Top 10 Best Soccer (Football) Players of All TimeSoccer (or football, depending on where you're from) is a global phenomenon, a language that transcends borders. It's the late-game equalizers, the jaw-dropping saves, the screamers from outside the box, and the moments of sheer brilliance that leave us talking for days, weeks, or even years. From the local parks to the grandest stages like the World Cup, soccer captivates hearts and minds around the world.
Determining who are the best players of all time is no easy feat. Is it the number of titles won, the skills, the impact on the game, or perhaps something less tangible that defines greatness? The beauty is, there's no single answer, and what you'll find here is a list that tries to capture the essence of what makes soccer players great in the eyes of fans, critics, and peers alike.
Maradona was pure magic. A man who, with his overwhelming personality, faced everything and everyone. Alone, like a lion, he performed feats difficult to imitate. Not only was he the best player in the world, but his character led him to be the true Messiah in football. Eternal glory to Diego!
I am not sure if the person who created this list plays soccer or football, if you want to call it that. Diego Maradona CANNOT be compared to Pele or other players, with all due respect. He is completely in a different category, the best of the best. Maradona is an acronym for beautiful football. You enjoy seeing him play, giving perfect passes, dribbling, and scoring. I'm sure if he played as a goalkeeper, he would be the best as well. Putting someone else on the top of the list rather than Diego is an insult to the game. So far, no one has ever scored a goal like his against England from the middle of the field, fantastic. Diego, you are simply the best.
I have watched Maradona play, and the only difference between him and Messi is the World Cup trophy that Maradona won in 1986. Messi is in the same sentence as Maradona because his personal contribution during the 90 minutes on the field can actually impact the outcome of the game every time he plays. He is a playmaker; whenever he touches the ball, he tries to start something, and most of the time, it is the trying that finally creates goals. His touch, signature moves, and ability to take on a double/triple team from another team are remarkable. His ability to always get in the box is what makes him so dangerous, even when he doesn't score. I will have to say that at this time, Messi is the greatest player in the world who has not won a World Cup.
Messi is by far the greatest player who ever played soccer. No one can surpass him; no one is better than him; no one can challenge him for the throne of being the best, not even Pele, Maradona, or Johan Cruyff. He is above the highest level of soccer. He is the greatest ever. He can score from any angle, create opportunities out of nothing, and score in both tight games and free games. No one can challenge that, not even Pele or Maradona. Messi is the world's greatest ever living soccer legend in the history of soccer. He is the greatest soccer legend who ever played soccer. He is the greatest soccer player of all time in the history of soccer.
He's the best that ever played. He moved like a jungle cat. No one had ever seen anyone play like that before. His skill at full speed was mesmerizing. His passing was as precise as a surgeon's scalpel, unlocking opposing defenses. Look at what the Brazilians did to Italy in the 1970 World Cup. That wasn't TFC out there, that was the 1968 defending European Champions Brazil were playing. Italy's defense was known to stifle the opposition. Pele cut them open at will. Pele changed the way the game was played. Players today, that people fawn over because of their skill, Pele did 60 years ago. He did it before big contracts, endorsements, and personal trainers. Most importantly, he showed up and performed at major tournaments. Ronaldo and Messi can't hold a candle to Pele. Simply put, Pele is a winner, the greatest of all time.
I'm sure whoever voted for anybody else, especially modern players like Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, has never seen Pele play (just check him on YouTube) or they are biased people who dislike him for his skin color or nationality. But unbiased people can easily see that Pele is light years away from anyone else. He played perfectly with both legs, the head, chest, and knees. He scored goals, provided assists, scored free kicks, penalty kicks, headers, bicycle kicks, and back-heeling. I mean, he handled 100% of the repertoire of soccer tricks to perfection, and he was THE BRAIN of any team he played on. He was the planner, the strategist, the thinker, the creator. He was the heart of the Golden era of soccer: the 1970 World Cup. Pele, simply the king!
