The Best Soccer Players of All Time Football Players (Soccer)

The Best Soccer Players of All Time

752,311 votes 78,101 voters 1,152,468 views 1,003 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Any current or former professional soccer players from around the world are eligible.

List of the greatest soccer players of all time is ranked by soccer (football) fans worldwide. Who are the best soccer players ever? The goal is to determine the greatest footballers to ever play the game. The list establishes individual rankings of specific soccer players and helps answer the question, "Who is the best soccer player in the world?" This list includes some of the most famous soccer players in the world, but fame doesn't necessarily determine talent.

Though many more people are exposed to top soccer players during major international events like the Olympics or the World Cup (or even UEFA's European tournaments), there are numerous soccer/football leagues around the world made up of thousands of professional athletes. Any of these soccer players are eligible for the list, even if they are mainly well known in certain regions or nations. In America, other than that nation's own Major League Soccer league, the English Premier League and its athletes are most likely to be popular, recognizable, and familiar - though the marriage of David Beckham to Posh Spice makes all the people he plays with more recognizable to American fans.


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    Pele, is almost universally regarded as the greatest player in the history of football. Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, Pele emerged on to the international stage at the 1958 World Cup, at the age of just 17. He went on to win three winners medals in football's ...more

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    • Position: Forward, Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Três Corações, Brazil
    • Nationality: Brazil
  2. 2
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    Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi Cuccittini is an Argentine professional footballer who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. He is a forward and serves as captain for Argentina. By the age of 21, Messi had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. The ...more

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    • Position: Forward
    • Birthplace: Rosario, Argentina
    • Nationality: Argentina, Spain
  3. 3
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    Diego Armando Maradona Franco is an Argentine former footballer. He has served as a manager and coach at other clubs as well as for the national team of Argentina. Many experts, football critics, former players, current players and football fans regard Maradona as the greatest football player of all ...more

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    • Position: Forward, Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Lanús, Argentina
    • Nationality: Argentina
  4. 4
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    Zinedine Yazid Zidane, nicknamed "Zizou", is a former French footballer and current coach of Real Madrid Castilla. He played as an attacking midfielder for the French national team, Juventus and Real Madrid. Renowned for his elegance, vision and technique, Zidane was named the best European footballer ...more

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    • Position: Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Marseille, France
    • Nationality: France
  5. 5
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    Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima commonly known as Ronaldo, is a retired Brazilian footballer. Popularly dubbed "the phenomenon", he is considered by experts and fans to be one of the greatest football players of all time. He is one of only four men to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three ...more

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    • Position: Forward
    • Birthplace: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
    • Nationality: Brazil
  6. 6
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    Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaúcho, is a Brazilian footballer who plays for Mexican club Querétaro. His main playing position is as an attacking midfielder or forward. He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2004 and 2005. Renowned for his technique, ...more

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    • Position: Forward, Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Porto Alegre, Brazil
    • Nationality: Brazil, Spain
  7. 7
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    Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, GOIH, known as Cristiano Ronaldo, is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid C.F. and the Portugal national team. He is a forward and serves as captain for Portugal. By the age of 22, Ronaldo had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World ...more

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    • Position: Forward, Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Santo António, Portugal
    • Nationality: Portugal
  8. 8
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    Franz Anton Beckenbauer is a German football manager, and former player, nicknamed Der Kaiser because of his elegant style; his leadership; his first name "Franz", and his dominance on the football pitch. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest German footballers of all time and one of the most ...more

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    • Position: Defender, Sweeper
    • Birthplace: Munich, Germany
    • Nationality: Germany
  9. 9
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    Hendrik Johannes Cruijff OON, born 25 April 1947, known as Johan Cruyff, is a former Dutch footballer and was until recently the manager of the Catalonia football team. He won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974, a record jointly held with French playmaker Michel Platini and Dutch ...more

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    • Position: Forward, Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
    • Nationality: Netherlands
  10. 10
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    Paolo Maldini
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY-SA

    Paolo Cesare Maldini is an Italian former footballer who played as a left back or central defender, being adept with either foot although naturally right-footed. He spent all 25 seasons of his career at Serie A club Milan, before retiring at the age of 41 in 2009, becoming a symbol and a legend of the ...more

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    • Position: Defender
    • Birthplace: Milan, Italy
    • Nationality: Italy
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    Thierry Henry
    Photo: Freebase

    Thierry Daniel Henry is a retired French professional footballer, who played as a forward. He played for Monaco, Juventus, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls and spent eight years at Arsenal where he is the club's all time record goalscorer. At international level he represented France and is his country's ...more

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    • Position: Forward, Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Les Ulis, France
    • Nationality: France
  12. 12
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    Andrés Iniesta Luján is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and the Spain national team as a central midfielder. Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, after an early emigration from his birthplace, and impressed from an early age. He made his first-team ...more

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    • Position: Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Fuentealbilla, Spain
    • Nationality: Spain
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    George Best was a Northern Irish footballer who played as a winger for Manchester United and the Northern Ireland national team. In 1968 he won the European Cup with United, and was named the European Footballer of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year. He is described by the Irish Football ...more

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    • Position: Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Belfast, United Kingdom
    • Nationality: Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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    Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha, more commonly known simply as Roberto Carlos, is a retired Brazilian footballer and current manager of Turkish league club Akhisar Belediyespor. He started his career in Brazil as a forward but spent most of his career as a left-back and has been described as the "most ...more

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    • Position: Defender, Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Garça, Brazil
    • Nationality: Brazil
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    Marco van Basten
    Photo: Freebase

    Marcel "Marco" Van Basten is a Dutch football manager and former football player, who played for Ajax and A.C. Milan, as well as the Netherlands national team, in the 1980s and early 1990s. He is regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time and has scored 277 goals in a high-profile career, but ...more

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    • Position: Forward
    • Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
    • Nationality: Netherlands
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    Gerhard "Gerd" Müller is a German retired footballer. A prolific striker renowned for his clinical finishing, especially inside the penalty box, he is regarded as one of the greatest goalscorers of all time. At international level with West Germany he scored 68 goals in 62 appearances, and at club ...more

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    • Position: Forward
    • Birthplace: Nördlingen, Germany
    • Nationality: Germany
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    Zlatan Ibrahimović is a Swedish professional footballer who plays as a striker for French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Swedish national team for which he is captain. Ibrahimović started his career at Malmö FF in the late 1990s before being signed by Ajax, where made a name for himself under Ronald ...more

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    • Position: Forward
    • Birthplace: Malmö Municipality, Sweden
    • Nationality: Sweden
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    Andrea Pirlo
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Andrea Pirlo, Ufficiale OMRI, is an Italian professional footballer who plays for Italian Serie A club Juventus and the Italian national team. Pirlo is a free-kick specialist, who is usually deployed as a deep-lying playmaker in midfield for both Juventus and Italy, and he is regarded as a leading ...more

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    • Position: Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Flero, Italy
    • Nationality: Italy
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    Xavier "Xavi" Hernández i Creus is a Spanish footballer who plays for FC Barcelona as a central midfielder. Xavi came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, at the age of 11. He made his first-team debut against RCD Mallorca on 18 August 1998. Since then he has played 700 matches, scored 82 ...more

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    • Position: Midfielder
    • Birthplace: Terrassa, Spain
    • Nationality: Spain
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