Top 10 Greatest Ever Football Players

Football has a large global fan base for a good reason. It’s entertaining and easy on the eyes to watch the football players sprint up and down the field. The great level of skills and technical know-how required in football makes it all the more enjoyable to watch the players’ incredible feats.

There have been a lot of outstanding footballers over the years since the sport was played. It could be tough to pick the finest football players considering all their accomplishments. Below is a list of the greatest football players of all time, based on their overall performance and skill level.

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Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff is the most influential player and person in soccer history. Cruyff was a pioneer who brought the brilliant idea of “total football” to Ajax, Barcelona, and the Netherlands’ national team. He also played some beautiful football for both his clubs and the national team.

Image Source: Goal.com

Cruyff had a great career and won the Ballon d’Or three times (1971, 1973, and 1974). He first made a name for himself at Ajax, where he played a key role and led from the front to help the Dutch giants win multiple league titles and three stunning European Championships.

What people remember most about Cruyff in the modern era is how he changed Barcelona. Cruyff is a cult hero because he led the Catalan giants to their first league title in 14 years right after joining them. He was also the first to bring the ideas of tiki-taka and beautiful football to Camp Nou.

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Alfredo Di Stefano

Alfredo Di Stefano was the best player Real Madrid has ever had, and he was a big part of their dominance in the 1950s. He played soccer for 20 years and was always one of the best players in the world.

Image Source: The Guardian

Di Stefano is best known for his work with Real Madrid, where he scored an amazing 307 goals in 396 games and won 15 major awards, including five straight European Championships. As a supporting striker or an attacking midfielder alongside Puskas and Gento, Di Stefano was always at his best in the big games.

He is the only player to have scored in five European Cup finals, which is a record. The legend of Real Madrid probably did his best work in the 7–3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the final, when he dominated the game and controlled everything on the field.

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Garrincha

Garrincha won two World Cups and is considered one of the best players. From 1953 to 1965, he amused the people of Brazil with his skills, tricks, and flicks. He started playing for Brazil in 1958.

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He quickly became known as one of the best players in the world, scoring and setting up many goals for teammates like Vava and Pele. Even in the final, the legendary genius got two assists and was named man of the match for his amazing play.

Garrincha led Brazil to victory at the 1962 World Cup without Pele. He was named the best player in the tournament. The legendary Brazilian’s best moment was probably when he scored two amazing goals against Chile in the semi-finals of 1962. 

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona’s whole persona as a player and a person was probably shown in that fateful match against England at the 1986 World Cup. The Argentine maestro was a clever genius who tied the English defense in knots and scored some of the best goals.

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Diego Maradona was so skilled and magical with his feet that he could do things with a football that most people could only dream of. El Diego was never afraid to break the rules if it helped him win, and he was undoubtedly the star of Argentina’s famous victory in 1986.

Maradona is best known for what he did for Argentina, but he also had a tremendous European club career. Even though the legendary playmaker only won a Copa del Rey and a Supercopa Espana while at Barcelona, he did some amazing things, none more so than when the usually hostile Santiago Bernabeu crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, the Barcelona star player, is undoubtedly one of the best players of our time. Messi burst onto the scene as a young kid from La Masia in 2005. First, under the guidance of Frank Rijkaard and then, more importantly, Pep Guardiola, he became one of the best players in soccer history.

Image Source: NBC News

Messi was a child prodigy who quickly became Barcelona’s main player after Ronaldinho left. He was the star of Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona team in 2008-09. Messi finally won a trophy with Argentina in 2021 when they won the Copa America.

Messi has scored in all important club games, like Champions League finals, semi-finals, Copa del Rey finals, and “Clasicos” against Real Madrid. Messi will always be seen as one of the best players of all time. The Argentine international was the only player to win the Ballon d’Or seven times.

Ronaldo Nazario

When a player has played for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and AC Milan and still has no haters, you know he is special. Ronaldo Nazario, often called “O Fenomeno,” is probably the best striker that ever played the game.

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Since Ronaldo showed up at Cruzeiro as a talented 17-year-old, there was no doubt that the Brazilian forward would do great things in the game. After destroying European soccer with PSV, Ronaldo probably had his best season at Barcelona, where he cemented his reputation as one of the best players the game has ever seen.

The Brazilian striker won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in 1997 and 2002. He may be best remembered for his work with the Brazil national team at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

Pele

Many people think that the Brazilian legend Pele was the best football player ever. He has won more World Cups than any other player. Pele was the best at scoring goals and led the attack for his club and his country.

Image Source: GQ

His goalscoring numbers are impressive, and he is the only player in history to score more than 1,200 goals in his senior career. Even more than the other legends on this list, Pele played his best when it mattered.  Pele was the youngest player (17 years and 249 days old) to score in a World Cup final.

Pele’s achievements with Brazil are well-known, but he also had a very successful club career with Santos and the New York Cosmos. Pele won many trophies with Santos and scored more than 600 goals for the Brazilian team before ending his career in the United States.

Michel Platini

The small playmaker, Michel Platini, is credited with making France a football superpower worldwide. He had a long and successful career for both club and country. Platini, who played as number 10, usually saved his best for the biggest games and scored several vital goals during his career.

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The French player was at the top of his game when he led France to the European Championship title in 1984. He won the Ballon d’Or award three years in a row, in 1983, 1984, and 1985.

When Platini played in his home country, France, he scored a fantastic nine goals in just five games. His amazing performances wowed the whole country. Platini retired in 1987 while still at the top of his game. He led France to their first major international trophy and won league titles with Juventus and St. Etienne.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo was a very talented kid at Sporting CP. Sir Alex Ferguson found him, and it was at Manchester United where the Portuguese superstar made his name as one of the best players of all time. Ronaldo has become one of the most well-known names in football today.

Image Source: Daily Mail

He became a world star with Manchester United, but at Real Madrid, he solidified his place as one of the best players of all time. Ronaldo had always stepped up when it mattered most and showed the world what he was made of.

For example, he scored the last penalty in the Champions League final penalty shootout and scored a crucial goal in the Euro 2016 semi-final. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been at the top of his game for close to 16 years.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane had a very successful career at both Juventus and Real Madrid. In 1998, he won the Ballon d’Or. But Zidane’s performance against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final was the first time people thought of him as a world-class player.

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Zidane’s two-headed goals in the final helped France beat Brazil’s favorites and win their first World Cup. This made him an overnight hero and icon. Then, in Euro 2000, France won again, playing so well that he was named the tournament’s best player.

Zidane signed with Real Madrid for the world’s highest transfer fee. He quickly showed his class and became one of the best players on a team full of stars. In a white shirt, his most well-known moment was in the Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen in 2001-2002.

Conclusion

Football, one of the most popular sports in the world, has produced some legendary figures who will live on in the hearts and imaginations of football fans forever. These players made their marks for their amazing contributions to their national and club teams.