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In this post, we will check out the top 10 greatest midfielders of all time.
Midfielders are the unsung heroes of the soccer pitch. They play a crucial role in controlling the game, dictating the pace and flow, and creating opportunities for their forwards.
From distribution to creativity, interceptions to tackles, the midfield is where the action starts.
Over the years, we have seen some of the greatest midfielders grace the soccer field, leaving an indelible mark on the sport.
These players have a unique combination of technical skills, vision, and endurance that set them apart from the rest.
In this list, we celebrate the top 10 greatest midfielders of all time, players who have left an unforgettable impact on the sport and inspired generations of players to come.
Table of contents
Top 10 Greatest Midfielders Of All Time
10) Luis Figo
Luis Figo is a Portuguese retired professional footballer who played as a winger for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan.
He won a total of 127 caps for the Portugal national team, a record that was later broken by Cristiano Ronaldo and João Moutinho. He is regarded as one of the best Portuguese football players of all time.
Figo is considered one of the greatest players of his generation. His 106 assists are the second-most in La Liga history, after Lionel Messi.
He also won the 2000 Ballon d’Or and 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year. He has won four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, two UEFA Super Cups, and one Intercontinental Cup, four Serie A titles, one Italian Cup, and three Italian Super Cups.
9) Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo is an Italian professional football coach and former player. He is considered one of the best deep-lying playmakers ever.
Pirlo was recognized for his vision, ball control, technique, creativity, passing, and free-kick ability. He joined AC Milan in 2001 and later developed into a world-class player.
He won two Serie A titles, two UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups, a FIFA Club World Cup, a Coppa Italia, and a Supercoppa Italiana.
At the international level, Pirlo played a total of 116 matches for the Italian national football team, which is the fifth-most of all time.
He made his senior debut in 2002 and supervised his nation to a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. Pirlo was instrumental in Italy’s triumph at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, winning the Bronze Ball and being selected to the Team of the Tournament.
After enjoying success at both club and international levels, Pirlo became one of the most decorated players in history during his time at Juventus F.C. Andrea Pirlo is number 9 in our list of the top 10 greatest midfielders of all time.
Didi is another Brazilian legend, who has anointed the Best Player of the 1958 World Cup and 1962 World Cup. He was a fellow of the legendary “Magic Square” alongside Zagallo, Carlos Alberto, Pele, and Garrincha.
In addition to winning two World Cups with Brazil in 1958 and 1962, he also won a championship with Cruzeiro in 1961. He had scored 20 goals in 68 appearances for his country, among them 12 have been scored with the knuckleball free kicks.
Didi was known for his creativity and flair on the ball. He would often make unpredictable passes that would confuse opposing defenses or dribble past defenders as if they weren’t there at all.
7) Lothar Matthaus
Lothar Matthaus is a German football manager and former player. After heading West Germany to victory in the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
For his amazing performance, he was awarded the Ballon d’Or. In 1991, he was designated the first FIFA World Player of the Year and remains the only German to have received the award.
Matthaus played for various clubs throughout his career, including Bayern Munich, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Inter Milan.
He also won UEFA Euro 1980 and played in 1984, 1988, and 2000 UEFA European Championships. In 1999, aged 38, Matthäus was again voted German Footballer of the Year
Matthäus is considered one of the greatest midfielders of all time and was noted for his sharp passing, great tackling, as well as strong shooting. Lothar Matthaus is number 7 in our list of the top 10 greatest midfielders of all time.
Xavi Hernandez is a Spanish professional football manager and former player who is the manager of La Liga club Barcelona.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Xavi was noted for his passing, vision, ball retention, and positioning.
With Barcelona, Xavi has won a total of eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles. Xavi came third in the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year.
He had an integral role in Spain’s victory at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as well as their wins at UEFA Euro 2008 and UEFA Euro 2012. He was called Player of the Tournament at UEFA Euro 2008.
Ronaldinho is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played mostly as an attacking midfielder but was also deployed as a winger.
He is regarded as one of the best players of his generation and believed by many as one of the greatest of all time.
Ronaldinho was recognized for his technical skills, creativity, dribbling capability, and precision from free kicks, his use of tricks, feints, no-look passes, and overhead kicks, as well as his ability to score and create goals.
He was included in the UEFA Team of the Year and the FIFA World XI three times each and was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year for the 2005–06 season.
4) Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane popularly known as Zizou is a French professional football manager and former player who played as an attacking midfielder.
He is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, Zidane was a playmaker noted for his elegance, invention, passing, ball control, and technique.
He acquired 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 played as an attacking midfielder for the France national team, Juventus, and Real Madrid. His 2001 transfer from Juventus to Real Madrid set a world record transfer fee of €77.5 million.
Zidane won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice in the final, and was designated to the All-Star Team. Zinedine Zidane is number 4 in our list of the top 10 greatest midfielders of all time.
3) Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta is considered one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Iniesta has devoured most of his career at Barcelona, where he operated as the captain for three seasons.
Iniesta was a vital part of the Barcelona side that won two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015, and his 35 trophies, which include nine La Ligas and four UEFA Champions League titles, make him the most illustrated Spanish footballer of all time.
He helped Spain win UEFA Euro 2008, and was selected in the Team of the Tournament. Iniesta was also a pivotal member of the victorious Spanish team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in which he scored the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands.
2) Michel Platini
Michel Platini is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Platini won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1983, 1984, and 1985, and came seventh in the FIFA Player of the Century vote.
Platini was a pivotal player on the France national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was the top scorer and best player.
He was surely one of the greatest midfielders to ever play the game, and he could do everything. Platini was a great passer, dribbler, passer, and finisher. He was also a great header of the ball, penalty taker, and free-kick taker.
1) Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona was an Argentine professional football player and manager. He is widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport and one of the most iconic athletes of the 20th century.
He was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. A refined playmaker who served in the classic number 10 position.
Maradona is known for vision, passing, ball control, and dribbling skills. Maradona guided Napoli to great success, which enclosed Serie A title wins in 1986–87 and 1989–90, and by 1991 he was the club’s all-time top goalscorer at the time.
He went on to play with Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys, and return to Boca, before exiting in 1997. He played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he headed Argentina and guided them to victory over West Germany in the final, and won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.
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