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
27,898 24,356
Pelé is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Pelé Forward, Midfielder

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2
38,435 23,753
Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Lionel Messi Forward

3
26,453 16,849
Diego Maradona is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Diego Maradona Forward, Midfielder

4
8,025 8,071
Marco van Basten is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

5
17,642 11,119
Johan Cruijff is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Johan Cruyff Forward, Midfielder

6
6,183 6,786
Paolo Maldini is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Paolo Maldini Defender

7
19,734 13,685
Franz Beckenbauer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Franz Beckenbauer Defender, Sweeper

8
22,432 15,428
Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ronaldo Forward

9
24,481 20,200
Zinedine Zidane is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
rebelr19 added Zinedine Zidane Midfielder

10
22,247 13,161
Ronaldinho is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ronaldinho Forward, Midfielder

11
4,704 3,213
Garrincha is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Garrincha Right Wing, Midfielder

12
24,346 17,786
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Cristiano Ronaldo Forward, Midfielder

13
8,968 6,479
George Best is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
George Best Midfielder

14
5,794 4,183
Zico is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Zico Playmaker, Midfielder

15
773 783
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
2,902 2,246
Ruud Gullit is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ruud Gullit Defender, Forward, Midfielder

17
1,732 1,479
Franco Baresi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Franco Baresi Defender

18
707 642
Giuseppe Meazza is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Giuseppe Meazza Forward, Inside forward

19
1,322 1,241
George Weah is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
George Weah Forward

20
6,413 5,087
Kaká is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Kaká Midfielder

21
4,658 3,207
Ferenc Puskás is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Ferenc Puskás Forward, Inside forward

22
1,221 1,100
Frank Rijkaard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Frank Rijkaard Defender, Midfielder

23
1,617 1,513
Andriy Shevchenko is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

24
4,217 2,905
Eusébio is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Eusébio Forward

25
6,494 4,889
Alfredo de Stefanio is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

26
1,193 911
Roberto Rivelino is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Rivelino Midfielder

27
8,011 5,474
Andrea Pirlo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Andrea Pirlo Midfielder

28
9,768 5,229
Gianluigi Buffon is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gianluigi Buffon Goalkeeper

29
278 158
Didi is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Didi Midfielder

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30
354 359
Roberto Donadoni is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Donadoni Midfielder

31
4,375 3,382
Romário is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Romário Forward

32
1,487 1,271
Clarence Seedorf is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Clarence Seedorf Midfielder

33
2,070 1,555
Cafu is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Cafu Defender

34
9,689 7,264
Andrés Iniesta is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Andrés Iniesta Midfielder

35
683 643
Paulo Roberto Falcão is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

36
7,581 4,628
Zlatan Ibrahimović is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time

37
8,632 6,535
Xavi is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Xavi Midfielder

38
769 648
Jairzinho is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Jairzinho Midfielder

39
149 88
Djalma Santos is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Djalma Santos Defender

40
220 140
Vavá is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Vavá Forward

41
4,090 3,282
Roberto Baggio is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Baggio Forward, Midfielder

42
6,245 4,624
Gerd Müller is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gerd Müller Forward

43
11,243 9,217
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
169 97
Gérson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Gérson Playmaker, Midfielder

45
7,215 5,499
Roberto Carlos is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Roberto Carlos Defender, Midfielder

46
711 588
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge Forward, Midfielder

47
2,236 1,630
Lev Yashin is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Lev Yashin Goalkeeper

48
415 367
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Tostão Winger, Forward, Midfielder

49
170 87
Sandro Mazzola is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Sandro Mazzola Forward, Inside forward, Midfielder

50
6,430 5,404
Dennis Bergkamp is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Soccer Players of All Time
Dennis Bergkamp Forward