Our Top 50 in the last 50 years
ASK district fans who are the best 50 footballers for the last 50 years, 1970-2020, and the answer will be obvious as they have their own list.
We’ve achieved so much since Independence 50 years ago and it is proper and fitting that we singled out players who have contributed a lot down the line including the defeat of the Socceroos twice in 1977 in Suva and 1988 in Nadi .
While ascertaining the best individual in a team sport seems a futile discussion, it has not prevented football fans from debating just that.
Whittling down every man to every kick a ball in the last 50 years and then to put them in order - is something of a thankless task but here it is, nonetheless.
SUNsports pick the 50 greatest footballers in the last 50 years.
50: Rasool Dean (Nadi)
Rasool was a dominating footballer, known for his wide range shots. His instep shots were his secret weapon.
49: Tevita Delana (Rewa)
Tevita, was a towering defender. His defensive traits worked for Team Fiji’s 1-0, 1977 historic win over Australia.
48: Gordon Leewai (Labasa) Gordon was a strong player, good in attack and defense. District loyalty precluded him winning championships.
47: Emosi Baleinuku (Nadi)
Balenuku knew when to strike, a utility player who could be counted on. His honest contribution helped his district.
46: Ratu Kallippan (Lautoka)
Ratu was considered as the fastest utility forward, good on every attack, sound in defence. He was a solid and intelligent footballer.
45: Henry Dyer (Nadi)
Henry was one tough played equally well in midfielder and forward.
He was every coach’s nate position footballer.
44: Ravuama Madigi (Ba)
Ravuama, known for his lethal strikes with either feet. Known for scoring on screamers shots, including the 1988 strike against Australia for the 1-0 win in Nadi
43: Vula Wate (Rewa)
footballer, the back,
Vula was in the team Fiji that beat the Australian 1-0 in Suva in 1977. A goalkeeper with great reflexes. Upon his return from Australia later in the 80s, he played forward. 42: Semi Tabaivalu (Ba)
Semi, was a steady defender, read the game well and had great work ethics.
He was always looked up to as a sensible footballer.
41: Hussein Sahib (Labasa)
Hussein was a reliable holding midfielder, whose passes and shots made him a standout for Labasa, was on team Fiji that beat Australia 1-0 in 1977.
40: Pita Dau (Lautoka)
Dau, stepped in and stepped up, he was a commanding footballer, who played the game with all his heart. Captain of the 1988 team Fiji that beat Australia 1-0 at Prince Charles Park.
39: Josateki Kurivitu (Ba)
Josateki was dangerous with left foot, creating space to fire his timely shots.
Very dominant, knew his role on the team.
38: Kavaia Naiborisi (Lautoka)
Kavaia was a smart midfielder.
His precision left shots made him fearsome, played with a lot of pride and passion.
37: Taniela Tuilevuka (Labasa)
Dan, he was a skillful player. A good utility, who led by example, and possibly even more impressive than his enviable IDC trophy was his comics while playing.
36: Sam Work (Lautoka)
Sam was known for his powerful left screamers and goalkeepers loved to hate him, including the finest, Savenaca Waqa and Bale Raniga.
35: Bobby Shahadat (Ba)
Bobby was a magical footballer, beautiful touches, known for quality control and vision.
He had a sharp understanding of the game.
34: Farouk Janeman (Ba)
Janemam, the ‘Cunning Fox’ was a sneaky striker. He was known to score goals by irritating goalkeepers, clever, and was defenders worst enemy.
33: Radike Nawalu (Nadroga)
Nawalu, was a speedster on the go, second to none, he was a joy to watch.
His jump on headers are missed. Very elusive striker.
32: Iosefo Vasaboto (Ba)
Vasaboto, was a good goalkeeper, made his mark for Ba.
His goalkeeping won him with his district.
31: George Koy (Suva) George
George was an all-rounder, fit well in any position and made the difference.
Captain of the team Fiji that beat long titles
Australia 1-0 in 1977 in Suva.
30: Jimmy Okete (Rewa)
Jimmy, the big man who was fast, would score on every opportunity. Scored Fiji’s historic goal against Australia in 1977.
29: John Monday (Lautoka)
John, it seemed through this player was dressed in a ‘butchers’ apron.’
A clean and no contact footballer, who would sell you on a dime.
28: Ramendra Dutt (Nadroga)
Ramend was another gifted midfielder who dictated his terms from the middle of the field.
He could thread a ball through an eye of a needle. Great vision.
27: Gopal Krishna (Lautoka)
Gopal gave him an inch and saw him go a mile; his uncanny body movement was amazing.
Football will never get to see another token of skilled craftsmen. He had an educated left foot.
