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The 50 Best Soccer Players Of All Time

Best Soccer Players Of All Time: Who are the best soccer players ever? It’s a tough question because there are so many factors to consider: their positions, the era they played in, and more. But some players have amazed the world with their incredible skills and talent.

Football, the most popular sport globally, has seen many fantastic players. As the game has changed over time, some players have stood out. Let’s take a look at 50 of the greatest footballers who have left a lasting impact on the sport.

Creating a list of the best soccer players ever is tricky because there are so many talented individuals to choose from. However, we’ll try to narrow it down and recognize those who have won numerous team and individual awards.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time

⚠️ Important: you may think that some of the names we mention should not be on this list and that others are missing… We do not intend to impose our criteria, simply to classify the best in the world in our own way.

How do we rank the best players in history?

Well, we have already given you a preview of how we are going to evaluate the players in the ranking of the best footballers in history. We will mark the peak or valued stage at the beginning of each explanation in which the reasons why that player has been included among the 50 best players in history will be included.

50. Kylian Mbappe

  • CAREER: 2015-
  • POSITION: Forward
  • NATIONALITY: France

Kylian Mbappé, the young French soccer player, has already proven himself to be among the best in the game. He played for AS Monaco and now Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). In the 2018 World Cup, he helped France win, and in 2022, they were runners-up. He scored a lot and won FIFA’s Young Player Award.

Best French Forward of all time
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He’s achieved a lot in his career, winning awards for his skill and talent. He’s been in the top rankings for awards like the Ballon d’Or and FIFA Men’s Player. He’s also been named in top teams like FIFA FIFPro World11 and UEFA Team of the Year. He’s received awards like the Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy.

In 2023, he was recognized as one of Time’s 100 most influential people and ranked third in Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes. Mbappé is known for his exceptional talent and has been praised as one of the greatest footballers ever.

Major Achievements:

  • FIFA World Cup Golden Boot in 2022
  • FIFA World Cup Silver Ball in 2022
  • FIFA World Cup Young Player Award in 2018
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2018
  • FIFA World Cup in 2018 and runner-up in 2022
  • UEFA Nations League in 2020–21
  • Kopa Trophy winner in 2018

49. Robert Lewandowski

  • CAREER: 2005–
  • POSITION: Striker
  • NATIONALITY: Poland

Robert Lewandowski is a fantastic soccer player. He’s known for his skills as a striker. He’s considered one of the greatest strikers ever and has achieved a lot in his career.

Best Footballers in the World in 2024
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Lewandowski started off playing in lower divisions in Poland, where he quickly became a top scorer. He then moved to bigger teams like Lech Poznań and Borussia Dortmund, winning titles and awards along the way. In 2014, he joined Bayern Munich for free and became a key player, helping them win many Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2020.

He’s achieved some incredible feats in his career. Lewandowski is one of the few players to have won the European treble while being the top scorer in all competitions. He’s also been the top scorer for both his club and country for several years in a row. Many people thought he deserved the Ballon d’Or in 2020, but it was canceled that year.

In 2022, Lewandowski joined Barcelona and had a great debut season, winning titles and awards. He’s known for his scoring ability, and he’s broken many records in the Bundesliga. He’s scored over 300 goals in the league, making him one of the all-time top scorers.

Lewandowski has represented Poland in multiple European Championships and World Cups. He’s their all-time leading scorer and has received numerous awards for his performances.

Lewandowski is a highly respected player in the soccer world, known for his goal-scoring prowess and achievements on the field.

Major Achievements:

  • European Golden Shoe in 2020–21, and 2021–22
  • Pichichi Trophy in 2022–23
  • The Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2020, and 2021

48. Sandor Kocsis

  • CAREER: 1950-55.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Hungary.

Sandor Kocsis was an incredibly talented goal scorer, both for his club, Budapest Honvéd, and the Hungarian national team. He scored an impressive 75 goals in just 68 international matches for Hungary, showcasing his remarkable ability to find the back of the net.

Best Barcelona Strikers of all time
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During the 1954 World Cup, Kocsis was in top form, scoring an incredible 11 goals in just five games, making him the tournament’s top scorer. This achievement solidified his reputation as one of the most prolific goal scorers of his time.

Kocsis was also known for his exceptional goal-scoring record in league matches. He topped the goal-scoring charts in European leagues in 1952 and 1954 while playing for Budapest Honvéd.

One of Kocsis’s standout qualities was his proficiency in scoring headers, which earned him a formidable reputation on the field. Additionally, he holds the record for the most goals scored in a single World Cup year, with 23 goals in 1954.

Sandor Kocsis’s remarkable goal-scoring prowess, particularly his success at both the club and international levels, cements his legacy as one of the greatest goal scorers in football history.

Major Achievements:

  • Olympic Gold Medal
  • 1954 World Cup Golden Boot
  • 1954 World Cup runner-up
  • 75 goals in 68 games with the Hungarian national team
  • two La Liga titles, and four Hungarian titles.

47. Jairzinho

  • CAREER: 1970.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Jairzinho holds a unique record in FIFA World Cup history as the only player to score in every single game of the tournament. This achievement sets him apart from legends like Klose, Gerd Müller, and Pelé.

Best Brazilian Strikers of all time
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Nicknamed “The Hurricane” due to the way his jersey shook as he sprinted down the wing, Jairzinho was a versatile forward who could play in various attacking positions, including as a main striker, second striker, or attacking midfielder. He was known for his distinctive afro hairstyle in his later years, as well as his explosive speed, dribbling skills, and powerful shots.

Jairzinho’s remarkable accomplishment came while he was a key player for the legendary 1970 Brazil team, widely regarded as the greatest soccer team of all time. He played a pivotal role in leading Brazil to World Cup triumph that year, showcasing his exceptional talent and contributing significantly to his team’s success.

Major achievements:

  • 1970 World Cup
  • the only player to score in every World Cup match
  • FIFA award for “Best Body on the Planet” (we’re not sure what that means but it sounds pretty good).

46. Iker Casillas

  • CAREER: 2008-12.
  • POSITION: Goalkeeper.
  • NATIONALITY: Spain.

Iker Casillas was a key player for Spain during their most successful period, winning two European Championships and a World Cup in a row. This achievement hasn’t been matched by any other team so far. Spain’s style of play, known as tiki-taka, impressed the world with its control of the game.

Casillas is widely regarded as one of the greatest Spanish players ever. His famous save against Arjen Robben in the final, where he blocked a one-on-one with his right foot, is particularly remembered. His performances for Real Madrid also helped the team win national titles.

He’s often considered the best goalkeeper in Real Madrid’s history, surpassing even the legendary Ricardo Zamora, who the Zamora Trophy is named after. These achievements place Casillas among the all-time greats.

Major Achievements:

  • Eurocup Champion 2008 and 2012
  • World Cup Champion 2010
  • three Champions League
  • two European Super Cups
  • five times La Liga champion and three Copa del Rey titles in 2011.
  • A total of 19 titles, almost nothing.

44. Paul Breitner

  • CAREER: 1974-81.
  • POSITION: Midfielder/defender.
  • NATIONALITY: Germany.

Paul Breitner was an amazing footballer known for his awesome afro. People say he’s one of the best ever!

He played in the FIFA World Cup and was so good that he got into the All-Time Team. FIFA even picked him as one of the top 125 living footballers in 2004.

Breitner played for West Germany 48 times. He was super important when they won the 1974 FIFA World Cup, even scoring in the final game.

He also scored in the final of the 1982 FIFA World Cup. That’s a big deal because only a few players have scored in two different World Cup final matches.

He had great partnerships with other players like Franz Beckenbauer, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, and Berti Vogts. For Bayern Munich, he teamed up with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in midfield.

