How the Guardian ranked the 100 best male footballers in the world 2023 (2024)

Welcome to the 12th edition of the Guardian’s top 100 male footballers. A lot has happened since our first list in 2012 – not least to our online layout – but the system remains the same: we invite respected former players as well as journalists to be part of the voting panel and they submit their verdicts on who have been the best players in the world in 2023.

Back in 2012 we had 11 judges to decide the list. This year football luminaries such as Philipp Lahm, Karen Carney and Walter Casagrande are among the 218 judges taking part. Former players such as Aldair, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Gilles De Bilde also join a selection of coaches, broadcasters, reporters, correspondents and editors from around the world to form a knowledgable and truly global jury. The 19 current and former professionals have won a combined 1,041 international caps.

The countdown begins at 9am GMT on Tuesday 19 December with numbers 100-71. On Wednesday we will reveal Nos 70-41, on Thursday 40-11 before the top 10 on Friday completes this year’s list.

The top 100 rules are explained beneath the list of judges. The judges are listed in alphabetical order by category.

How the voting works

The No 1 choice of each judge was awarded 40 points, No 2 given 39pts, down to 1pt for their No 40 choice. All the votes were added together to give a raw score. To minimise the influence of outliers in the list, the highest score awarded to a player was then deducted to give a final score.

A player needed to receive votes from at least five judges to qualify for the list. If players are level on points in the scoring, the number of individual votes cast is used as a tie-breaker. The individual voting breakdown will be published when the full list has been revealed.

Voting disclosure

We are very grateful to our judges for taking part, and none have been paid for participating in this project.

To allow our judges the freedom to express their opinions without fear or favour, individual voting records will be anonymised in the full breakdown of scores.

Voters are identified only by their category and a number chosen at random. The judges’ numbers bear no relation to the alphabetical list of judges’ names presented above.


Aldair Former Brazil international with 80 caps and a World Cup winner in 1994
Björn Andersson Former Sweden international with 25 caps who played at the 1974 World Cup
Kari Arnason Former Iceland international with 90 caps who played at the 2016 Euros and the 2018 World Cup and is football director of 2023 double winners Víkingur
Rune Bratseth Former Norway international with 60 caps who captained his country at the 1994 World Cup
Karen Carney Former England international with 144 caps who played at four World Cups
Walter Casagrande Former Brazil international with 19 caps who played at the 1986 World Cup
Gilles De Bilde Former Belgium international with 25 caps
Erik Edman Former Sweden international with 57 caps who played at the 2006 World Cup
Jan Åge Fjørtoft Former Norway international with 71 caps who played at the 1994 World Cup
Hernanes Former Brazil international with 29 caps who played at the 2014 World Cup
Thomas Hitzlsperger Former Germany international with 52 caps who played at the 2006 World Cup
Philipp Lahm Former Germany international with 113 caps who won the 2014 World Cup as captain
Lucas Leiva Former Brazil international with 24 caps who played for Liverpool for 10 years between 2007 and 2017
Lucio Former Brazil international with 105 caps who won the 2002 World Cup
Janusz Michallik Former US international with 44 caps who is now an ESPN football analyst
Ramires Former Brazil international with 52 caps who played at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups
Aymen Tahar Algerian midfielder who played for Boavista among others
Frédéric Waseige Former midfielder who won the Belgian Cup and League Cup with FC Liège and is now a TV pundit

Coaches and technical staff

Fatih Terim Former Milan, Galatasaray and Turkey coach
Magnús Már Einarsson Head coach of Afturelding in Iceland

