Sports

The Best Soccer Players of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
3.7M votes 419.5k voters 2.9M views 1,409 items

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

Whether you call it soccer or football, this extensive list of the greatest soccer players of all time is ranked by 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 good 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.

Vote up the world's best soccer players in the world who deserve to be in the top 10 in football history.

list ordered by
1
Pelé is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward, Midfielder
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈɛtsõ (w)ɐˈɾɐ̃tʃiz du nɐsiˈmẽtu]; born 23 October 1940), known as Pelé ([peˈlɛ]), is a Brazilian retired professional ...more
2
Marco van Basten is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward
Marcel "Marco" van Basten (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɑrkoː vɑn ˈbɑstə(n)] (listen); born 31 October 1964) is a Dutch football manager and former professional football player, who played ...more
3
Garrincha is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Right Wing, Midfielder
Manuel Francisco dos Santos (28 October 1933 – 20 January 1983), nicknamed Mané Garrincha, best known as simply Garrincha (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡaˈʁĩʃɐ], "little bird"), ...more
4
Paolo Maldini is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender
Paolo Cesare Maldini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːolo malˈdiːni]; born 26 June 1968) is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a left back and central defender for A.C. Milan ...more
5
Johan Cruijff is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward, Midfielder
Hendrik Johannes Cruijff OON (Dutch: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈkrœyf] (listen), internationally spelled Cruyff; 25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he ...more
6
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward, Midfielder
Diego Armando Maradona (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈdjeɣo maɾaˈðona], born 30 October 1960) is an Argentine retired professional footballer. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest ...more
7
Ruud Gullit is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender, Forward, Midfielder
Ruud Gullit, OON (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈryt ˈxʏlɪt] (listen); born Rudi Dil; 1 September 1962) is a Dutch football manager and former footballer who played professionally in the 1980s and 1990s ...more
8
Alfredo de Stefanio is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
9
Zico is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Playmaker, Midfielder
Arthur Antunes Coimbra (Portuguese pronunciation: [aʁˈtuʁ ɐ̃ˈtũnis koˈĩbɾɐ], born 3 March 1953 in Rio de Janeiro), better known as Zico ([ˈziku]), is a Brazilian coach and former footballer, who ...more
10
Eusébio is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira GCIH GCM (European Portuguese: [ewˈzɛβju ðɐ ˈsiɫvɐ fɨˈʁɐjɾɐ]; 25 January 1942 – 5 January 2014) was a Portuguese footballer who played as a striker. ...more
11
George Weah is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward
George Manneh Oppong Weah (; born 1 October 1966) is a Liberian politician and former professional footballer currently serving as the 25th President of Liberia, in office since 2018. Prior to ...more
12
Kaká is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (Brazilian Portuguese: [hiˈkaɾdu iˈzɛksõ duˈsɐ̃tus ˈlejt͡ʃi]), born 22 April 1982, commonly known as Kaká (Portuguese: [kaˈka] (listen)) or Ricardo ...more
13
Franco Baresi is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender
Franco Baresi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈfraŋko baˈreːzi; -eːsi]; born 8 May 1960) is an Italian football youth team coach and a former player and manager. He mainly played as a sweeper or as a ...more
14
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward, Midfielder
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro GOIH ComM (European Portuguese: [kɾiʃˈtjɐnu ʁoˈnaɫdu]; born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club ...more
15
Andriy Shevchenko is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward
Andriy Mykolayovych Shevchenko (Ukrainian: Андрій Миколайович Шевченко, pronounced [ɑndˈrij mɪkoˈlɑjovɪtʃ ʃɛwˈtʃɛnko]; born 29 September 1976) is a Ukrainian politician, football manager and ...more
16
Giuseppe Meazza is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward, Inside forward
Giuseppe "Peppino" Meazza (Italian pronunciation: [dʒuˈzɛppe meˈattsa]; 23 August 1910 – 21 August 1979), also known as il Balilla, was an Italian football manager and player. ...more
17
Frank Rijkaard is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender, Midfielder
Franklin Edmundo Rijkaard (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfrɑŋk ˈrɛi̯kaːrt] (listen); born 30 September 1962) is a Dutch former footballer and former manager who played as a midfielder or defender. ...more
18
Ronaldinho is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward, Midfielder
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁonawˈdʒĩɲu ga'uʃu]) or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian former professional ...more
19
Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added
Forward
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾez ˈmesi] (listen); born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains ...more
20
Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward
Ronaldo is a Portuguese and Spanish equivalent of the name Ronald. Notable people known as Ronaldo include: Ronaldo (Brazilian footballer) (born 1976), Ronaldo Luís Nazário de ...more
21
Gianni Rivera is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder
Giovanni "Gianni" Rivera (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni riˈvɛːra]; born 18 August 1943, in Alessandria) is an Italian politician and former footballer who played as a midfielder. ...more
22
Andrea Pirlo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder
Andrea Pirlo (Italian pronunciation: [anˈdrɛːa ˈpirlo]; born 19 May 1979) is an Italian former professional footballer. Pirlo was usually deployed as a deep-lying playmaker in midfield for both ...more
23
Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender, Sweeper
Franz Anton Beckenbauer (pronounced [ˈfʁants ˈbɛkn̩ˌbaʊɐ]; born 11 September 1945) is a German former professional footballer and manager. Early in his playing career he was nicknamed Der Kaiser ...more
24
George Best is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder
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. Named European Footballer ...more
25
Gianluigi Buffon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Goalkeeper
Gianluigi Buffon, (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanluˈiːdʒi bufˈfɔn, -ˈfon]; born 28 January 1978) commonly shortened to Gigi Buffon, is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper ...more