We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Ever feel the electric charge of a stadium pulsing with every soccer strike?

Bending it like the best, these 15 maestros weave through defenses and score into the annals of history.

Ready to meet the real goal-getters of the gridiron? Let’s kick-off.

Best Soccer Players:

  1. Pelé
  2. Diego Maradona
  3. Lionel Messi
  4. Cristiano Ronaldo
  5. Johan Cruyff
  6. Franz Beckenbauer
  7. Zinedine Zidane
  8. Ronaldo
  9. Michel Platini
  10. Alfredo Di Stéfano
  11. Ferenc Puskás
  12. George Best
  13. Marco van Basten
  14. Ronaldinho
  15. Eusébio

#1 Pelé

  • 🌍 Nationality: Brazilian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: October 23, 1940
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Forward
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 3× FIFA World Cup champion (1958, 1962, 1970), 2× Copa Libertadores winner (1962, 1963), 6× Brazilian Champion, FIFA Player of the Century (1999)

Nicknamed “O Rei” (The King), Pelé is often considered the greatest soccer player of all time. His remarkable goal-scoring ability, vision, and intelligence on the field were unparalleled. His technique, especially his dribbling and finishing, left a mark on the game.

Despite facing racial discrimination and poverty in his childhood, Pelé’s influence reached well beyond football. He became a global ambassador of sport, contributing significantly to philanthropy and social causes. His name is synonymous with soccer, and his legacy as a humanitarian is equally commendable. Off the field, Pelé has been an advocate for overcoming poverty and an avid supporter of children’s rights.

#2 Diego Maradona

  • 🌍 Nationality: Argentinian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: October 30, 1960
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Attacking midfielder / Second striker
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: FIFA World Cup champion (1986), Serie A champion (1986-1987, 1989-1990 with Napoli), 3× South American Footballer of the Year

Known as “El Pibe de Oro” (The Golden Boy), Diego Maradona was famous for his incredible dribbling ability, vision, and ball control. His ‘Hand of God’ goal and mesmerizing ‘Goal of the Century’ against England in the 1986 World Cup are etched in soccer history.

Maradona’s career was riddled with controversies, including substance abuse, which he battled and overcame several times. Despite these challenges, his legacy lives on in his home country of Argentina and worldwide, where he epitomized the flawed genius. Charismatic and controversial, Maradona also engaged in many charitable efforts throughout his life.

#3 Lionel Messi

  • 🌍 Nationality: Argentinian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: June 24, 1987
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Forward
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 4× FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner, 7× Ballon d’Or winner, 10× La Liga champion, 4× UEFA Champions League winner

Lionel Messi, often referred to as simply “Leo,” is acclaimed for his extraordinary dribbling, precise passing, and clinical finishing. Recognized for his humility on the pitch, Messi’s playmaking skills and football intelligence make him a generational talent.

Messi’s career has not been without its challenges, including a high-profile move from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 which shocked the footballing world. Nevertheless, he maintains an influential presence in global football. Off the pitch, Messi’s charitable work through his foundation focuses on education and health care for children, further cementing his status as a role model.

#4 Cristiano Ronaldo

  • 🌍 Nationality: Portuguese
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: February 5, 1985
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Forward
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 5× Ballon d’Or winner, 5× UEFA Champions League winner, Euro 2016 champion with Portugal, multiple league titles across England, Spain, and Italy

Cristiano Ronaldo, often nicknamed “CR7,” is lauded for his incredible athleticism, goal-scoring prowess, and relentless work ethic. His speed, power, and aerial ability in front of the goal are unmatched.

Ronaldo’s career has been characterized by his competitive nature and dedication, consistently pushing himself to be the best. His philanthropic efforts include substantial charitable donations and acts of kindness, particularly in times of natural disasters and health crises. Ronaldo’s influence transcends football, making him one of the most recognized and marketable athletes worldwide.

#5 Johan Cruyff

  • 🌍 Nationality: Dutch
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: April 25, 1947
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Forward / Attacking Midfielder
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 3× Ballon d’Or winner, 3× European Cup winner with Ajax, 9× Eredivisie champion, FIFA World Cup Runner-up (1974)

Johan Cruyff, known affectionately as “The Flying Dutchman,” revolutionized football with his intelligence, technique, and the principle of “Total Football.” His ability to see and execute plays that others couldn’t is part of his enduring legacy.