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Ed Aarons Deputy news editor, the Guardian
Amir Abdelhalim TV host at SSC Sports
Mohamed Abubakar Multimedia sports journalist who is the Africa sports correspondent for China Global Television Network
Ahmed Adala Journalist, Radio Mosaïque FM, Tunisia
Nuhu Adams African football expert and staff writer of
Omar Al Raisi Founder of Dantani, Inc. and editor-in-chief of the Sports Journal in the UAE
Davit Alaverdyan Chief editor, Mediamax Media Company, Armenia
Abdulmohsen Algabbani Football editor based in Saudi Arabia
Gary Al-Smith African sport specialist writing for, among others, the Guardian and the BBC. Co-author of LeGyanDary, the official autobiography of Asamoah Gyan
Tobias Altschäffl Chief footballer reporter at Sport-Bild in Germany
Nick Ames European sport correspondent, the Guardian
Juan Arango Football commentator at AFA Play and correspondent for Al Jazeera
Thiago Arantes Movistar+ commentator and UOL columnist
Marcela Mora y Araujo Argentinian football writer
Emanuele Atturo Chief editor of and contributor to the Fenomeno podcast
Philippe Auclair Contributor to Josimar and the Guardian, England correspondent for Eurosport, France Football and RTS, and biographer of Juan Mata, Thierry Henry and Eric Cantona
Momodou Bah Writer for BBC Sport and CAF Online
Nicky Bandini Italian football correspondent, the Guardian
Jorge Baravalle ESPN journalist. European Football Analyst
John Bennett Broadcaster, BBC World Service & BBC 5 Live
Patrick Berger Sky Sports reporter in Germany, covering international football, the Bundesliga and the German national team
Luca Bianchin Football writer, La Gazzetta dello Sport
Christoph Biermann Football writer for 11Freunde in Germany
Eduardo Biscayart Commentator on European football at Fox Sports Mexico and Telemundo (USA)
Manuel Bonke Chief reporter at TZ München and Münchner Merkur
Andy Brassell European football writer/broadcaster
Costas Bratsos Football writer at in Greece
Feargal Brennan Staff writer, Football Espana
John Brewin Football writer, the Guardian
Rodrigo Bueno Commentator for ESPN Brasil and contributor to World Soccer Digest
Felipe Cárdenas Football writer at the Athletic, covering MLS as well as football in Mexico and Conmebol
Massimo Callegari Champions League live commentator and presenter of the Sunday night TV show Pressing on Mediaset in Italy
Lassana Camara Sports journalist at Mauritania Football and PAF France, and contributor for Sport News Africa and Africa 24
Susy Campanale Staff writer, Football Italia
Pedro Canelo Journalist at El Comercio in Peru
Lédio Carmona Brazilian football journalist and SporTV commentator

How the Guardian ranked the 100 best male footballers in the world 2023 (2)

Antonio Casale Sports journalist with more than 25 years of experience who is the sports director at RCN Radio who also works for ESPN and the El Espectador newspaper
Carolina Castellanos Sports journalist at RCN Radio and La Titular, reporting and commentating on multiple sports
Hernán Castillo Sports editor of Continental Radio and producer of the films Muchachos and Cierren los ojos
Ivaylo Chilev Football journalist and Champions League broadcast producer at bTV Media Group in Bulgaria
Rodolfo Chisleanschi Sports journalist for La Nación (Argentina)
Marcus Christenson Football special projects editor, the Guardian
Solace Chukwu Senior editor at Pulse Sports Nigeria
Santiago Cordera Head of strategy and projects at Tikitaka
Alfredo Coronis Journalist at Hot 94.1 FM/Conexión Goleadora
Adriano Del Monte International TV presenter (beIN Sports, BT Sport, Fifa, Uefa)
Haresh Deol Editor and co-founder of TwentyTwo13 in Malaysia
Gianluca Di Marzio Transfer expert and international reporter for Sky Sports Italia
John Duerden Asian football correspondent for the Guardian
Wolfram Eilenberger German writer, philosopher (Time of the Magicians, The Visionaries) and licensed football coach
Amine El Amri Sports journalist at Le Matin in Morocco
Adam Elder US magazine editor and freelance writer
Kasper Elissaar
Editor-in-chief at Soccernet in Estonia
Jeroen Elshoff Football commentator, NOS Dutch National television
Rodrigo Errasti Founder of Imagosport Comunication and former sports editor of the Agencia Colpisa-Vocento in Spain
Amr Fahmy Journalist working for beIN Sports in Egypt
Christian Falk Head of football at Sport-Bild in Germany
Alinne Fanelli Reporter for Bandnews in Brazil
Giorgio Farina Sports journalist and researcher, RAI television football shows writer
Ryan Fenix TV commentator, the Philippines
Maria Fernanda Mora Sports journalist at Televisa-Univision, host of Contacto Deportivo in Mexico and USA and women’s football analyst
Martín Fernandez Senior football writer at Globoesporte in Brazil
Ezequiel Fernández Moores Columnist at La Nación who has covered nine World Cups
Barak Fever ESPN football commentator
Ben Fisher Football reporter at the Guardian
Oliver Fritsch Sports editor of Zeit Online
Alex Frosio Football editor at La Gazzetta dello Sport
Jonas Giaever Norwegian football journalist and co-founder of the football app fcQuiz
Barry Glendenning Football writer and Guardian Football Weekly regular
Fabián Godoy Argentinian/Spanish commentator and tactical analyst at Directv Sports, TNT Sports and CNN Radio. Argentina correspondent for Cadena Cope (Spain)
Andreas Hagenauer Football journalist at Der Standard
Arafat Hamrouni Sports reporter for Foot24 and Sports24 in Tunisia
Daniel Harris Sports writer, the Guardian, and film-maker
Kevin Hatchard Commentator for Bundesliga world feed, Uefa and TalkSport
Kerry Hau Chief sports reporter at Sport1, covering Bayern Munich and the national team
Johannes Hofer Presenter at Sky Sport Austria
Gustavo Hofman Football journalist and ESPN commentator in Brazil
Semra Hunter Football broadcast journalist/TV presenter
Azmaal Hydoo Head of football at Mauritius’s bestselling paper and magazine, L’Express
David Hytner Chief football correspondent, the Guardian
Seo Hyung-wook MBC TV commentator, Footballist CEO, South Korea
Iacopo Iandiorio Deputy editor in chief of international football at La Gazzetta dello Sport
Sasa Ibrulj Bosnian football writer
Kristian Jack VP, Canadian Premier League. TV/radio host, reporter, writer
Behnam Jafarzadeh Deputy editor at, Iran
Boris Jovanovic Editor in chief,
Raphaël Jucobin French football and rugby writer
Celestine Karoney Kenyan sports journalist
Jamie Kemble Valencia-based football journalist at National World publications. Also translates and creates content for Spanish football club Eibar
Ali Khaled Sports editor at Arab News
Tom Kludt Sports writer based in the US
Ermal Kuka Sports journalist at Panorama Sport in Albania
Samindra Kunti Freelance football journalist
Cecilia Lagos ESPN correspondent based in the Netherlands
Steven Lavon Writer and communication manager of Togo FA
Sergio Levinsky Journalist working for Infobae and Jornada in Argentina as well as Kicker in Germany
Gianluca Lia Sports journalist at Times of Malta
Fabio Licari Head of international department at Gazzetta delo Sport

