The Best Soccer Players of All Time

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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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  1. 51
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    - 1,075

    Defender Philipp Lahm is a German professional footballer who plays as a full back or defensive midfielder for Bayern Munich and formerly for the German national team. He is the captain of his club, having

  2. 52
    + 2,384
    - 1,590

    Forward Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar or Neymar Jr., is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona and is the captain for the Brazil national

  3. 53
    + 1,619
    - 1,217

    Defender Carles Puyol i Saforcada is a Spanish retired footballer. Mainly a central defender he could also play on either flank, especially as a right back. He served as the longtime team captain for his only

  4. 54
    + 4,897
    - 3,889

    Forward Miroslav Josef Klose is a German professional footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Lazio. Klose is best known for his performances with the German national team. He was part of the 2014

  5. 55
    + 1,577
    - 1,042

    Forward, Midfielder Thomas Müller is a German footballer who plays for Bayern Munich and the German national team. Müller plays as a midfielder or forward, and has been deployed in a variety of attacking roles

  6. 56
    + 2,253
    - 1,958

    Forward Wayne Mark Rooney is an English professional footballer who plays for and captains both Manchester United and the England national team. He has played much of his career as a forward, but he has also

  7. 57
    + 2,243
    - 1,768

    Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar OON is a Dutch former footballer who played as a goalkeeper for Ajax, Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United. He is the most capped player in the Netherlands national team's history.

  8. 58
    + 2,094
    - 1,801

    Forward, Midfielder Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, MD, simply Sócrates, was a Brazilian footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. His doctorate in medicine and his

  9. 59
    + 1,300
    - 1,052

    Defender Robert Frederick Chelsea "Bobby" Moore OBE was an English professional footballer. He captained West Ham United for more than ten years and was captain of the England team that won the 1966

  10. 60
    + 2,880
    - 2,503

    Forward Didier Yves Drogba Tébily, known as Didier Drogba, is an Ivorian professional footballer who plays for English club Chelsea as a striker, and is the all-time top scorer and former captain of

  11. 61
    + 1,325
    - 1,052

    Defender Marcos Evangelista de Morais, known as Cafu, is a Brazilian former professional footballer. He is the most internationally capped male Brazilian player and also made history playing for São

  12. 62
    + 1,270
    - 990

    Forward Gabriel Omar Batistuta, nicknamed Batigol as well as El Ángel Gabriel, is a retired professional footballer. The prolific Argentine striker played most of his club football at Fiorentina in

  13. 63
    + 1,474
    - 1,074

    Playmaker, Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is a German footballer who plays as a midfielder for Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and the German national team, serving as captain. A right-footed player, he usually plays as

  14. 64
    + 1,152
    - 987

    Defender Fabio Cannavaro, Ufficiale OMRI is an Italian football coach and former player who is currently the head coach of Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande. He is considered to be one of the greatest

  15. 65
    + 2,280
    - 2,044

    added by arman_gharavi
    Midfielder Paul Scholes is a retired English footballer who played his entire professional career for Manchester United and is currently co-owner of Salford City. Born in Salford, but later moving to Langley,

  16. 66
    + 1,684
    - 1,449

    added by talbotrr
    Midfielder Frank James Lampard is an English professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder or defensive midfielder for Manchester City. He is the all-time leading goalscorer for

  17. 67
    + 1,374
    - 1,110

    Forward David Villa Sánchez is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a striker for American club New York City in Major League Soccer. He is nicknamed El Guaje because as a youngster he

  18. 68
    + 1,522
    - 1,234

    Forward Robin van Persie is a Dutch footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester United and is the captain of the Netherlands national team. He is a youth product of Feyenoord. Having joined Arsenal in

  19. 69
    + 1,533
    - 1,371

    Forward Samuel Eto'o Fils is a Cameroonian footballer who plays as a striker for Sampdoria and formerly for the Cameroon national team. He is the most decorated African player of all time having won the

  20. 70
    + 1,279
    - 978

    Forward, Goalkeeper Petr Čech is a Czech footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Chelsea and the Czech Republic national team. Čech previously played for Chmel Blšany, Sparta Prague, and Rennes. He

  21. 71
    + 1,242
    - 966

    Forward, Midfielder Franck Henry Pierre Ribéry, also known as Bilal Yusuf Mohammed as an adopted name since his conversion in 2006 to Islam, is a French footballer currently playing for German Bundesliga club

  22. 72
    + 1,580
    - 1,386

    Forward Rutgerus Johannes Martinus "Ruud" van Nistelrooy is a retired Dutch footballer and current assistant manager for the Dutch National Football Team. He is the fourth-highest goalscorer in

  23. 73
    + 943
    - 653

    added by QusaiK.Morbiwalla
    Winger, Forward, Midfielder Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Uruguayan national team as a striker. In July 2014, Suárez moved to

  24. 74
    + 1,327
    - 1,144

    Midfielder Wesley Sneijder is a Dutch professional footballer who plays for the Turkish club Galatasaray and the Netherlands national team. He was named UEFA midfielder of the season and one of the three best

  25. 75
    + 920
    - 830

    Midfielder Pavel Nedvěd is a Czech retired footballer who played as a midfielder. Described as one of the best footballers of his generation, he is also regarded as one of the most successful players to emerge

  26. 76
    + 1,366
    - 1,329

    Forward Alan Shearer OBE, DL is an English retired footballer. He played as a striker in the top level of English league football for Southampton, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and for the England

