Top 15 Best Soccer Players Of All Time
Talking about the Top 15 Best Soccer Players Of All Time we would mention a list of the most brilliant ones with their stats. Massive respect for all those players who are not on the list yet have created memories sound enough to lift the hearts of soccer fans throughout the world.
Club Goals: 538 in 557 caps
International Goals: 77 in 92 caps
Playing Positions: CF/AM
Pele started his career at Santos at the age of 15, and just in a year, he became a part of the Brazil national squad. Pele is one of the most successful soccer players in his goals. His memorable contributions to soccer include winning 3 World Cups in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
Pele has been titled “The Greatest” by FIFA. Football fans globally also still regard him as an all-time great sportsman. The International Olympic Committee in 1999 named Pele Athlete of the Century. He also has the most recorded goals by a single player netting 1279 times in 1363 caps.
Popularity of football in Brazil
Football is hugely popular in Brazil. The tradition has carried on for generations and generations yet to come. There is always some game going on from the beaches, back streets, and Brazil’s countryside. The passion for the sport has rewarded the country’s fans with quality players one generation after another.
The love of Brazilians towards this sport has produced champions who have added considerable quality to this game. But there is only one man who is the King of Soccer, and that is Pele. His goals have won the hearts of many and his background even more. To wrap his success in words said by great Brazil’s Pele himself: “Success is no accident”
2) Diego Maradona
Club Goals: 259 in 491 caps
International Goals: 34 in 91 caps
Playing Positions: SS/CAM
Diego Maradona, born in Argentina in the year 1960, started his career at Argentinos Juniors in 1976, where he managed to net 116 times. In the year 1981, he joined the famous Argentine club Boca Juniors. A year later, Maradona joined Barcelona for a record fee of around 5 million pounds.
Only two years later, to joined an Italian side Napoli for another record transfer fee of approximately 6.9 million pounds. At Naples, he stayed for seven-odd years scoring 81 times. Maradona was nicknamed “El Pibe de Oro,” which translates to “The Golden Boy.”
This name stuck with the Argentine throughout his career. He became one of the finest soccer players, with his short stature, coupled with his tremendous ball-playing skills, ability to read the game, ball control, and artistic touches helping him a great deal to be the best soccer player in the world.
1986 World Cup
The guy quickly makes it into our Top 15 Soccer Players in the World list. In the 1986 famous World Cup, Diego managed to captain his side and was victorious against West Germany. Diego won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. However, during that campaign in the quarters against England, he scored the most controversial goal, later regarded as the “Hand of God.”
He also scored another goal which was regarded as the Goal of the Century. The ball managed to slip past five English players to net a goal that cruised his side into the semi-finals.
Despite all that, he is regarded as the best soccer player of all time. Diego died on the 25th of November 2020, one of the most tragic days in the world of soccer. It was a day that saddened the whole world. His name would live forever as an iconic model that blessed the fans with memories that would pass from one generation to another. May you rest in peace Diego Maradona.
3) Lionel Messi
Club Goals: 682
International Goals: 79
Ballon d’Or: 6
Playing Positions: RW/CF/CAM
Lionel Messi is a complete soccer player and is often regarded as one of the greatest and 3rd on the list of Top 15 Best Soccer Players Of All Time. He made his professional debut at 17 back in October 2004. During his long spell at Barcelona, he managed to win 10 La Liga titles, and 4 Champions League titles. He was awarded the most La Liga goals and assists. Messi has the honor of scoring the most goals by a single player in a club. He also has won six Ballon d’Ors, the most by a single player.
Messi has been compared to Argentina’s finest Maradona. On one occasion, Messi scored a similar goal scored by Maradona in his time. They both possessed a similar kind of play. But Messi failed to win a World Cup Final against Germany back in 2014. Despite his setbacks on the International stage with Messi failing to win four finals, including a World Cup final and three Copa Americas, the Argentinian never stood back.
In 2021, he succeeded in Brazil’s 2021 Copa America. His side went into the finals against Brazil, where Angel Di Maria scored the only goal in the final. Messi deserved that and answered all his critics who believed him to be a success only at Barcelona.
Later that year, Messi’s fairy tale campaign at Barcelona, a product of the famous La Masia, came to a tragic end when one of the richest football club‘s financial structures could not afford to carry him around any longer. In August, Messi decided to join PSG on a two-year deal to extend it for another year.
Messi, who wore the famous number #10 jersey for most of his career, decided not to wear it this time and opted for a number #30 jersey he hopes would make history at PSG.
At 34, many would decide to hang their boots, but that is not the case with Messi. Even at his age, his fitness has not been an issue, and most likely, the magician still has some years left in him. This year would be a new challenge for the Argentine in a side filled with Neymar, Mbappe, Ramos, and many more.
PSG, who have failed to land their mark in Europe, would believe in making headlines this year with the addition of Messi and Ramos to an already competitive squad. We could not run out of words to describe Lionel Messi, but we will wrap it up with the famous words quoted by Diego Maradona:
“I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football, and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius.”
4) Cristiano Ronaldo
Club Goals: 684 goals in 906 caps
International Goals: 111 goals in 180 caps
Ballon d’Or: 5
Playing Positions: LW/ST
One of the finest players we have witnessed in modern-day soccer is Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the mentality king, a player that never runs out of hard work. His attitude towards getting better and better each day has been why he stood out for all these years.
Cristiano Ronaldo started his career at Sporting Lisbon, where he primarily started as a winger. At this moment, all the top managers during the time had laid their eyes on such a high prospect. But it was Sir Alex Ferguson in the end who made the signature.
At Manchester United, Ronaldo managed to win the Champions League and consecutive three league titles and scored 118 goals in 288 appearances. The Portuguese arrived at Old Trafford in 2003, and after six years of success, he moved to Real Madrid for a record-holding transfer fee, which was 94 million euros.
Real Madrid move
It was under José Mourinho that Ronaldo became more of a goal machine. He became a proper poacher scoring 40-plus goals a season for the nine years he served at Real Madrid. Ronaldo scored 454 goals in 447 appearances, becoming the highest goal scorer in the club’s history.
During his tenure at Real Madrid, the Portuguese won multiple league titles and 4 Champions League titles. After his success at Madrid, he moved to Juventus in 2018 for a reported fee of around 105 million pounds.
At Turin, Cristiano Ronaldo managed to score 104 goals, after which he made his comeback to Manchester United. At 36, he is currently playing for Manchester United, where he scored two goals in his famous debut against Newcastle United.
The guy is an absolute sensation, and even at this age, he would not shy off and prove to be one of the best soccer players to play this beautiful sport. Ronaldo is among the best soccer players globally and has been named among the greatest soccer players of all time.
5) Johan Cruyff
Club Goals: 291 in 514 caps
International Goals: 33 in 48 caps
Playing Positions: SS/CF/CAM
Johan Cruyff is the name that would forever live in the world of soccer. He is considered one of the all-time greats both in playing as a player and as a managing aside. He started his career at Ajax. During his formative years at the club, Johan scored 190 goals in 240 appearances, winning the Eredivisie title 8 times.
In 1973, Cruyff moved to Barcelona for a record transfer fee. There, he secured the La Liga title in his first season at the club. His the ability to dictate the game and read situations better than his opponents. These skills allowed him to be one of the best soccer players in the world. In his career, he managed to win the famous Ballon d’Or Player of the Year three times.
Many great players have played this sport, but we can only name a few successful players both as players and as managers. And Johan Cruyff is among those very few. Clubs like Ajax and Barcelona, who are well known for their brand of football, have followed the philosophy set by the great Johan himself.
And we have seen the success both clubs have had, which is why his name will live forever in the history of soccer. Such iconic legends of the game would be role models even for the generations yet to come who need to learn how to keep the game simple. Johan Cruyff said:
“Soccer is simple, but it’s difficult to play simple.”
6) Zinedine Zidane
Club Goals: 95 in 506 caps
International Goals: 31 in 108 caps
Playing Positions: CAM/CM
Zidane was born in the year 1972 in Southern France. He has been regarded as one of the finest to have ever set foot on the pitch and arguably the best France has ever produced. It has been his mesmerizing skills, immense ball control, powerful vision, and the ability to read the game better than the opponents that have led him to glory.
In terms of trophies, he is one of the most decorated players, winning the World Cup, league titles, and the famous Champions League in 2002. He scored an enormous volley against German side Leverkusen.
In 1998 he won the famous World Cup, and later that year, he was named the Ballon d’Or player. He was just so classy on and off the pitch. His first touch was so good that it pushed the fans up their seats. Overall he could play anywhere in midfield and attack, but his primary position was 10.
Zidane also managed to start a managerial career where he had two spells. During his first spell, he won the Champions League three times consecutively. Apart from that, Zidane also managed to secure the La Liga title two times. It’s like the guy was destined for success both as a player and as a manager.
To see Zidane in action was to witness poetry in motion. The skills, the vision, the goals. He was a sublime performer. When he was at his peak winning the World Cup, the Champions League, and all the rest, he was unquestionably the finest player on the planet. One of the very best Alfredo di Stefano quoted:
“He dominates the ball, he is a walking spectacle, and he plays as if he had silk gloves on each foot. He makes it worthwhile going to the best football stadiums – he’s one of the best I have ever seen.”
