Top 10 Best Soccer (Football) Players of All Time

Soccer (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.
The Top Ten
1 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

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 at 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.

2 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.

He has impacted billions of people with his godly football skills and humble personality. He has taught everyone that you should never give up on your dreams. Despite all the criticism he has had to face in his national career, he carried a below-average Argentine team to the World Cup final in 2014 and won the cup 8 years later by playing alongside the same generation of players who idolized him while they were kids.

He is the most decorated player. He is a magician on the field who spreads love through his game. The best stats, best game, best skills. GENIUS.

3 Pelé 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

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.

4 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.

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, and 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's, Maradona's, Messi's, Ronaldinho's, and Zidane's, he is now among them. This means his will and hunger for goals and victory surpass theirs. I love his style!

5 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

I haven't seen Pele play live - only on 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 might 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 onto it. He inspired his teammates and became the focal point of the entire opponent team - they knew he was the one to tackle. And guess what? He still used to manage to get through them - class above!

6 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

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.

7 Ronaldo (Ronaldo Luiz Nazario da Lima) Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian business owner, president of La Liga club Real Valladolid, and a retired professional footballer who played as a striker. Popularly dubbed in Portuguese O Fenômeno ("The Phenomenon"), he is widely considered one of the greatest... read more

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. 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.

8 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

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?!

9 Franz Beckenbauer Franz Anton Beckenbauer (born 11 September 1945, died 7 January 2024) was a German professional footballer and manager. Early in his playing career, he was nicknamed "Der Kaiser" because of his elegant style, dominance, and leadership on the field. His first name "Franz" is reminiscent of the Austrian... read more

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. This earned 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.

10 David Beckham David Robert Joseph Beckham is (born 2 May 1975) is an English former professional footballer, the current president & co-owner of Inter Miami CF and co-owner of Salford City.. He played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain and the England national... read more

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.

The Contenders
11 Alfredo Di Stéfano

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. However, 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.

12 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

Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. is the best footballer on the face of the Earth, and I will not take that back. Neymar doesn't give up. He keeps going and going until he's on top, and I like that about him!

Neymar will be in the top five 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 five 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.

13 Zlatan Ibrahimović Zlatan Ibrahimović (3 October 1981) is a Swedish professional footballer who plays for an Italian club AC Milan and the Sweden national team for which he is captain.

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.

14 George Best George Best (22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005) was a Northern Irish professional footballer who played as a winger, spending most of his club career at Manchester United. A highly skillful dribbler, Best is regarded as one of the best players in the history of the sport. He was named European Footballer... read more

Pele himself once claimed that George Best was 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.

15 Ferenc Puskas Ferenc Puskás (1 April 1927 – 17 November 2006) was a Hungarian footballer and manager, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and the sport's first international superstar. He scored 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary, played four international matches for Spain... read more

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!

16 Zico

The best free-kicker 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.

17 Eusébio Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was a Portuguese footballer who played as a striker. Eusébio is considered by many as one of the greatest footballers of all time. During his professional career, he scored 733 goals in 745 matches.

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 on 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.

18 Kaká Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, commonly known as Kaká or Ricardo Kaká, is a retired Brazilian professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder for Orlando City SC in Major League Soccer and the Brazil national team .

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 the game 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.

19 Garrincha Manuel Francisco dos Santos, known by the nickname Garrincha, was a Brazilian footballer who played right winger and forward.

Garrincha was a football artist, a player with a unique dribbling style that 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 25th. 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.

20 Wayne Rooney Wayne Mark Rooney is an English professional footballer who plays for and captains both Manchester United and the England national team.

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. Also, he has good skills and he is fast.

21 Lev Yashin Lev Ivanovich Yashin, nicknamed the "Black Spider" or the "Black Panther", was a Soviet-Russian football goalkeeper, considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game.

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.

22 Thierry Henry Thierry Daniel Henry is a French professional football coach and former player. He is the second assistant coach of the Belgium national team.

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 one as a player, but definitely Henry and Ronaldinho are the best as strikers.

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.

23 Michel Platini Michel François Platini (born 21 June 1955) is a French football administrator and former player and manager. As the president of UEFA in 2015 he was banned from involvement in football under FIFA's organisation, over ethics violations. The ban will last until 2023. Regarded as one of the greatest... read more

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 four European tournaments to score nine goals, whereas Platini took only one. 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 three consecutive years.
One of the greatest passers of the ball in history.
Highest goal scorer in European Championship history.

I rest my case.

24 Andrés Iniesta Andrés Iniesta Luján is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and the Spain national team.

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.

25 Robin van Persie Robin van Persie is a Dutch coach and former professional footballer who played as a striker. Regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation, he is the all-time top scorer for the Netherlands men's national team. He is currently an assistant manager at boyhood club Feyenoord in his first managerial... read more

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.

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