opposite of For The Win)) then how, sadly, can it be anyone *other* than those incompetent idiots at FIFA? :(

  50. Femz17 says:

    For me it's the players definitely!! The only reason I got into football is because of the most gorgeous French guy ever…Thierry Henry. The players make the game come alive for me. But then again thats just me…I have been accused many times of watching football only coz of the "hot guys" lol

  51. Sergz says:

    How can Sir Alex Ferguson not be the best manager? I don't support Man United, but come on, that man is a legend!

    • Jackie says:

      you should read that article about arsene in the link. then you'd understand. he completely changed english football for the better