He is the perfect player, a complete package who can dribble, juggle, take free kicks, deliver deadly crosses, make long-range efforts, exhibit never-ending stamina, display great accuracy with both feet, possess serious pace, showcase impressive height when jumping for the ball, have a perfect body shape, execute unforgettable free kicks. And last but not least, he is from Portugal. Unarguably, he is the best player they have ever produced, and they might not produce someone like him again. Although his country of origin is not as famous as Pele, Maradona, Messi, Ronaldinho, and Zidane, he is now among them, which means his will and hunger for goals and victory surpasses theirs. I love his style!
Come on! He has the sweetest shot in the world and does just about everything well. I mean, can Messi ever jump over 6'3 defenders and send a powerful header? Can the likes of Di Stefano, Pele, etc., score goals like he does while still possessing the rest of his attributes? The answer is no.
I haven't seen Pele play live - only a video - but I saw Maradona and Ronaldo. They both had a class of their own, and the world knows they were good. Maybe out of the two, if I had to select one, I would say Maradona may take an edge. However, for the number one slot, the only player who really inspired me was none other than Zidane. I rate him the best simply because he made me feel as if he owns the field the moment he stepped into it, inspiring his teammates and becoming the focal point of the entire opponent team to be the one to tackle. And guess what? He still used to manage to get through them - class above!
Put France back onto the worldwide football map.
His playing skills were simply marvelous, amazing, punctuated in my opinion by his incredible performance against Brazil in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. At that point in his career, he was more Brazilian than any Brazilian at the time.
Always present when needed, he led France to back-to-back major championships in 1998 and 2002.
He came back in 2006 and almost won it for France in overtime with another amazing headshot (his specialty in the Finals) blocked by a certain Gianluigi Buffon, at the top of his craft.
Zidane's name should be well ahead of the two Ronaldos. Cristiano is a great player, but he hasn't won anything worthy now and probably won't.
The top 3 should be:
2. Diego Maradona
3. Johan Cruyff.
Come on, third, that's very good.
Johan Cruyff isn't one of those footballers who's good but ends up as a washed-up celebrity. He was a very special footballer who invented football as it is today. Come on, the least they can do is put him in the top 5.
Do you know why he was the first to call football the beautiful game? (By the way, anyone who doesn't know this is a right idiot). Johan Cruyff called football the beautiful game because he made it the beautiful game. He definitely deserves to be higher on the list, so come on everybody, vote for Johan Cruyff! (If you don't, screw you).
As some of you have rightfully pointed out, both Pelé and Maradona were better (but just barely) individual players, but they did not bequeath anything as revolutionary or enduring as Cruyff's vision of "Total Football." Cruyff modernized the game of football. He not only possessed outstanding tactical ability, but he also had an unparalleled vision of the game that no other football player could match.
For his superior visionary skills, his technical and tactical abilities, as well as his titles and legacies, Cruyff deserves to be recognized as the greatest player of all time.
He might not be the greatest, but he will remain the best player in history with the best technical ability, like dribbling, skills, and tricks efficiency (ahead of Ronaldinho), pace, shooting, and even passing (surprisingly good for a center forward). I've seen many players in the past like Pele, Cruyff, Maradona, Di Stefano, Zico, Ronaldinho, George Best, Denis Law, George Weah, Michel Platini, Beckenbauer, Figo, Eusebio, Kaka, Rivaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi, and so I can call them one of the greatest, and they're certainly in the best list as well. But the one that tops the best list is just Ronaldo and none else. If Ronaldo had won the European Champions League, he would have certainly been the greatest ever. Please don't even compare anyone with Ronaldo. He's beyond comparison.