Cruyff’s fight with lung cancer, which ultimately took his life, was a testament to his resilience and spirit. As a player and a manager, his impact on the game’s philosophy is still felt today, particularly through his influence on modern tactical approaches. Off the pitch, the Johan Cruyff Foundation has been instrumental in promoting sports and development for children worldwide.

#6 Franz Beckenbauer

  • 🌍 Nationality: German
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: September 11, 1945
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Centre-back / Sweeper
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: FIFA World Cup champion (1974 as player, 1990 as manager), 3× European Cup winner with Bayern Munich, UEFA European Championship (1972)

Franz Beckenbauer, dubbed “Der Kaiser” for his elegance and leadership on the pitch, is considered one of the greatest defenders in the history of soccer. His role as a sweeper redefined defensive responsibilities, showing a remarkable ability to both organize the defense and initiate offensive play.

Throughout his career, Beckenbauer faced the pressures of high expectations but consistently delivered commanding performances. He remains a key figure in German football, having contributed to the sport as a player, coach, and executive. Beckenbauer’s legacy extends to his contributions in sports administration and charity work post-retirement.

#7 Zinedine Zidane

  • 🌍 Nationality: French
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: June 23, 1972
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Attacking Midfielder
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: FIFA World Cup champion (1998), UEFA European Championship (2000), 3× FIFA World Player of the Year, 1× Ballon d’Or winner

Zinedine Zidane, affectionately known as “Zizou,” is celebrated for his creativity, ball control, and elegance on the ball. The image of his exquisite volley in the 2002 Champions League Final encapsulates his ability to produce moments of pure genius.

Zidane’s headbutt in the 2006 World Cup Final remains one of the most controversial moments in football history. Yet, his achievements as a player and manager with Real Madrid reinforce his status as one of football’s all-time greats. Beyond football, Zidane is involved in various charitable causes and UN Goodwill Ambassador campaigns, working to eliminate poverty.

#8 Ronaldo

  • 🌍 Nationality: Brazilian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: September 18, 1976
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Striker
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 2× FIFA World Cup champion (1994, 2002), 3× FIFA World Player of the Year, 2× Ballon d’Or winner, UEFA Cup Winner (1998)

Known as “O Fenômeno” (The Phenomenon), Ronaldo is praised for his blistering pace, extraordinary dribbling, and lethal finishing. He transformed the role of a modern striker with his performances for both club and country.

His career was plagued with serious knee injuries that could have ended a lesser athlete’s path. Yet, Ronaldo’s resilience saw him return to the pinnacle of football, becoming one of the all-time greats in the sport. His philanthropic efforts through the Ronaldo Nazário Institute have provided support for young and disadvantaged children, showing his commitment to giving back to society.

#9 Michel Platini

  • 🌍 Nationality: French
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: June 21, 1955
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Attacking midfielder
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 3× Ballon d’Or winner (1983, 1984, 1985), UEFA European Championship (1984), Ligue 1 Top Scorer (1978, 1980, 1981)

Known as “Le Roi” (The King), Michel Platini was a midfield maestro, lauded for his technical skills, football vision, and extraordinary free-kick ability. His football intelligence and strategic playmaking shaped the game’s creative aspects during his era.

Off the field, Platini held significant administrative roles, including the presidency of UEFA, but his tenure was marred by a corruption scandal that led to suspension. Despite these controversies, Platini’s influence as a player is undisputed, leaving a legacy as one of football’s most talented and cerebral creators.

#10 Alfredo Di Stéfano

  • 🌍 Nationality: Argentine (also played for Spain)
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: July 4, 1926
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Forward, attacking midfielder
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 5× European Cup winner, 2× Ballon d’Or winner (1957, 1959), 8× La Liga champion

Nicknamed “La Saeta Rubia” (The Blonde Arrow), Alfredo Di Stéfano was renowned for his versatility, stamina, and leadership on the pitch. His ability to excel in multiple positions and adaptability in attacking roles made him a pioneer in football tactics.

Di Stéfano’s impact on Real Madrid’s golden era is legendary, cementing the club’s place in football history. His post-playing contributions to the sport as a coach and honorary president also solidified his stature. Remembered not just for his athletic prowess, Di Stéfano’s name is synonymous with the evolution of modern football.

