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In this post, we will check out the top 20 greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
Football, or soccer, is the world’s most popular sport and has produced some of the greatest athletes in history.
These players have made an indelible mark on the sport with their talent, skill, and determination. From the earliest days of the sport to the modern era, these are the top 20 greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
These players have inspired millions of fans around the world and have left a lasting legacy on the beautiful game.
In a recent survey, it’s revealed that Football is the most widespread sport with 3.5 billion fans while Cricket comes second with 2.5 billion fans around the world.
Football has seen some legendary players who change the way of playing football. Every player competes as a team and individually.
Competition is a very influential aspect of every sport. Competition is important because it encourages players to achieve great things in their careers, and it also works as a motivation for the players.
Football has seen some extraordinary talents who have created a lot of records on the football pitch. These records help to recognize the player’s potential and to understand how talented the player is.
Players have made football much interesting and worth watching for fans around the globe. In this article, we will discuss the Top 20 Greatest Footballers of all time in the game’s history.
Table of contents
- Top 20 Greatest Footballers Of All Time 2023
- 20. David Beckham
- 19. Paolo Maldini
- 18. Mane Garrincha
- 17. Andres Iniesta
- 16. Zico
- 15. George Best
- 14. Marco van Basten
- 13. Michael Platini
- 12. Roberto Baggio
- 11. Franz Beckenbauer
- 10. Ronaldinho
- 9. Zinedine Zidane
- 8. Ronaldo Nazario
- 7. Ferenc Puskas
- 6. Johan Cruyff
- 5. Alfredo Di Stefano
- 4. Cristiano Ronaldo
- 3. Diego Maradona
- 2. Pele
- 1. Lionel Messi
Top 20 Greatest Footballers Of All Time 2023
20. David Beckham
David Beckham is one of the best midfielders and one of the greatest footballers of all time. He has part of different clubs including Manchester United, Real Madrid, Milan, La Galaxy, Paris Saint Germain.
Beckham is the first English player to win league titles in four different countries – Spain, England, France, and the United States.
He announced his retirement in May 2013. During his 20-year career, he won 19 major trophies. Beckham is popularly Known for his vision of passing, crossing ability, and his memorable free-kick.
He was one of the most renowned midfielders of his time. He was well known for his setpiece.
Titles – 6 Premier League Titles, 1 Champions League, 2 FA Cup, 1 La Liga Title, 1 Spanish Super Cup, 2 MLS Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 French Cup, 4 English super cup.
Individual Accolades – UEFA – Best Midfielder, UEFA Most Valuable Player, PFA young player of the year.
career Goals – 146 goals in 834 appearances for club and country
Career Assists – 202 career assists for the club
19. Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini is the legend of an AC Milan and he is known as the goat of defenders. Maldini holds the record for most appearances in Serie A(647), later it was broken by Gianluigi Buffon.
His defending skills were unmatchable on the pitch. Maldini was well known for reading and analyzing the game.
He was the most elegant and intelligent player on the pitch. As a defender, his physicality and aggression helped him to win a lot of matches.
Due to his character and passion for the game, he was widely referred to as “an icon and gentleman of the game”.
Titles – 5 Champions League, 7 Italian League title, 1 Italian Cup winner, 5 Italian super cup winner, 2 intercontinental cups, 1 FIFA club world cup.
Individual Accolades – Best Defender trophy at the UEFA club football awards, inducted into the Italian Football hall of fame, Serie A defender of the year in 2004
career Goals – 40 goals in 1028 appearances for club and country
Career Assists – 43 career assists for the club
18. Mane Garrincha
Mane Garrincha was a Brazilian legend. He is known for his dribbling skills during his career and is referred to as one of the greatest dribblers of all time.
Garrincha’s popularity in Brazil is great and some past football fans even see him as a more qualified player than the great Pele. Garrincha is number 18 on the list of the greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
He played an important part in the success of Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 World Cup victories. Garrincha became the first player to win the Golden ball, Golden boot, and world cup in the same tournament. He is enlisted into the Brazilain Hall of fame.
