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How many countries in the world have a footballer as their best ever male sportsman?


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This idea popped into my head while watching the Euros and when seeing an argument in the Andy Murray/tennis thread. Here is a list of the world's countries:

  Best footballer Best non-footballer Football better?
Afghanistan Zohib Islam Amiri Rohullah Nikpai (taekwondo) No
Albania Lorik Cana Izmir Smajlaj (long jump) Yes
Algeria Rabah Madder Noureddine Morceli (running) No
American Samoa Nicky Salapu Sean Manaea (baseball) No
Andorra Ildefons Lima Hocine Haciane (swimming) Yes
Angola Manucho Carlos Morais (basketball) Yes
Anguilla Ryan Liddie Omari Banks (cricket) No
Antigua and Barbuda Peter Byers Viv Richards (cricket) No
Argentina Lionel Messi Juan Manuel Fangio (motor racing) Yes
Armenia Henrikh Mkhitaryan Artur Aleksanyan (wrestling) Yes
Aruba Theric Ruiz Xander Bogaerts (baseball) No
Australia Harry Kewell Don Bradman (cricket) No
Austria David Alaba Toni Sailer (skiing) No
Azerbaijan Rashad Sadygov Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (chess) No
The Bahamas Lesly St. Fleur Chris Brown (sprinting) No
Bahrain Ismail Abdullatif Yusuf Saad Kamel (running) No
Bangladesh Jamal Bhuyan Mashrafe Mortaza (cricket) No
Barbados Llewellyn Riley Garfield Sobers (cricket) No
Belarus Alexander Hleb Max Mirnyi (tennis) No
Belgium Eden Hazard Eddy Merckx (cycling) No
Belize Deon McCaulay Verno Phillips (boxing) No
Benin Stephane Sessegnon Yemi Apithy (fencing) Yes
Bermuda Shaun Goater Clarence Hill (boxing) Yes
Bhutan Chencho Gyeltshen Sigyel Phub (boxing) Yes
Bolivia Marcelo Moreno Paulo Victor Aguilera (bmx) Yes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Edin Dzeko Mirza Teletovic (basketball) Yes
Botswana Joel Mogorosi Nijel Amos (running) No
Brazil Pele Ayrton Senna (motor racing) Yes
British Virgin Islands Avondale Williams Dion Crabbe (sprinting) No
Brunei Shah Razen Said Fakhri Ismail (sprinting) Yes
Bulgaria Hristo Stoichkov Boyan Aleksandrov (wrestling) No
Burkina Faso Charles Kabore Hugues Fabrice Zango (triple jump) Yes
Burundi Saido Berahino Venuste Niyongabo (running) No
Cambodia Keo Sokpheng Hem Bunting (running) No
Cameroon Samuel Eto'o Joel Embiid (basketball) Yes
Canada Dwayne De Rosario Wayne Gretzky (hockey) No
Cape Verde Ryan Mendes Jordin Andrade (hurdling) Yes
Cayman Islands Mark Ebanks Shaune Fraser (swimming) No
Central African Republic Geoffrey Kongdogbia Beranger-Aymard Bosse (sprinting) Yes
Chad Ezechiel N'Douassel   Yes
Chile Alexis Sanchez Marcelo Rios (tennis) Yes
China Sun Jihai Yao Ming (basketball) No
Chinese Taipei Chen Po-liang Chien-Ming Wang (baseball) No
Colombia Carlos Valderrama Edgar Renteria (baseball) No
Comoros El Fardou Ben Nabouhane Maoulida Daroueche (sprinting) Yes
Democratic Republic of the Congo Dieumerci Mbokani Dikembe Mutombo (basketball) No
Republic of the Congo Francois M'Pele   Yes
Cook Islands Tony Jamieson Stan Wright (rugby) No
Costa Rica Alejandro Morera Soto Nery Brenes (sprinting) Yes
Croatia Luka Modric Ivano Balic (handball) Yes
Cuba Onel Hernandez Teofilo Stevenson (boxing) No
Curacao Leandro Bacuna Jurickson Profar (baseball) No
Cyprus Sotiris Kaiafas Marcos Baghdatis (tennis) Yes
Czech Republic Pavel Nedved Dominik Hasek (hockey) No
Denmark Michael Laudrup Mikkel Hansen (handball) Tie
Djibouti   Hussein Ahmed Salah (running) No
Dominica Glenson Prince Jerome Romain (triple jump) No
Dominican Republic Tano Bonnin Albert Pujols (baseball) No
East Timor Nataniel Reis Augusto Ramos Soares (running) Yes
Ecuador Antonio Valencia Andres Gomez (tennis) Yes
Egypt Mo Salah Amr Shabana (squash) Yes
El Salvador Magico Gonzalez Carlos Hernandez (boxing) Yes
Equatorial Guinea Emilio Nsue Eric Moussambani (swimming) Yes
Eritrea Yidnekachew Shimangus Zersenay Tadese (running) No
Estonia Ragnar Klavan Andrus Veerpalu (skiing) No
Eswatini Tony Tsabedze   Yes
Ethiopia Getaneh Kebede Haile Gebrselassie (running) No
Faroe Islands      
Fiji      
Finland      
France      
Gabon      
The Gambia      
Georgia      
Germany      
Ghana      
Gibraltar      
Greece      
Grenada      
Guam      
Guatemala      
Guinea      
Guinea-Bissau      
Guyana      
Haiti      
Honduras      
Hong Kong      
Hungary      
Iceland      
India      
Indonesia      
Iran      
Iraq      
Ireland      
Israel      
Italy      
Ivory Coast      
Jamaica      
Japan      
Jordan      
Kazakhstan      
Kenya      
Kiribati      
Kosovo      
North Korea      
South Korea      
Kuwait      
Kyrgyzstan      
Laos      
Latvia      
Lebanon      
Lesotho      
Liberia      
Libya      
Liechtenstein      
Lithuania      
Luxembourg      
Macau      
Madagascar      
Malawi      
Malaysia      
Maldives      
Mali      
Malta      
Marshall Islands      
Mauritania      
Mauritius      
Mexico      
Micronesia      
Moldova      
Monaco      
Mongolia      
Montenegro      
Montserrat      
Morocco      
Mozambique      
Myanmar      
Namibia      
Nauru      
Nepal      
Netherlands      
New Caledonia      
New Zealand      
Nicaragua      
Niger      
Nigeria      
North Macedonia      
Norway      
Oman      
Pakistan      
Palau      
Palestine      
Panama      
Papua New Guinea      
Paraguay      
Peru      
Philippines      
Poland      
Portugal      
Puerto Rico      
Qatar      
Romania      
Russia      
Rwanda      
Saint Kitts and Nevis      
Saint Lucia      
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines      
Samoa      
San Marino      
Sao Tome and Principe      
Saudi Arabia      
Senegal      
Serbia      
Seychelles      
Sierra Leone      
Singapore      
Slovakia      
Slovenia      
Solomon Islands      
Somalia      
South Africa      
South Sudan      
Spain      
Sri Lanka      
Sudan      
Suriname      
Sweden      
Switzerland      
Syria      
Tahiti      
Tajikistan      
Tanzania      
Thailand      
Timor-Leste      
Togo      
Tonga      
Trinidad and Tobago      
Tunisia      
Turkey      
Turkmenistan      
Turks and Caicos Islands      
Tuvalu      
Uganda      
Ukraine      
United Arab Emirates      
United Kingdom      
Scotland      
England      
Northern Ireland      
Wales      
United States      
US Virgin Islands      
Uruguay      
Uzbekistan      
Vanuatu      
Venezuela      
Vietnam      
Yemen      
Zambia      
Zimbabwe      
       