Name something, and I probably could do it.

Scoring in a World Cup final?

  • Yes. Easy thing.
  • Mark the best goalkeepers in the world?
  • Yes, of course.
  • Make a soufflé?
  • Yes probably.
  • Paul Breitner could do almost anything and, for this reason, he has earned a place among the best footballers in history.

Major Achievements:

  • 1981 Ballon d’Or runner-up
  • 1974 World Cup
  • 1972 UEFA European Championships
  • FIFA World Cup Team
  • five Bundesliga titles
  • two DFB-Pokal titles, and one European Cup.

43. George Weah

  • CAREER: 1993-96.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Liberian.

George Weah might not be on every list of the best soccer players, especially if you ignore his time at Chelsea and Manchester City in England.

But when he was at his best, Weah was incredible. He had both the physical strength and amazing skills that made him unstoppable on the field. Not only that, but he was also a great leader, both on and off the pitch.

In fact, he became the President of Liberia, which is pretty amazing for a former soccer player. Overall, in the 90s, he was one of the most complete strikers out there.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1995
  • Three times African Footballer of the Year
  • Two Scudettos
  • One Ligue 1 title
  • Two Coupes de France and one FA Cup.

42. kaka

  • CAREER: 2005-09.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Kaká’s story is a bit like Weah’s. While his time at Real Madrid might not have been the best, his earlier career was outstanding. He was arguably one of the best players globally during that time. If we focus on his peak years, particularly when he was around 24 years old, we can’t overlook him because he was truly remarkable.

Most Handsome Soccer Players From Brazil
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During his prime, Kaká was phenomenal. He had an amazing blend of physical strength and incredible technical skills.

As a former Brazilian international, he stood out as the most complete attacking midfielder of the 2000s.

Major Achievements:

  • 2007 Ballon d’Or
  • 2007 FIFA Player of the Year
  • Twice Serie A Player of the Year
  • Twice Time 100 list member
  • 2002 World Cup
  • One Scudetto
  • One Champions League
  • One La Liga and a Copa del Rey.

41. Lev Yashin

  • CAREER: 1956-64.
  • POSITION: Goalkeeper.
  • NATIONALITY: USSR.

Lev Ivanovich Yashin may not have been unanimously considered the absolute best goalkeeper, but he’s definitely up there among the greatest of all time. He earned the nickname “Black Spider” for his outstanding skills, and his impact was so significant that the prestigious French publication “France Football” named an award after him, the Yashin Trophy.

Yashin represented the Soviet team in over seventy matches and won several important titles with them. His time at Dinamo Moscow was also filled with success, with multiple seasons seeing him achieve excellent goals. He won five championships in the Soviet First Division with his teammates and the coaching staff.

He received numerous accolades for his exceptional talent, including the Ballon d’Or, which is a rare achievement for a goalkeeper. He was also honored with individual awards recognizing his sporting excellence and received an Order of Merit from FIFA.

Yashin was not only a skilled goalkeeper but also a leader and innovator on the field. His legacy is further solidified by being the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d’Or. While other great goalkeepers like Iker Casillas or Gigi Buffon could have been contenders, Yashin stands alone as the sole goalkeeper to achieve this prestigious honor.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1963
  • Olympic gold medal
  • UEFA European Football Championship in 1960
  • Selected in the best team of the World Cup
  • Five Soviet Higher League titles and Order of Lenin.

40. Gunnar Nordahl

  • CAREER: 1950-55.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Sweden.

Gunnar Nordahl’s career is defined by one thing: goals. He was a prolific Swedish striker who scored an incredible number of goals between 1950 and 1955.

Nordahl was so prolific that he won the Capocannoniere (award for the top scorer) in Serie A for four seasons during that time, and he remains AC Milan’s all-time leading scorer.

One of his most remarkable achievements was holding the record for the most goals scored in a single Serie A season for 66 years. However, this record was eventually broken by Gonzalo Higuaín.

Major Achievements:

  • Olympic gold medal
  • Five times Capocannoniere and two Scudetto’s.

39. Kevin Keegan

  • CAREER: 1977-79.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: England.

I TELL YOU, HONESTLY, I WOULD LOVE FOR US TO BEAT THEM. I’D LOVE TO!

Kevin Keegan’s name might evoke memories of that passionate interview and the drama of the Premier League title race, but let’s take a moment to appreciate his impressive career as a footballer.

Keegan was truly one of the greatest English footballers ever, achieving the remarkable feat of winning the Ballon d’Or not once, but twice.

During his time at Hamburg SV, Keegan became English football’s most celebrated export. He was hailed as a “savior” for the club when he led them to win the Bundesliga title in 1979, showcasing his immense talent and impact on the game.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1978 and 1979
  • PFA Player of the Year in 1981/82
  • Three La Liga titles
  • One FA Cup
  • One European Cup
  • Two UEFA Cup titles and one Bundesliga.

38. Hristo Stoichkov

  • CAREER: 1990-94.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Bulgarian.

There are some players who are not only really good at playing soccer but also have the right personality and skills to make an average team become really good. Hristo Stoichkov was one of these players. He helped Bulgaria reach the semifinals of the World Cup in 1994.

During the 1994 World Cup, Stoichkov scored six goals, including one in each of the knockout rounds. He played a big part in getting Bulgaria so far in the tournament and even won the Ballon d’Or award.

Outside of his international success, Stoichkov had a great career playing for clubs, especially between 1990 and 1994.

During his best years, Stoichkov played alongside Romario at FC Barcelona, where they were a feared duo in Europe. They were part of the “Dream Team” that won the Champions League in 1991/92.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1994
  • European Golden Boot in 1990
  • Five times Bulgarian Footballer of the Year
  • One Champions League
  • 5 La Liga titles, and one Copa del Rey.

37. Gianluigi Buffon

  • CAREER: 2002-06.
  • POSITION: Goalkeeper.
  • NATIONALITY: Italy.

Meet Gianluigi Buffon, the greatest goalkeeper ever. He started and finished his career in Parma, Italy, playing in Serie A. But he really made a name for himself during his 17 years at Juventus.

Buffon has over 1,100 career appearances and holds many records in Serie A. He has the longest clean sheets streak, the most consecutive clean sheets (10), and the most total clean sheets in Serie A and for the Italian national team.

He’s the only goalkeeper in history to achieve 500 clean sheets. Buffon’s records are so impressive that they might never be broken. He even won the Serie A Player of the Season award, beating outfield players. He was also a runner-up for the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2006, showing he was one of the best players in the world at that time.

Buffon’s performance in the 2006 World Cup, where he conceded only two goals (one an own goal and the other a penalty), helped Italy win the tournament. Even on his worst day, he was still considered one of the top three goalkeepers in Europe.

Gianluigi Buffon’s legacy is unmatched, and there will never be another goalkeeper like him.

Major Achievements:

  • 2006 Ballon d’Or runner-up
  • 2006 World Cup
  • 12-time Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year
  • 2002/03 UEFA Club Player of the Year
  • Two-time Pallone Azzurro
  • 2016/17 Player of the Year in Serie A
  • 11 Serie A
  • Five Coppa Italia titles, one UEFA Cup.

36. Johan Neeskens

  • CAREER: 1971-78.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Holland.

Johan Neeskens was a key player for both Ajax and Barcelona during the 1970s, alongside the legendary Johan Cruyff. While Cruyff often stole the spotlight, Neeskens shouldn’t be overlooked for his talent.

Neeskens played a vital role as the hardworking counterpart to Cruyff’s creative brilliance. They were like yin and yang, complementing each other perfectly. Their partnership was essential and defined an era of football.

In midfield, having a player like Neeskens was crucial for balance. He provided defensive cover while also contributing tactically and physically to the team’s attacking play.

