Top 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

Who are the best soccer players of all time? Ranking the best soccer players of all time is completely subjective and even though many fans of the beautiful game may agree that some players deserve to be on this list, this list will vary from players to coaches to casual fans to more hardcore fans.

Making an accurate list of the best professional soccer players of all time is not easy because players come from different eras and seeing all of these players in their prime is not possible. For this reason, this list will be based on my personal opinions as well as taking into account all of their trophies and achievements and the eras they played in.

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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, is one of the greatest footballers who has ever lived and he has played various positions throughout his career such as striker, false 9, and winger. A product of the La Masia youth academy of FC Barcelona, Messi quickly emerged as one of the brightest prospects and hasn’t looked back since.

His unmatched vision, unpredictable dribbling, amazing technical ability, and high passing accuracy always make him the most feared player on the field. He has won over 30 trophies in his career including ten “La Liga” league titles, four UEFA Champions League trophies, seven Copa Del Rey trophies, one World Cup title, as well as many individual awards such as 8 “Ballon d’Or” (Golden Ball) awards.

Not only is Lionel Messi one of the most decorated players of all time, but he also has various goal scoring records, assist records, and way too many other records to mention in this one post.

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Cristiano Ronaldo:

Alongside Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo is considered one of the greatest players, and athletes in general, of this generation, and of all time. His exceptional ball control, freakish athleticism, and razor-sharp finishing ability in the final third make him one of the most lethal forwards on the field even today at the age of 39.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won numerous accolades and titles throughout his career with Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus including five “Ballon d’Or” awards, seven league titles, five Champions League trophies, and the 2016 European Championships with Portugal.

Best Soccer Players of All Time

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Diego Maradona:

Only a few players in soccer history have captured the hearts of fans worldwide as Diego Maradona has. The Argentine wizard who played mostly as a center attacking midfielder was a joy to watch, with his unmatched dribbling skills, quick reflexes, and sheer strength that turned him into a God in the eyes of many Argentine and Napoli fans.

Maradona has a ton of iconic moments but two of his most famous moments came when he single-handedly carried his team to the 1986 FIFA World Cup victory, scoring two goals that will go down in the history books, the “Hand of God” and the “Goal of the Century.”

His life off the field may have been controversial, but his performances on the field make him one of the greatest players of all time.

Best Soccer Players of All Time

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Perhaps the best-known player in football history, Pele, is also one of the best players of all time. At the international level, Pele is considered one of greatest with 77 goals for Brazil in just 92 games and three World Cups to his name.

At the club level, Pele’s legacy is interesting and controversial because there are claims of him scoring over 1000 career goals, but many of those goals came against very weak teams that many people also claim they shouldn’t really count. Even without all those “easy” goals, Pele still managed to score 643 goals in 659 games for Santos across 18 years before ending his career in the United States with the New York Cosmos.

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Zinedine Zidane:

During his era, Zinedine Zidane was the most elegant player to watch that made soccer look like a pure form of art. Zidane, an elite central midfielder, was known for his unrivaled technical abilities, intelligent positioning, and trademark inch-perfect passes.

He is one of the few players who could control the tempo of the game with his calm demeanor and made even the most difficult moves look effortless. His contributions to the French national team, Real Madrid’s success, and his impressive trophy cabinet including one World Cup, one Champion’s league, one Ballon D’or and much more make him one of the best players of all time.

After his playing career, Zidane became the coach of Real Madrid and even though he was already a legend of the club as a player, his achievements of winning three Champions League trophies in a row made him a legend of the club as a coach.

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Can you really call yourself a true fan of the game if Ronaldinho is not on your list of greatest players of all time? During his prime, Ronaldinho was the most entertaining and creative footballer on the planet that made millions of fans fall in love with the game.

His mesmerizing skill moves, incredible ball control, speed, and the big smile on his face made him a joy to watch on the field. He was pivotal in his team’s success and helped Barcelona clinch two “La Liga” titles and win the 2006 UEFA Champions League final. He may not have won as many honors as other players on this list, and his prime may not have been as long, but one thing is for certain, Prime Ronaldinho was a different type of player and no one even came close to him.

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Similar to Ronaldinho, prime Brazilian Ronaldo, was the most feared attacker of his era. He had the perfect blend of speed, strength, and skill, which allowed him to get past any defender he faced.

He led his national team to two FIFA World Cup victories, led his club team to two “La Liga” titles, and even managed to win the Ballon D’or two times. Ronaldo is the original number 9 and many believe that if it wasn’t for his recurring injuries, he could have reached another level far beyond what he had already achieved.

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Johan Cruyff:

Johan Cruyff is one of the most revolutionary figures in football history who influenced various popular tactics of the game such as “total football” and “tiki-taka” as well as created the famous skill move, the Cruyff turn. .

His unique style of play which emphasized quick passing, intelligent movement, and total football, meaning all positions know how to do everything on the field, made him the centerpiece of the famous Netherlands squad that reached the 1974 FIFA World Cup finals. He went on to manage Barcelona and helped instill their famous style of play, which is still followed to this day.

His contributions to the game make him one of the all-time greats.

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Franz Beckenbauer:

Most of the players on this list are attacking minded and I could not finish the list without at least one defensive player. Of all the defenders that have played the game, Franz Beckenbauer from West Germany stands out as one of the greatest.

The German international who played for Bayern Munich started his career as a midfielder before dropping to the center of the backline and revolutionizing the sweeper role, which is different from a center back. Beckenbauer was so comfortable with the soccer ball at his feet that during the match he would basically become a number 8, or box to box midfielder starting from the back line, and he managed to score 98 career goals from that position.

Beckenbauer was revolutionary and many fans would agree that he was ahead of his era.

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Alfredo Di Stefano:

Alfredo Di Stefano is considered one of the greatest players in Real Madrid history, and with three other Real Madrid players on this list, he also has to be included. Di Stefano scored 308 goals in 396 games and helped Real Madrid win 5 European cups, which is the equivalent of the modern day Champion’s League.

Although Di Stefano was from one of the earliest eras of any of the players on this list, many people claim that he was similar to the Brazilian Ronaldo in that he was a complete, well rounded striker who had everything from speed, to strength, to being clinical in front of goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the most famous soccer players of all time?

Some of the most famous and greatest soccer players of all time include Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, Maradona, Neymar, and Mbappe.

Who has won the most FIFA world player of the year awards?

Ronaldo and Zidane won this award three times each, the most of any player. The FIFA World player of the year award was an award given to the best player in world football from 1991 to 2009. In 2010 the FIFA World player and the Ballon D’or award merged, and then in 2016 it became its own award again by the name of “The Best FIFA Men’s Player”

Who is the greatest footballer in Premier League history?

Arguably the best footballer in Premier League history is Cristiano Ronaldo with Theirry Henry closely behind him.

Who is the greatest European footballer?

Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest European footballer of all time.

Who is the greatest South American footballer?

Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest South American footballer of all time.

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality.

How can I learn more about the game?

To learn more about soccer the most important thing is to join a team and play the game as much as possible. If possible, analyze high level games as much as you can and your own games as well by recording them with a soccer camera. Also read soccer books, listen to podcasts and interviews watch soccer documentaries, as well as some movies, tv shows, and anime.


In conclusion, the beautiful game has seen tons of amazing talent throughout the years and even though it is hard to make a list of the top 10 greatest players of all time, that is exactly what we have done today.

This list was made from my personal opinions as well as looking at other lists to learn more about players from previous eras I did not get to watch.

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