Titles – 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cup winner
Individual Accolades – FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1962, FIFA World Cup Golden Boot in 1962, Best Player of the Brazilian Championship in 1962, Best Player of the Rio-São Paulo Tournament in 1962
career Goals – 114 goals in 395 appearances for club and country
17. Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta is a Spanish professional footballer who is the most admired midfielder of his time.
He is a product of La Masia and spent most of his professional career in Barcelona. He also captained Barcelona for three years. Andres Iniesta is our pick for number 17 in the list of the top 20 greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
Iniesta is one of the best football players of all time and the greatest midfielders of his time. He made his Barcelona debut aged 18 in 2002.
Iniesta was an important part of the Barcelona team that won two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015. Iniesta helped Spain win UEFA Euro 2008. He scored the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands to help Spain win the world cup in 2010.
Titles – FIFA World Cup winner, UEFA European Championships in 2008 and 2012, 4 UEFA Champions Leagues, 9 La Liga titles, 6 Copa del Rey, 3 FIFA Club World Cup.
Individual Accolades – 2012 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award, 2009 La Liga Best Spanish Player, Golden boot winner in 2014.
career Goals – 70 goals in 805 appearances
Career Assists – 158 career assists for the club
Zico is a former Brazilian footballer who played most of his career as an attacking midfielder. He is called as the white Pele due to a similar style of play.
Zico is known for his creative play on the pitch, and possesses exceptional technical skills. Zico is one of the most clinical finishers and best passers of his time. He is one of the greatest players of all time.
Zico was the best player of his time. He was the more dominant player of the late 1970s and early 80s. Pelé said that the only player that came closest to me was Zico”.
Zico scored 48 goals in 71 official matches for Brazil. Zico was preferred as the best player of the year in 1981 and 1983.
Titles – Intercontinental Cup winner is 1981, three Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A titles, Five-time Bola de Prata winner.
Individual Accolades – Copa Libertadores Best Player in 1981, three-time South American Footballer of the Year, top scorer in Flamengo’s history.
career Goals – 525 goals in 771 appearances for club and country
15. George Best
George best was a professional footballer who played as a winger. He spends most of his career at Manchester United. George Best is the best player in the history of Manchester United also regarded as one of the best football players of all time.
He is one of the great players who have never played a single game at the world cup. The Irish football association defined him as the greatest player who has ever played for Northern Ireland.
Titles – European Cup winner in 1968, two Football League First Division titles
Individual Accolades – Ballon d’Or winner in 1968, Golden Foot in 2005, 1967/68 FWA Footballer of the Year award.
career Goals – 260 goals in 742 appearances for club and country
14. Marco van Basten
Marco Van Basten was a former professional player, who played most of his career for Ajax and Ac Milan. He scored 300 goals in his entire career.
He played the last match of his football career in 1993. Due to his injury issues, he has to take retirement at an age of 30. He was later appointed as the coach of Ajax and the Netherlands national team.
Basten has excellent ball control, flawless headers, and magnificent strikes and volleys.
Titles – UEFA European Championship winner in 1988, 2 European Cups, 3 KNVB Cups, 3 Scudetti, 3 Eredivisie, 2 Capocannoniere.
Individual Accolades – Ballon d’Or winner in 1988, 1989 and 1992, 1992 FIFA World Player of the Year, Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1984/85, UEFA Best Player of the Year in 1989, 1990 and 1992, European Golden Boot winner in 1985–86, World Golden Boot in 1985/86.
career Goals – 301 goals in 431 appearances for club and country
13. Michael Platini
Michael Platini is Rated as one of the greatest footballers ever played in the history of the game. He won the Ballon d’Or three times in 1983, 1984, and 1985. Platini played most of his career for the clubs like Nancy, Saint- Etienne, and Juventus.
Platini is referred to as the best midfield player of all time. His playmaking and game-reading are unmatchable. He was an integral part of the France team that won the 1984 European Championship.
Platini was a record goalscorer for France until 2007. Platini also possesses the record for most goals (9) scored in the European Championship despite only emerging in the victorious 1984 season.
Titles – UEFA European Championship winner in 1984, 1 Coppa Italia, 1 European Cup, 1 Ligue 1 title, 1 Intercontinental Cup.
