best athletes The Best Soccer Players of All Time  

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List Rules 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.
list ordered by

1
28,006 24,492
Pelé is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Pelé Forward, Midfielder

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2
38,639 23,869
Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Lionel Messi Forward

3
26,593 16,899
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Diego Maradona Forward, Midfielder

4
8,057 8,182
Marco van Basten is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

5
17,689 11,154
Johan Cruijff is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Johan Cruyff Forward, Midfielder

6
6,214 6,893
Paolo Maldini is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Paolo Maldini Defender

7
4,789 3,244
Garrincha is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Garrincha Right Wing, Midfielder

8
19,764 13,763
Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Franz Beckenbauer Defender, Sweeper

9
22,497 15,519
Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ronaldo Forward

10
24,543 20,279
Zinedine Zidane is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Zinedine Zidane Midfielder

11
22,335 13,250
Ronaldinho is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ronaldinho Forward, Midfielder

12
24,455 17,890
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Cristiano Ronaldo Forward, Midfielder

13
8,998 6,498
George Best is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
George Best Midfielder

14
5,821 4,196
Zico is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Zico Playmaker, Midfielder

15
783 797
Gianni Rivera is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gianni Rivera Midfielder

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16
2,918 2,256
Ruud Gullit is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ruud Gullit Defender, Forward, Midfielder

17
718 655
Giuseppe Meazza is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Giuseppe Meazza Forward, Inside forward

18
1,743 1,490
Franco Baresi is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Franco Baresi Defender

19
1,329 1,258
George Weah is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
George Weah Forward

20
6,447 5,102
Kaká is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Kaká Midfielder

21
6,514 4,896
Alfredo de Stefanio is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

22
4,676 3,215
Ferenc Puskás is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ferenc Puskás Forward, Inside forward

23
1,628 1,520
Andriy Shevchenko is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

24
1,230 1,107
Frank Rijkaard is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Frank Rijkaard Defender, Midfielder

25
4,233 2,911
Eusébio is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Eusébio Forward

26
1,202 916
Roberto Rivelino is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Rivelino Midfielder

27
8,032 5,478
Andrea Pirlo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Andrea Pirlo Midfielder

28
287 163
Didi is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Didi Midfielder

29
365 366
Roberto Donadoni is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Donadoni Midfielder

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30
9,790 5,241
Gianluigi Buffon is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gianluigi Buffon Goalkeeper

31
4,387 3,386
Romário is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Romário Forward

32
1,494 1,278
Clarence Seedorf is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Clarence Seedorf Midfielder

33
2,081 1,561
Cafu is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Cafu Defender

34
694 647
Paulo Roberto Falcão is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

35
159 94
Djalma Santos is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Djalma Santos Defender

36
231 145
Vavá is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Vavá Forward

37
9,709 7,275
Andrés Iniesta is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Andrés Iniesta Midfielder

38
7,611 4,633
Zlatan Ibrahimović is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

39
176 102
Gérson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gérson Playmaker, Midfielder

40
772 652
Jairzinho is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Jairzinho Midfielder

41
8,652 6,541
Xavi is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Xavi Midfielder

42
4,098 3,288
Roberto Baggio is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Baggio Forward, Midfielder

43
6,258 4,627
Gerd Müller is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gerd Müller Forward

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44
11,266 9,222
Thierry Henry is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Thierry Henry Forward, Midfielder

45
424 371
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Tostão Winger, Forward, Midfielder

46
7,224 5,511
Roberto Carlos is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Carlos Defender, Midfielder

47
720 591
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge Forward, Midfielder

48
2,245 1,633
Lev Yashin is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Lev Yashin Goalkeeper

49
175 91
Sandro Mazzola is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Sandro Mazzola Forward, Inside forward, Midfielder

50
201 132
Juan Alberto Schiaffino is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Juan Alberto Schiaffino Forward, Inside forward