Major Achievements:

  • Runner-up in the 1974 and also in 1978 World Cup
  • Silver Boot in the 1974 World Cup
  • Three European Cups
  • Two Eredivisie Cups
  • Two KNVB Cups
  • 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 Copa del Rey.

35. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

  • CAREER: 1979-84.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Germany.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is widely recognized by younger fans as a key figure on the board of directors at Bayern Munich. However, older fans remember him as one of the most formidable strikers of the 1980s.

Despite his success in various competitions, Rummenigge didn’t have much luck in the World Cup, reaching the final twice but ending up on the losing side both times.

He was an exceptional striker and a respected leader during his playing days, deserving recognition as one of the best footballers of his time.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1980 and 1981
  • German Footballer of the Year in 1980
  • Three times Torjägerkanone
  • UEFA European Championship in 1980
  • Two European Cups
  • Two Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokals.

34. Luis Suarez Miramontes

  • CAREER: 1960-65.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Spain.

No, we’re not talking about Luis Suárez, the Uruguayan player, although he’s also a great talent. Instead, we’re referring to a Spanish player who made a mark on European football with a groundbreaking Inter Milan team in the early 1960s.

During this successful period, the player we’re discussing, Suárez, earned the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, won three Serie A titles, and clinched two consecutive European Cups with Inter Milan.

Major Achievements:

  • 1960 Ballon d’Or
  • Two European Cups
  • Two Intercontinental Cups
  • Three Scudetti
  • Two League titles, and two King’s Cups.

33. Roberto Rivelino

  • CAREER: 1968-74.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

We’ve all heard the term “Joga Bonito” and enjoyed those iconic Nike ads, but many of us may not truly understand its meaning unless we speak Portuguese.

However, if you take the time to watch some highlights of Rivelino on YouTube or find full matches from the 1970 World Cup, you’ll grasp what “Joga Bonito” truly embodies.

It’s about playing with flair and beauty, creating magic on the field—a quality that Rivelino epitomized like no other.

Major Achievements:

  • 1970 World Cup
  • Best Team of the 1970 World Cup and two titles of the Carioca Championship (Brazil).

32. Socrates

  • CAREER: 1976-84.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Known as the “Che Guevara of soccer,” Socrates was a figure of immense importance both on and off the pitch. He played a crucial role in democratizing Corinthians, introducing a voting system for club decisions. This earned him the nickname “Doctor.”

Despite being a chain smoker, Socrates was a brilliant player, showcasing a rare combination of elegance and power on the field. He was a complete midfielder, excelling in various aspects of the game.

Because of his significant impact on Brazilian football and his exceptional playing style, Socrates is rightfully ranked among the top 10 greatest Brazilian players in history.

Major Achievements:

  • Three Paulista Championships
  • South American Soccer Player of the Year in 1983
  • Bola de Prata in 1980
  • Top scorer of the Paulista Championship in 1976.

31. Bobby Moore

  • CAREER: 1964-70.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: England.

Bobby Moore was a fantastic football player who helped England win the World Cup in 1966. This achievement is really important to English people, and they often mention it proudly.

Bobby Moore played a crucial role in that victory, and that’s why he’s remembered as one of the greatest English footballers ever.

Winning the World Cup is a really big deal, and Bobby Moore was a key player in making it happen. He was an amazing defender and leader, both on and off the field. In fact, there’s a statue of him outside Wembley Stadium to honor his legacy.

Major Achievements:

  • 1966 World Cup
  • 1970 Ballon d’Or runner-up
  • 1964 FA Cup
  • PFA Player of the Century, and member of FIFA’s World Cup team.

30. Luka Modric

  • CAREER: 2014-18.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Croatia.

We kick off this top 30 with a remarkable feat achieved by Luka Modric in 2018: he won the Ballon d’Or during the era dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Most Handsome Soccer Players From Croatia
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Modric’s victory marked the end of the reign of these two giants, a testament to his exceptional talent and hard work. During his peak, he led the Croatian national team to the 2018 World Cup final and has clinched five Champions League titles with Real Madrid. Quite an impressive resume.

His contributions to Real Madrid have already secured him a place among the club’s all-time greats, and he undoubtedly deserves to be recognized among the best players in football history.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or 2018
  • UEFA Best Player of the Year 2018
  • FIFA Best Player 2018
  • Ballon d’Or World Cup 2018, four Champions League.

29. Lothar Matthaus

  • CAREER: 1988-92.
  • POSITION: Midfielder/defender.
  • NATIONALITY: Germany.

Lothar Matthäus is known for having a big ego, which is quite significant considering the people on this list.

Image Source: Instagram

But his big ego is kind of understandable. Basically, Matthäus was considered the most skilled player of his time, and that’s saying something because he played alongside greats like Michel Platini, Diego Maradona, and Zico.

He was a natural winner and made a huge impact on the world stage. For example, his goal against Yugoslavia in the 1990 World Cup was so impactful that it felt like an earthquake. Matthäus was capable of doing everything and he proved it time and again.

Major Achievements:

  • 1990 Ballon d’Or
  • 1991 FIFA World Player of the Year
  • 1990 World Cup
  • 1980 UEFA European Football Championship
  • Two UEFA Cups
  • Seven Bundesliga titles
  • One Scudetto, and three DFB titles -Pokal.

28. Xavi Hernandez

  • CAREER: 2008-12.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Spain.

Xavi Hernández was at the center of two of the greatest soccer teams ever: the Spanish national team and FC Barcelona from 2008 to 2012.

Image Source: Instagram

He won pretty much every trophy imaginable, and his style of play transformed football.

Xavi was exceptional overall, but what set him apart was his incredible understanding of midfield timing.

Major Achievements:

  • 2010 World Cup
  • 2008 and 2012 Euro Cup
  • 2008 UEFA Player of the Tournament
  • 2005 Spanish League Player of the Year
  • Four Champions League
  • Eight La Liga titles, and three Copas del Rey.

27. Bobby Charlton

  • CAREER: 1963-67.
  • POSITION: Midfielder/forward.
  • NATIONALITY: England.

Bobby Charlton survived the tragic Munich air crash, which took the lives of 21 people, including 8 players from Manchester United. This experience left him deeply affected, but he found the strength to help his club rise back to the top. More than a decade after the tragedy, he led Manchester United to win the Champions League.

Image Source: Instagram

Charlton was a pioneer in football, known for his powerful shots and his vital role in midfield. He scored many goals for both his club and his national team. He played a significant part in England’s victory at the 1966 World Cup, which remains their only triumph in football’s history.

Widely regarded as the greatest player on England’s best-ever team, Charlton’s talent was exceptional, making him a standout figure in the sport.

Major Achievements:

  • 1966 Ballon d’Or
  • 1966 FIFA World Cup
  • 1966 FIFA World Cup Ballon d’Or
  • 1967/68 European Cup
  • Three Football League First Division titles, 1962/63 FA Cup.

26. Ruud Gullit

  • CAREER: 1986-90.
  • POSITION: Midfielder (‘El Todocampista’).
  • NATIONALITY: Holland.

Ruud Gullit was undeniably one of the strongest and most versatile athletes of his era, excelling in all aspects of the game like a true 4×4 machine. As a legend of AC Milan, he played a pivotal role in their dominance of European football in the late 1980s.

Gullit earned the MVP title, winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in 1987. He was like a complete footballing machine, possessing all the skills needed to succeed, and few could match his prowess on the field.

Some might even say he was unstoppable, as evidenced by his status as an Icon Card in EA Sports FIFA games.

Major Achievements:

  • 1987 Ballon d’Or
  • Twice Dutch Footballer of the Year
  • 1988 UEFA European Championship
  • Two European Cups
  • Three Scudettos
  • Three Eredivisie titles
  • One Coppa Italia and one KNVB Cup.

