The 10 Best German Players in History

Best German Players in History: The German team is one of the most successful in all of history, not only because of its many titles but also because of its great moments. Being one of the three teams with the most international titles, it is impossible not to highlight the good work of the great players who have made German history great.

All these big names have contributed a grain of sand to what is currently the second (double tie with Italy) team with the most World Cups with four World Cups.

This success, in addition to being magnified after winning the European Championship several times and good continental appearances, is due to the presence of players who have written their names in history over time.

Best German Players in History

For this reason, we have prepared a ranking in which we will review the career of the most important players in the history of German football. In this way, regardless of whether or not they have successes with the national team, we will highlight the footballing ability of each one.

10. Philipp Lahm

  • Full Name: Philipp Lahm
  • Date of Birth: 11 November 1983 (age 39)
  • Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
  • Position(s): Full-back

Philipp Lahm was a very important and versatile player for Germany. He played in three different positions during his career, but he was best known as a right-back.

He started his career with Bayern München in 2002, but he also had a loan spell at Stuttgart. After returning to Bayern, he played for them until he retired in 2017. During his time there, he won many trophies, including 8 Bundesliga titles, 6 German Cups, a UEFA Champions League, a Club World Cup, and a European Super Cup.

Lahm was the captain of the German national team from 2010 onwards and played 113 games for his country. He was a key player in the German defence and played a crucial role in their victory at the 2014 World Cup.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
2004–2014 Germany1135

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
FIFA World Cup2014
FIFA World Cupthird place: 2006, 2010
UEFA European Championship runner-up: 2008
UEFA European Championship semi-finals: 2012

9. Thomas Muller

  • Full Name: Thomas Müller
  • Date of Birth: 13 September 1989 (age 33)
  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Position(s): Attacking midfielder, forward

Thomas Müller is a German player who started his career with Bayern München in 2008. He is still an active player, unlike some others on our list. However, he was recently not chosen to play for the German national team due to a technical decision, so his numbers with the team will not increase.

Müller is currently ranked high on our list and has the potential to be considered one of the best in history if he continues to excel. At 31 years old, he has already won an impressive 27 titles, making him the German player with the most titles in football history.

During the 2014 World Cup, Müller played a vital role for the German team. He has represented Germany 89 times and scored 37 goals while playing for the national team.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
2010– Germany 12144

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
FIFA World Cup2014
FIFA World Cupthird place: 2010

8. Jurgen Klinsmann

  • Full Name: Jürgen Klinsmann
  • Date of Birth: 30 July 1964 (age 58)
  • Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
  • Position(s): Striker

Jürgen Klinsmann is a former German striker who had a diverse career playing for more than 9 teams. He began his professional journey in 1984 at TB Gingen, but he had been playing non-professionally since 1981. Klinsmann’s career can be characterized as that of a wanderer, as he moved between several clubs until his retirement in 2003.

During his time with the German national team, Klinsmann achieved notable success. He was part of the team that won the World Cup in 1990 and the Eurocopa in 1996. With 109 appearances, he is the sixth player with the most caps for ‘Die Mannschaft’ and ranks fifth in all-time goals scored for his team with 47 goals.

Klinsmann’s post-retirement career is particularly noteworthy for his coaching abilities. Just a year after retiring, he took on the role of coaching the German national team from 2004 to 2006. He later had a one-season stint as the coach of Bayern München and went on to manage the US National Team for five years.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
1987–1998 West Germany / Germany 10847

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
FIFA World Cup1990
UEFA European Championship1996
UEFA European Championshiprunner-up: 1992
Summer Olympic Games1988 Bronze medal
U.S. Cup1993

7. Miroslav Klose

  • Full Name: Miroslav Josef Klose
  • Date of Birth: 9 June 1978 (age 44)
  • Height: 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Position(s): Striker

Miroslav Klose, a former Polish player who became a German national, is considered one of the top five players in the history of Germany. He represented the German national team 137 times and scored an impressive 71 goals. Klose also achieved the remarkable feat of winning an international title with his team.

Klose currently holds two records that could potentially be surpassed in the future. Firstly, he is the all-time leading goal scorer for the German national team, surpassing the legendary Gerd Müller.