Individual Accolades – Ballon d’Or winner in 1983, 1984 and 1985, UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament in 1984, 2 French Player of the Year award, French Player of the Century.
career Goals – 353 goals in 652 appearances for club and country
12. Roberto Baggio
Roberto Baggio is a former Italian professional footballer who essentially played as a second striker or as an attacking midfielder.
Baggio was the best technical player with great playmaking skills. He is one of those players who is popular for his curling free kicks, dribbling skills, and goalscoring ability.
Baggio played 56 matches for his national team and scored 27 goals for his country. Baggio is the only Italian player to score in three world cups and he holds the record for the most goals scored in world cup tournament for Italy accompanying with and Christian Vieri.
Titles – 2 serie A titles, 1 Italian cup winner, 1 Uefa cup winner
Individual Accolades – 1 Fifa Men’s player of the year, 1 Ballon d’or
Career Goals – 278 goals 604 appearances for club and country
Career Assists – 57 career assists
11. Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer is a former German footballer and manager. He was nicknamed Der Kaiser during his playing days. Beckenbauer got his nickname due to elegance on the pitch, dominance, and the way he leads on the field.
He is one of three men, accompanied by Brazil’s Mario Zaggalo and France’s Didier Deschamps to have won the world cup as a player and as a manager.
Beckenbauer was the first captain to win the World cup and European Championship with the national team and the European cup at the club level.
Titles – FIFA World Cup winner in 1974, UEFA European Championships winner in 1972, 3 European Cups, UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1966–67, 4 Bundesliga titles, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 4 DFB-Pokals.
Individual Accolades – Ballon d’Or winner in 1972 and 1976, four-time German Footballer of the Year, FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award in 1966.
Career Goals – 112 goals in 857 appearances
Ronaldinho is a former professional footballer who played for the Brazil national team and was one of the great players for Barcelona at the club level.
He played mostly as an attacking midfielder but was equally successful as a forward and winger. Ronaldinho acknowledged as one of the best skillful players of his generation. Ronaldinho is on number 10 in the list of the greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
He is known for his skills and creativity on the pitch. He also gifted with pace and dribbling skills. His overhead kicks, no-look passes, and accuracy from free-kicks are just out of this world.
Ronaldinho became the second player after Diego Maradona to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans after scoring two solo goals in the 2005-06 el Clasico.
Titles – 2 La Liga titles, world cup winner, 1 Champions league, 1 copa America, 2 Spanish Cups, 1 Italian champion, under 17 world cup champion, 1 confederation cup winner.
Individual Accolades – Ballon d’Or winner in 2005, UEFA Club Forward of the Year in 2005, FIFPro World Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006, FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005, World soccer player of the year in 2004 and 2005, UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 2006.
Career Goals – 313 goals in 816 appearances for club and country
Career Assists – 162 career assists
9. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is a former professional football player who played for France’s national team. Zidane played most of his career as an attacking midfielder.
He is one of the most successful managers in the world right now. He Widely considered as one of the greatest midfielders and the best players of all time. Zidane will be our number 9 in the list of the top 20 greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
Zidane’s vision and playmaking are above the rest. Zidane is renowned for his skillful play, passing, ball control ability.
He sustained many individual records as a player. Zidane’s left-foot volley examined to be one of the most celebrated goals in the history of the competition.
Titles – 1998 FIFA World Cup, 2000 UEFA European Championships, 1 la Liga title, 1 UEFA champions league, 2 Spanish super cups, 2 Italian league title, 1 Italian super cup, 2 UEFA super cup.
Individual Accolades – Ballon d’Or winner in 1998, 3 FIFA World Player of the Year, UEFA Champions League Best Player of the Past 20 Years, UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 2002, 2000/01 Serie A Footballer of the Year, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 2006.
Career Goals – 156 goals in 692 appearances
Career Assists – 115 career assists
8. Ronaldo Nazario
Ronaldo is a retired professional footballer who played for Brazil as a striker. He is rated as the best striker of all time.
His move and skills still followed by a lot of players of this generation. He will remain in the top 10 list of the greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
Ronaldo begins his football career at Cruzeiro and later went to PSV in 1994. Barcelona signed Ronaldo in 1996 for a world record transfer fees.