#11 Ferenc Puskás

  • 🌍 Nationality: Hungarian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: April 1, 1927
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Forward
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 3× European Cup winner, Olympic Gold Medalist (1952), 10× Hungarian and Spanish league champion

Ferenc Puskás, or “The Galloping Major,” was a goalscoring titan with a left foot famous for its precision and power. Noted for his exceptional technique and instinctive finishing, Puskás became one of the most formidable strikers in football history.

Despite political challenges that exiled him from Hungary during his career, Puskás left an indelible mark on the sport, including a FIFA award named in his honor for the year’s most beautiful goal. His legacy transcends his goal-scoring feats, serving as an icon of resilience and dedication to the beautiful game.

#12 George Best

  • 🌍 Nationality: Northern Irish
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: May 22, 1946
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Winger, Midfielder
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: European Cup winner (1968), Ballon d’Or winner (1968), 2× English league champion

Deemed the “Belfast Boy,” George Best’s enchanting dribbling and scoring capabilities awed fans worldwide. His flair and style both on and off the pitch made him a football icon and a cultural figure of the 1960s.

However, Best’s career was overshadowed by his battle with alcoholism, which ultimately affected his professional and personal life. Despite these challenges, his natural talent and the joy he brought to the game remain a defining aspect of his legacy, earning him a place among the pantheon of football greats.

#13 Marco van Basten

  • 🌍 Nationality: Dutch
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: October 31, 1964
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Striker
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 3× Ballon d’Or winner (1988, 1989, 1992), UEFA European Championship (1988), 2× European Cup winner

Marco van Basten, known as “Swan of Utrecht,” is celebrated for his technical skills, volleying, and positional sense, which made him one of the most lethal finishers in football history. His career highlight was his stunning volley in the 1988 European Championship final.

Van Basten’s career was tragically cut short by ankle injuries, but his brief but brilliant career left a lasting impact on the sport. His post-retirement role as a coach and advocate for fair play and technical development in football cements his lasting influence on the game.

#14 Ronaldinho

  • 🌍 Nationality: Brazilian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: March 21, 1980
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Attacking midfielder, Forward
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: FIFA World Cup winner (2002), Ballon d’Or winner (2005), UEFA Champions League winner (2006)

Ronaldinho, or “El Gaucho,” dazzled the world with his infectious smile and stunning display of tricks, no-look passes, and free-kicks. His unique brand of joyful, attacking football made him one of the most entertaining players to watch.

While his career had moments of controversy, including disciplinary issues and a legal case in Paraguay, Ronaldinho’s influence inspired a generation of players to play with creativity and freedom. His philanthropic work through the Ronaldinho Institute, which aids underprivileged youth, showcases his commitment to giving back to the community.

#15 Eusébio

  • 🌍 Nationality: Portuguese
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: January 25, 1942
  • ⚽️ Position/Role: Striker
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: European Cup winner (1962), Ballon d’Or Silver Award (1962, 1966), 11× Portuguese league champion

Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, “The Black Panther,” was revered for his speed, powerful shooting, and exceptional goal-scoring record. His performance in the 1966 World Cup, where he emerged as the tournament’s top scorer, cemented his status as one of the greatest players of his generation.

His impact went beyond his on-field exploits; Eusébio was a key figure in the global popularity of football during the 1960s. After retiring, he remained devoted to sport, becoming an ambassador for football and his beloved club, Benfica. His legacy lives on in the many young athletes who aspire to match his skill and passion for the game.

Soccer

FAQ

Who is the best Soccer player of all time?

The debate on who is the best Soccer player of all time is subjective, but many consider Pelé or Diego Maradona for this title. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Pelé is the best Soccer player of all time. His extraordinary achievements and timeless influence support this claim.

Who are the top 10 greatest Soccer players of all time?

Pelé, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Michel Platini, and Alfredo Di Stéfano are the top 10 greatest Soccer players of all time. These icons are revered for their exceptional skill, innovation, and impact on the game.

Who is the most famous female Soccer player?

Marta is the most famous female Soccer player. Known for her remarkable talent and success, she has been a dominant force in women’s Soccer, earning accolades and setting records throughout her career.

This list showcases talents from around the globe, including the emerging soccer scene in countries like Bangladesh, detailed in our article on the most popular soccer players from Bangladesh.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments