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The Best Soccer Players of All Time

Updated March 23, 2021 3.8m votes 442.9k voters 3.0m views1.3k items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1
    115,926
    63,217

    Diego Maradona

    Forward, Midfielder
    Diego Armando Maradona (30 October 1960 – 25 November 2020) was an Argentine retired...  more

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    #129 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon#57 of 212 200+ Celebrities Who Went to Rehab

  • 2
    164,233
    92,935

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Forward, Midfielder
    Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro GOIH ComM (born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese...  more

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    #111 of 200 The Hottest Men Of 2021, Ranked#81 of 242 The Hottest Men Of 2019, Ranked

  • 3
    188,764
    107,006
    Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾez ˈmesi] (listen); born...  more

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    #1029 of 2,753 The Most Influential People of All Time#348 of 584 The Greatest Entertainers Of All Time

  • 4
    92,117
    56,908

    Ronaldo

    Forward
    Ronaldo is a Portuguese and Spanish equivalent of the name Ronald. Notable people known as...  more

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    #49 of 60 The Most Iconic Celebrity First Names#161 of 163 The Smartest Professional Athletes

  • 5
    86,282
    57,612

    Zinedine Zidane

    Midfielder
    Zinedine Yazid Zidane (French pronunciation: ​[zinedin jazid zidan]; born 23 June 1972),...  more

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    #390 of 403 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person#113 of 170 If You Fought To The Death, Who Would You Want By Your Side?

  • 6
    119,840
    68,133

    Ronaldinho

    Forward, Midfielder
    Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho (Brazilian...  more

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    #3 of 267 The Best Soccer Players from Brazil#11 of 152 The Most Influential Athletes Of All Time

  • 7
    23,057
    11,317

    Luka Modrić

    Midfielder
    Luka Modrić (Croatian pronunciation: [lûːka mǒːdritɕ]; born 9 September 1985) is a Croatian...  more

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    #1 of 199 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2018#1 of 96 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2019

  • 8
    32,113
    21,387
    Gianluigi Buffon, (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanluˈiːdʒi bufˈfɔn, -ˈfon]; born 28 January...  more

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    #216 of 329 The Most Obnoxious Athletes#3 of 188 The Best Soccer Goalies of All Time

  • 9
    42,447
    29,144

    Andrés Iniesta

    Midfielder
    Andrés Iniesta Luján (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈdɾes iˈnjesta luˈxan]; born 11 May 1984) is a...  more

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    #6 of 21 The Best Short Male Athletes#5 of 114 The Best FC Barcelona Players Of All Time, Ranked

  • 10
    33,462
    22,874

    David Beckham

    Midfielder
    David Robert Joseph Beckham (UK: ; born 2 May 1975) is an English former professional...  more

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  • 11
    46,965
    29,462

    Neymar

    Forward
    Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Brazilian Portuguese: [nejˈmaʁ dɐ ˈsiwvɐ ˈsɐ̃tus ˈʒũɲoʁ]; born...  more

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  • 12
    46,414
    35,297

    Johan Cruyff

    Forward, Midfielder
    Hendrik Johannes Cruijff OON (Dutch: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈkrœyf] (listen), internationally spelled...  more

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    #40 of 1,427 The Best Athletes Of All Time#88 of 116 The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time

  • 13
    5,897
    4,010
    Peter Bolesław Schmeichel, MBE (Danish pronunciation: [pʰetɐ ˈsmaɪ̯ˀkl̩]; born 18 November...  more

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    #8 of 102 Best Manchester United Players of All Time, Ranked#2 of 135 The Best Soccer Players from Denmark

  • 14
    130,331
    110,635

    Pelé

    Forward, Midfielder
    Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈɛtsõ (w)ɐˈɾɐ̃tʃiz du nɐsiˈmẽtu];...  more

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  • 15
    28,143
    19,420

    Xavi

    Midfielder
    Xavier Hernández Creus (Catalan: [ˈʃaβi əɾˈnandəs ˈkɾɛws], Spanish: [ˈtʃaβj eɾˈnandeθ ˈkɾeus];...  more

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    #31 of 52 The Best Olympic Athletes from Spain#1 of 12 The Best Professional Soccer Players Who Retired In 2019

  • 16
    4,873
    3,301

    Frank Lampard

    Midfielder
    Frank James Lampard (born 20 June 1978) is an English professional football manager and...  more

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    #1 of 293 The Best Chelsea Players Of All Time#8 of 1,058 The Best Soccer Players from England

  • 17
    6,156
    4,182

    Arjen Robben

    Winger, Forward
    Arjen Robben (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑrjən ˈrɔbə(n)] (listen); born 23 January 1984) is a...  more

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    #4 of 56 The Best Bayern Munich Midfielders Of All Time#3 of 71 The Best Dutch Soccer Players from the Netherlands, Ranked

  • 18
    9,833
    6,829
    Gerhard "Gerd" Müller (German pronunciation: [ˈɡɛɐ̯t ˈmʏlɐ]; born 3 November 1945) is a German...  more
  • 19
    34,163
    23,526
    Zlatan Ibrahimović (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈslaːtan ɪbraˈhiːmʊvɪtɕ], Bosnian: [zlǎtan...  more

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    #10 of 115 The Funniest Professional Athletes#2 of 50 The Best LA Galaxy Players In MLS History

  • 20
    23,954
    16,525

    Thierry Henry

    Forward, Midfielder
    Thierry Daniel Henry (French pronunciation: ​[tjɛʁi ɑ̃ʁi]; born 17 August 1977) is a French...  more

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    #1354 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time#6 of 164 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s

  • 21
    7,665
    5,252

    Luís Figo

    Midfielder
    Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo OIH (Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈiʃ ˈfiɣu]; born 4 November...  more

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    #18 of 108 The Best Real Madrid Players Of All Time, Ranked#3 of 147 The Best Soccer Players from Portugal

  • 22
    8,047
    5,489
    Wayne Mark Rooney (born 24 October 1985) is an English professional footballer who plays for...  more

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    #13 of 40 Who Is the Coolest Athlete in the World Right Now?#66 of 76 The Best MLS Players Of All Time

  • 23
    11,546
    7,871

    Luis Suárez

    Winger, Forward
    Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz (American Spanish: [ˈlwis ˈswaɾes]; born 24 January 1987) is a...  more

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    #31 of 66 The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History#53 of 71 Athletes Who Spark the Most Fan Arguments

  • 24
    12,582
    8,609

    Manuel Neuer

    Goalkeeper
    Manuel Peter Neuer (German pronunciation: [ˈmaːnu̯eːl ˈnɔʏ.ɐ, -ɛl -]; born 27 March 1986) is a...  more

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    #6 of 32 The Best Goalies In The World Right Now#1 of 9 The Best Bayern Munich Goalkeepers Of All Time

  • 25
    5,200
    3,535
    Alessandro Del Piero (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro del ˈpjɛːro]; born 9 November 1974)...  more