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The Best Soccer Players of All Time

Updated November 17, 2020 3.8m votes 440.8k 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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  • Diego Maradona1
    116,381
    63,291

    Diego Maradona

    Forward, Midfielder

    BirthplaceLanús, Argentina

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

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  • Cristiano Ronaldo2
    164,831
    92,960

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Forward, Midfielder

    BirthplaceSanto António, Portugal

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

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  • Lionel Messi3
    189,517
    107,326

    BirthplaceRosario, Argentina

    Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾez ˈmesi] (listen); born...  more

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  • Ronaldo4
    92,493
    56,813

    Ronaldo

    Forward

    BirthplaceRio de Janeiro, Brazil

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

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  • Ronaldinho5
    120,255
    68,268

    Ronaldinho

    Forward, Midfielder

    BirthplacePorto Alegre, Brazil

    Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho (Brazilian...  more
  • Zinedine Zidane6
    86,671
    57,625

    Zinedine Zidane

    Midfielder

    BirthplaceMarseille, France

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

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  • Luka Modrić7
    22,977
    11,034

    Luka Modrić

    Midfielder

    BirthplaceZadar, Croatia

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

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    #1 of 49 The Best Real Madrid Midfielders Of All Time#1 of 84 The Best Tottenham Hotspur Players of All Time

  • Gianluigi Buffon8
    32,376
    21,108

    BirthplaceCarrara, Italy

    Gianluigi Buffon, (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanluˈiːdʒi bufˈfɔn, -ˈfon]; born 28 January...  more

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    #9 of 356 The Best Current Soccer Players#197 of 329 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

  • Andrés Iniesta9
    42,559
    28,872

    Andrés Iniesta

    Midfielder

    BirthplaceFuentealbilla, Spain

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

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  • Neymar10
    47,032
    29,120

    Neymar

    Forward

    BirthplaceMogi das Cruzes, Brazil

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

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  • Carles Puyol11
    14,715
    9,775

    Carles Puyol

    Defender

    BirthplaceLa Pobla de Segur, Spain

    Carles Puyol Saforcada (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaɾles puˈjɔl i safoɾˈkaða]; born 13 April...  more

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    #26 of 452 The Best Soccer Defenders of All Time#3 of 114 The Best Soccer Players from Spain

  • David Beckham12
    33,546
    22,503

    David Beckham

    Midfielder

    BirthplaceLeytonstone, London, United Kingdom

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

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  • Manuel Neuer13
    12,604
    8,387

    Manuel Neuer

    Goalkeeper

    BirthplaceGelsenkirchen, Germany

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

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  • Johan Cruyff14
    46,225
    35,778

    Johan Cruyff

    Forward, Midfielder

    BirthplaceAmsterdam, Netherlands

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

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    #87 of 116 The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time#1 of 75 The Best Dutch Soccer Players from the Netherlands, Ranked

  • Thierry Henry15
    24,067
    16,429

    Thierry Henry

    Forward, Midfielder

    BirthplaceLes Ulis, France

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

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  • Pelé16
    130,250
    111,931

    Pelé

    Forward, Midfielder

    BirthplaceTrês Corações, Brazil

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

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  • Роберто Карлос17
    20,675
    14,063

    Роберто Карлос

    Defender, Midfielder

    BirthplaceGarça, Brazil

    Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha (born 10 April 1973), more commonly known simply as Roberto...  more

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    #3 of 32 The Best Real Madrid Defenders Of All Time#21 of 25 Famous People Who Own Bugattis

  • Xavi18
    28,277
    19,350

    Xavi

    Midfielder

    BirthplaceTerrassa, Spain

    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

  • Luis Suárez19
    11,584
    7,620

    Luis Suárez

    Winger, Forward

    BirthplaceSalto, Uruguay

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

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    #30 of 66 The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History#48 of 71 Athletes Who Spark the Most Fan Arguments

  • Zlatan Ibrahimović20
    34,304
    23,433

    BirthplaceMalmö Municipality, Sweden

    Zlatan Ibrahimović (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈslaːtan ɪbraˈhiːmʊvɪtɕ], Bosnian: [zlǎtan...  more

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  • Roberto Baggio21
    7,246
    5,428

    Roberto Baggio

    Forward, Midfielder

    BirthplaceCaldogno, Italy

    Roberto Baggio (Italian pronunciation: [roˈbɛrto ˈbaddʒo]; born 18 February 1967) is an...  more

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    #740 of 1,427 The Best Athletes Of All Time#4 of 164 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s

  • Gerd Müller22
    9,772
    6,830

    BirthplaceNördlingen, Germany

    Gerhard "Gerd" Müller (German pronunciation: [ˈɡɛɐ̯t ˈmʏlɐ]; born 3 November 1945) is a German...  more
  • Peter Schmeichel23
    5,922
    3,989

    BirthplaceGladsaxe Municipality, Denmark

    Peter Bolesław Schmeichel, MBE (Danish pronunciation: [pʰetɐ ˈsmaɪ̯ˀkl̩]; born 18 November...  more

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  • Steven Gerrard24
    12,084
    8,196

    Steven Gerrard

    Midfielder

    BirthplaceWhiston, United Kingdom

    Steven George Gerrard (born 30 May 1980) is an English professional football manager and...  more

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  • Robert Lewandowski25
    9,532
    6,336

    BirthplaceWarsaw, Poland

    Robert Lewandowski (born 21 August 1988) is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a...  more

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    #14 of 96 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2019#15 of 199 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2018