25. Garrincha

  • CAREER: 1958-62.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Garrincha was perhaps the most unconventional professional footballer ever. He didn’t follow the typical routines of training, didn’t care much about contracts or financial details, and never even had an agent.

Best Brazilian Wingers of all time
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Despite all this, or perhaps because of it, Garrincha is considered one of the greatest players of all time. He never bothered with formal training sessions, preferring to play soccer with his friends on the beach.

Even with his “bent legs,” Garrincha’s talent was undeniable. He pioneered the style of samba soccer, bringing the flair and creativity of Brazilian street football to the international stage. He played a key role in Brazil’s success, helping them win two World Cups.

Major Achievements:

  • 1958 and 1962 World Cup
  • Golden Ball of the 1962 World Cup
  • Golden Boot of the 1962 World Cup, and three State Championships.

24. Giuseppe Meazza

  • CAREER: 1934-38.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Italy.

Giuseppe Meazza is such a legend in Italian soccer that the most famous stadium in Italy bears his name.

Widely regarded as the first legend of Italian football, Meazza is considered by many experts to be the greatest Italian footballer ever.

His legacy is so significant that he’s included among the greatest soccer players in history. Meazza’s impact on the sport in Italy is immense, cementing his status as a mythical figure on the Italian peninsula.

Major Achievements:

  • 1934 and 1938 World Cup
  • Ballon d’Or of the 1934 World Cup
  • Three Scudettos, one Coppa Italia and three Capocannoniere.

23. Raymond Kopa

  • CAREER: 1956-59.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: France.

Raymond Kopa is often recognized as one of the three geniuses of French football, alongside two others you’ll learn about soon. He consistently ranked in the top three for the Ballon d’Or award during his prime years.

Best French Midfielders of all time
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Kopa was the playmaker who provided the creative spark for Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stéfano to score countless goals for Real Madrid in the 1950s and 60s. Their teamwork was crucial to the success of that era.

His contributions helped Real Madrid win three European Cups, solidifying his reputation as a vital player to have on your team.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1958
  • French Player of the Year in 1961
  • World Cup All-Star Team in 1958
  • Three European Cups
  • Two La Liga titles, and four Ligue 1 titles.

22. Romario

  • CAREER: 1990-94.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Romario himself claims to have scored over 1,000 goals during his career, although the official count is lower. Despite the controversy surrounding the numbers, there’s no denying his immense talent. He currently ranks second in the all-time top scorers list.

Best Barcelona Strikers of all time
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Known as the “King of the Lob,” Romario was one of the most clinical and composed goal-scorers of the 90s. What set him apart was his ability not only to score goals but also to create opportunities for his team.

He thrived in big moments, winning the Ballon d’Or award in 1994 and scoring crucial hat-tricks in El Clásico matches. With the national team, he achieved success on all fronts, winning every major title except the Champions League at the club level.

Major Achievements:

  • 1994 FIFA World Player of the Year
  • 1994 World Cup
  • 1994 World Cup Ballon d’Or
  • 1994 World Cup All-Star Team
  • 1989 and 1997 Copa América
  • One LaLiga title
  • Three Eredivisie titles, and winner of the Pichichi 1993/94.

21. Eusebio

  • CAREER: 1962-68.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Portugal.

Eusébio, also known as the Black Panther, is hailed as one of the greatest forwards in football history. Born in Africa but representing Portugal, he earned his place as the ninth-best player of the 20th century according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). He was also honored as the Portuguese player of the century.

Top Scorers in the History of the Champions League
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Eusébio showcased his magic primarily at Benfica but also played for clubs in various countries. Renowned for his goal-scoring prowess, he clinched the Ballon d’Or title in 1965 and was consistently among the top scorers.

His speed, precise finishing, and exceptional positioning made him a nightmare for defenders. His skillful dribbling and ability to deceive opponents made him a true legend of the game.

A standout moment in Eusébio’s career was his four-goal performance against North Korea in the 1966 World Cup. Despite North Korea’s strong form, including a notable victory over Italy, Eusébio’s brilliance propelled Portugal to victory in the quarterfinals. This match serves as a testament to his unparalleled talent and impact on the game.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1965
  • European Golden Boot in 1966, 1968, and 1973
  • European Cup in 1962
  • 11 Primeira Liga titles and five Taça de Portugal titles.

20. Roberto Baggio

  • CAREER: 1990-94.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Italy.

Roberto Baggio, born in February 1967, is celebrated for his exceptional technique, creative plays, and unique style of football. He has transcended eras and borders, earning recognition as one of the most outstanding players of the 20th century.

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Throughout his career, Baggio represented Italy in multiple World Cups and showcased his talent while playing for clubs like Juventus and Milan, among others. His achievements include winning the Ballon d’Or and other prestigious awards.

Baggio’s impact on the sport, coupled with his remarkable statistics and accomplishments, firmly place him among the greatest footballers of all time. For fans of Italian football, he is often hailed as the best player to grace the Serie A.

His divine talent seemed to bless him with the ability to achieve the impossible on the field, forever altering the perception of Italian soccer. Baggio’s legacy as a striker is unparalleled in Italy, solidifying his place among the top 20 footballers in history.

Major Achievements:

  • 1993 Ballon d’Or
  • 1993 FIFA World Player of the Year
  • Italy Player of the Century
  • 1994 World Cup Silver Ball
  • 1994 World Cup runner-up
  • Two Scudettos
  • One UEFA Cup and one Coppa Italy.

19. Andres Iniesta

  • CAREER: 2008-12.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Spain.

Andrés Iniesta is known as one of the best midfielders ever. People praise him for his ability to control the ball, his balance, and how well he moves in tight spaces. He’s really skilled, calm, and has a special way of playing with the ball. Iniesta played most of his career at Barcelona, where he was a big part of their success, especially alongside his teammates Xavi and Sergio Busquets.

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He started playing soccer at Barcelona’s youth academy when he was young. He joined the first team when he was 18 in 2002. From 2004 to 2018, he played regularly for Barcelona. Iniesta played a key role in Barcelona winning two trebles in 2009 and 2015. He’s won a total of 35 trophies, including nine La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles, making him the most successful Spanish footballer ever. After 22 years at Barcelona, he moved to Vissel Kobe in Japan in 2018. Then, in 2023, he joined Emirates in the UAE Pro League.

Iniesta started playing for Spain’s national teams when he was younger, and he made his senior international debut in 2006. He helped Spain win the UEFA Euro 2008 and played every game in the tournament. Iniesta was also crucial in Spain’s victory at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, scoring the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands. He was named the best player of the match and was in the tournament’s All-Star Team. He almost won the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or but came second to Lionel Messi. In UEFA Euro 2012, Iniesta led Spain to another win, being named the best player of the final against Italy and the Player of the Tournament.

Iniesta has been selected in the FIFA FIFPro World XI nine times and the UEFA Team of the Year six times. He’s also in the All-time UEFA Euro XI. He won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2012 and was named the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker in 2012 and 2013. He finished third in the Ballon d’Or in 2012.

Is Andrés Iniesta the most likable footballer on this list?

Yes, it is.

Is he the most successful footballer?

One of the best, without a doubt. Look at his record…
Andrés Iniesta has won everything.

  • World Cup: Yes.
  • Eurocup: Yes.
  • Champions League: Yes.
  • National League: Yes.
  • National Cup: Yes.
  • National Super Cup: Yes.
  • European Super Cup: Yes.

International bowling contests: you may as well.

During the golden era of Spanish football, people might say, “I’m Spanish, what do you expect?” This could apply to Andrés Iniesta too, but he’s known for his humility, so he wouldn’t brag about it.