Totals:      
Edited by Miguel Sanchez
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Goran Pandev for North Macedonia (although you could make a claim for Darko Pandev).

The other sport would be basketball but I can't think of any Macedonian basketballers.

F1 v Football is an interesting one- how do you compare Fangio to Maradona or Senna to Pele?

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These countries are certainties: Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Canada, USA, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Kenya, Ethiopia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa... 

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24 minutes ago, tamthebam said:

Goran Pandev for North Macedonia (although you could make a claim for Darko Pandev).

The other sport would be basketball but I can't think of any Macedonian basketballers.

F1 v Football is an interesting one- how do you compare Fangio to Maradona or Senna to Pele?

Well, F1 is shite so obviously the footballers come out on top there. 

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Using

[country name] most famous sportsman as a search in google will give you a decent guide.

Top answer by that method:

Scotland: Chris Hoy

England: Lewis Hamilton

Wales: Gareth Bale

Northern Ireland: Rory McIlroy

Ireland: Paul O'Connell

France: Zinedine Zidane

Spain: Rafael Nadal

Italy: Francesco Totti

Brazil: Pele

Argentina: Diego Maradona

Finland: Paavo Nurmi

Sweden: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Norway: Marit Bjorgen

Denmark: Christian Eriksen

Belgium: Eden Hazard

Holland: Johan Cruyff

Fill your boots with the others.

