Top 10 Most Intelligent Football (Soccer) Players

Swedish researchers have concluded that professional footballers are considerably more intelligent than they are given credit for.

In 2013, Paul McVeigh published a book entitled ‘The Stupid Footballer is Dead: Insights into the Mind of a Professional Footballer’ delving into the demand for sharp and speedy thinking required on the pitch from a modern soccer player.

But 30 years before this book, Sócrates proved that there was such thing as a brainy soccer player.
The Top Ten
1 Luka Modrić Luka Modrić is a Croatian footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Croatia national team.

Brilliant coordination! So, the best captain plays the role of a defender, midfielder, and striker. He is the best footballer because football is not a one-man show. It is a joint effort. The team matters. So, hats off to the best team maker.

I am not so well aware of football data. Yet, I was attracted by his game. Yes, certainly he is awesome. Intelligent, as I always felt about him. In fact, I wanted to check if what I feel was worldly admitted. That is why I searched who plays most intelligently. It was a cooling effect to know that my captain is the best.

Now, I feel proud about myself. I am an intelligent viewer, able to make my own conclusions. Not just howling with the crowd.

2 Diego Maradona Diego Armando Maradona (October 30, 1960 - November 25, 2020) was an Argentine professional footballer. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, he was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe... read more
3 Sócrates

A Brazilian player, nicknamed "Doctor Socrates" for his doctorate in medicine and his political and socio-economic knowledge, he co-founded a political movement named the Corinthians Democracy.

He is the only player in the world who finished medical school while playing soccer and also one of the few who practiced it after leaving the football world. You can learn more about his intellectual capacity from my list "Top 10 Interesting Facts About The Football (Soccer) Player Sócrates".

4 Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard is a famous and controversial Chelsea player (UK), known as "The Professor" by his teammates.

Mensa, the association of smart people, tested Frank Lampard in 2009, and he scored one of the highest marks ever recorded (his IQ was over 150). His GCSE exams were mind-blowing, too - he scored maximum points by obtaining only A's, including an A in Latin.

The Chelsea doctor also tested Frank, and he scored the highest point the firm ever recorded.

Ironically, Lampard had many appearances in the media for foolish acts where he was doing something immoral, wrong, or illegal. Does smartness come with some bad sides?

5 Shaka Hislop Neil Shaka Hislop is a former football goalkeeper. The majority of his career was spent in the top division in England where he was a part of the Newcastle United team which finished second in the Premier League for two successive seasons under Kevin Keegan's first tenure.

He's a former Newcastle United goalkeeper. Shaka Hislop took smartness to another level and began his career by earning a scholarship to play soccer at Howard University in the U.S. He obtained a degree in mechanical engineering and then joined NASA as an intern for a while. Not many footballers can say they worked for NASA, but Shaka Hislop can.

Currently, he's known for his blog work for The Guardian and his analytical work for ESPN as a soccer commentator. So, from Trinidad and Tobago to Howard, to the Premier League (UK), and then to The Guardian and ESPN.

He is also one of only two non-British members, alongside Pele, to be inducted into the PFA's Roll of Honor.

6 Yuto Nagatomo

He has a bachelor's degree in economics and has also written two books.

7 Dennis Bergkamp Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp is a Dutch former professional footballer, who is the assistant manager to Frank de Boer at Ajax.

He is miles ahead of his peers in the brains department. Perhaps he was perceived as a shady player back in the day because he was able to use his wits. While playing for Arsenal, Bergkamp earned himself a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath. He is currently an assistant manager for Frank de Boer at Ajax.

Behind every kick of the ball, there has to be a thought. Dennis Bergkamp

8 Clarke Carlisle Clarke James Carlisle is an English former professional footballer who played as a defender and was chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association.

He won "Britain's Brainiest Footballer" in 2002 - a contest where soccer players test their intelligence and respond to different questions from mathematics, English, and general knowledge.

He obtained 10 A grades at the GCSE exams. Carlisle also obtained a degree in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting from Staffordshire University.

9 Johan Cruyff Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff (25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was a proponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is... read more

He's on this list for his noticeable intelligence and innovation on the pitch.

10 Juan Mata Juan Manuel Mata García is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Manchester United and the Spain national team.

Juan Mata is an intelligent and articulate Spanish player, and it shows in his playmaker's style of play. He has a degree in journalism, and when he was transferred to Chelsea, he embarked upon several distance learning courses, including a Sports Science degree, Physical Education, and Marketing.

When asked by The Independent about his unusual view towards education, he intelligently replied: "I don't think football and studying are mutually exclusive. I am focused on my career but like to enjoy other things, like study for example."

The Contenders
11 David Wetherall David Wetherall is an English former footballer who played as a central defender, finishing his playing career with Bradford City at the end of the 2007–08 season.

The former English and Bradford City central defender, David, has a first-class honors degree in Chemistry from Sheffield University.

12 Lionel Messi Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi was born on June 24, 1987. He is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for the American club, Inter Miami CF, in the MLS. Messi is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. His birthplace is Rosario, Argentina.

His strategic and tactical play style highly contributes to his team's attacking pressure. His efficiency hasn't been mirrored by anyone else in the soccer world, with his smart plays and scans. It's as if he sees the field differently from the average player. He understands where players will go, what players see, and what they suspect. With all that information in his mind, he is able to set up phenomenal plays.

His passes are exceptional, and his talent for assisting players has given him the title of most assists by a single player ever (300+). Overall, I don't think there is any player quite as intelligent as Lionel Messi.

Further, Messi is incredible, phenomenal! No footballer can ever compare with him. He is the most intelligent player, never losing control of himself despite his great skills. He beats all his rivals but keeps his emotions and pride in control. He is just on another level of intelligence!

13 Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club Juventus and captains the Portugal national team.
14 Barry Horne Barry Horne is a Welsh former professional footballer, former chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association and sports television pundit.

Former Welsh professional and Everton footballer Barry Horne has a first-class degree in Chemistry from the University of Liverpool. Barry is presently teaching chemistry and physics at King's School in Chester and is also the football director there.

15 Ronaldinho Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian former professional footballer and current ambassador for Barcelona. He played mostly as an attacking midfielder, but was also deployed as a winger. Often considered one of the best... read more

He's very talented and intelligent. I heard he invented many new skills.

16 Xavi Xavier "Xavi" Hernández Creus is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Qatari club Al Sadd SC.
17 Thomas Müller Thomas Müller is a German professional footballer who plays for Bayern Munich and the Germany national team.

He makes plays that no one else would think to do. He always seems to be in the right position and is very knowledgeable about the game. He always knows where he is on the pitch, and it shows with his performances in the box.

18 Andrea Pirlo
19 Neymar Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, born 5 February 1992, commonly known as Neymar or Neymar Jr., is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and the Brazil national team as a forward or winger, and is also the captain of the national team... read more

Most skillful and technical player. Intelligent football player.

20 Pele Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as "Pelé", was a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward. In 1999 he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. In 2000, Pelé was... read more
21 Knud Lundberg
22 Manuel Neuer Manuel Peter Neuer is a German professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Bayern Munich and the Germany national team.
23 Riyad Mahrez Riyad Mahrez is a professional footballer who plays for English club Leicester City and the Algerian national team as a winger.
24 Zinedine Zidane Zinedine Yazid Zidane, nicknamed "Zizou", (born 23 June 1972) is a is a French former professional football player who played as an attacking midfielder. He received many individual accolades as a player, including being named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003, and winning the 1998... read more
25 Aaron Ramsey Aaron James Ramsey is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal and the Wales national team.
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