20 Best Players of All Time – What makes a great player? What ranks a footballer above his peers? If a man dribbles all the opponents, receives loud cheers, and then loses the match, has he achieved greatness? If another man has no dribbling skills, but yet has a cabinet full of trophies, and his name in all the history- books, is he not great? What about the man whose impact is not readily visible to the ordinary fan, but who manages to be on the winning side?
Football fans tend to disagree a lot! We tend to deny the abilities of a player we do not like while glorifying in superlative terms the talents of those we adore. Therefore, a list of 20 of the greatest footballers of all time will no doubt be a tough task. Nevertheless, it is a task that must be done.
In this article, we try to give a balanced view of the great players in the world listed below, with a few of providing a level platform for one and all. We highlight their strengths and accomplishments while giving deserved praise to those who showed exceptional commitment to the beautiful game.
How We Rate The Best Players In The World Ever?
If skills qualify a player then they must be mind-boggling skills displayed on a regular basis. If a player brings goals to the table then he must bring a truckload of it. While if a player has title wins they should be convincing. Without further ado, here are the 20 best players of all time. Enjoy!
Top 10 Greatest Football Players of All Time
Almost every football historian, pundit, and authority agrees that Pele is the greatest player in the history of football. His birth name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, and he was born in Brazil. Pele is globally acknowledged as the King of Football. He took the world by storm when he became the youngest player to win a World Cup at 17 years. He was also the youngest person to score in a World Cup final match- he scored twice. With Brazil, he won 3 world Cups 1958, 1962, 1970. He scored 77 goals for Brasil in 99 appearances. Pele remains the only player ever to win 3 World Cups.
2. Marco Van Basten
Marcel “Marco” Van Basten was a Dutch striker of lethal quality, who played for Ajax and A.C. Milan, as well as the Netherlands national team, back in the 1980s and early 1990s. He is largely agreed to have been one of the best football players of all time to kick a ball. He scored over 300 goals in grade A matches and would have scored more if not for injury at the age of 28. He scored 128 goals for Ajax Amsterdam, and 90 goals for AC Milan.
With the Netherlands he won Euro 1988, He was named FIFA player of the year 1992, and he won the Ballon d’ Or three time: 1988, 1989 and 1992. He was unlucky, however not to win a world cup.
3. Diego Maradona
Diego Armando Maradona Franco was a player of immense quality. He was an extremely talented dribbler and a supremely motivated play-maker. Today he is regarded in Argentina as a better player than the Lionel Messi of today, primarily because of the latter’s inability to make much impact with the Argentine national team.
In his international career, Maradona played 91 times and scored 34 goals. He played in four FIFA World Cups, including 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he captained the Argentine National team to victory. He was equally successful and when celebrated at Club level, winning the Italian Scudetto with Udinese in the 1989/90 season.
Diego Maradona’s football reign ended suddenly when he failed a drug test after a game against Nigeria in the USA 94 FIFA World Cup.
4. Paolo Maldini
Paolo Cesare Maldini is a Legend in Italy and one of the greatest football players i. He is not only one of the worlds best-left backs ever, but one of the Greatest Players in any Position. He played as a left back or central defender and was comfortable with either foot although naturally right-footed. He spent all 25 seasons of his active playing career at AC Milan, where he won numerous titles as well as the Champions League.
Paolo Maldini dedicated his life to football and has a lot to show for it.
UEFA Champions League 5 times, Italian Seria A Scudettos 7 times, European Super Cups 5 times, Intercontinental Cups 2 times, FIFA Club World Cup 1 time.
5. Johan Cruyff
Johannes Cruijff, more popularly known as Johan Cruyff, was a talented dribbler, passer of the ball, and scorer of goals. He was a former Dutch play-maker who played for a number of clubs, most notably Ajax Amsterdam and Barcelona. He was one of the reasons why Ajax became a historic club, and he is agreed to be one of the best footballers of all time.
He was named UEFA best player in Europe three times. He was the highest goal scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie for 7 seasons, He won the European Club Champions cup 3 times with Ajax Amsterdam, and the migrated to Spain to join Barcelona. He won the Spanish La Liga in the 1973/1974 season.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaúcho, is a supremely talented and daring Brazilian footballer who played for Paris Saint Germain, Barcelona, AC Milan to name a few. He remains outstanding for his magical skills and exquisite ball control.
He won the FIFA Ballon d’ Or on 2 occasions: 2004, 2005. He was named UEFA best player in Europe 2005, He won the FIFA World Cup 2002. With Barcelona, he won the UEFA Champions League 2005/2006 season, the Spanish La Liga 2004/2005, 2005/2006 seasons.
7. Lionel Messi
Lionel Andrés Messi is one of the two phenomenal footballers still active today. The Argentine international who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team has been compared to Diego Maradona. He is a forward and has consistently proven to be the major ingredient in the Barcelona success story for the past 12 years. Messi started shining a young star, winning the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, with a hard-fought final match against Nigeria. He won the Tournament’s Golden Ball. He followed that with an Olympic gold medal in 2008.
He won the FIFA Balon d’ Or five times, UEFA Best Player in Europe, La Liga top scorer for 14 seasons, Champions League Winner 5 times: 2005/2006, 2008/2009, 2010/2011, 2014/2015. He has won the La Liga title with Barcelona 10 times, FIFA Club World Cup 3 times, UEFA Super Cup winner 3 times.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, known as Cristiano Ronaldo, is the other phenomenon of the 2000’s era. This Portuguese champion who plays for Italian Giants Juventus and the Portugal national team has conquered the English League, Spanish League, and Europe. He is the most decorated footballer still active today.
