Best Soccer Players Of All Time

Since 1892: The Best Soccer Players Of All Time

Welcome to the ranking list of the best soccer players of all time. Over the years, soccer, the beautiful game, has produced a wide range of extraordinary talent. The sport has been blessed with players whose talent, charisma, and impact have left an enduring impression on the world stage, from breathtaking dribbles to jaw-dropping goals. Let’s take a look at the careers of the best soccer players of all time in this homage to the game’s legends. These players have not only dominated the field but have also captured the hearts of supporters everywhere.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #10: Alfredo Di Stéfano

Alfredo Di Stéfano
Credit: GettyImages [Real Madrid]

Major Achievements

Team: South American Championship: 1947, 5 × UEFA Champions League, 2 × Small Club World Cup, 1 × Intercontinental Cup

Individual: 2 × Ballon d’Or, 5 × Pichichi Trophy, 4 × Spanish Player (Athlete) of the Year

Alfredo Di Stéfano Head
Full Name: Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano Laulhé
Date Of Birth: 4 July 1926
Place Of Birth: 🇦🇷 Buenos Aires
Citizenship: 🇦🇷 Argentina, 🇪🇸 Spain
Height: 1.78 meters
Position: FW, ATM
International: 🇦🇷 Argentina, 🇪🇸 Spain
Death: 7 July 2014
Career Statistics

Clubs: River Plate, Huracán, Millonarios, Real Madrid, Espanyol

Alfredo Di Stéfano was a renowned Argentine football player and coach of Italian, French, and Irish ancestry. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1926. His successful international career with Argentina in 1947 and his early career at River Plate laid the groundwork for an incredible journey.

Di Stéfano was a standout player at Millonarios in Colombia in 1949, winning six league titles, amid the Argentine players’ strike. He joined Real Madrid in 1953 in spite of a disagreement, and he helped them achieve incredible success by winning eight Spanish league titles, five straight European Cups, and two Ballon d’Or awards.

Di Stéfano played for Espanyol after leaving Real Madrid in 1964, and he later went into coaching. His influence reached teams like Valencia, Boca Juniors, and his comeback to Real Madrid. Being regarded as one of the best soccer players of all time, his death in 2014 at the age of 88 signaled the end of an era.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #9: Michel Platini

Michel Platini
Credit: GettyImages [David Cannon]

Major Achievements

Team: UEFA European Championship: 1984, Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1985, FIFA World Cup third place: 1986, 1 × European Cup (UCL), 1 × European Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 × European Super Cup, 1 × Intercontinental Cup

Individual: 3 × Ballon d’Or, 3 × Onze d’Or, 6 × Onze de Onze, 1 × FIFA XI, 2 × FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, 2 × French Player of the Year

Michel Platini head
Full Name: Michel François Platini
Date Of Birth: 21 June 1955
Place Of Birth: 🇫🇷 Jœuf
Citizenship: 🇫🇷 France
Height: 1.79 meters
Position: ATM, SS
International: 🇫🇷 France, 🇰🇼 Kuwait
Career Statistics

Clubs: Nancy, Saint-Étienne, Juventus

The legendary football player Michel Platini finished seventh in the FIFA Player of the Century vote and won three Ballon d’Or awards in a row from 1983 to 1985. A FIFA ban that was imposed in 2015 due to ethical violations during his UEFA presidency persisted until 2023, despite his distinguished career.

Platini’s journey started at AS Nancy. He was born in Joeuf to Italian parents. Overcoming obstacles, he demonstrated his skill with the free kick, leaving an impression in 1972. During his playing career, Platini played for Juventus, Nancy, and Saint-Étienne, where he was known as “Le Roi.” Platini won multiple titles after relocating to Saint-Étienne and later Juventus.

In addition to leading Juventus to the 1984–85 European Cup (UCL) victory, Platini led France to victory in the 1984 European Championship while serving as their captain internationally. His contributions to the 1982 and 1986 World Cups were significant, and he finished his career in 1987 with 41 goals in 72 games. As a member of the “carré magique,” he was the French goal scorer until 2007.

Platini’s legacy as one of the best soccer players and significant football figures endures despite the FIFA ban.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #8: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo
Credit: GettyImages [Laurence Griffiths]

Major Achievements

Team: UEFA European Championship: 2016, UEFA Nations League: 2018–19, 5 × UEFA Champions League, 4 × FIFA Club World Cup, 2 × UEFA Super Cup

Individual: 5 × Ballon d’Or, 1 × FIFA World Player of the Year, 2 × The Best FIFA Men’s Player, 4 × European Golden Shoe, 1 × FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball, 1 × Golden Foot, 1 × FIFA Puskás Award, 1 × UEFA European Championship Golden Boot, 3 × Pichichi Trophy, 5 × FPF Portuguese Player of the Year

Cristiano Ronaldo Head
Full Name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
Date Of Birth: 5 February 1985
Place Of Birth: 🇵🇹 Funchal, Madeira
Citizenship: 🇵🇹 Portugal
Height: 1.87 meters
Position: LW, CF
International: 🇵🇹 Portugal
Career Statistics

Clubs: Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Al Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo, who was born in Madeira, Portugal, started playing football at the age of twelve in Sporting CP’s youth program and made his senior debut at the age of sixteen. His influential career included spells at Manchester United, where he set many records and rose to the position of all-time top scorer. After making the crucial transfer to Real Madrid in 2009, he went on to win four Ballon d’Or awards and became the team’s top scorer.