He becomes the youngest player to win Fifa world player of the year at an age of 20 years and he holds the record to date.
Ronaldo played 98 matches for Brazil and scored 62 goals for his nation. He was one of the most commercial sportsmen in the world during his playing days.
Titles – FIFA World Cup winner in 1994 and 2002, 1 KNVB Cup, 2 La Liga titles, 1 Copa del Rey, 2 Copa America, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup.
Individual Accolades – 2 Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1998, FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe in 2002, UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 1997/98, 2 Pichichi, 3 FIFA World Player of the Year, 1996/97 European Golden Shoe, Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1998.
Career Goals – 414 goals 616 appearances for club and country
7. Ferenc Puskas
Ferenc Puskas widely appreciated as one of the greatest players of all time. He is the first footballing superstar in the world.
Puskas was unbeatable for his national side scoring 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary. He played 4 international matches for Spain. Puskas almost dominated the Spanish and Hungarian league scoring 514 goals in 529 appearances.
Puskas led his national side to the final of the 1954 world cup. He was named as the best player of the tournament for his exceptional performance.
He played for Real Madrid and won four pichichis and scored seven goals in two European champions cup final.
Titles – 5 Spanish League titles, 5 Hungarian League titles, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 Copa del Rey, and 3 European Cups.
Individual Accolades – World Soccer Player of the Year in 1953, Olympic gold medal, European Player of the 20th Century, two-time European Cup top scorer, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1954, 4 Pichichi, four-time Hungarian league top scorer.
Career Goals – 706 goals in 718 appearances for club and country
6. Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff was a Dutch professional footballer and mind-blowing coach. Cruyff was the star performer of the 1974 FIFA world cup.
Cruyff led Netherland to the final and received the golden ball as the best player of the tournament. He is in the 6th spot in the list of the top 20 greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
A feint that was executed by Cruyff in his playing days was named after him, Cruyff turns. His move still used in modern football. Cruyff is well known for his strong technique, speed, dribbling skills, and vision.
Titles – 8 Eredivisie titles, 3 times European Cup winner, 1 La Liga title, 1 Copa del Rey, 6 KNVB Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup
Individual Accolades – 3 Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner in 1974, 3 Dutch Footballer of the Year winner, Dutch Sportsman of the Year two times.
Career Goals – 435 goals in 750 appearances for club and country
5. Alfredo Di Stefano
Alfredo De Stefano was a professional footballer and a coach. Stefano was rated as one of the best footballers of all time.
Stefano Nicknamed “Saeta Rubia” (“Blond Arrow”). He was a powerful player with quick feet, skillful, and one of the most prolific goalscorer as a forward. Stefano’s creativity on the pitch and vision is just outstanding.
Stefano is regarded as a legend for Real Madrid due to his achievements with the club. Stefano was instrumental in Real Madrid domination of the European cup and la Liga in the 1950s.
Di Stéfano was a part of the team that won back to back 5 Champions league between 1950 and 1960. He scored in five consecutive European Cup finals for Real Madrid.
Titles – 5 European Cups winner, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 8 La Liga trophies, and 1 Copa del Rey.
Individual Accolades – 2 Ballon d’Or, 5 Pichichi, Argentine Primera División top scorer in 1947, 2-time European Cup top scorer.
Career Goals – 510 goals in 700 appearances for club and country
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the modern era. Ronaldo plays as a forward and widely rated as one of the greatest players of all time.
Ronaldo started his career with Sporting cp. Later Manchester United signed him in 2003 after seeing his performance.
Ronaldo was one of the best players for United. He helped United to win back to back Premier League titles, UEFA Champions League, and the FIFA club world cup. Ronaldo left United for real Madrid for a record transfer fee.
He won 15 trophies with Real Madrid including two la Liga titles 2 Copa del Rey and four champions league. Ronaldo becomes the club record goalscorer of all time.
Ronaldo is One of the most commercial athletes of all time. Forbes ranked him as the highest-paid athlete in 2016 and 2017. He is in 4th spot in the list of the top 20 greatest footballers of all time in 2023.