In addition to winning numerous titles, he did it with a distinct style, alongside his teammate Xavi Hernández. They revolutionized the game, turning possession football into a force that could overcome any other style.

Major Achievements:

  • World Cup 2010
  • Euro Cup 2008 and 2012
  • Four Champions League
  • Three European Super Cups
  • Three FIFA Club World Cups
  • Nine LaLiga titles
  • Six Copas del Rey
  • Seven Spanish Super Cups, and Player of the Year Award of the UEFA 2012.
  • A total of 32 titles…

18. Marco van Basten

  • CAREER: 1988-92.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Holland.

Despite all his accomplishments, people often say that if injuries hadn’t held him back, Marco van Basten would have been even better than he already was. That’s a testament to his incredible skill.

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Van Basten was both technically brilliant and incredibly powerful, making him the ideal striker.

He could score all kinds of goals, showcasing his versatility and talent on the field.

  • Upside down?
  • Yes.
  • Right foot?
  • Yes.
  • Left foot?
  • Yes.
  • Chilean?
  • Yes.
  • volley?
  • Wow yeah…
  • Marco Van Basten’s volley goal

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1988, 1989 and 1992
  • FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992
  • UEFA Best Player of the Year in 1989, 1990 and 1992
  • Dutch Footballer of the Year 1984/85
  • Two Capocannoniere
  • European Championship UEFA in 1988
  • Two European Cups
  • Three Scudettos
  • Three Eredivisie and three KNVB Cups.

17. George Best

  • CAREER: 1966-71.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: England.

George Best is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers in history. He was a prolific goal scorer for Manchester United, finding the net 136 times in 361 league games. He also secured numerous titles with the club and was honored with the Ballon d’Or award in 1968.

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Best is affectionately known as the “fifth Beatle” due to his fame and popularity. While he may be remembered more for his off-the-field behavior, his exceptional talent on the field cannot be overlooked.

He is widely regarded as the greatest footballer ever produced by the British and Irish Isles. With accolades such as the Ballon d’Or and European Cup victory, Best’s talent was undeniable, cementing his legacy as one of the all-time greats.

PELÉ CALLED ME THE BEST FOOTBALLER IN THE WORLD. THAT IS WITHOUT A DOUBT THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPLIMENT OF MY LIFE.

Major Achievements:

  • 1968 Ballon d’Or
  • 1967/68 FWA Footballer of the Year
  • 1967/68 Football League First Division Top Scorer
  • 1968 European Cup, and two Football League First Division titles.

16. Zico

  • CAREER: 1979-82.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Zico received the ball near the midfield line and made a pass towards the left side of the penalty area. To most observers, it seemed like an aimless pass, but Zico saw an opportunity others missed. Moments later, Flamengo scored, taking the lead 1-0 against a formidable Liverpool team.

Best Brazilian Attacking Midfielders of all time
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As the game progressed, Flamengo scored three more goals, with Zico providing two more assists. An hour later, they were crowned world champions.

That’s the essence of Zico. He was a genius who saw the game differently, capable of creating opportunities seemingly out of nothing. He elevated the performance of everyone around him.

Zico holds the title of Flamengo’s top scorer, playmaker, and overall best player. He left an indelible mark on the club’s history.

Major Achievements:

  • Five-time Bola de Prata winner
  • Three-time South American Soccer Player of the Year
  • Top scorer in Flamengo history
  • Best Player of the 1981 Copa Libertadores
  • 1981 Copa Libertadores
  • 1981 Intercontinental Cup, and three Brazilian Championship titles A series.

15. Franco Baresi

  • CAREER: 1987-94.
  • POSITION: Defense.
  • NATIONALITY: Italy.

Unlike some players who may have excelled in certain moments or on particular stages, Franco Baresi’s brilliance lies in his remarkable consistency over his 20-year career.

While this consistency might have led him to drop a few spots on lists emphasizing stage performances, Baresi still rightfully earns a place among the top 20 footballers in history.

During the years when Baresi was at the peak of his abilities, he was simply unparalleled. His defensive prowess was unmatched, making it practically impossible for opponents to surpass him. This level of dominance naturally resulted in numerous trophies and titles.

Major Achievements:

  • AC Milan Player of the Century
  • Serie A Player of the Century
  • 1982 World Cup
  • Six Scudettos
  • Three European Cups
  • Two Intercontinental Cups, 1989 Ballon d’Or runner-up.

14. Ferenc Puskas

  • CAREER: 1950-54.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Hungary.

Ferenc Puskás is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of all time, boasting an impressive record of 84 goals in 85 appearances for the Hungarian national team and 514 goals in 529 appearances in both the Hungarian and Spanish leagues. His remarkable goal-scoring abilities have earned him widespread recognition, including the honor of having FIFA’s Goal of the Year award named after him and having a stadium in Budapest named in his honor.

Top Scorers in the History of the Champions League
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Puskás, known as the “galloping general,” earned this nickname due to his association with Budapest’s state-sponsored army team, where he held the rank of general. His exceptional speed and goal-scoring prowess made him a standout player during the mid-20th century.

His ability to consistently find the back of the net, averaging nearly a goal per game throughout his career, is a testament to his greatness. Puskás was not only a prolific scorer but also possessed excellent technical skills, including precision shooting and agile movements, making him nearly unstoppable on the field.

While Puskás is often associated with his time at Real Madrid, where he continued to impress, his peak performance came during the early 1950s when he led the Hungarian national team, known as the Magical Magyars. He was not only a phenomenal player but also a strong leader for his team.

To truly understand Puskás’s greatness, one needs only to watch his iconic goal against England in the ‘Match of the Century,’ where he displayed his remarkable skills by dribbling past defenders before scoring a memorable goal. This moment encapsulates Puskás’s legacy as a forward who left an indelible mark on the game and defined an entire era of football.

Major Achievements:

  • European Player of the 20th Century
  • Olympic gold medal
  • 1954 World Cup Golden Ball
  • 1960 Ballon d’Or runner-up
  • 1954 World Cup runner-up
  • Four-time Pichichi winner
  • Four-time Hungarian league top scorer
  • Twice top scorer in the European Cup
  • Three European Cups
  • One Intercontinental Cup
  • Five LaLiga titles
  • One Copa del Rey and five Hungarian League titles.

13. Paolo Maldini

  • CAREER: 1994-2003.
  • POSITION: Defense.
  • NATIONALITY: Italy.

Paolo Cesare Maldini stands out as one of the greatest Italian footballers of all time, known for his exceptional skills as a defender. He represented Italy at the international level and achieved remarkable success with AC Milan, winning numerous national and international championships.

Throughout his illustrious career, Maldini celebrated over twenty titles, showcasing his remarkable talent and contribution to the teams he played for.

His legendary status is further solidified by prestigious awards such as the Bravo Trophy and two Ballon d’Or Bronze awards. In honor of his contributions, AC Milan retired the number 3 shirt that he wore during his time at the club, reserving it only for his descendants should they reach Serie A.

Nike captured Maldini’s prowess accurately with the slogan, “Italy’s Goalkeeper: The Easiest Job in the World,” highlighting his defensive solidity and the ease with which he made the job of his teammates, particularly goalkeepers, simpler.

Major Achievements:

  • More games played in Serie A and with Milan
  • Five European Cups
  • Seven Scudettos
  • One Coppa Italia
  • Two Intercontinental Cups, runner-up in the 1994 World Cup and runner-up in the 2000 Euro Cup.

12. Gerd Müller

  • CAREER: 1970-74.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Germany.

If you were to tell a Dutchman that your favorite player is Gerd Müller, you might risk losing a friend, especially considering the goal he scored in the ’74 World Cup final against the best Dutch team in history. However, Müller’s goal-scoring prowess is undeniable, with an impressive record of 398 goals for Bayern Munich and 68 for West Germany in just 62 appearances.