  27. 77
    + 1,125
    - 1,038

    Midfielder Gheorghe Hagi is a Romanian former footballer, considered one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe during the 1980s and 1990s and the greatest Romanian footballer of all time. Galatasaray fans

  28. 78
    + 1,084
    - 902

    added by AbdielJoseph
    Forward Sergio Leonel "Kun" Agüero Del Castillo is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club Manchester City and the Argentina national team. On 5 July

  29. 79
    + 1,075
    - 1,007

    Forward Hugo Sánchez Márquez is a Mexican former professional footballer and manager. He began his career playing for Pumas de la UNAM in 1976, and briefly on loan to the San Diego Sockers of

  30. 80
    + 1,128
    - 989

    added by WilliamASalazar
    Midfielder Michael Ballack is a retired German footballer. He is among the top goal scorers in the history of the German national team. Ballack wore the number 13 shirt for every team he has played for except

  31. 81
    + 1,446
    - 1,374

    Midfielder Mesut Özil is a German footballer who plays for English club Arsenal and the German national team. Özil has been a youth national team member since 2006, and a member of the German national

  32. 82
    + 1,018
    - 1,027

    Forward Andriy Mykolayovych Shevchenko is a former Ukrainian footballer who played for Dynamo Kyiv, Milan, Chelsea, and the Ukrainian national team as a striker. Shevchenko is ranked as the fifth top

  33. 83
    + 945
    - 978

    added by Pandamorderen
    Forward, Midfielder Michael Laudrup is a retired Danish footballer and current manager of Qatar Stars League club Lekhwiya. During his playing career, Laudrup won league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid and

  34. 84
    + 751
    - 644

    Outside forward, Midfielder Sir Stanley Matthews, CBE was an English footballer. Often regarded as one of the greatest players of the English game, he is the only player to have been knighted while still playing, as well as

  35. 85
    + 984
    - 941

    Midfielder Clarence Clyde Seedorf is a Dutch former footballer and former manager of A.C. Milan regarded by many as one of the best midfielders of his generation. Seedorf is one of the most decorated Dutch

  36. 86
    + 302
    - 184

    ranked low on reranks & added by FrancisLanceDavid
    Forward Robert Lewandowski is a Polish footballer who plays as striker for Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and captains the Polish national team. After being the top scorer in the third and second tiers of

  37. 87
    + 810
    - 776

    Goalkeeper Dino Zoff is an Italian former football goalkeeper and is the oldest winner ever of the World Cup, which he earned as captain of the Italian team in the 1982 tournament in Spain, at the age of 40

  38. 88
    + 842
    - 871

    Defender Franco Baresi is an Italian football youth team coach and a former player and manager. He played as a sweeper and as a central defender, and spent his entire 20-year career with Serie A club A.C.

  39. 89
    + 1,010
    - 923

    Defender, Midfielder Gnégnéri Yaya Touré, known as Yaya Touré, is an Ivorian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Manchester City and the Ivory Coast national

  40. 90
    + 849
    - 827

    Defender, Midfielder Javier Adelmar Zanetti is an Argentine former footballer. He played most of his career for the Italian Serie A club Internazionale, from 1995 to 2014, and served as their captain from 1999, earning

  41. 91
    + 933
    - 776

    added by StephenCrouch
    Forward, Midfielder Gareth Frank Bale is a Welsh footballer who plays as a winger for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Wales national team. Bale began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left-back and

  42. 92
    + 702
    - 630

    Midfielder Roberto Rivellino is a former Brazilian footballer. He was one of the stars of Brazil's 1970 FIFA World Cup winning team. Rivellino currently works as a pundit for Brazilian TV Cultura. The son of

  43. 93
    + 926
    - 900

    Forward, Midfielder Diego Forlán Corazo is a Uruguayan footballer who plays as a forward for Cerezo Osaka in Japan. He is a two-time winner of both the Pichichi Trophy and the European Golden Shoe, and also

  44. 94
    + 765
    - 727

    Forward Mario Alberto Kempes Chiodi is a retired Argentine footballer. His father, Mario, also a footballer, inspired him to play from a young age. At the age of seven he began playing with a junior team and

  45. 95
    + 891
    - 939

    Defender Alessandro Nesta, Ufficiale OMRI is an Italian professional footballer. Widely considered to be one of the best centre backs of his time and also as one of the greatest defenders ever, he is best

  46. 96
    + 645
    - 620

    Forward Paolo Rossi is an Italian former footballer, who played as a forward. In 1982, he led Italy to the 1982 FIFA World Cup title, scoring six goals to win the Golden Boot as top goalscorer, and the Golden

  47. 97
    + 799
    - 813

    Forward, Midfielder Hristo Stoichkov Stoichkov is a retired Bulgarian footballer who is currently a football pundit for Univision Deportes. He is regarded as one of the best players of his generation and is widely

  48. 98
    + 775
    - 804

    Forward George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah is a Liberian humanitarian, politician, and an ex-footballer who played as a striker. Regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, in 1995 he

  49. 99
    + 1,021
    - 1,096

    Midfielder Francesc "Cesc" Fàbregas i Soler is a Spanish footballer who plays for English club Chelsea and the Spain national team. Fàbregas plays mainly as a central midfielder or

  50. 100
    + 527
    - 505

    Defender Ruddy Lilian Thuram-Ulien, known as Lilian Thuram, is a retired professional football defender and the most capped player in the history of the France national team. He played at the top flight in

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