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In this post, we will check out the top 10 greatest footballers of all time.
Football, also known as soccer, is the most popular sport in the world with billions of fans across the globe.
Throughout the years, the sport has seen numerous talented players take the field and leave a lasting impact.
From Pelé to Lionel Messi, the sport has produced some of the greatest athletes to ever play the game. These players have entertained fans with their exceptional skills, electrifying goals, and unforgettable moments.
The passion for this game is breathtaking. The fans love the game and the excitement it produces.
There are a lot of professional players in football who won a number of titles and broke numerous records however the legends have changed the way games are played.
We have combined stats and figures to rank the top 10 greatest football players of all time. So without further delay let’s go ahead and check out the top 10 greatest footballers of all time.
Table of contents
Top 10 Greatest Footballers Of All Time
Ronaldinho was rated as one of the best players of all time and considered by many as one of the greatest of all time. He won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldinho was notable for his technical skills, creativity, and as a free kicks specialist. He often uses tricks, feints, no-look passes, and overhead kicks to dodge the players.
Ronaldinho was one of the greatest showmen on the football pitch. He is without a doubt one of the greatest to ever grace the game. Ronaldinho started his career debuting for Grêmio, in 1998.
Later he went to Paris Saint-Germain before signing for Barcelona in 2003. In his next season with Barcelona, he does the unthinkable by winning his first FIFA World Player of the Year award as Barcelona won the 2004–05 La Liga title.
The season after that was considered to be one of the best for Ronaldinho as he helped Barcelona win the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League with another La Liga title.
For their commendable performance, Ronaldinho got the 2005 Ballon d’Or and his second FIFA World Player of the Year. Ronaldinho made 97 caps and scored 33 goals for Brazil’s national team.
He also served his country in two FIFA World Cups. He was an elemental part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup-winning team, starring alongside some of the greats like Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Ronaldinho is number 10 in our list of the top 10 best soccer players ever.
9 Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is widely considered one of the best 10 soccer players ever. He was known for his playmaking skills and notable for his style, vision, passing, ball control, and technique.
He won many individual accolades as a player, which includes FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000, and 2003, and winning the 1998 Ballon d’Or.
Zidane was an outstanding footballer on the pitch. He had a great fan following among the fans. He had achieved every trophy during his career for both club and country.
In 1996, he went to the Italian team Juventus, where he won two Serie A titles. Later he went to Real Madrid for a world-record fee of €77.5 million in 2001 and won numerous trophies, including a La Liga title and the UEFA Champions League.
His famous left-foot volleyed winner is considered to be one of the greatest goals in the history of the Champions League.
Zidane had a hugely prosperous career at both Juventus and Real Madrid. Zidane won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice in the final, and was selected to the All-Star Team.
His performance in the world cup made him a national star in France, and he won the Legion of Honour in 1998. He won UEFA Euro 2000 and was designated Player of the Tournament. He also got the Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament at the 2006 World Cup.
8 Ronaldo Nazario
Ronaldo Nazario is popularly known as O Fenômeno (“The Phenomenon”). He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He is a multi-dimensional striker who has shown the world something different in the position.
Ronaldo has also been the inspiration for the future strikers of the game. His individual accolades include FIFA World Player of the Year three times and two Ballon d’Or awards.
There is no doubt that R9 was one of the most deadly strikers of all time and we won’t see that magic again on the field. Ronaldo had won 2 World Cups with Brazil.
The Brazilian striker is best recognized for his performances in the 1998 and 2002 World Cup for the Brazil national team. However, in 2002 he was completely a different player.
Ronaldo’s commendable performance helped him to score an incredible eight goals and win the world cup for the team. The legendary striker struck when it mattered the most and scored in all the big matches including the final.
He joined Barcelona in 1996 for a world-record transfer fee. At the age of 20 years old, he became the youngest recipient to be named the 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year.