Most Goals in Football History
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Despite not being the most physically imposing player, Müller revolutionized the role of the penalty area predator, a style later perfected by players like Inzaghi and Raúl. He won Germany’s top scorer title seven times in eleven years and achieved numerous other accolades, including the Golden Boot at the 1970 World Cup, top scorer of the Champions Cup four times, and top scorer of the Euros in 1972.

Müller’s impact extended beyond individual awards, as Bayern Munich won four Bundesliga titles and three European Champions Cups during his time there. Franz Beckenbauer credited Müller with shaping Bayern’s success, stating that “everything FC Bayern has become is due to Gerd Müller and his goals.”

His goal-scoring ability was not limited to ordinary moments but also included scoring in crucial matches, making him a reliable scorer in every situation. For many, Gerd Müller’s legacy as the greatest goalscorer of all time is as unquestionable as the sky being blue and the grass being green.

Major Achievements:

  • 1970 Ballon d’Or
  • 1974 World Cup champion
  • Euro 1972, 1970 World Cup Golden Boot
  • Two-time German Player of the Year
  • Two-time European Golden Boot winner
  • Seven-time Torjägerkanone
  • Three Cups of Europe
  • An Intercontinental Cup
  • Four Bundesliga titles and four DFB-Pokals.

11. Ronaldinho

  • CAREER: 2004-06.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Ronaldinho, whose real name is Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, is a famous Brazilian football player. He played for teams like FC Barcelona and AC Milan from 2003 to 2015. They called him Ronaldinho because he was short, and “inho” means small in Portuguese. When he was only 13, he amazed everyone by scoring 23 goals in a single game.

Best Brazilian Wingers of all time
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In 1998, at 18 years old, he started playing professionally for Grêmio in Brazil. Then, he went to Europe, playing for PSG before joining Barcelona. He became popular during his time at Barcelona, helping them win the La Liga title in 2005. He even won the FIFA Player of the Year award two times in a row, in 2004 and 2005. Overall, he scored 230 goals and made 186 assists for his clubs and 33 goals with 24 assists for Brazil.

There’s a saying, “The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long,” which fits Ronaldinho’s career perfectly.

From 2004 to 2006, Ronaldinho amazed the world with his joyful and skillful style of playing football. He was known for his tricks, flashy boots, big smile, and even starred in Nike ads. People loved watching him play because he made the game look so fun. He scored a memorable goal against Chelsea in the Champions League that showed just how unique he was.

In simple terms, Ronaldinho was an extraordinary footballer who brought a lot of happiness to the game.

Major Achievements:

  • 2005 Ballon d’Or
  • 2004 and 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year
  • 2005/06 UEFA Club World Player of the Year
  • 2004 and 2005 FIFPro World Player of the Year
  • One Champions League, two titles from La Liga, and a Scudetto.

10. Michel Platini

  • CAREER: 1982-85.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: France.

Michel Platini, known for his incredible skills on the football field, had a remarkable career as a player before facing bans from football due to business-related issues.

Best French Midfielders of all time
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He played for clubs like Nancy, Saint-Étienne, and Juventus, as well as the French national team. Platini appeared in two FIFA World Cup™ finals and won a European Championship. He was a dominant force in both the French and Italian leagues.

Platini, like Ronaldinho, was an attacking midfielder known for his goal-scoring ability and expertise in free kicks. He had a knack for finding creative ways to score, even over or around defensive walls. He was also skilled at passing, often using backheels and outside-of-the-boot passes to create scoring opportunities for his teammates.

Despite his later controversies as a UEFA president, when focusing solely on his football career, Platini is considered one of the best midfielders of all time. He was exceptionally talented at reading the game and had a visionary ability to set up scoring chances for his team.

In his prime, Platini won the Golden Boot award for three consecutive seasons in Serie A, one of the toughest leagues in the world. He was instrumental in France’s success at Euro 1984, where he scored an impressive nine goals in five games, leading his nation to victory.

So, despite the tarnished reputation he may have gained later in his career, when discussing his football skills alone, Platini is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders ever to grace the game.

Major Achievements:

  • Three times Ballon d’Or in 1983, 1984, and 1985
  • French Player of the Century
  • Two times French Player of the Year
  • Three times Capocannoniere
  • 1984 UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament
  • 1984 UEFA European Championship
  • A European Cup
  • Two Scudettos
  • A Ligue 1 title
  • A Coppa Italia and an Intercontinental Cup.

9. Cristiano Ronaldo

  • CAREER: 2012-16.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Portugal.

Creating a list of the greatest football players of all time without mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo would be a huge oversight. Ronaldo’s remarkable athletic abilities, including his speed, power, and determination, have propelled him to superstardom in the football world. He has set new standards for excellence in the game.

Best Footballers in the World in 2024
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Throughout his career, Ronaldo’s style of play has evolved. Initially known for his speed, dribbling skills, and wide-ranging runs, he has adapted his game over the years. In the later stages of his career, his exceptional jumping ability and goal-scoring instincts have made him a formidable presence in the penalty area, transforming him from a winger into a lethal striker capable of scoring both solo and poacher goals with ease.

With over 850 goals in almost 1200 appearances, Ronaldo’s goal-scoring prowess is unparalleled. He became the most expensive transfer in history when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid, where he achieved numerous accolades including four Ballon d’Ors, three Golden Boots, and two FIFA “The Best” awards.

Ronaldo’s dominance extends beyond club football. He has achieved success in multiple countries, winning the UEFA Champions League, the European Championship, and the UEFA Nations League. His consistency and relentless drive have cemented his status as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

While some may argue about his exact ranking on a list of the greatest players, Ronaldo’s undeniable talent, achievements, and impact on the game make him a top contender for a place among football’s elite. His ability to consistently find the back of the net has earned him a reputation as one of the best Portuguese footballers in history, surpassing even the legendary Eusebio in many people’s eyes.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 2008
  • 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017
  • FIFA World Player of the Year 2008, 2016, and 2017
  • UEFA Best Player in Europe Award
  • Four-time winner of the European Golden Boot
  • Twice PFA Player of the Year
  • UEFA Champions League top scorer
  • Real Madrid top scorer, five Champions League
  • Two LaLiga titles
  • Three Premier League titles
  • One Scudetto
  • Two Copas del Rey
  • One FA Cup, and a Eurocup.

8. Ronaldo Nazario

  • CAREER: 1995-98.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

Continuing our ranking of the greatest football players of all time, we have Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo “the Brazilian.” Ronaldo played from 1993 to 2011 in Brazil, Spain, and Italy, and is often regarded as the quintessential and best number 9 of all time.

Best Real Madrid Strikers of all time
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Ronaldo had a unique playing style. He was known for his ability to roam outside the penalty area, using his incredible speed and exceptional dribbling skills to outmaneuver defenders. Once in scoring positions, his sharp finishing and proficiency with both feet made him deadly in front of goal.

However, what truly set Ronaldo apart were his extraordinary dribbling and technical abilities. Many former teammates and coaches, including Fabio Cannavaro and José Mourinho, praised his skill, intelligence, explosiveness, and finesse on the field.

Unfortunately, Ronaldo’s career was plagued by knee injuries, particularly in the early 2000s. Many believe that if he hadn’t been sidelined by these injuries, he would have undoubtedly been considered the greatest player of all time.

Ronaldo’s first major knee injury occurred on November 23, 1999, and despite his incredible talent and achievements, some argue that these injuries prevented him from reaching his full potential.

Described as fast as Usain Bolt, as powerful as Thor, and as skillful as legendary players like Garrincha, Pelé, or Zico, Ronaldo was seen by many as the perfect striker. His goal against Compostela is often cited as a perfect example of his brilliance on the field, leaving even seasoned coaches like Sir Bobby Robson in awe.

In summary, Ronaldo “the Brazilian” possessed unparalleled talent and skill, but his career was tragically hampered by injuries, preventing him from achieving even greater heights in the world of football.

Major Achievements:

  • Golden Ball 1997 and 2002
  • Golden Ball of the 1998 and 2002 World Cup
  • Golden Boot of the 2002 World Cup
  • European Golden Boot 1996/97
  • 1994 and 2002 World Cup champion
  • Copa América 1997 and 1999
  • Twice Pichichi winner
  • Serie A Player of the Year in 1998
  • Two LaLiga titles
  • One Copa del Rey
  • One KNVB Cup
  • One UEFA Cup, and one Intercontinental Cup.

7. Franz Beckenbauer

  • CAREER: 1966-76.
  • POSITION: Defender/Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Germany.


Franz Beckenbauer is a legendary figure in football history, known for his exceptional skills as a defender. He achieved a remarkable feat of winning the Ballon d’Or twice, making him the only defender to achieve this honor. This speaks volumes about his ability to excel in a position typically dominated by attacking players.

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In his home country of Germany, Beckenbauer is celebrated as a hero. He not only won the FIFA World Cup™ as a player but also as a manager, and played a pivotal role in bringing the World Cup to Germany in 2006, working closely with FIFA.

On the field, Beckenbauer was surprisingly graceful despite his tall and lean stature. He had a knack for effortlessly dribbling past opponents before delivering precise passes to his teammates. Off the ball, he was a formidable defender, known for his ability to track runs, engage in physical battles, and set up his team for effective counterattacks. His contributions to Bayern Munich and the German national team during the 1960s and 70s are deeply ingrained in the memory of German football fans.

Often hailed as the most complete footballer in history, Beckenbauer possessed a wide range of skills and excelled in every aspect of the game. While Paolo Maldini may be considered the most complete footballer of the last 30 years, Beckenbauer’s impact and legacy make him the greatest German player of all time, based on his own merits.

In summary, Beckenbauer embodied everything one could desire in a footballer. He had the ability to defend, attack, and dictate play with remarkable skill and finesse, making him a true icon of the sport.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1972 and 1976
  • Present in the FIFA World Cup squad
  • 1966 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award
  • Four-time German Player of the Year
  • 1974 World Cup champion
  • Euro Cup champion 1972
  • Three European Cups
  • Five Bundesliga titles
  • Four DFB-Pokals and one Intercontinental Cup.
  • A scorer: yes.
  • An incredible defender: yes.
  • A great athlete: yes.
  • A consummate professional: yes.
  • A leader: yes. In a very, very big way.
  • A winner: Yes.

Franz Beckenbauer, nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser,’ achieved remarkable success leading Germany to multiple international triumphs both as a player and as a coach. His achievements on the field were already extraordinary, but he elevated his legacy even further by winning a World Cup as a coach.

What sets Beckenbauer apart from his counterparts is his rare feat of winning the Ballon d’Or twice as a defender. This speaks volumes about his unparalleled skill and dominance in the world of football. Many consider him to be the greatest defender in the history of the sport, given his exceptional talent and achievements.

In summary, Beckenbauer’s contributions to football, both as a player and as a coach, are unparalleled. His legacy as one of the greatest figures in the sport is firmly established, thanks to his outstanding leadership, skill, and success on the international stage.

6. Zinedine Zidane

  • CAREER: 1997-2002.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: France.

Continuing our journey through the ranking of the greatest football players of all time, we arrive at our very own Zinedine Zidane, a French attacking midfielder who is often credited with bringing beauty back into the game.

Best French Midfielders of all time
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Zidane mesmerized audiences and opponents alike with his elegance and the magical touch of his left foot. Throughout his career, which spanned from 1989 to 2006, he showcased his impeccable ball control and extraordinary vision while playing for clubs like Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus, and Real Madrid, as well as the French national team.

Renowned for his exceptional header in the 2002 Champions League final and his crucial goals in the FIFA World Cup™, including two in the final match, Zidane was more than just a scorer. He possessed the ability to dance across the pitch at high speed, effortlessly maneuvering the ball before delivering pinpoint passes to his teammates. He was a true artist with a ball at his feet, known for his fluid movements and impeccable technique.

Zidane’s list of achievements is extensive, including multiple league titles and international trophies. Despite the infamous headbutt incident in the 2006 World Cup final against Italy, Zidane’s legacy remains untarnished. He is remembered as one of the most elegant footballers of all time, with his signature ‘roulettes’, precise controls, and harmonious style of play.

Nicknamed one of Real Madrid’s ‘Galácticos’, Zidane left an indelible mark on both the club and the sport as a whole. Not only was he a successful player, but he also transitioned into coaching, becoming one of the highest-paid coaches in the world.

In summary, Zinedine Zidane’s career is defined by his immense talent, his ability to entertain, and his unforgettable contributions to the beautiful game. Despite occasional controversies, he remains a beloved and respected figure in football history.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or 1998
  • FIFA World Player of the Year 1998, 2000 and 2003
  • UEFA Player of the Year 2002
  • UEFA Club Player of the Year
  • Serie A Player of the Year 2000/01
  • Best UEFA Champions League player of the last 20 years
  • L’Equipe’s Best All-Time French Player
  • 2006 World Cup Ballon d’Or
  • Only player named Player of the Year in three of the top five leagues
  • The most goals in the finals of the FIFA World Cup
  • The 1998 World Cup
  • The 2000 Euro Cup
  • One Champions League
  • Two Scudettos
  • One LaLiga title and one Intercontinental Cup.

5. Alfredo di Stefano

  • CAREER: 1956-62.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Argentina/Spain.

Alfredo Di Stéfano, a striker who played for FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, left an indelible mark on football history. His signing saga between the two clubs is legendary, showcasing his immense talent and significance in the sport.

Top Scorers in the History of the Champions League
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Throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Di Stéfano dazzled fans with his exceptional dribbling skills and rapid changes of pace. He possessed a keen sense of goal, particularly evident during his tenure with Real Madrid, where he played a pivotal role in securing five consecutive European Cups (Champions Leagues). Notably, he scored in every final he appeared in, including a memorable hat-trick in his last one.

Di Stéfano’s prowess wasn’t limited to club football; he also shone brightly on the international stage. His fearlessness and knack for scoring impressive goals endeared him to fans, especially the madridistas, who hold him in high regard.

Many football legends and experts have hailed Di Stéfano as one of the greatest players in history, praising his remarkable balance, intelligence, and overall completeness as a footballer. Their words underscore his lasting impact and enduring legacy in the sport.

While Di Stéfano may not be ranked in the top three due to the nature of the ranking being based on different eras, his influence and contributions to football are undeniable. He remains a timeless icon whose brilliance transcends generations, solidifying his place among the best footballers of all time.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959
  • Five European Cups
  • One Intercontinental Cup
  • Eight LaLiga titles
  • Five-time Pichichi winner, present in the 20th Century World Team and one Copa del Rey.

4. Johan Cruyff

  • CAREER: 1971-75.
  • POSITION: Midfielder.
  • NATIONALITY: Holland.

In 4th place on our list of the greatest football players of all time is the Dutch maestro, Johan Cruyff. Not only was he an incredible footballer, but he also had a profound influence on the game itself.

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Cruyff was known for his mesmerizing dribbling skills, often leaving opponents in his wake with his feints and sudden bursts of speed. He wasn’t just a goal scorer; he was also a master at providing assists from wide positions, creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

His impact went beyond his playing style. Cruyff introduced innovative tactics and ideologies, most notably the concept of ‘total football.’ This tactical approach, pioneered by Cruyff and his teams like Ajax and the Netherlands national team in the 1970s, emphasized fluidity and versatility, allowing players to interchange positions seamlessly during matches.

