Best soccer players of all time
  • Over the past eight decades, the world has witnessed the rise of some of the best soccer players of all time.
  • They are considered iconic figures who have left an indelible mark on the beautiful sport.
  • From their skilful manner of play to their impeccable records, these players have earned their place among the greatest of all time.

So, who is the best soccer player of all time? The answer to this question heavily depends on the generation and other facets which further complicate the question.

However, there are three factors that massively contribute to the answer. They are the player’s ability, the length of their career and the permanence of their contribution. In this article, we delve into the greatest soccer players of all time, their careers and more about their soccer lives.


1.      Messi

Best soccer players of all time
Lionel Messi celebrates in a previous match between Inter Miami CF and Atlanta United FC (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

Although some may disagree, Lionel Messi is widely considered one of the greatest soccer player of all time. He is a renowned footballer from Argentina who started his career in 1992 as a forward.

Messi is the only player to have won the Ballon d’Or seven times and the Golden Shoe six times. With his current yearly net salary of $41 million, he remains the highest-paid soccer player of all time.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Best soccer players of all time
Christiano Ronaldo

Popularly known as CR7, Ronaldo is an estimable footballer from Portugal. He is the captain of Portugal’s national football team and a forward for Saudi’s Al Nassr.

Besides, Cristiano is one of the most famous soccer players in the world with some even naming him the GOAT of football. For the entirety of his career, the well-liked athlete has won five Ballon d’Or, four European Golden Shoe awards, two Player of the Years and three Pichichi trophies.

3. Pele

Best soccer players of all time

Pele has been acknowledged as the greatest soccer player of all time apart from being the most versatile. He has had a long career which he started in 1953 as a forward. Besides, the Brazilian superstar was named the Athlete of the Century and has won many awards including a Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur.  Pele, also known as the Black Pearl, has been accredited with promoting diversity in football and is known for his accurate ability to anticipate other players’ moves.


4. Diego Maradona

Best soccer players of all time

Although he barely has that many trophies, Diego Maradona is still considered one of the top 10 soccer players of all time. Some often argue that he is a controversial player especially due to his ‘Hand of God’ goal scandal. Despite this, the iconic footballer scored FIFA’s Goal of the Century and singlehandedly almost carried Argentina to World Cup championship. All in all, Maradona scored 258 goals in a career spanning three countries and six different clubs.

5. Johan Cruyff

The well-known forward, Johan Cruyff was a Dutch professional football player and coach who started his career in 1957 and played for 7 consecutive seasons.

He led his team, Barcelona, to numerous victories where they won La Liga four times, Copa del Rey, Supercopa de Espana and European Cup/UEFA Champions League.

Moreover, the legendary midfielder invented the famous football move known as the ‘Cruyff Turn’ which goes to show his incredible on-field soccer skills.

6. Zinedine Zidane

Best soccer players of all time
Zidane (Photo by AFP)

Who is the best soccer player in the world ever? Although this question may be difficult to answer, Zidane made it clear that he is the ultimate midfielder.

Apart from his impressive ball intelligence, the eminent soccer maestro has been named one of the greatest dribblers ever.

Zinedine Zidane who is popular as Zizou, joined Juventus in 1992 and led them to various victories where they won titles such as the Serie A twice, and both the Supercoppa Italiana and the UEFA Champions League three times.


7. Michel Platini

Currently the head of UEFA, in his time, Platini was the king of the pitch. He is easily considered one of the best free-kickers and passers ever, despite being a terrific midfielder.

After Henry Thierry, the iconic French athlete has scored the second most goals for his national team and won the 1984 European Championship as a top-scorer with nine goals.

Four years after Platini joined Juventus, he won two league championships, one European Cup, one European Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup title for his team.

8. Ronaldo Nazario

Best soccer players of all time

The original Ronaldo, who was nicknamed ‘The Phenomenon’, is the football face of a generation. He has been named the ultimate all-round footballer with physical dominance, technical ability and an appealing instinct for where he was needed.

Besides, the beloved soccer master is the youngest player to have received the FIFA Player of the Year award. Also, Nazario won two Ballon D’Or’s, two World Cups and holds the record for most goals scored in the World Cup.

9.Kylian Mbappe

Best soccer players of all time
France’s forward Kylian Mbappe runs during the UEFA Nations League football match Austria v France at the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna, Austria on June 10, 2022. (Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP)

When the question, ‘Who is the best soccer player ever?’ comes up, many football fans mention Kylian Mbappe. As a mere teenager, he led his country to victory in the 2018 World Cup. Although they did not win, Mbappe scored all three of France’s goals against Argentina in the 2022 World Cup finals.

Evidently, the young football sensation is on the path to becoming one of the best soccer players to exist at only 23 years old.  


10.Alfredo di Stefano

Acknowledged as the best Spanish player of the 20th century, Stefano was a rare gem for Real Madrid football club. The notable forward led them in earning five consecutive European Cup titles and eight La Liga Championships.

Moreover, Alfredo di Stefano has won several personal awards such as the Ballon d’Or, World Soccer, and the UEFA President’s Award. He has amazing skills and football tactics that have helped him become one of top-scorers of La Liga.

11. Gerd Muller

As one of the all-time top scorers of the Bundesliga, Muller has led West Germany to victory severally. He played for West Germany and helped them win FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships.

The esteemed player is considered one of those players with more goals than games, having scored 1251 goals from 998 games. Gerd Muller’s striking skills have earned him awards such as the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot and a Footballer of the Year awards.

12. Neymar

Best soccer players of all time
PHOTO | Twitter

Neymar is a super-talented football player from Brazil, a country that has produced legends such as Ronaldo and Pele.

During his time at FC Barcelona, he earned two La Liga titles and a Champions League title. Moreover, the distinguished football star scored four Ligue 1 titles with Paris St. Germain.

More recently, Neymar joined Cristiano Ronaldo in turning the Saudi Professional League into a more well-known one.

Quick facts about best soccer players of all time

Who is the greatest player in football history?

Renowned footballer, Pele is considered the ultimate GOAT of football. He is the only footballer to ever win three World Cup championships.

Is Ronaldo the best soccer player of all time?

Ronaldo is one of the rare soccer players to have won five Champions League titles. Also, in terms of top goals scored in professional football, he holds the top spot.

Who is best Messi or Pele?

This question has sparked debates that has gone on for several years. While people from older generations may speak of Pele, the younger generations may side with Messi.

Who is the best man soccer player?

Lionel Messi holds the title of best FIFA men’s player. He has scored the most goals for Barcelona FC and is evidently the greatest player of his generation.

Some of the best soccer players of all time are those who have left a lasting imprint in the memories of fans worldwide. Through their dedication and incredible performances, these legendary champions have not only entertained us, but have also inspired future generations of soccer players. The contributions they have made have elevated soccer to new heights and solidified their place among the best soccer players ever.

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