Ronaldo is the greatest of all time. There is no doubt that if he hadn't suffered multiple knee injuries, he would have been the best player of all time. He was an unstoppable goal machine, an exceptional dribbler, and a complete striker. He made it easier for midfielders by constantly moving all around the pitch. In one season, he scored 34 goals in Serie A, which is the highest score since 1980. I would say he is better than Pele in terms of skills. It's also worth mentioning that he played against more organized defenses in the modern era and competed in Europe. After considering all of this, there is only one word that describes him: "Phenomenon."
In terms of technique, no one has ever been close. He carried his Barcelona team at times, and I have no doubt that if he had the luxury of playing in the current Barcelona team with such a talented squad, it would not be Messi who would be taking the plaudits. Possibly, Maradona, Pele, and Beckenbauer could be named ahead of him, but for me, he was amazing. He could do everything; his passing was immaculate, he had the vision and ability to find the killer ball, he could beat any number of defenders with amazing skill, and of course, he scored some fabulous goals, and lots of them. My favorite footballer of all time without a doubt, the best to watch and by far the most skillful. At times... Absolutely mind-blowing. (Not to mention, a lovable guy). Who doesn't like Ronaldinho?!
Ronaldinho could do things with the ball that no one else could. He manipulated it as if he was telling it where to go with his mind, not his foot. Ronaldinho has the best playmaking ability out of anyone out there. Iniesta and Xavi are amazing passing players, but I don't see them making 50-yard passes onto someone's foot without looking. Messi is unbelievable; however, he doesn't have the skill that Ronaldinho had, period. Ronaldinho's free kicks have always been almost perfect. He has the most incredible field awareness I have ever seen. He also doesn't flop. He loves to play the game and is always smiling. If he gets kicked in the leg but still has a slight chance to get the ball back, he will hop right back up and get it. Pele and Maradona were great players, but only for their time. If Maradona or Pele played professionally now, they wouldn't make a high-level team if they make one! Ronaldinho, in his prime, could take anyone on any time, no questions asked. He was the absolute best in his prime.
A lot of people think goals are what make a player great, but what about the people who prevent them from happening or getting anywhere near the box?
Beckenbauer redefined what a sweeper/libero is. He mastered it and made it his own with his elegant style of play, gracing the field. There was a certain arrogance to how he worked on the pitch, as if he were in control, earning him the nickname "Der Kaiser." Beckenbauer was a puppet master, standing back and pulling the strings, which earned his team every major prize.
He was always the number one threat to the opposing team, and he could demolish them effortlessly. Franz Beckenbauer was simply extraordinary on every level.
I really cannot understand how Beckenbauer is ranked only 10th, behind Beckham. Beckenbauer was one of the most complete players ever. He was fast, had great vision, could score like only a few strikers of his time, and he was probably the best defender to ever grace the game. He ruled the entire game and won countless trophies. Sadly, there are only a few videos of him available, and most of those videos only show his scoring skills. He was more than a defender; he could play basically everywhere.
David Beckham is my idol. He literally does everything a soccer player could do. David Beckham is probably the greatest soccer player ever to step foot on this earth. I would watch a thousand games of David Beckham. Besides, a lot of people look up to Beckham as their idol. For example, in the movie "Bend It Like Beckham," pretty much every character looks up to Beckham as their idol or hero. He just inspires so many people that it is unbelievable. He has so much talent and potential that people just love him. It is probably an honor for The LA Galaxy coach to have such a talented player on his team. Beckham's parents are so blessed to have a child like Beckham. There is nothing bad to say about Beckham because he is a hero in my eyes and he inspires me.
Professional soccer player David Beckham was born on May 2, 1975, in London, England. A phenom almost from the moment he could first kick a soccer ball, Beckham began playing for Manchester United, England's legendary soccer team, at 18 and was a starter by the time he was 20. He has also played for Real Madrid. In 2007, he signed a five-year, $250-million contract with the L.A. Galaxy. He has also scored an amazing free kick goal in 2001 against Greece that changed the way England plays soccer.
