Football is a constantly evolving sport with modifications in tactics, fitness levels and rules. Naturally, these changes affect the game on the pitch, including the positions. While a few new positions develop due to the evolution, a few positions become extinct due to the same. So, here are 5 positions which are barely seen in the modern game.

Football is easily the most popular sport in the world. It is played in over 200 countries, which reinforces its popularity. Now, these different countries, owing to their history, geography and footballing talent, add their own variants in the form of new positions and tactics to the game. Thus, football’s evolution is a relentless and constant process, given the sheer number of people playing it.

Likewise, some football positions slowly fade away and are not seen anymore in the modern game. Further, a few roles require special skill-sets and every once in a while, a player emerges who can play in that position. Hence, those kinds of positions is not a common occurrence either.

Now, let’s take a look at 5 such football positions which are rarely seen in the top level.

  • False Nine  

The most popular position on the list, false nine is a tactically unique position in football. Any formation played in football has at least one striker to lead the line who is closely marked by the opposition defence. In the case of false nine, the forward constantly drops deep to get involved in the build-up play and allow the wide attackers to get into the box.


This leads to the opposition losing their defensive shape and makes it very difficult to mark the player. As enticing as it sounds, this position is rare purely due to the skill-set needed. The false nine should have a striker’s movement and scoring ability on one hand while possessing the attributes of good passing, technique and dribbling on the other. Hence, it is extremely rare to see this position at the top level. The best example is Lionel Messi at Barcelona when Pep Guardiola used to manage them.

  • Poacher

Talking about strikers, poachers are a dying breed in modern football. As the name suggests, these players have the uncanny knack of converting the slimmest of chances into goals. Excellent movement, great ability to anticipate inside the box combine with devastating finishing ability to complete the skill-set.


However, one barely sees poachers these days as strikers are expected to show higher work-rate and play anywhere in attack. Poachers generally come alive when a ball comes into the opposition box as they sniff a goalscoring chance. However, this is no longer acceptable at any top team and it is a rarely seen role now. Some of the best poachers include AC Milan’s Filippo Inzaghi and Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy.

  • Traditional full-back

The traditional full-back is a role which can be considered non-existent in modern football. In the previous century, full-backs used to be the last line of defence instead of the centre-backs. They rarely used to venture out in attack and were as defensively sound as the centre-halves.

However, in the modern game, full-backs are key to providing width and supporting the attack, just like wing-backs. Hence, traditional full-backs no longer exist as centre-backs are now the last line of defence. Thus, this is a position which became obsolete due to the advent of the game.

  • Sweeper (libero)

A sweeper or a libero is a defender who is stationed between the defenders and the goalkeeper. Once again, as the name suggests, the sweeper ‘sweeps’ the ball if the defence is breached. Thus, they usually have a ‘free’ position and are not pertaining to staying in defence.

These players also possess ball-playing abilities to bring the ball out from defence and get involved in the team’s attacking aspects. However, the introduction of the offside rule meant defences started to hold their line. Thus, sweepers became extinct while similar attributes are seen to varying degrees in modern centre-backs and goalkeepers. The best example for a sweeper is Bayern Munich and Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer.

  • Player-Manager

In the previous century, it was natural for clubs to have their own players become managers after retiring as players. These players generally spend enough time at the club to understand how it functions and is expected to take the club forward better than others. Thus, there used to be scenarios when players in their 30s doubled up as player-managers, even at top clubs.

However, being a player-manager implies the person had to train on one side while ensuring all the managerial responsibilities are carried out without any neglect or self-reference. As the game entered the modern age, it only became more difficult to give 100% in both roles and one barely sees a player-manager in the present day. The best example of a successful player-manager is Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish in the 1980s.

Thus, here are 5 football positions which are rarely found in the present day due to several reasons. Feel free to add more in the comments section below.

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Loving sports since childhood. Writing about sports in my adulthood. YNWA!

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