He is a five time Champions League winner: He won it with Manchester United 2007/2008 season and then won it with Real Madrid 4 times: 2013/2014, 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018, a 5 time Ballond’ Or winner, an English Premier League winner 3 times, Spanish League Winner 2 times, Italian Serie A title Winner, and holds the record for the highest number of goals in the UEFA champions League (126). He is the only player in History to win 4 European Golden Shoes. With Portugal he has won the UEFA European Championship in 2016.
9. Ronaldo de Lima
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima commonly known as Ronaldo was the king of the game in his prime. He was given the popular nickname El Phenomeno “the phenomenon”, he is considered by experts and fans to be one of the greatest footballers in history. He was known for his speed, uncommon body balance, and goalscoring ability. He also had great technique on the ball.
Ronaldo won the FIFA World Cup 2 times, Copa America 2 times, FIFA Confederations cup 1 time. He won the FIFA World Player of the Year 3 times, Ballon d’Or 2 times and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year. He was La Liga best Foreign Player in 1997, and also won the European Golden Boot after scoring 34 goals in a season, that season ended with him moving to Italy and he was named Serie A player of the Year 1998. He won too many club titles to mention here.
10. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane, nicknamed “Zizou”, is one of the best football players of all time, a play-maker, an attacking mid-fielder, and magical dribbler during his active playing days. He Excelled in a number of Clubs including Juventus in Italy, and he was one of the famous Galacticos of Real Madrid, and also captained France to their first ever World Cup Win, on home soil, in 1998.
- 11. Garrincha
Manuel Francisco dos Santos, more popularly known with his nickname Garrincha, was an extremely talented right winger and forward who played for Botafogo and the Brasilian National team. He is regarded by many as the best dribbler in football history. He was a loyal servant of Brazilian club Botafogo.
He led Brazil to win the FIFA World Cup on two occasions; 1958, and 1962, while for his club he won title 3 times in his 12 years with them. He scored 232 goals in 581 appearances for the club.
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was a supremely talented striker who played for Portugal. Eusébio is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. He scored 733 goals in 745 matches on a senior level and is said to be Africa’s first great player because of his African descent.
He won the golden boot in the 1966 World Cup and received the bronze ball as well in that competition. He won the Ballon d’ Or in 1965. He won Eleven Premera Liga titles during his career, One European Club Championship. He was the first player to win the European Boot in 1968, and he won it again in 1973.
Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico, is a Brazilian coach and former footballer. Often called the “White Pelé”, he was a creative player, gifted with excellent dribbling, passing and shooting skills. Pele once said of Zico”If there was a player who came close to me, it was Zico.”
He scored 48 goals in 71 official appearances for Brazil and represented them in 3 World Cups.
14. Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer was nicknamed Der Kaiser because of his elegant style of football. He belonged to a time when there were specialists in every department of the game. Franz Beckenbauer was a sweeper; his job was to dispose of attacking opponents while they were still unsettled by a challenge made by his team-mate. He is the first superstar defender in the game, as opposed to Strikers and wingers who used to get all the fame.
- 15. Ricardo Kaká
Handsome and charming, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, who is better known as Kaká or Ricardo Kaká, was a Brazilian play-maker who earned his fame and reputation while playing for Italian giants AC Milan. He had a mercurial touch and had the supreme ability to drive the ball into opponents danger area- a thing he did by riding challenge after challenge until he arrived at his destination.
Kaka won Everything: FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, the Ballon d’Or, etc.
- 16. Alfredo Di Stéfano
The Legendary Argentine play-maker is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time; He was known for purposeful dribbling as well as creating goals out of nothing. He is best known for his achievements with Real Madrid Football Club, where he was instrumental to the clubs dominance of football on the European scene. He won the Ballon d’Or two times while leading Real Madrid to 8 League titles, and 5 back to back European Cup Championships.
17. Ruud Gullit
Ruud Gullit inspired fear in the hearts of opponents when he played during the 1980s and 1990s. He played total football, as opposed to the kind of football in which players were specialists in one particular field. Ruud Gullit played as an Attacker, Defender, Midfielder, and Winger in his time. He was dedicated to winning and was willing to do anything for his team. Such leadership and dedication have not been seen.
Ruud Gullit won the Italian Serie A scudetto title 3 times, and two European Club Championships with AC Milan.
- 18. George Best
George Best was a talented dribbler and play-maker who came from Northern Ireland. He played as a winger for Manchester United and the Northern Ireland national team. He was a team player who scored when the going got tough and saved Manchester United on many occasions.
George Best started the tradition of great number 7’s for Manchester United, he was followed by Eric Cantona and Christiano Ronaldo.
He was named UEFA best player in Europe 1968, Top Scorer in Europe 1967/1968, European Footballer of the Year 1968, Won the European Champions Club’s Cup 1967/1968, English league 1967 and 1965, English FA Cup and so on.
- 19. Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo was a great midfielder who played for Italian Serie A clubs AC Milan and Juventus, as well as the Italian national team. Pirlo was a midfield martial and free-kick specialist. Andrea Pirlo had uncanny vision and technique. He played to win, not to stand out, and win he did.
Some of his honors are FIFA World Cup Winner 2006, UEFA Champions League Winner 2 times, UEFA Super Cup Winner 2 times, Italian Serie A Scudetto Winner 2 times, Italian Super Cup winner 1 time, Coppa Italia Winner 1 time.
20. Andrés Iniesta
Andrés Iniesta is a Spanish central and attacking midfielder who gained fame while playing for FC Barcelona and the Spain national team as a central midfielder. Iniesta became a star of Legendary proportions known for his passing ability especially since many of his passes produced goals.
He won the FIFA World Cup 2010, UEFA European Championship, La Liga Titles 9 Times, UEFA Champions League Title 4 times
That’s all about the top 20 Best Football Players Of All Time 2019.
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Tag: Greatest Footballers In The World Ever, Article filed by @ikepius