Additionally, Klose holds the record for the most goals scored in the history of the FIFA World Cup, with a total of 16 goals. He achieved this feat by surpassing Ronaldo “Fenómeno” in the 2014 World Cup.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
2001–2014 Germany 13771

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
FIFA World Cup2014
FIFA World Cuprunner-up: 2002
FIFA World Cupthird place 2006, 2010
UEFA European Championship runner-up: 2008

6. Manuel Neuer

  • Full Name: Manuel Peter Neuer
  • Date of Birth: 27 March 1986 (age 37)
  • Height: 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
  • Position(s): Goalkeeper

Manuel Neuer is a highly regarded goalkeeper who is considered one of the best in the world and of our generation. He continues to be a crucial player for both his club, Bayern Munich, and the German national team. Playing for Bayern, he has played a vital role in their recent successes, including winning two trebles and having the opportunity to achieve a historic sextuple, a feat previously only accomplished by Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona.

Neuer started his career at Schalke 04 and made his debut in the 2005/2006 season. However, in 2011, Bayern Munich made a significant investment and signed him as their first-choice goalkeeper, recognizing his exceptional talent and potential.

With the German national team, Neuer has played 95 games so far. He was an integral part of the team that won the 2014 World Cup, and he currently serves as the captain of ‘Die Mannschaft’.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
2009– Germany 1170

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
FIFA World Cup2014
FIFA World Cupthird place: 2010

5. Oliver Kahn

  • Full Name: Oliver Rolf Kahn
  • Date of Birth: 15 June 1969 (age 53)
  • Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Position(s): Goalkeeper

Oliver Kahn is widely recognized as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of football. Throughout his career, he achieved numerous national and international titles, particularly during his time at Bayern Munich. As a player for Bayern, he won the Bundesliga an impressive 8 times and played in over 632 games for the club.

Not only is Kahn known for his success, but he also holds notable records. He has the distinction of being both one of the players with the most appearances in the Bundesliga and the goalkeeper with the most games played in the league.

Additionally, Kahn was awarded the Bronze Ball in 2001 and 2002, and he won the UEFA Euro 1996 with the German national team and the UEFA Champions League in the 2000-2001 season with Bayern Munich.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
1995–2006 Germany 86 (0)860

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
UEFA European Championship1996
FIFA Confederations CupThird place: 2005
FIFA World Cuprunner-up 2002
FIFA World Cupthird place 2006

4. Lothar Matthaus

  • Full Name: Lothar Herbert Matthäus
  • Date of Birth: 21 March 1961 (age 62)
  • Height: 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder, sweeper

Lothar Matthäus, a former German midfielder, is renowned for his remarkable achievement of playing in the most World Cups in history, sharing the record with Buffon, Carbajal, and Márquez, with a total of 5 World Cup appearances.

However, it is Matthäus’ outstanding football career that places him among the top four in our ranking. He made his debut in 1979 with Borussia Mönchengladbach, but he is most notably remembered for his time at Bayern Munich. He had two stints with the club, with his standout period being from 1984 to 1988.

On the international stage, Matthäus holds the record for the most appearances by a German player in the national team. He represented Germany 150 times and scored 23 goals. He played a pivotal role in Germany’s World Cup victory in 1990, the same year he won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award. Additionally, he played a vital role in Germany’s success in the Euro 1980 tournament.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
1980–2000 West Germany/Germany 15023

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
FIFA World Cup 1990
UEFA European Championship1980
U.S. Cup1993

3. Karl Heinz Rummenigge

Date of Birth: 25 September 1955 (age 67)
Place of Birth: Lippstadt, West Germany
Height: 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Position(s): Forward

Karl Heinz Rummenigge, a Bayern Munich legend, claims the third spot in our ranking of the best German players. Currently, he serves as the General Director of his beloved club.

Rummenigge began his professional career in 1974 with FC Bayern Munich, where he played for 10 years before departing in 1984. He then moved to Italy and represented Inter Milan from 1984 to 1987. He concluded his career in Switzerland, playing two seasons with Servette FC. Throughout his illustrious career, Rummenigge accumulated an array of titles, notably all achieved with German teams. Among these achievements, he was a key figure in Germany’s victory in the Euro Cup in 1980.