7) Alfredo Di Stefano
Club Goals: 376 in 521 caps
International Goals: 29 in 41 caps
Playing Positions: CF/ST
An Argentine-born is known as one of the greatest ever to play this sport. He started his career at River Plate, an Argentine club. In terms of play, he could have played almost anywhere on the pitch.
He was fast, strong, and had a great engine and vision so good that he was and is still regarded as one of the all-time great. In 1953 he joined Real Madrid, where he spent most of his time scoring 216 goals in almost 282 appearances. He won the Ballon d’Or Player of the Year two times in the years 1957 and 1959.
Sir Bobby Charlton
One of the very finest Sir Bobby Charlton quoted on Stefano:
“Alfredo di Stéfano is maybe the most outstanding player I have ever seen. I watched him in a match when Manchester United played against Real in the semi-final of the European Cup in Madrid the year before the accident. There was no substitute bench; if you weren’t playing, you were in the stand. I felt like I was looking down on what looked like a Subbuteo table—I was that high up—but I couldn’t take my eyes off this midfield player, and I thought, Who on earth is that?”
“He ran the whole show and had the ball almost all the time. I used to dream of that, and I used to hate it when anyone else got it. They beat us 3-1, and he dictated the whole game. I’d never seen anything like it before—someone who influenced the entire match.
Everything went through him. The goalkeeper gave it to him, the fullbacks gave it to him, the midfield players were linking up with him, and the forwards were looking for him.
And Gento was playing alongside, and Di Stefano just timed his passes perfectly for him. Gento ran so fast you couldn’t get him offside. And I was just sitting there, watching, thinking it was the best thing I had ever seen.
But I had been forewarned a bit by Matt Busby, the manager at the time because he had been across and seen them play a match in Nice before the semi—in those days it wasn’t easy to do that—and, when he came back, we asked him what they were like, but he didn’t want to tell us.
I then understood why he did not say when I saw them. I think he knew that if he had said they were the best players he’d ever seen, it would have been all over for us before we’d started.
And this was when Di Stefano was thirty. What must he have been like in his youth?”
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8) Ronaldo Nazario
Club Goals: 247 in 343 caps
International Goals: 62 in 98 caps
Playing Position: CF/ST
Ronaldo Nazario, also known as R9, is a Brazilian-born center forward who played for clubs like PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and AC Milan. During his career, which was massively affected by his injuries, Ronaldo managed to win the Ballon d’Or twice. It was not only the domestic competitions where Ronaldo flourished.
He scored 62 goals in 98 caps on the National stage, winning the famous 2002 World Cup. The player was a multi-functional kind of center forward in terms of play, with his delicate footwork and finishing. He had all it takes to influence the game, which is why he would be among the Top 15 Soccer Players in history.
9) Franz Beckenbauer
Club Goals: 79
International Goals: 14
Playing Position: CB/CDM
Beckenbauer was a former German football player and a manager who played for the German club Bayern Munich. He was a very adaptable player who played as a center-defensive midfielder and a center-back. He is regarded as a complete player who could play almost anywhere on the pitch.
In Europe with Bayern Munich, he won the UEFA Cup in 1967 and three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976. On the International stage, Franz Beckenbauer appeared in three world cups for the German side, among which he managed to captain the side in the 1974 World Cup and win it.
Later on in his career, he also worked to Coach the German national side and won it in 1990, along with a successful campaign in the 2006 World Cup. Beckenbauer had a career many could not even dream of in their lifetime. His leadership qualities, combined with his game skills, make him rank among the all-time most outstanding soccer players.
10) Gerd Muller
Club Goals: 487 goals
International Goals: 68 goals
Playing Position: CF/ST
Gerd Muller was a former German striker who played most of his time at Bayern Munich. Fans and experts regard him as one of the greatest players due to his clinical finishing. He was a proper poacher arriving at the right time to finish the play.
Muller played most of his senior domestic game at the German side Bayern Munich where he managed to score 398 goals in 453 appearances winning the German championship four times. He managed to win the German Golden Boot seven times and the European Golden Boot two times during that time.
Gerd holds the record for most goals in the World Cup on Germany’s national stage at 14 goals in 32 games. He had an incredible World Cup journey in the famous 1974 World Cup where he managed to nick a goal in the final and clinch the trophy. Gerd Muller would always be a legend in soccer and a role model for German younger generations.
11) Michel Platini
Club Goals: 224
International Goals: 41
Playing Position: CAM/ST
Michel Platini is a former French player and manager who won the Ballon d’Or three times in 1983, 1984, and 1985. He played for clubs like Nancy, Saint Etienne, and Juventus. In his game, his most significant assets were his mentality, leadership qualities, ability to read the game better, and finishing.
He was a prolific goal scorer scoring 265 goals from midfield. In his domestic career, he managed to win the Serie A title three times consecutively with Juventus, where he also managed to win the Ballon d’Or three times.
