It’s fair to say that Macedonian footballers have rarely captured the limelight on the global footballing stage. Often overshadowed by talents from more established parts in Eastern Europe, very few Macedonian players have managed to breakthrough into the major European leagues. However, with North Macedonia participating in their maiden senior championship at the European Championships, their time has very much arrived in the spotlight. So who are the greatest Macedonian footballers of all time?
Best Macedonian footballers ever
Having captained the FYROM national side for 43 of his 100 national caps, the experienced defender proved himself to be a reliable anchor for any of his teams to depend on. With an excellent understanding of the game as well as a solid presence, Sedloski became a reliable plyer for the likes of Dinamo Zagreb and Sheffield Wednesday during the early 2000s.
His best form came with Dinamo Zagreb, where he won three Prva League titles as a player over two separate stints. His knowledge has translated well into the management side of the game where Sedloski has already won trophies in both his native Macedonia and Bosnia before joining the backroom setup at Dinamo once again.
An often underrated winger, Artim Sakiri proved himself to be a dogged competitor no matter where which side of the pitch he was played on. With fancy footwork in abundance, Sakiri was always able to fashion a chance from any angle or area in the penalty box.
The winger proved to be a bit of a journeyman playing in no less than 11 different counties throughout his career including a brief two-year spell with West Brom during the early 2000s but he remains one of the best Macedonian footballers. His best form arguably came with CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria scoring 6 goals in 25 games winning the Bulgarian league that year and securing a move to English football.
One of Macedonia’s first breakout stars, Georgi Hristov was quick to show that his homeland was able to provide players of real quality. His breakthrough came with Barnsley in the 1997-98 Premier League season where he scored a respectable 8 goals in 28 games as The Tykes fought valiantly against relegation.
Injuries disrupted Hristov’s time in English football but a move to NEC in Holland in 2000 showed that he didn’t lose his predatory instincts scoring 18 times in 55 Eredivisie appearances. Whilst fitness issues did plague his career, Hristov made the most of his chances in some of Europe’s top leagues and showed that Macedonia had potential to be a strong footballing nation and cement his legacy as one of the best Macedonian footballers ever.
Macedonian football has come a long way in the past couple of decades and stylish winger Enis Bardhi showcases just how far the local talent has become. The prominent winger has excellent ball skills with both passing and set-pieces becoming Bardhi’s biggest trademark. It has been at La Liga stalwarts Levante where Bardhi has shone brightly having joined from Hungarian side FC Ujpest in 2017 and quickly becoming one of their top stars.
He has impressed others in the league too with Spanish football fans voting Bardhi to have the best free kicks in La Liga, tying with Lionel Messi in the poll underlining his status as a top playmaker in one of Europe’s most prominent leagues.
Undoubtedly the biggest superstar of Macedonian football, Goran Pandev has been a major name for some of Europe’s biggest teams throughout his career. The talismanic striker has proven to be a fierce competitor with a strong physical presence and a powerful shot that has bested many of Europe’s best goalkeepers. Having spent most of his time in Serie A, Pandev has played for several of the top names in Italy, including Lazio, Napoli and Genoa.
His best return came with Lazio in the 2007-08 season where he netted 17 times in 36 games but since then, the national icon has gone on to be awarded Macedonian Player of the Year 5 times as well as the Coppa Italia top scorer on two separate occasions. Having also secured the all-time records for both appearances and goals for the Macedonia national team, it is only fitting that the striker leads his nation into their debut tournament as their captain and leader and is recognised as one of the, if not the, best Macedonian footballers in history.
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