On the international stage, Rummenigge earned 95 caps for the German national team, scoring 45 goals. However, he was unable to secure a World Cup triumph with the national team. Despite this, his successful career, including two Ballon d’Or wins in 1980 and 1981, solidifies his legacy as a legendary player.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
1976–1986 West Germany9545

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
UEFA European Championship1980
FIFA World Cup runner-up: 1982, 1986

2. Gerd Muller

  • Full Name: Gerhard Müller
  • Date of Birth: 3 November 1945
  • Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Striker

Gerd Müller, known as “The Torpedo,” secures the second position in our ranking of the best players in German history. This formidable player instilled fear in defenses across Europe with his relentless goal-scoring ability and unwavering desire to win. Until Miroslav Klose emerged, Müller held the title of all-time leading goal scorer for the German national team.

During his active years, Müller astonishingly scored 735 goals across all competitions, tournaments, and matches for both clubs and the national team. This remarkable feat places him as the sixth-highest goal scorer in the history of football. Notably, when accounting for friendly matches, minor categories, and unofficial goals, Müller’s tally reaches an astounding 1,461 goals in 1,216 games, as per RSSSF data. Müller made his debut in 1963 during a transfer within the youth ranks of Bayern Munich. However, his official debut with the first team occurred in 1964. He went on to play consistently for the German club until the 1978/1979 season, amassing an incredible 398 goals in 453 matches.

His extensive record includes numerous national and international titles, with the highlight being Bayern Munich’s three consecutive European Cup triumphs in the 1970s. On the international stage, Müller is the second-highest goal scorer in the history of the German national team, having netted an impressive 68 goals in 62 games. He achieved success with the national team by winning a World Cup in 1974 and a Euro Cup in 1972. Müller also secured the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in 1970.

For many years, he held the record for the most goals scored in a calendar year, tallying 85 goals. However, in 2012, Lionel Messi surpassed his record by scoring 91 goals. In recognition of this achievement, Messi presented a signed shirt to Gerd Müller, which now rests in the FC Bayern Munich museum.

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
1966–1974 West Germany 6268

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionResult
FIFA World Cup1974
UEFA European Championship1972

1. Franz Beckenbauer

  • Full Name: Franz Anton Beckenbauer
  • Date of Birth: 11 September 1945 (age 77)
  • Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
  • Position(s): Defender

Franz Beckenbauer, a truly legendary figure, secures the top spot not only in German football history but also among the greatest in the sport. Beckenbauer was known for his exceptional skills as a defender and midfielder, consistently displaying a remarkable ability to read the game.

Throughout his career, he earned numerous individual and team accolades. He made his debut at a young age with FC Bayern Munich in 1964 and remained with the club until 1977. Following this, he embarked on a three-year adventure in the United States, playing for the New York Cosmos, then spent two years in Hamburg, and concluded his club career with a final year back at the New York Cosmos.

During his playing years, Beckenbauer amassed an extensive collection of national and international titles. Notably, he won three consecutive European Cups with FC Bayern Munich from 1974 to 1976. As a German international, Beckenbauer represented the national team 103 times, scoring 14 goals. He played a crucial role in securing a World Cup victory in 1974 and also claimed a Euro Cup title. The German team he was a part of is widely regarded as one of the greatest in soccer history.

After retiring as a player, Beckenbauer further cemented his legendary status by successfully coaching the German team to win their third World Cup in 1990. This achievement came after reaching another World Cup final in 1986.

At Last, Beckenbauer’s remarkable career as both a player and coach solidifies his position at the top of our ranking. Not only was he one of the finest defenders in history, but he also holds the distinction of being one of the few defenders to win the Ballon d’Or, and he achieved this feat twice (in 1972 and 1976).

Statistics With German National Team:

CareerAppearanceGoals
1965–1977 West Germany 10314

Honours With German National Team:

CompetitionYear
FIFA World Cup1974
UEFA European Championship1972

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