Many people seem to have no idea what makes a great player or cannot recall players of the past. Di Stefano was the greatest with Pele second. Players like Beckham, Ibrahimovic, etc., should not be mentioned in the same article. George Best was skillful but would have been better off as a ball juggler in a circus. He would beat the same defender four times when he could have passed to a teammate with an open goal... Not a team player at all.
It's almost comical to see players like Ronaldinho and, especially, Beckham ranked above Di Stefano. The others ranked higher than him, like Beckenbauer or Zidane, are more logically considered legends of the past few decades, whereas Don Alfredo is an iconic figure spanning six decades. If Pelé, Maradona, and Messi deserve the top three spots, Di Stefano and Cruyff are two of the next three to follow.
The greatest player of all time. Though nominally a striker, Di Stéfano had the tackling, shooting, passing, and dribbling ability, and (most importantly) endurance to be able to play quite literally all over the field and excel in all facets of the game, and it is this all-around brilliance that made him the best. He is one of only eight players to have won multiple Ballons d'Or and was recently declared by Pelé to be the greatest ever.
Neymar was born on 5th February 1992 in Sao Paulo of Brazil. He started playing international matches at the... read more
Neymar will be in the top 5 of all time by the end of his career. His international stats are incredible for his age, and he performs the best in the world for his nation. With 44 goals in 65 games, he will without a doubt surpass Pele's record as the highest goal scorer for Brazil, probably in less than 5 years too! If he wins the 2018 World Cup, he will give Messi a good run. Neymar and Messi are the new Pele and Maradona.
Another year, another cluster of near moves for Neymar.
The constant speculation linking him to Real Madrid and Barcelona often takes away from what a fantastic year he's had, scoring 31 goals and providing 15 assists back in Brazilian football for Santos.
He had a solid London 2012 Olympics during the summer, scoring some great goals and grabbing a silver medal.
So underrated since he's on the same team as Messi, and he is the star of that team. Neymar is that one player where you just HAVE to love him. He admits that Messi is better, unlike stupid Ronaldo. He is a great player and a great person. And there's something to be said for that.
Zlatan is one of the cockiest players of all time. It's hilarious, though. Balotelli does it as well, but he is just mean and annoying. Anyway, Ibra has one of the hardest shots I've ever seen in my life. He uses both feet to give the goalie the worst time in goal. He is very good off the ball. His attitude holds him back on the field a little bit, but he makes up for it quite a bit with his great play. He uses moves or simple fakes to take on entire teams at once. He can score with any part of either foot, and he's proved it over and over again with many acrobatic goals. He is a complete forward but not a great all-around player.
Ibra is my favorite player by far. He has tremendous gifts of balance and focus. He is exciting to watch: you never know what he will do, and sometimes it is utterly breathtaking, impossible. I would put him in the top 5 all time for his complete game--as a striker with head and feet and even chest, and for his generous assists, and for his brutal defensive skills. He is a huge man who moves like a tango dancer.
Pele himself once claimed that George Best is better than him. What is wrong with you people? George Best was the first football superstar, and he was awarded Player of the Year in 1968. People who saw him play claimed that he was certainly a legend. After his death in 2005, people forgot about this legend who deserves to be in the top 5. People who haven't seen him play can check his videos on YouTube and also read his famous quotes. I hope my comment helps you recognize a true legend.
Maradona good, Pele better, George Best.
George had it all: balance, vision, and breathtaking brilliance. He was magic. His swerving runs and pace took him past the best defenders in the world; he played for fun. During George's playing days, the winter pitches became mud baths, but he could still pirouette and ghost from one penalty area to another. When he was in full flight, he was a sight to behold. George Best is the best footballer ever to grace a football pitch.
The greatest footballer ever! Football is all about scoring goals, and Ferenc was the greatest goalscorer ever. Just look at his record; there is no one who can compare! Even Puskas's record for the most goals scored in a season in Spain stood until just a couple of years ago. His goal-scoring in internationals for Hungary is unbelievable. Have a look at the 4 goals Puskas scored in the great team of Real Madrid that won the 1960 European Cup - fantastic! I am English (not Hungarian) and many years ago had the pleasure of seeing Puskas play in a charity match in England when he was well into his 40s, and he was still brilliant!