Cruyff’s influence on the game extended to his coaching career as well. He famously led the ‘Dream Team’ at Barcelona, leaving an indelible mark on the club’s history.

Arguably the most influential footballer of all time, Cruyff’s legacy continues to be felt in modern football. He is widely regarded as one of the most talented players in history and is often considered the greatest player in the history of FC Barcelona, alongside Lionel Messi.

When we think of ‘Total Football,’ Cruyff’s name immediately comes to mind. His ability to create beautiful, successful teams has had a lasting impact on the sport. At the national level, he is undisputedly regarded as the greatest Dutch player of all time, earning him a place as a mythical figure in football history.

Major Achievements:

  • Ballon d’Or in 1971, 1973 and 1975
  • Ballon d’Or at the 1974 World Cup, in the all-time World Cup team
  • Three times Dutch Footballer of the Year,
  • Two times Dutch Sportsman of the Year
  • Three European Cups
  • One LaLiga title, nine Eredivisie titles
  • One Copa del Rey
  • Six KNVB Cups and one Intercontinental Cup.

3. Pele

  • CAREER: 1958-64.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Brazil.

If you think Ronaldo and Messi have scored a lot of goals, just wait until you hear about Brazilian striker Edson Arantes do Nascimento, famously known as Pelé. He’s scored a staggering 1,279 goals in 1,363 appearances, including friendlies – a world record. In official competitions, he’s netted 775 goals in 840 appearances.

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Pelé made his club debut at the tender age of 15 and played for the Brazilian national team by the time he was 16. He was known for his skill with both feet, his dribbling ability, and his goal-scoring prowess, becoming a true ambassador of the game.

His impact on football is immeasurable. He was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, and he received similar accolades from the International Olympic Committee and FIFA.

On the field, Pelé wowed audiences with his incredible dribbling, his acrobatic moves to evade defenders, and his precise shooting that left many opponents helpless as the ball found the back of the net.

If you didn’t have the chance to see Pelé play, imagine a dribbler as skilled as Messi but as dominant as Ronaldo. He wasn’t just known for his individual brilliance; he was also a master at creating magic on his own.

That’s why we’ve decided to place Pelé at the top of our ranking of the best football players of all time. He’s not just a football legend; he’s one of the most important figures of the 20th century according to TIME magazine.

Although his peak was hindered by injury in the 1962 World Cup, Pelé’s goal-scoring record from 1958 to 1962 remains unmatched. In fact, only Bican and Romario have scored more goals than Pelé in the history of the game.

His crowning achievement was leading the legendary 1970 Brazilian national team to victory at the World Cup, but it’s his dominance in the early 1960s that solidifies Pelé’s status as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

Major Achievements:

  • Top scorer in the history of football
  • FIFA Player of the Century
  • The best player of the World Cups according to France Football
  • present in TIME’s list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century
  • The top scorer of all the Brazil times
  • Santos all-time top scorer, youngest player to win a World Cup
  • Most assists in World Cup history,
  • Top scorer at FIFA World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970
  • Two Copa Libertadores titles, six Brazilian Serie A titles
  • Two Intercontinental Cups
  • The 1970 World Cup Golden Ball
  • The 1958 World Cup Best Young Player and the 1970 Silver Ball.

2. Diego Armando Maradona

RIP: Diego Armando Maradona passed away on November 25, 2020. The Argentine genius suffered a cardiac arrest that he could not overcome. A huge loss for the world of football that is left without what has been the best footballer of all time.

  • CAREER: 1985-90.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Argentina.

Diego Armando Maradona is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of all time, but where does he fit into our ranking?

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Many Argentina and Napoli fans might argue that he deserves the number one spot, and it’s hard to deny his incredible talent and impact on the game. Maradona’s achievements are even more impressive considering he played his best football in one of the most defensive leagues during his prime.

Maradona famously led Napoli to their only two Serie A titles and etched his name in football history with his legendary performances in the 1986 World Cup. His iconic “Goal of the Century” against England showcased his unparalleled skill and audacity on the pitch. Throughout his career, spanning three countries and six different clubs, he scored a total of 258 goals.

While Maradona’s individual brilliance is undeniable, some argue that he lacked the same level of influence on team ethos and success as some other players. Nevertheless, he remains one of the greatest number 10s in football history.

What sets Maradona apart and arguably makes him the best soccer player in history is a combination of factors. His World Cup triumph in 1986, achieved almost single-handedly, solidifies his status as a football icon. His two most important goals, including the “Hand of God” and the “Goal of the Century,” are etched into football lore. Additionally, his transformation of Napoli from underdogs to champions speaks volumes about his impact on the game.

In Argentina, Maradona is revered as a god and a working-class hero who inspired a nation with his extraordinary talent. It’s not just one aspect of his career that makes him great; it’s the sum of all his achievements and his undeniable impact on the sport.

In his prime, Diego Maradona was not just effective; he was exceptional in every sense of the word, making him the best footballer we have ever seen and likely will ever see.

Major Achievements:

  • The best footballer of all time for Modern Football
  • The best athlete in the history of Corriere dello Sport
  • 1986 World Cup
  • The 1986 World Cup Golden Ball
  • The Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1985
  • The team FIFA World Cup All-Time Player
  • FIFA Goal of the Century
  • Argentine Sports Writers Sportsman of the Century
  • South American Footballer of the Year twice
  • Argentine Football Writers Footballer of the Year four times occasions
  • Two Scudettos
  • An Italian Cup
  • A Copa del Rey, and a UEFA Cup.

1. Lionel Messi, The Best Player

  • CAREER: 2009-2012.
  • POSITION: Front.
  • NATIONALITY: Argentina.

Lionel Messi is an incredible soccer player. When he gets the ball, everyone watches, expecting something amazing. He’s like a magician on the field, just like Maradona was.

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Messi has scored a lot of goals and helped others score too. He’s broken many records and amazed people with his skills. He’s won almost everything in soccer.

Messi has scored over 840 goals and made more than 400 assists. He’s scored hat-tricks many times and scored from free kicks too. He’s the only player to score in 16 straight Champions League seasons and 17 straight La Liga seasons. He’s been chosen for the FIFAPro World XI 14 times.

Because he’s short, he’s good at keeping the ball close to his feet. He’s great at scoring goals and passing to teammates. He’s skilled with his left foot, even though he’s also scored goals with his head. He’s known for his free kicks and dribbling.

Messi’s had an amazing career, winning eight Ballon d’Or awards. Even as he’s getting older, he’s still one of the best players in the world. He’s known for his amazing goals, dribbles, and free kicks.

He’s considered one of the greatest soccer players ever, and he’s proven himself on the biggest stages, winning the Copa América in 2021 and the World Cup in 2022.

Major Achievements:

  • 8-time Ballon d’Or (in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021 And 2024)
  • 8-time FIFA Player of the Year
  • FC Barcelona’s all-time top scorer
  • FC Barcelona’s all-time top scorer LaLiga
  • six-time Pichichi winner
  • Argentina’s all-time top scorer, all-time top scorer in a calendar year (91)
  • UEFA Player of the Year 2011 and 2015, seven-time La Liga Player of the Year
  • Golden Ball of the 2014 World Cup
  • Young European Player of the Year 2005
  • six-time winner of the European Golden Boot
  • four Champions League
  • nine LaLiga titles
  • seven Copas del Rey
  • one Copa América 2021
  • Golden Ball of the 2014 World Cup
  • one Finalissima and one World Cup 2022.

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