In 1997, Inter Milan broke the previous world record fee to sign Ronaldo, making him the first player since Diego Maradona to break the world transfer record twice.
At 21 he won the 1997 Ballon d’Or, and he remains the youngest recipient of the award. By the age of 23, Ronaldo had scored a total of 200 goals for club and country.
He also won the 1997 and 1999 Copa América and was bestowed with the player of the tournament and the top goalscorer respectively. Ronaldo is number 8 in our list of the greatest 10 footballers of all time.
7 Ferenc Puskas
Ferenc Puskas is widely considered one of the greatest players and greatest strikers of all time. He was the sport’s first international superstar. As a forward, he scored a total of 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary.
He was an Olympic champion in 1952 and also guided his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup. Puskas won three European Cups (1959, 1960, 1966), 10 national championships (five Hungarian and five Spanish Primera División), and eight top individual scoring honors.
He had scored a total of 806 goals in 793 official games during his career. Puskas played for the mighty Real Madrid and won four Pichichis and scored seven goals in two European Champions Cup finals.
He is without a doubt one of the top 10 legendary football players of all time. Ferenc Puskas is number 7 in our list of the top 10 greatest footballers of all time.
6 Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff was a Dutch professional football player and coach. He was an exceptional player and won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974.
Johan Cruyff is a player who believes in the philosophy of ‘total football’ and he has just done that in Ajax, Barcelona, and the Netherlands national team.
Cruyff created history in the Ajax helping the Dutch team to various league titles and three remarkable European Championships. He played a fundamental role in the success of Ajax and led from the front.
Cruyff’s excellent effort guided the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and won the Golden Ball as a player of the tournament.
At the 1974 finals, he performed a feint that finally was named after him, the “Cruyff Turn”. A move that was still executed by the modern-day footballers.
Cruyff is regarded as a cult hero, and it was he who first invented the ethos of tiki-taka and beautiful football at Camp Nou. He is the most prominent football player and manager of all time.
In 1973, he transferred to Barcelona for a world-record transfer fee and immediately helped the team to win La Liga in his first season, and was designated European Footballer of the Year.
5 Alfredo Di Stefano
Alfredo Di Stefano is considered one of the best footballers of all time. He is Nicknamed “Saeta Rubia” (“Blond Arrow”). Stefano was compelling, smart, skillful, and prolific forward, with great stamina, tactical versatility, creativity, and vision.
He is the kind of player who can excel anywhere on the pitch. Stefano is best known for his accomplishments with Real Madrid, where he was effective in the club’s command of the European Cup and La Liga during the 1950s.
Stefano holds the record for being the only player in history to score in five European Cup finals. The Argentinian won 15 honors with the Real Madrid side, including a record five champions league in a row.
He scored a total of 216 league goals in 282 games for Real Madrid which was a club record, at that time, and later it was surpassed by Raúl and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Di Stéfano’s 49 goals in 58 matches were the all-time highest tally in the European Cup. This record has also been surpassed by numerous players, with Real Madrid’s Raúl being the first to do that in 2005.
Di Stéfano was given the Ballon d’Or for the European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959. He is currently the sixth-highest scorer in the history of Spain’s top division, and Real Madrid’s third-highest league goalscorer of all time.
Stefano is also Madrid’s leading goalscorer in the history of El Clásico, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. He was surely the most complete footballer in the history of the game.
4 Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has often been contemplated the best player in the world and is universally considered one of the top-ranked football players in history.
Ronaldo has got five Ballon d’Or awards and four European Golden Shoes, the most by a European player. He has won 32 trophies in his career, which includes seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA European Championship, and one UEFA Nations League.
Ronaldo holds the records for most appearances (180), most goals (139) and assists (42) in the Champions League, most goals in the European Championship (14), most international goals by a male player (115), and most international appearances by a European male (183).
Just look at the above stats and you understand the kind of player he is. He is one of the few players in history to have more than 1,100 professional career appearances and scored more than 790 official senior career goals for club and country.