Edited by Adamski
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Scotland's top 10 by that method:

10. Stephen Hendry

9. Judy Murray

8. Jamie Murray

7. Jock Stein

6. Bill Shankly

5. Andy Robertson

4. Kenny Dalglish

3. Alex Ferguson

2. Matt Busby

1. Chris Hoy

(I.e. the member of the Murray family missing from that list highlights a bit of a flaw in that method.)

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New Zealand's best sportsman  is probably Richie McCaw with Kane Williamson in second as it stands. I don't think there will be any footballers high on the list   

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Surely Roy Krishna is Fiji's greatest ever footballer, having dominated in New Zealand, the A-League (via Wellington) and India, leading his nation in caps and is 2 goals off the national record, held by the only guy I can see touching him in this race, Esala Masi, who managed 31 goals in 34 international games (Krishna has 29 in 41 games), and helped Fiji win titles in the Pacific Games and Melanesia Cup, whereas Krishna has never won anything with his native country according to Wikipedia. Masi can also claim an Australian national title while Krishna can't, but he can claim several New Zealand titles, an OFC Champions League, and an Indian Super League title. Krishna looks to have played at the higher levels and performed very well.

As for Fiji's greatest ever sportsman, while I'm sure there's a few rugby union and rugby league players worth mentioning who I've likely not heard of before, it has to be Vijay Singh for me with his 3 Masters, 34 PGA Tour wins, 32-week reign as golf's no. 1 and Hall of Fame status. His prowess surely towers over any other from the pacific isle.

Hopefully that's enough to cross Fiji off the list lol.

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Interesting concept. I’d be confident in saying that Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Usain Bolt and Vijay Singh are absolute certainties for their respective countries as the non-footballer.

On the footballers’ side, I’d guess Pele for Brazil, Cruyff for the Netherlands and Ronaldo for Portugal are comfortable picks as not only the best footballer but the best sportsman. For Argentina I want to say Maradona but that feels incredibly harsh on Messi.

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8 hours ago, ajwffc said:

New Zealand's best sportsman  is probably Richie McCaw with Kane Williamson in second as it stands. I don't think there will be any footballers high on the list   

Sir Richard Hadlee, in my opinion is still beating Kane Williamson as their best Cricketer.

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Best ever male sportsman is very subjective obviously and it's difficult to compare different sports. For The Netherlands, it's easy to name Johan Cruyff. But if it's between him and Pieter van den Hoogenband, the famous swimmer who has been the absolute best in his distances for a long time, it's really difficult to call tbh. Obviously Cruyff is more well-known than any swimmer, even a famous one, but a decent case can be made for Pieter van den Hoogenband. How do you determine "best ever" between an amazing football player and an amazing swimmer?

Edited by Marten
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22 minutes ago, Marten said:

Best ever male sportsman is very subjective obviously and it's difficult to compare different sports. For The Netherlands, it's easy to name Johan Cruyff. But if it's between him and Pieter van den Hoogenband, the famous swimmer who has been the absolute best in his distances for a long time, it's really difficult to call tbh. Obviously Cruyff is more well-known than any swimmer, even a famous one, but a decent case can be made for Pieter van den Hoogenband. How do you determine "best ever" between an amazing football player and an amazing swimmer?

Is there a 'van den Hoogenband' turn ?

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39 minutes ago, Marten said:

Best ever male sportsman is very subjective obviously and it's difficult to compare different sports. For The Netherlands, it's easy to name Johan Cruyff. But if it's between him and Pieter van den Hoogenband, the famous swimmer who has been the absolute best in his distances for a long time, it's really difficult to call tbh. Obviously Cruyff is more well-known than any swimmer, even a famous one, but a decent case can be made for Pieter van den Hoogenband. How do you determine "best ever" between an amazing football player and an amazing swimmer?

Michael van Gerwen is the correct answer anyway

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San Marino’s is fairly straightforward with European Cup and 3 time Serie A winner Massimo Bonini being, by an absolutely fucking mile, their greatest ever footballer. 

Their only other really notable sportsman is (according to google) Manuel Poggiali, who won a motorcycle Grand Prix world championship in 2001. I don’t watch motorbike racing, but I assume this is quite a big deal. 

Again, there’s the problem of you determine greatest between two very different sports. 

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