In 1985 he won the European title with Juventus, where he was the side’s top scorer. On France’s national stage, the player reached the World Cup semi-finals twice in 1982 and 1986. Overall his career was full of achievements and trophies that many would dream about throughout their lives.
The strides he took made him an overall talented sportsman. His talent is regarded as one of the all-time greatest players and adds to our list of best soccer players in the world list.
Club Goals: 542 goals in 698 caps
International Goals: 56 goals in 70 caps
Playing Position: ST
Romario is a former Brazilian player who played for clubs like PSV and Barcelona. In terms of his play, he was known for his clinical finishing. People spread the word, and he was often regarded as a prolific striker. He is considered to be at all times, having scored 750 plus goals in his career.
Romario’s performances at the 1194 World Cup would be remembered by many. The Brazillian was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament. Romario will always be regarded as one of the finest in the game of soccer and makes our Top 15 Best Soccer Players of All Time list.
13) Ferenc Puskas
Club Goals: 514 in 534 caps
International Goals: 84 goals in 85 caps
Playing Position: CF/ST
Puskas was a former Hungarian striker and manager often regarded as one of the finest players ever played soccer. At the International stage, he managed to score 84 goals in 85 caps for Hungary. The pro player managed to win the 1952 Olympics and led his side to the final of the 1954 World Cup.
Not just that, he also managed to win the European Cup three times in the years 1959,1960, and 1966. In his play, he was an out-and-out center forward and a striker full of goals. His position and skills might be why he is regarded as one of the finest players. He has scored 806 goals in 793 appearances, which is the fourth-highest tally by a single player up to this date.
Real Madrid move
Puskas joined Real Madrid in the year 1958, where he spent nearly eight years, and during that time, he managed to score 156 times in only 180 appearances. At Real Madrid, he won the Spanish Cup four times and the famous European Cup two times.
In his memory, FIFA awards the best goal scored by a player in the past year and rewards them with Puskas’s best goal of the year. He would surely be remembered as the all-time great and is in our Top 15 Best Soccer Players Of All Time list.
“He belongs to the realms of dreams.”
Club Goals: 205 goals
International Goals: 33 goals
Playing Position: CAM/LW
Ronaldinho is a former Brazilian player who played for famous clubs like PSG, Barcelona, AC Milan, and Flamengo. He was a complete player gifted with sublime footwork and enormous vision. His ability to maneuver past players in a flash and his fancy ball juggling made him one of the finest icons in the world of soccer.
He was initially an attacking midfield player but developed more as a winger in the years to come. His career started early at the age of 20 when he debuted for the side Gremio. Later in his career, he moved to the French side Paris Saint-Germain, only later signed by the Spanish giants Barcelona in 2003.
In Spain, he progressed into a superstar, helping his side secure the 2004-2005 La Liga title. He was an integral part of Barcelona’s side in the 2006 Champions League, where they won 2-1 against Arsenal in the final.
At Barcelona, he managed to score 70 times and assist 50 times in only 145 appearances. His game was not only about stats but more of an exhibition, an all-around game full of his ball-playing skills and vision in front of goal was unimaginable. In 2008 the Brazilian star moved to Italy to play for the famous European side AC Milan.
He played three years at Milan, only then to move back to Brazil. His career was full of achievements and worthiness so we had to add him to our Top 15 soccer players in the world list. On the International stage, the Brazilian was a success when they won the famous 2002 World Cup. A campaign where he was among the lethal front three of Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho himself. One of the very best Zidane mentioned Ronaldinho in his words as;
“Ronaldinho was virtually unstoppable at his best, as a forward or a playmaker.”
15) Paolo Maldini
Playing Position: CB/LB
Club Caps: 647
International caps: 126
Paolo Maldini is a former Italian and AC Milan‘s central defender, often regarded as all-time defensive greats. Maldini was an adaptable player who could play as a left-back or as a centre-half. He spent 25 years at Milan, the only club he ever played for, making 647 appearances to officially hang his boots at the age of 41 in the year 2009.
During his time at Milan, he won 7 Serie A titles and 5 UEFA Champions Leagues. While at the International Stage, he was nicknamed “The Captain” by his Italian teammates, the side he captained for eight years.
The amazing footballer went into the finals twice, once in the 1994 World Cup and 2000 Euros. At Milan, where he won 5 UCL’s will always be an icon to remember as an all-time defensive great. Milan had players like Cafu, Nesta, Stam, and Maldini in defense, regarded as the most potent defense to ever appear on any European Stage.
Maldini is a sensation and an icon for all those young defenders out there. Paolo being one of the all-time best defenders would make the list of Top Soccer Players of all time.
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