His powerful kicks were also really precise as well! For example, in one game, he nailed a free kick, but the referee asked him to do it again. Puskas told everyone, "I'm gonna kick it exactly the same way!" And so he did, and he scored again! Well, these days I'm watching a lot of games, but I've seen no one near to that confidence, precision, and love for the game on the field! Ferenc Puskas, rest in peace! Thank you!
The best freekicker of all time is Zico. He could dribble like Messi and score many goals like Cristiano Ronaldo, but neither of these two could come close to Zico in terms of free kicks. Even if you were to combine both Messi and Ronaldo, they still wouldn't surpass Zico in this aspect.
Deadly long-range shots with machine precision, combined with all other football skills, to the mastery level.
Zico is one of the greatest in the history of soccer.
The merit of Eusebio's achievements as a footballer surpasses the four lines on the field. He became an inspirational icon for many generations of footballers, not only in Portugal or Europe but also in an entire continent (Africa). His achievements were greater than the impressive football he played; he became part of the national identity of countries like Portugal and Mozambique. Inside the field or outside it, he was always a simple, humble man who played with passion a game that we all embrace. His legacy is timeless and immortal.
Why is Eusebio so low on this list? Just go watch videos of him. See his goal stats for Benfica - more goals than games for Benfica, over 600 goals in total. He won numerous titles for Benfica, including two European Cups (Champions League) and reached another three or so finals. He was also the top scorer in the 1966 World Cup. Eusebio is the best Portuguese player ever and should easily be in the top 10!
A man who was once just a curious boy hypnotized by perfect harmony and the man in the middle, the conductor who creates balance out of chaos, beauty from turmoil, elegance from disarray. No one really knows what happened that day, but he was never the same, and he never forgot the man in the middle. Now this boy has grown up, and he is as elegant with the ball as the conductor with his baton. A pure player, born from the twin mothers of intelligence and creativity, with feet that are tethered to the pitch like strings on a violin. A master of control, a roaming midfielder with an instinctive feel for the ball, who advances man like a conductor moves music, orchestrating the game with just the right rhythm and tempo. Creating something out of nothing, with just a look and a perfect one-touch pass, ending the match with a crescendo and a bow. Every team needs the maestro. - Adidas, The ultimate search.
Garrincha was a football artist, a player with a unique dribbling style which resembled a drunken man trying to walk. He's an underrated footballer, perhaps overshadowed by Pele, and he should be in the top ten list. It's definitely worth seeing his videos.
I'm voting for Garrincha simply because he is way too low. Most people clearly don't know anything about the sport if Garrincha is only 25. He should be in the top five.
Garrincha is a truly unknown player, yet still a legend. If there's someone who was and is better, it's just Pelé. Messi is an overrated player. Garrincha could easily run around and around Messi, who has never been close to catching him.
Wayne Rooney has undergone some borderline surgical changes to his game over the past 12 months, but he's coped extremely well.
A poor European Championships (again) firmly behind him, he's adapted to the presence of Robin van Persie superbly and reinstated goals to his game over the past month.
He was the Red Devils' top scorer last season, reliably turning in 27 English Premier League strikes.
Wayne Rooney did an awesome bicycle kick. It was amazing. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was amazed seeing that bicycle kick. Even my dad couldn't believe his eyes. My dad said it was the best kick he had ever seen. And also, he has good skills and he is fast.
Wayne Rooney is the best soccer player to ever exist. He's amazing, and he's scored all sorts of brilliant goals in his international and Premier League matches. So, who do we cheer for? Wayne Rooney!
