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The Best Soccer Players of All Time

Updated March 23, 2021 3.8m votes 443.3k 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
    115,238
    62,797

    Diego Maradona

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

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    #1 of 77 The Best Athletes Who Have Used Performance Enhancing Drugs#130 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

  • 2
    163,465
    92,503

    Cristiano Ronaldo

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

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    #117 of 214 The Hottest Men Of 2021, Ranked#303 of 489 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are

  • 3
    91,645
    56,653

    Ronaldo

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

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

  • 4
    187,679
    106,469
    Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾez ˈmesi] (listen); born...  more

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    #817 of 2,753 The Most Influential People of All Time#358 of 571 The Greatest Entertainers Of All Time

  • 5
    119,309
    67,731

    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#10 of 152 The Most Influential Athletes Of All Time

  • 6
    85,803
    57,419

    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#53 of 115 The Funniest Professional Athletes

  • 7
    22,984
    11,296

    Luka Modrić

    Midfielder
    Luka Modrić (Croatian pronunciation: [lûːka mǒːdritɕ]; born 9 September 1985) is a Croatian...  more
  • 8
    31,935
    21,322
    Gianluigi Buffon, (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanluˈiːdʒi bufˈfɔn, -ˈfon]; born 28 January...  more

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

  • 9
    42,249
    29,055

    Andrés Iniesta

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

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    #5 of 21 The Best Short Male Athletes#20 of 80 Who Is The Most Famous Athlete In The World Right Now?

  • 10
    46,069
    34,824

    Johan Cruyff

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

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    #61 of 1,424 The Best Athletes Of All Time#83 of 116 The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time

  • 11
    46,855
    29,494

    Neymar

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

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    #5 of 99 The Best Hispanic Athletes#36 of 70 The Most Influential Athletes Right Now

  • 12
    33,355
    22,909

    David Beckham

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

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  • 13
    33,995
    23,424
    Zlatan Ibrahimović (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈslaːtan ɪbraˈhiːmʊvɪtɕ], Bosnian: [zlǎtan...  more

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    #115 of 149 The Best Soccer Players from Germany#1 of 122 The Best Swedish Soccer Players of All Time

  • 14
    27,995
    19,293

    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

  • 15
    9,867
    6,796
    Gerhard "Gerd" Müller (German pronunciation: [ˈɡɛɐ̯t ˈmʏlɐ]; born 3 November 1945) is a German...  more
  • 16
    129,818
    109,768

    Pelé

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

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  • 17
    11,501
    7,857

    Luis Suárez

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

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    #29 of 66 The Most Controversial Athletes in Sports History#50 of 71 Athletes Who Spark the Most Fan Arguments

  • 18
    12,516
    8,594

    Manuel Neuer

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

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

  • 19
    8,009
    5,482
    Wayne Mark Rooney (born 24 October 1985) is an English professional footballer who plays for...  more

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  • 20
    6,114
    4,167

    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#24 of 293 The Best Chelsea Players Of All Time

  • 21
    23,808
    16,487

    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#4 of 164 The Best Soccer Players of the '90s

  • 22
    14,601
    10,040

    Carles Puyol

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

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

  • 23
    9,489
    6,502
    Robert Lewandowski (born 21 August 1988) is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a...  more

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    #13 of 199 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2018#35 of 96 The All-Around Best Athletes of 2019

  • 24
    8,152
    5,611

    Francesco Totti

    Playmaker, Forward
    Francesco Totti (Italian pronunciation: [franˈtʃesko ˈtɔtti]; born 27 September 1976) is an...  more
  • 25
    9,729
    7,000

    Raúl

    Forward, Midfielder
    Raúl González Blanco (Spanish pronunciation: [raˈul ɣonˈθaleθ ˈβlaŋko]; born 27 June 1977),...  more

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    #3 of 49 The Best Real Madrid Midfielders Of All Time#3 of 54 The Best Real Madrid Forwards Of All Time