Two Serie A titles and a 2018 transfer to Juventus signaled the start of a new chapter. Ronaldo became the all-time top scorer with 128 goals thanks to his leadership on the international stage, which helped Portugal win the UEFA Nations League and Euro 2016.

He set records when he returned to Manchester United in 2021, but controversy followed, and his contract was terminated in 2022. After winning the Arab Club Champions Cup and joining Al-Nassr in 2022, Ronaldo rose to become the highest-paid football player.

From 2017 to the present, Ronaldo has led Portugal to victories and record-breaking goals in international football. Despite disagreements, he and Messi’s legendary rivalry was characterized by mutual respect.

But there is one thing everyone’s sure of. That Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best soccer players of all time.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #7: Ronaldo

Ronaldo Nazario
Credit:GettyImages [Odd Andersen]

Major Achievements

Team: FIFA World Cup: 1994, 2002, Copa América: 1997, 1999, FIFA Confederations Cup: 1997, Summer Olympic Games bronze medal: 1996, FIFA World Cup runner-up: 1998, Copa América runner-up: 1995, 1 × UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 × UEFA Cup, 1 × Intercontinental Cup

Individual: 2 × Ballon d’Or, 1 × European Golden Shoe, 2 × Onze d’Or, 1 × FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1 × FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe, 2 × Pichichi Trophy, 3 × FIFA World Player of the Year, 2 × FIFA XI, 2 × FIFA World Cup All-Star Team

Ronaldo Nazario Head
Full Name: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima
Date Of Birth: 18 September 1976
Place Of Birth: 🇧🇷 Itaguaí
Citizenship: 🇧🇷 Brazil
Height: 1.83 meters
Position: Striker
International: 🇧🇷 Brazil
Career Statistics

Clubs: Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Corinthians

Famed Brazilian striker Ronaldo is a football legend who has won two Ballon d’Or and three FIFA World Player of the Year titles. Rio de Janeiro native, he started his career at Cruzeiro at the age of sixteen. He later played for PSV, Barcelona, and Inter Milan, where he had a memorable chapter in his career. He struggled with injuries during this time, but in 2002 he recovered to help Real Madrid win La Liga and the World Cup with Brazil.

Ronaldo persevered with AC Milan and Corinthians in spite of a serious knee injury sustained in 2008. He retired from the national team in 2011 as the second-highest goalscorer, so his final game for Brazil was a poignant occasion. Ronaldo Nazário is undoubtedly one of best soccer players of all time.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #6: Zinédine Zidane

Zinédine Zidane
Credit: GettyImages [Ben Radford]

Major Achievements

Team: FIFA World Cup: 1998, UEFA European Championship: 2000, FIFA World Cup runner-up: 2006, Syrenka Cup: 1987, 1 × UEFA Champions League, 2 × UEFA Super Cup, 2 × UEFA Intertoto Cup, 2 × Intercontinental Cup

Individual: 1 × Ballon d’Or, 3 × Onze d’Or, 1 × FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 3 × FIFA World Player of the Year, 4 × FIFA XI, 2 × FIFA World Cup All-Star team, 2 × France Football French Player of the Year, 2 × FIFA FIFPro World XI

Zinédine Zidane Head
Full Name: Zinédine Yazid Zidane
Date Of Birth: 23 June 1972
Place Of Birth: 🇫🇷 Marseille
Citizenship: 🇫🇷 France, 🇩🇿 Algeria
Height: 1.85 meters
Position: ATM
International: 🇫🇷 France
Career Statistics

Clubs: Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus, Real Madrid

One of the greatest players and coaches in football history, Zinedine Zidane was born in Marseille, France, in 1972 to parents who had immigrated from Algeria. His career took off at Cannes before taking off at Juventus, where he won two Serie A championships. Zidane joined Real Madrid in 2001 and went on to win more championships, including the Champions League in 2002.

Zidane led France to victory on the international stage, taking home the 2000 European Championship and the 1998 World Cup. He won one Ballon d’Or and three FIFA World Player of the Year awards. A headbutt incident in the 2006 World Cup final brought a contentious end to his career.