26: Mohammed Salim (Rewa)
Salim was among the fearsome strikers of the mid 70s- 80s.
He was very deceiving, unleashed powerful hits with pure accuracy.
25: Salesh Kumar (Ba)
Salesh was a good midfielder, full of knowledge and verve.
He was an asset to Ba and team Fiji. Played in the New Zealand Football Competition (NZFC).
24: Taniela Waqa (Lautoka)
Taniela, the age defying footballer, still carries on the baton for Labasa.
The defender has been schooling upcoming footballers on the need to stay fit and play with all the heart.
23: Osea Vakatelasau (Ba)
Osea, was the modern-day striker, who fans would count on to score. A deadly striker at his prime.
22: George Dickson (Labasa)
Dickson was an outstanding sweeper back; whose style was farfetched.
He turned defence into real gem of a defender.
21: Tony Kabakoro (Suva)
Tony was Suva’s sensational midfielder, a workhorse, and a talent tank.
He had great ball eye attack, a coordination.
20: Rusiate Waqa (Nadi)
Rusiate, had a knack to score great goals on headers.
What Inia Bola was to Ba, Waqa was to Nadi. He had a natural goal scoring instinct.
19: Inia Bola (Ba)
What he did with his headers, footballers failed to do with their feet.
The striker scored most of his goals through precision headers, the best in his trade.
18: Abraham Watkins (Nadroga)
Aba, as he was known, was a solid defender who once owned the leftback’s position on the national team. Past his prime, he became a striker, great transition.
17: Lote Delai (Ba)
Lote, and it is fitting how this lanky left-back took over the position from Aba, for the national team.
It so appears that the vacancy had only opened to be filled in a hurry.
16: Jone Nakosia (Ba)
Jone, was the ‘Stonewall’ district.
An imposing defender who was solid in his sweeper back’s position.
15: Kasimiro Dinono (Labasa)
Kasimiro, was known for that rare first, chest, thigh, with a blistering shot in a sync.
14: Simon Peters (Labasa)
Simon ‘Maradona’ Peters would turn the defenders in and out on a fly.
The stocky built footballer was an opponent’s nightmare.
13: Meli Vuilabasa (Ba)
Meli, was a dominating midfielder, spoke very less on the field. Intelligent and every teammate’s delight.
Now how often do one get to see that in a game of football.
12: Lorima Batirerega (Lautoka)
Lorima, like most Blues talented midfielders, was a cut of the same fabric.
He had class, skills, and vision. He had an amazing football career.
11: Bale Raniga (Ba)
Bale was a Ba goalkeeping icon. He was a part of the all-conquering,75-80, district team that won 6 straight IDC.
10: Emasi Koroi Bacardi (Nadi)
Bacardi was always mentioned in the vein as Tubuna.
Great ball distributor had great vision and leadership.
9: Esala Masi (Ba)
Esala, had the knack to take on defenders at will and score on every opportunity made available.
Esala played in the A-League for a few clubs.
8: Anand Sami (Labasa)
Anand, the ‘little big’ man who wore his heart on his sleeve.
He possessed a field-full of skills and was known for his brisk and soft touches.
7: Roy Krishna (Labasa)
Roy, opportunity, and perseverance are what have him etch his name in the sport.
His spoils are on the back of the parallels of hard work and desire, the A-League and Indian Super League records fits his unerring contribution to the sport.
6: Savenaca Waqa (Nadi)
Savenaca, the ‘gentle giant’ of a goalkeeper is still being talked about for his excellence and acrobatics saves.
There will never be another like him.
5: Ivor Evans (Labasa)
Ivor, the pint size midfield player changed the way the game was played, known for annoyance, is he ever dubbed as the country’s silkiest footballer.
He mesmerised North America fans with his deft skills while playing in the Canadian Soccer League.
4: Waisea Naicovu (Ba)
Waisea commanded leadership, another quality ball player, tough and rugged.
He perfected the ‘chest’ ball control in the country. Great leadership.
3: Abdul Mannan (Rewa)
Mannan, played men’s game from a tender age of 17 years, a quality central back, with eagle eye vision who exposed strong defensive tactics.
A commanding footballer.
2: Kelemedi Vosuga Cheetah toka)
Cheetah was the best midfielder Fiji has ever produced; he routinely made the outrageous look easy. Known for tactical lace, he was awed for his midfield plays and smart half volleys.
1: Josaia Tubuna (Lautoka)
Joe was in a league of his own, a complete Fijian utility footballer, anything, and everything a footballer needs for the beautiful game.
His vision, style and leadership make him the country’s best all time footballer and that’s Tubuna’s seal of approval’.