Skip to content

The XI of the humble and modest players in football

It’s hard to stay humble when you’re adored by millions of people. And yet, despite the success, a staggering salary and this idol status, these players clash with their simplicity.

Ali Ahamada

The Comorian Ali Ahamada in Toulouse. / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Criticized, even mocked during his years in France, the Comorian had to go into exile to flee a country where criticism gave way to relentlessness.

“People are sometimes very tough. I accept criticism, but sometimes you have to be fair. I think they have been hard on my casehe estimated in our columns. Rightly, wrongly? Sometimes it was unjustified, but that’s how it is. He happens to be targeted.”

Besides this goal scored against Rennes in 2012 and before becoming one of the darlings of the famous chronicle of Julien Cazarre on D+1, Ali Ahamada is above all a formidable being, overflowing with sympathy. Now expatriated to Santa Coloma in Andorra, the former Toulousain will remain forever in our memories.

Kalidou Koulibaly

Kalidou Koulibaly in the colors of Naples. / Marco Canoniero/GettyImages

The Senegalese rock may ride on the best attackers in Serie A, the latter does not forget where he comes from and the ordeals that African immigrants go through, especially in Italy where racist abuse is not limited only to the stadiums of football.

In January 2021, a Napoli fan witnessed it in a district of Naples and recounted it in the columns of the Gazetta Dello Sport: “From afar, I see a known template, it’s our defensive rock. Out of curiosity, I stop and notice that he is offering Naples jackets and food to his fellow citizens to protect them from the cold.”

UEFA Champions League final

Virgil van Dijk in the Champions League final. / ANP/GettyImages

He may be the best in the world at his post, the Dutchman remains unmoved, never addressing one word above the other: “We must continue to work and remain humble”he keeps repeating.

A humility that he owes in particular to Jürgen Klopp, in his words: “When the media praise me, he downplays the praise, often with a wink. And when I was voted UEFA Player of the Year and had to go to the ceremony, Jurgen told all the guys that I was collecting the trophy on behalf of the whole team.”

Besides, if we had to elect a coach from this Humble FC, the Liverpool technician would be the perfect candidate.


Simon Kjaer comforting Christian Eriksen’s girlfriend. / WOLFGANG RATTAY/GettyImages

The football planet stopped turning on June 12, 2021. As Denmark welcome Finland for their first match of Euro 2020, captain Christian Eriksen collapses. And without the intervention of Simon Kjaer, the consequences could have been more dramatic.

A modern-day hero, even if the humble Dane refuses to admit it: “I’m not a hero. I just did what I had to do, without thinking, like anyone else would”.

N'Golo Kante

How not to love N’Golo Kanté? / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

“He’s small, he’s nice, he ate Leo Messi…” . No need to dwell on the N’Golo Kanté case. Humanity agrees that he is probably the most humble person in this world.

The guy may have won the most prestigious trophies, but he won’t get it back less than your friend who just scored you a goal on FIFA after making a back pass in front of the goalkeeper.

Andres Iniesta

Looking grizzled, Andrès Iniesta currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan. / Masashi Hara/GettyImages

The metronome of one of the greatest teams in history. Iniesta is an ode to the purity and simplicity of football. And it’s Pep Guardiola who talks about it best:

“Iniesta doesn’t dye his hair, he doesn’t wear earrings and he doesn’t have tattoos. Maybe that makes him unappealing to the media, but he’s the best.”

Pep Guardiola

UEFA Champions League final

Luka Modric wins the titles with Real Madrid. / ANP/GettyImages

The winners of the Ballon d’Or 2018 are dizzying. Returning to his prime this season with Real Madrid, Luka Modric is a blessing to football.

Idol of an entire country, the Croatian has always remained true to himself, forged by a heavy past: “I was six when the war started. We became refugees, and it was a really difficult time.”

Son Heung-min

Heung-min Son is an absolute idol in South Korea. / Chung Sung-Jun/GettyImages

Often cited as one of the most underrated players in the world of football, the Tottenham striker is the antithesis of a Zlatan or a Cristiano Ronaldo.

Co-top scorer in the Premier League last season (23 goals), Heung-min Son continues to live according to his principles and always with his family:

“Attitudes are different in Europe and Asia and of course people think, ‘Why does he live with his family? But who cares about me? Who helps me play football? They are the ones, he confided in an interview with The Guardian. They gave up their lives and they come here to help me. I have to return the favor.”


Sadio Mané, winner of the last CAN with Senegal. / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/GettyImages

“Why would I want ten Ferraris, 20 diamond watches or two airplanes? What are these items going to do for me and for the world?” The simplicity of Sadio Mané clashes in an environment where success quickly goes to your head.

The Senegalese has never forgotten his roots and there are plenty of anecdotes testifying to the generosity of the new Bayern Munich player.

“I was hungry and had to work in the fields; I survived difficult times, confided Mané to the Ghanaian media Nsemwoha. I played barefoot football, I had no education, but today, with what I earn from football, I can help my people.”

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford, much more than a footballer. / Alex Broadway/GettyImages

Call him Sir Marcus Rashford. One does not become a knight of the crown without being an exceptional individual. Beyond embodying the future of English football, the Mancunian uses his aura to help others.

His main achievement will remain his fight and his platform in The Guardian against food insecurity which affects one in five children in the United Kingdom.

His leg crossings worthy of a puppet stroll have entered into legend! Just like his sense of goal, which is sorely lacking today at the Girondins de Bordeaux. Cheick Diabaté was the very incarnation of the unattractive, but devilishly effective player.

Constantly mocked by Julien Cazarre, we all remember this incredible sequence, where the Malian gave us a lesson in tolerance and humility. We love you Cheick!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.