I hate the fact that the person who elevated goalkeeping to an important position and won the "Player of the Year" award as a "GOALKEEPER" is so underrated. People are familiar with Casillas, Buffon, and Neuer, but how many know Gordon Banks or Yashin? Not all popular players are necessarily the greatest, you know.
This is the best goalkeeper to have lived on Earth. He is the only goalkeeper to have won a Ballon d'Or, and will probably be the only one. He has made some unbelievable saves and I just don't know why he has always been underrated or even unknown to the general football fans.
Rated 94 for being the great goalie who could save tons of shots most goalies couldn't and just flat out being the best goalie of all time.
What the hell! Zidane below Messi... And Kaka, Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Gheorghe Hagi, David Beckham, Jari Litmanen, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Messi above Henry! Are you kidding me? He is the best striker ever to live. Now, some of you might be thinking about Messi and Maradona. They are far below this legend. Zidane should be at number 1 as a player, but definitely Henry and Ronaldinho are the best as a striker.
The best Premier League player of all time got snubbed for the Ballon d'Or twice, and many people forget about his undefeated season with Arsenal in 2003-04. And seriously, who on earth would say to the ref in the World Cup, "Yo, I touched the ball, don't allow that goal"? He is simply a world-class player and should certainly be in the top 20 of the best players of all time list.
Legendary! Record goalscorer for Arsenal and France, won the World Cup, European Championships, Premier League, FA Cup, La Liga, Champions League, and Copa Del Rey. In his prime, he could dribble past 6 or 7 defenders in the middle of the park and go on to score a goal. I'm not even exaggerating!
Electric pace, strength, sublime finishing, intelligence... He had it all. It's a shame he never won the Ballon D'Or.
A real complete player: scorer, passer, very good personal technique, sense of timing, extraordinary vision of the game, very good teammate (making his partners play better), a winning mentality, respectful to others, regular performances, and so on...
Cristiano Ronaldo took 4 European tournaments to score 9 goals, whereas he took only 1. He should be ahead of CR7 and many of the overrated players ahead of him.
Three times European Player of the Year.
Over 40 goals for his country from midfield.
Highest scorer in Serie A for 3 consecutive years.
One of the greatest passers of the ball in history.
Highest goal scorer in European Championship history.
I rest my case.
Obviously, Iniesta is in the top 100 footballers of all time. Andres is going to be the best footballer in the next 10 years or so. No one will ever beat Andres, the beast Iniesta, in the next 10 years! Iniesta should be the 11th best of all time. Against Italy in the group stages of Euro 2012, he made Gianluigi Buffon (the best goalkeeper for the last decade or so) jump like a frog. Iniesta is small, but he can get through footballers (Peter Crouch or Nikola Zigic) who are about 1 foot and a quarter taller than him. Iniesta has helped Spain for a long time, and in all matches with Spain, rain or shine, Iniesta would always play in the 1st team. In the 2010 World Cup, Iniesta helped Spain with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final. Fabregas set Iniesta up, and Iniesta scored the only goal in the match. Iniesta is the best attacking midfielder in the world, by a long, long, long way.
He captains the best soccer club in the world right now. He scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final. He is the best visionary to play the sport and creates so many opportunities with impeccable passes. Even though he is aging, Iniesta was named the best player at the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final. What else do you want from him? He is easily the best midfielder right now. He has been among the top nominees for the Ballon d'Or in recent years and deserves at least one to his name.
In one of the only years, Robin van Persie's ankle hasn't given way, it's no surprise to see him turn in consistently excellent performances that place him among the best in the world. Coming off a 30-goal season at Arsenal and a £22 million move to Manchester United, expectations were so high that the Dutchman could have crumbled.
Robin Van Persie is the best striker and winger ever. He has good technical skills, a great shot, and the best left foot in the world. He stayed in Arsenal and played for the Gunners. Come on, Van Persie, you can do it. I trust you.
Had a great career, only cut short by injury, which made Man Utd fall out of favor with him. If it weren't for his knee and ankle, he would still bang 15 goals every season.