Sports

The Best Soccer Players of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated May 22, 2020 3.8M votes 429.2k voters 2.9M views 1,414 items

List Rules Vote up the greatest current or former professional soccer players from anywhere in the world.

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
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Lanús, Argentina
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

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#366 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #15 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 209 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s

2
Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Forward from Rosario, Argentina
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

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#753 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #17 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #69 of 343 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

3
Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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

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#350 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person #1,469 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #418 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time

4
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Santo António, Portugal
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

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#88 of 254 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #876 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #745 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time

5
Ronaldinho is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Porto Alegre, Brazil
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

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#359 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #4 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #3 of 136 The Greatest South American Footballers of All Time

6
Zinedine Zidane is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Midfielder from Marseille, France
Zinedine Yazid Zidane (French pronunciation: ​[zinedin jazid zidan]; born 23 June 1972), nicknamed "Zizou" (pronounced [zizu]), is a French former professional football player and ...more

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#878 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #431 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person #984 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

7
Johan Cruijff is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Amsterdam, Netherlands
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

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#248 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #720 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #9 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players

8
Pelé is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Três Corações, Brazil
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

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#1,376 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #43 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #664 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

9
Andrés Iniesta is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder from Fuentealbilla, Spain
Andrés Iniesta Luján (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈdɾes iˈnjesta luˈxan]; born 11 May 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Japanese club ...more

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#1,210 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #31 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #18 of 535 The Best Current Soccer Players

10
Andrea Pirlo is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder from Flero, Italy
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

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#679 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #13 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #3 of 17 The Best Players In MLS

11
Gianluigi Buffon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Goalkeeper from Carrara, Italy
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

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#2 of 230 The Best Soccer Goalies of All Time #427 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #259 of 343 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

12
Luka Modrić is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder from Zadar, Croatia
Luka Modrić (Croatian pronunciation: [lûːka mǒːdritɕ]; born 9 September 1985) is a Croatian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Spanish club Real Madrid and is the ...more

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#1 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #4 of 535 The Best Current Soccer Players #1 of 96 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2019

13
George Best is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder from Belfast, United Kingdom
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

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#86 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #105 of 154 Who's the Best Player in the Premier League? #20 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players

14
Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender and Sweeper from Munich, Germany
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

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#236 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 464 The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time #151 of 535 The Best Current Soccer Players

15
Roberto Carlos is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender and Midfielder from Garça, Brazil
Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha (born 10 April 1973), more commonly known simply as Roberto Carlos, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who now works as a football ambassador. He ...more

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#1,219 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #10 of 209 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s #31 of 464 The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time

16
Thierry Henry is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Les Ulis, France
Thierry Daniel Henry (French pronunciation: ​[tjɛʁi ɑ̃ʁi]; born 17 August 1977) is a French professional football coach and former player who was most recently the manager of Ligue 1 club ...more

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#1,130 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1,470 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #8 of 209 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s

17
Xavi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder from Terrassa, Spain
Xavier Hernández Creus (Catalan: [ˈʃaβi əɾˈnandəs ˈkɾɛws], Spanish: [ˈtʃaβj eɾˈnandeθ ˈkɾeus]; born 25 January 1980) is a retired Spanish professional footballer who played as a ...more

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#1,571 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #30 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #6 of 103 The Best FC Barcelona Players Of All Time, Ranked

18
Zlatan Ibrahimović is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward from Malmö Municipality, Sweden
Zlatan Ibrahimović (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈslaːtan ɪbraˈhiːmʊvɪtɕ], Bosnian: [zlǎtan ibraxǐːmoʋitɕ]; born 3 October 1981) is a Swedish professional footballer who plays as a forward for LA ...more

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#147 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #8 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #36 of 36 The Weirdest Statues of Celebrities

19
Raúl is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Madrid, Spain
Raúl González Blanco (Spanish pronunciation: [raˈul ɣonˈθaleθ ˈβlaŋko]; born 27 June 1977), known as Raúl, is a Spanish football manager and former player who played as a ...more

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#767 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #20 of 209 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s #171 of 535 The Best Current Soccer Players

20
Neymar is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward from Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Brazilian Portuguese: [nejˈmaʁ dɐ ˈsiwvɐ ˈsɐ̃tus ˈʒũɲoʁ]; born 5 February 1992), commonly known as Neymar Jr. or simply Neymar, is a Brazilian professional ...more

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#1,445 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #16 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #10 of 136 The Greatest South American Footballers of All Time

21
David Beckham is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder from Leytonstone, London, United Kingdom
David Robert Joseph Beckham (UK: ; born 2 May 1975) is an English former professional footballer, the current president of Inter Miami CF and co-owner of Salford City. He played for Manchester ...more

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#78 of 254 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #1,095 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #331 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time

22
Carles Puyol is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Defender from La Pobla de Segur, Spain
Carles Puyol Saforcada (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaɾles puˈjɔl i safoɾˈkaða]; born 13 April 1978) is a Spanish retired professional footballer who played his entire career for Barcelona. ...more

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#43 of 464 The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time #7 of 103 The Best FC Barcelona Players Of All Time, Ranked #4 of 109 The Best Soccer Players from Spain

23
Steven Gerrard is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Midfielder from Whiston, United Kingdom
Steven George Gerrard (born 30 May 1980) is an English professional football manager and former player who manages Scottish Premiership club Rangers. He spent the majority of his playing career ...more

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#83 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #96 of 154 Who's the Best Player in the Premier League? #4 of 17 The Best Players In MLS

24
Ryan Giggs is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Forward and Midfielder from Cardiff, United Kingdom
Ryan Joseph Giggs (born Wilson; born 29 November 1973) is a Welsh football coach and former player. He is the manager of the Wales national team and a co-owner of Salford City. He played his ...more

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#1,285 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #13 of 209 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s #103 of 154 Who's the Best Player in the Premier League?

25
Francesco Totti is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Playmaker and Forward from Rome, Italy
Francesco Totti (Italian pronunciation: [franˈtʃesko ˈtɔtti]; born 27 September 1976) is an Italian former professional footballer who played for Roma and the Italy national team. He is often ...more

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#297 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #27 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #148 of 311 Unicef Goodwill Ambassadors