Titles – Uefa euro winner, 5 champions league winner,3 premier league titles, 2 la Liga title, 2 Spanish cups. 2 Spanish super cups, 2 Serie A title, 4 club world cup, Portuguese super cup winner, 1 UEFA nations league, 3 UEFA super cup,3 English super cups.
Individual Accolades – 5 FIFA men’s player of the year, 5 Ballon d’Or, 3 UEFA best players, European golden shoe winner three-time, Premier League Player of the season in 2006 and 2007, two times PFA Players’ Player of the Year, 2013/14 La Liga Best Player, FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball in 2016.
Career Goals – 819 goals in 1144 appearances
Career Assists – 266 career assists
3. Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona is a former legendary player who played for Argentina. He was one of the two collective winners of the FIFA player of the 20th-century award.
Maradona has the great passing ability, ball control, and dribbling skills. He is the best dribbler of all time. Maradona is the kind of player who can dribble past multiple players with his dribbling and ball control. He is in 3rd spot in the list of the top 20 greatest footballers of all time.
He is also a great leader who always led from the front. His presence on the field has a great effect on team performance. Maradona is granted the nickname “El Pibe de Oro” (“The Golden Boy”), a name that totally justifies his talent on the field.
Titles – world cup winner, 1 Spanish cup, 1 Spanish super cup, 2 Serie a, 1 Italian cup winner, 1 Italian super cup winner, 1 UEFA cup winner,
Individual Accolades – South American Footballer of the Year two times in his career, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1986, Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1985, FIFA Goal of the Century.
Career Goals – 344 goals in 681 appearances for club and country
Pele is a retired professional footballer who played as a forward for his national team Brazil. He is known as Black Pearl.
He was the most dominant, popular, and the greatest sports figures of the 20th century. Pelé was the highest-paid athlete in the world during his playing days.
International Federation of football history and statistic voted Pele as the world player of the century in 1999.
According to the IFFHS, statistics claimed that Pelé is the most flourishing top division scorer of all times with 541 goals in 560 appearances. Pele has a Guinness world record of scoring 1279 goals in 1363 appearances which also include friendly.
Titles – 3 fifa world cup, 2 Copa Libertadores titles, 2 Intercontinental Cups, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1970, intercontinental super cup, 6 Campeonato Brasilerio Serie A titles, Bola de Pratain 1970
Individual Accolades – Most career goals in the history of the game, FIFA Player of the Century, France Football’s greatest FIFA World Cup player, Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer, Santos’ all-time leading goalscorer, youngest FIFA World Cup winner, top goalscorer in FIFA World Cup finals, FIFA player of the century, FIFA world cup golden ball, 7 time France football Ballon d’Or winner.
Career Goals – 757 goals in 812 official games for club and country
1. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi Often recognized as the best player of this modern era and will remain on top of the list of the top 20 greatest footballers of all time.
Messi has spent his whole professional career with Barcelona, where he won record 35 trophies with the club.
Messi was born in Argentina. Due to his love of football Messi relocated to Spain to join Barcelona at age 13. He was an integral part of the Barcelona team who won the first treble in the 2008-09 season.
Messi holds the record of winning four consecutive Ballons d’Or, which is still not broken. He got the captaincy of Barcelona in 2018, and just after one year he won the Ballon d’Or in 2019 for his sizzling performance throughout the season.
Messi is the all-time leading goalscorer for his national team Argentina. France Football rated Messi as the world’s highest-paid footballer for five years out of six between 2009 and 2014.
Titles – 4 champions league,10 la Liga,6 Spanish Cups,8 Spanish super cups,3 FIFA club world cup, under 20 world cup champions,3 UEFA super cups,1 Copa America, 1 World Cup, and Olympic gold medalist with Argentina.
Individual Accolades – 7 Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009, Barcelona all-time top goalscorer, Argentina’s all-time top goalscorer, La Liga all-time top goalscorer, six-time Pichichi winner, most goals scored in a calendar year(91), UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 2011 and 2015, La Liga Player of the Year(7), FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 2014, UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 2009, five-time European Golden Shoe winner, Copa America golden ball in 2015, UEFA club forward of the year in 2009 and 2019, Golden boy in 2005,
Career Goals – 793 goals in 1003 appearances for club and country
Career Assists – 350 career assists
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