Top 10 Best Football Players of All Time
Football is the most popular sport known to man, and today, we treat you to a list that reveals our top 10 best football players of all time. From Cristiano Ronaldo to Manuel Neuer, and Lionel Messi to Paolo Maldini, we will try our best to include players representing every era and position on the pitch.
Without further ado, here are our Top 10 Best Football Players of All Time.
10. Manuel Neuer (GERMANY)
For the past decade and a half, Manuel Neuer has constantly made himself known as the world’s best goalkeeper. There are greats such as Lev Yashin, Dino Zoff, Iker Casillas, and Gianluigi Bufffon. But Neuer is perhaps the most complete goalkeeper in that lot.
From distribution, to on-the-ball abilities and shot-stopping talent, Neuer barely has a single hole in his game. The two-time German player of the year also won the 2014 World Cup with Germany and took home the Golden Glove award. He is a living legend and should be remembered as the player who revolutionized the role of a goalkeeper.
9. Romario (BRAZIL)
In a career that spanned nearly 24 years, Romario scored 1,000+ goals in his career. The dynamic Brazilian striker was an absolute menace on his day – and nearly every day was Romario’s day during his heyday. Having played for numerous clubs in his career, he is best known for his spells at Vasco da Gama and Barcelona.
He is one of Brazil’s all-time great forwards and led them to the 1994 FIFA World Cup, having scored 5 goals and also taking home the Golden Ball award. He retired from professional football in 2009 as one of the greatest players the world will ever see. His longevity and lethality are what gives him the edge over the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka, and Neymar on this list.
8. Luis Suarez (URUGUAY)
Perhaps a player that doesn’t get the credit he deserves, Luis Suarez has scored goals by the bucketload wherever he went. The Uruguayan striker started his career, much like many legends, at Ajax and scored 111 goals in 159 games. Liverpool took notice and brought him to England, and Suarez single-handedly led their unexpected Premier League title charge in the 2013/14 season.
A move to Barcelona followed and he really exploded onto the scene there. Suarez played a massive part in Barca’s treble in 2015. He was sold to Atletico Madrid in 2020 as he was nearing the end of his prime. But the legendary striker showed he still had it in him as he guided Los Colchoneros to a historic La Liga title. He also has a fearsome rate of a goal every two goals for the Uruguay national team.
7. Ronaldo (BRAZIL)
Ronaldo Nazario is a debatable inclusion in the top 10 football players of all time. His career was cut short by fitness issues and injury. But during his heyday, Ronaldo was basically a cheat code. He had immense pace and acceleration for a player of his height and physique. He dribbled like the ball was glued onto his boot, and he was simply unerring in front of goal.
His spells at PSV, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Barcelona cement his status as the greatest number 9 to ever live if we give a big weightage to individual ability over longevity. Ronaldo’s peak came in the 2002 FIFA World Cup where the masterful striker was the foundation on which Dunga’s Brazil built their trophy-winning campaign. It is a shame that injuries ruined a career that would have been laden with Ballon d’Or and Golden Boots.
6. Zinedine Zidane (FRANCE)
There have been midfielders like Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Steven Gerrard that have mesmerized the world with their abilities in the centre of the park. But no one summed up the essence of being a central midfielder, a playmaker, and a captain as Zidane did for France, Juventus, Real Madrid, and Bordeaux.
A smooth operator, the tall midfielder had a feather touch and the passing range to envy. His vision was unmatched and his ability to read the game, sublime. Zidane was a pillar that the Real Madrid and Juventus team during the early 2000s and late 1990s respectively. His only regret would be to not win a FIFA World Cup because heaven knows Zidane deserved one. Perhaps, he has his own headbutt to blame for that.
5. Paolo Maldini (ITALY)
Paolo Maldini was the complete defender. The blue-eyed Italian was one of the most elegant footballers the world has ever seen. He could play as a left-back and a centre-back. The towering physique of Maldini was coupled with his surprisingly quick speed and sublime ability on the ball.
Franz Beckenbauer and Virgil van Dijk are both players that mimic a similar style, but Maldini’s longevity, versatility, and legacy trump the duo on this list. The AC Milan and Italy legend is the closest thing we have had to a perfect defender.
4. Pele (BRAZIL)
Pele scored 1279 goals during his senior career, including friendlies, and that is still a Guinness World Record. He guided Brazil to a World Cup as a 17-year-old in 1958, and then again in 1962. Pele was again instrumental in Selecao‘s 1970 World Cup win.
He spent his career playing for Santos and never really had the task of going up against Europe’s best clubs in the ’60s and ’70s, but it would criminal not to consider him at least one of the top 4 greatest football players the sport has ever seen.
3. Diego Maradona (ARGENTINA)
Diego Maradona was Lionel Messi before it was cool. The pocket-sized Maradona was simply unstoppable. Teams had to double, sometimes triple mark him. The Argentine’s ability was impeccable, his dribbling was mesmeric, and his eye in front of the goal made him a cold-blooded hitman.
His success with Argentina made him a legend. Maradona led them to an unforgettable 1986 World Cup win, a tournament that made him a God in his home country. That was also the time he led Napoli to an unthinkable Serie A title in 1987. If not for a troubled career off the pitch, Maradona could have had a few more years at the top. May the legend in rest in peace.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (PORTUGAL)
Cristiano Ronaldo is not a better footballer than Diego Maradona when it comes to individual abilities. But the Portuguese’s longevity, goal-scoring record, and an overflowing individual and team trophy cabinet make him our second-best football player to ever exist.
A five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo has 5 UEFA Champions League titles to his name as well as the 2016 UEFA Euros. The World Cup is, perhaps, the only trophy that eludes him and he can cement his status as the ‘GOAT’ if he somehow manages to lead Portugal to the trophy in Qatar.
1. Lionel Messi (ARGENTINA)
There is no list in the world that should have Lionel Messi anywhere but as #1 when it comes to the greatest footballers ever. Messi’s lengthy career is not one that has had its up and downs. Ever since his debut for Barcelona as a teenager, Messi has kept up his standards that have never dropped.
A record 6-time Ballon d’Or winner, he is widely considering by the football world as the best to ever do it. Goals, assists, on-the-ball ability, longevity, and set-pieces, there is no weakness in Messi’s armour. Now at PSG, he will only add to his tally of trophies which saw a career-changing inclusion of a Copa America title in the summer of 2021.
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Notable absentees from our list of the Top 10 Best Football Players of All Time
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