Sports

The Best Soccer Players of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 13, 2020 3.8M votes 433.7k voters 2.9M views 1,310 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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#11 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #346 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time #189 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

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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#15 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #383 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time #69 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

3
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 3 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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#68 of 274 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #760 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1,288 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time

4
Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 4 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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#408 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1,343 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #278 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

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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#358 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 133 The Greatest South American Footballers of All Time #356 of 477 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

6
Pelé is listed (or ranked) 6 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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#78 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #678 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #454 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

7
Zinedine Zidane is listed (or ranked) 7 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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#95 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #946 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #991 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

8
Andrés Iniesta is listed (or ranked) 8 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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#1,170 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #19 of 356 The Best Current Soccer Players #33 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players

9
Johan Cruijff is listed (or ranked) 9 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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#238 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #89 of 116 The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time #6 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players

10
Gianluigi Buffon is listed (or ranked) 10 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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#275 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #261 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #1 of 176 The Best Soccer Goalies of All Time

11
Luka Modrić is listed (or ranked) 11 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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#2 of 356 The Best Current Soccer Players #1 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #1 of 199 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2018

12
Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 12 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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#226 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 452 The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time #153 of 356 The Best Current Soccer Players

13
Andrea Pirlo is listed (or ranked) 13 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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#715 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #12 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #4 of 17 The Best Players In MLS

14
Xavi is listed (or ranked) 14 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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#30 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players #6 of 103 The Best FC Barcelona Players Of All Time, Ranked #26 of 29 The Best Athletes Who Wore #6

15
Thierry Henry is listed (or ranked) 15 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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#1,102 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1,344 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #65 of 155 Who's the Best Player in the Premier League?

16
Roberto Carlos is listed (or ranked) 16 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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#1,197 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #33 of 452 The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time #9 of 164 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s

17
George Best is listed (or ranked) 17 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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#92 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #109 of 155 Who's the Best Player in the Premier League? #19 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players

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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#140 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #30 of 356 The Best Current Soccer Players #16 of 114 The Funniest Professional Athletes

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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#781 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #19 of 164 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s #176 of 356 The Best Current Soccer Players

20
David Beckham is listed (or ranked) 20 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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#73 of 274 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #329 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #239 of 438 Famous Men You'd Want to Have a Beer With

21
Carles Puyol is listed (or ranked) 21 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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#40 of 452 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

22
Neymar is listed (or ranked) 22 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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#1,391 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #10 of 133 The Greatest South American Footballers of All Time #3 of 356 The Best Current Soccer Players

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 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #100 of 155 Who's the Best Player in the Premier League? #3 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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#1,255 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #108 of 155 Who's the Best Player in the Premier League? #14 of 164 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s

25
Lev Yashin is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Goalkeeper from Moscow, Russia
Lev Ivanovich Yashin (Russian: Лев Ива́нович Я́шин, 22 October 1929 – 20 March 1990), nicknamed the "Black Spider" or the "Black Panther", was a Soviet professional ...more

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#233 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 176 The Best Soccer Goalies of All Time #24 of 103 Coolest Soccer Players