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. 1
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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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    Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
    Photo: Dani Yako/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    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
  3. 3
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    Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
    Photo: Bryan Cedeno/Flickr

    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
  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 is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
    Photo: Antônio Cruz/ABr/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0 br

    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: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    • 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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    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
  8. 8
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    Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY-SA

    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
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