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
27,848 24,306
Pelé is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Pelé Forward, Midfielder

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2
38,373 23,702
Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Lionel Messi Forward

3
26,394 16,842
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Diego Maradona Forward, Midfielder

4
8,013 8,032
Marco van Basten is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

5
17,627 11,107
Johan Cruijff is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Johan Cruyff Forward, Midfielder

6
6,174 6,753
Paolo Maldini is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Paolo Maldini Defender

7
19,723 13,678
Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Franz Beckenbauer Defender, Sweeper

8
22,402 15,391
Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ronaldo Forward

9
24,457 20,172
Zinedine Zidane is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Zinedine Zidane Midfielder

10
22,216 13,129
Ronaldinho is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ronaldinho Forward, Midfielder

11
4,670 3,205
Garrincha is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Garrincha Right Wing, Midfielder

12
24,302 17,755
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Cristiano Ronaldo Forward, Midfielder

13
8,954 6,476
George Best is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
George Best Midfielder

14
5,788 4,180
Zico is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Zico Playmaker, Midfielder

15
771 780
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
2,896 2,242
Ruud Gullit is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ruud Gullit Defender, Forward, Midfielder

17
1,730 1,476
Franco Baresi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Franco Baresi Defender

18
706 639
Giuseppe Meazza is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Giuseppe Meazza Forward, Inside forward

19
1,318 1,236
George Weah is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
George Weah Forward

20
6,407 5,079
Kaká is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Kaká Midfielder

21
4,652 3,206
Ferenc Puskás is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ferenc Puskás Forward, Inside forward

22
1,220 1,098
Frank Rijkaard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Frank Rijkaard Defender, Midfielder

23
4,212 2,904
Eusébio is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Eusébio Forward

24
6,491 4,887
Alfredo de Stefanio is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

25
1,616 1,512
Andriy Shevchenko is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

26
1,192 910
Roberto Rivelino is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Rivelino Midfielder

27
8,001 5,472
Andrea Pirlo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Andrea Pirlo Midfielder

28
9,762 5,227
Gianluigi Buffon is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gianluigi Buffon Goalkeeper

29
274 158
Didi is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Didi Midfielder

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30
351 358
Roberto Donadoni is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Donadoni Midfielder

31
4,372 3,381
Romário is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Romário Forward

32
1,485 1,271
Clarence Seedorf is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Clarence Seedorf Midfielder

33
2,068 1,553
Cafu is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Cafu Defender

34
9,678 7,260
Andrés Iniesta is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Andrés Iniesta Midfielder

35
7,573 4,625
Zlatan Ibrahimović is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

36
681 643
Paulo Roberto Falcão is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

37
8,627 6,533
Xavi is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Xavi Midfielder

38
767 648
Jairzinho is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Jairzinho Midfielder

39
4,089 3,280
Roberto Baggio is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Baggio Forward, Midfielder

40
6,241 4,623
Gerd Müller is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gerd Müller Forward

41
148 88
Djalma Santos is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Djalma Santos Defender

42
219 140
Vavá is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Vavá Forward

43
11,235 9,216
Thierry Henry is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Thierry Henry Forward, Midfielder

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44
168 96
Gérson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gérson Playmaker, Midfielder

45
7,208 5,498
Roberto Carlos is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Carlos Defender, Midfielder

46
709 588
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge Forward, Midfielder

47
2,231 1,630
Lev Yashin is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Lev Yashin Goalkeeper

48
414 366
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Tostão Winger, Forward, Midfielder

49
6,426 5,401
Dennis Bergkamp is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Dennis Bergkamp Forward

50
169 87
Sandro Mazzola is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Sandro Mazzola Forward, Inside forward, Midfielder