The records and Ronaldo are made for each other. Cristiano began his career at Sporting and later switched to Manchester United after being noticed by Sir Alex Ferguson.
He established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League and then he has written history at Real Madrid to become the greatest footballer of all time.
Ronaldo won a total of 15 trophies at Real Madrid, including two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey, and four Champions Leagues, and became the club’s all-time top goalscorer.
He also won back-to-back Ballons d’Or in 2013 and 2014, and again in 2016 and 2017. Ronaldo was equally successful at the international level, leading Portugal to their first major tournament title at Euro 2016 and winning the Silver Boot as the second-highest goalscorer of the tournament.
He also guided them to victory in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019 and later accepted the Golden Boot as top scorer of Euro 2020. Ronaldo is number 4 in our list of top 10 greatest footballers of all time.
3 Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona is widely considered as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, he was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award.
Maradona is known for his vision, passing, ball control, and dribbling skills. His leadership skills are still unmatched as an individual. His presence on the field is enough to boost the morale of the team.
In extension to his creative skills, he is also a top-class free-kick taker. He is a gifted talent and was given the nickname “El Pibe de Oro” (“The Golden Boy”).
Diego Maradona is a complete magician on the pitch. The fans still remembered his famous Hand of God. He played an integral part to guide Argentina to the 1986 World Cup.
In his international career with Argentina, he played a total of 91 matches and scored 34 goals. He is a part of four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he captained Argentina and led them to victory over West Germany in the final.
He won the Golden Ball for his performance in the tournament. In the 1986 World Cup, Diego’s best performance came against England in the quarter-final, in which he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England.
The game is listed in football history for two specific reasons. The first goal was an unpenalized styling foul acknowledged as the “Hand of God”, while the second goal was a complete stunner, comprehended a 60 m dribble past five England players, declared as the “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
Pele is considered as one of the greatest players of all time and is identified as “the greatest” by FIFA. He was one of the most popular and successful players of the 20th century.
In 1999 he was elected Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was added to the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.
In 2000, Pelé was declared World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century.
His recognition and honors show the persona of the player, there is surely no one like Pele in the history of the game. His total tally of 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which combined friendlies, is identified as a Guinness World Record.
Pele is regarded as the god of football. No player has won more World Cups than the legendary Pele. Pele was also the leader of the attack for club and country.
Pele is the youngest ever player (17 years and 249 days) to score in a World Cup, and he has scored twice in the 1958 World Cup final against Sweden.
Pelé is the all-time leading goalscorer for Brazil, scoring a total of 77 goals in 92 games. His stats at the club level is also jaw-dropping, he is Santos’ all-time top goalscorer with 643 goals from 659 games.
He is a complete striker, however, he also excelled in playmaking roles, contributing assists with his vision and passing ability. In Brazil, he is recognized as a national hero for his achievements in football. Pele is number 2 in our list of top 10 greatest footballers of all time.
1 Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is often rated as the best player of all time and one of the greatest to ever grace the game. Messi has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards and six European Golden Shoes.
He has experienced a celestial career till now winning almost every title and individual accolades at the club and international level.
Messi is a productive goalscorer and creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (474), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) and the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (192), a La Liga season (21) and the Copa América (17).
He also holds the record for most international goals by a South American male (80). Messi has scored more than 750 senior career goals for club and country.
In his first constant season in 2008–09, he showed the world what he is capable of and helped Barcelona to achieve the first treble. At just the age of 22, Messi won his first Ballon d’Or.
Three thriving seasons followed, and Messi completed four consecutive Ballon d’Or, making him the first player in history to win the award four times and in a series.
He also led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, and the 2015 and 2016 Copa América, winning the Golden Ball in the 2015 version.
Finally, Messi did the impossible by winning the 2021 Copa América, while winning the Golden Ball and Golden Boot award for the last. He is surely the greatest footballer of all time.
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