Zinédine Zidane is surely the best French Attacking Midfielder and one of the best soccer players of all time.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #5: Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff
Source: GettyImages [STF]

Major Achievements

Team: FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 1974, Tournoi de Paris: 1978, UEFA European Championship Third place: 1976, 3 × European Cup (UCL), 1 × European Super Cup, 1 × Intercontinental Cup

Individual: 3 × Ballon d’Or, 1 × FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1 × FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, 3 × Dutch Footballer of the Year, 2 × Dutch Sportsman of the Year

Johan Cruyff Head
Full Name: Hendrik Johannes Cruijff
Date Of Birth: 25 April 1947
Place Of Birth: 🇳🇱 Amsterdam
Citizenship: 🇳🇱 Netherlands
Height: 1.78 meters
Position: FW, ATM
International: 🇳🇱 Netherlands
Death: 24 March 2016
Career Statistics

Clubs: Ajax, Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, Levante, Feyenoord

Born in Amsterdam in 1947, Johan Cruyff rose to fame as an Ajax football player, winning three European Cups and eight league titles. His contribution to the creation of “Total Football” under Rinus Michels demonstrated his strategic acumen. After a historic move to Barcelona in 1973, the team won its first league championship in a record 14 years. He captained the Netherlands to the 1974 World Cup championship final.

Cruyff surprised everyone by making a reappearance in the US and Spain after retiring in 1977. More titles were added when he returned to Ajax in 1981, first as a player and then as manager. In his final season of play, he won both the league and the cup after moving to Feyenoord in 1983. Outside of the field, Cruyff made a cultural impact through legal disputes, anti-smoking campaigns, and one-liners.

Hendrik Cruijff is one of the greatest forwards and best soccer players of all time.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #4: Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer
Credit: GettyImages [ullstein bild]

Major Achievements

Team: FIFA World Cup: 1974, UEFA European Championship: 1972, FIFA World Cup runner-up: 1966, UEFA European Championship runner-up: 1976, FIFA World Cup third place: 1970, 3 × European Cup (UCL), 1 × European Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 × Intercontinental Cup

Individual: 2 × Ballon d’Or, 1 × FIFA XI, 1 × FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award, 4 × Footballer of the Year (Germany),

Franz Beckenbauer Head
Full Name: Franz Anton Beckenbauer
Date Of Birth: 11 September 1945
Place Of Birth: 🇩🇪 Munich
Citizenship: 🇩🇪 Germany
Height: 1.81 meters
Position: Defender
International: 🇩🇪 West Germany
Death: 7 January 2024
Career Statistics
Matches:Goals Against:Clean Sheet:

Clubs: Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, Hamburger SV

Born in Munich, Germany in 1945, Franz Anton Beckenbauer was a renowned football player, manager, and official who went by the nickname “der Kaiser.” He was the driving force behind the creation of the contemporary sweeper position and attained unmatched success. Beckenbauer became one of just nine players to win the Ballon d’Or, the FIFA World Cup, and the European Champions Cup.

Three straight European Cups were won by him during his club career, which was mostly spent with Bayern Munich and the New York Cosmos from 1974 to 1976. He made the switch to management, managing Bayern Munich and guiding West Germany to the 1990 World Cup victory.

Franz Anton Beckenbauer is one of the only two defenders in history to ever get a Ballon d’Or and of course, one of the best soccer players of all time.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #3: Pelé

Credit: GettyImages [Popperfoto]

Major Achievements

Team: FIFA World Cup: 1958, 1962, 1970, Taça do Atlântico: 1960, Roca Cup: 1957, 1963, Taça Oswaldo Cruz: 1958, 1962, 1968, Copa Bernardo O’Higgins: 1959, 2 × Intercontinental Cup, 1 × Intercontinental Supercup

Individual: 1 × FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1 × FIFA World Cup Best Young Player

Pelé Head
Full Name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento
Date Of Birth: 23 October 1940
Place Of Birth: 🇧🇷 Três Corações
Citizenship: 🇧🇷 Brazil
Height: 1.73 meters
Position: FW, ATM
International: 🇧🇷 Brazil
Death: 29 December 2022
Career Statistics

Clubs: Santos, New York Cosmos

Brazil’s 1940 born Pelé left a lasting impression on football, beginning his career at Santos at the age of 15. During his brilliant career at Santos, he scored a record 643 goals and won six Brazilian league titles, two Copa Libertadores, and two Intercontinental Cups. Prior to retiring in 1977, he was a player for the New York Cosmos as well, where he won a league title.

Pelé played in four World Cups for Brazil, winning three of them and rising to the top of the scoring charts with 77 goals. One of the greatest players in history, he was renowned for his leadership, versatility, and extraordinary skills. Beyond football, Pelé’s accomplishments brought him honors and ambassadorships, such as that of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Brazilian Sports Minister.

Pelé holds the unbeaten record for most World Cup victories with three and goals throughout his career. Awards like FIFA Player of the Century, Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award, and FIFA Order of Merit are given out to honor his legacy.

Many consider Pelé as the greatest athlete, which he definitely is a contender for with 3 World Cups and so many other records. He surely is one of the best soccer players of all time.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #2: Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona
Credit: GettyImages [Bongarts]

Major Achievements

Team: FIFA World Cup: 1986, FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 1990, Artemio Franchi Cup: 1993, FIFA World Youth Championship: 1979, 1 × UEFA Cup

Individual: 2 × Onze d’Or, 1 × FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1 × FIFA World Youth Championship Golden Ball

Diego Maradona Head
Full Name: Diego Armando Maradona
Date Of Birth: 30 October 1960
Place Of Birth: 🇦🇷 Lanús
Citizenship: 🇦🇷 Argentina
Height: 1.65 meters
Position: ATM, SS
International: 🇦🇷 Argentina
Death: 25 November 2020
Career Statistics

Clubs: Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys

The legendary Argentine football player Diego Maradona became legendary after leading his country to victory in the 1986 World Cup, securing his place among the game’s greatest players. Maradona, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1960, was selected for Argentinos Juniors at the age of eight due to his early talent. At sixteen, he made his professional debut, and by seventeen, he had made a significant impression on the world stage.

His 1982 relocation to Europe was a turning point in his career. He played for Barcelona before moving to Napoli in 1984, where he led the team to record-breaking success with two Serie A titles, an Italian Super Cup, a Coppa Italia, and a UEFA Cup.

Maradona’s international career reached its zenith in the Mexico World Cup of 1986, where he led Argentina to victory in the quarterfinals against England with memorable goals. He led Argentina to the World Cup final in 1990, but he was unable to win. His foreign travels came to an end in 1994 when he tested positive for drugs.

Oh boy, what a player he was! Both on and off the field—Diego’s magic spread not only at his home but also worldwide. His story of Napoli, winning the World Cup, beating England at that time with all the events happening around the world, have place Maradona in the hearts of many. Diego Maradona is one of the best soccer players of all time.

Best Soccer Players Of All Time #1: Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi
Credit: GettyImages [DeFodi Images]

Major Achievements

Team: FIFA World Cup: 2022, Copa América: 2021, FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 2014, Olympic Gold Medal: 2008, FIFA World Youth Championship: 2005, 1 × UEFA Cup of Champions: 2022, 4 × UEFA Champions League, 3 × FIFA Club World Cup, 3 × UEFA Super Cup

Individual: 8 × Ballon d’Or, 6 × European Golden Shoe, 2 × FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 2 × FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball, 1 × FIFA World Player of the Year, 3 × The Best FIFA Men’s Player, 1 × FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Ball, 1 × FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Boot, 8 × Pichichi Trophy, 16 × Argentine Footballer of the Year

Lionel Messi
Full Name: Lionel Andrés Messi
Date Of Birth: 24 June 1987
Place Of Birth: 🇦🇷 Rosario
Citizenship: 🇦🇷 Argentina
Height: 1.70 meters
Position: RW, CF
International: 🇦🇷 Argentina
Career Statistics

Clubs: Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Miami

The story of Lionel Messi’s football career is one of extraordinary talent, resiliency, and determination. Born in Rosario, Argentina in 1987, he moved to Barcelona at the age of 13 because of a growth hormone deficiency, and at six he joined Newell’s Old Boys. Messi made his debut at age 17, quickly gained importance under Frank Rijkaard, and at age 22, he won his first Ballon d’Or as part of Barcelona’s historic 2009 treble. His accomplishments were evidenced by his partnerships, records, and six Ballons d’Or; however, he faced difficulties due to injuries and a 2016 tax fraud conviction.

Messi briefly retired in 2016 after leading Argentina to major finals internationally. Between 2012 and 2021, Barcelona experienced both success and failure, with Messi departing as a free agent in 2021. PSG (2021–2023) received more praise as well as criticism. After moving to Inter Miami in 2023, he won the 2023 Leagues Cup and his eighth Ballon d’Or, making him the highest-paid player in the Major League Soccer.

Messi’s global travels, which included a reversal of his retirement, demonstrated his dedication. He overcame criticism to lead Argentina to victory in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Copa América in 2021, cemented his place among the greatest. When Messi looks back on his career, his legacy is defined by his capacity to overcome obstacles and develop into a football icon. The football community is excited for Lionel Messi’s next chapter in his incredible career as he continues with Inter Miami.

Lionel Messi, the man who completed football, is obviously one of the best soccer players of all time.

Read Full Story

Pablo Torres

Soccer is the best sport in the world and I am most passionate about it. I enjoy learning and sharing all the new trends of it. You're guaranteed to find up to date contents from me!

Leave a Reply