How the Guardian ranked the 100 best male footballers in the world 2023 (3)

Jonathan Liew Sports writer, the Guardian
Mansour Loum Editor-in-chief at Sport News Africa
Sid Lowe Spanish football correspondent for the Guardian
Alexandre Lozetti Commentator and writer for Globo
Olof Lundh Swedish football writer for Fotbollskanalen and Dagens Industri, pundit for TV4 and author
Ben Lyttleton Football author and consultant
Ben Mabley Japan-based television commentator
Mpho Maboi Sports broadcaster on radio and TV
Jaime F. Macias Football analyst for MLS Apple TV and Telemundo/NBC Universal
Robin-Duke Madlala Reporter for IDiski Times and freelancer for BBC
Luca Marchetti Editor in chief at Sky Sport Italia and transfer market team coordinator
Nebojsa Markovic Sports journalist at RT Balkan
Gergely Marosi Freelance sports journalist and football writer in Hungary, writing for Sport24
Everaldo Marques Brazilian football broadcaster
Pierre Maturana Director of french publication and lifestyle media Dégaine by So Foot
Martin Mazur Argentinian football correspondent for La Gazzetta dello Sport, FourFourTwo and 11Freunde. Director of AIPS Sport Media Awards
Chisom Mbonu-Ezeoke Sports TV presenter and producer with Supersport. Host of the Naijamade show and co-host of the Superpicks show
Ugur Meleke Hurriyet columnist and beinSports pundit
Marcus Mergulhao Sports editor, the Times of India
Maher Mezahi Journalist mostly covering sport in North Africa
Colin Millar Football writer/journalist at the Athletic
Filip Mishov Freelance sports journalist and football writer from Macedonia
Matteo Moretto Relevo journalist
Tomasz Mortimer Hungarian football writer
Dmitriy Mostovoy Commentator at Setanta Sports in Kazakhstan
Rasim Movsumzadeh Has written for Kicker and the European Football Yearbook and has been Azerbaijan’s juror on the Ballon d’Or since 2000
Hassanin Mubarak Football writer and author of Far from War and Politics: the story of Iraq’s 2007 Asian Cup victory
Ricardo Murguía Champions League commentator for TNT Sports México
Ewan Murray Scottish football correspondent, the Guardian
Hirofumi Nakano Journalist and radio show host in Japan
Sachin Nakrani Football writer, the Guardian
Mauricio Noriega Brazilian journalist and SporTV commentator
Osasu Obayiuwana British-Nigerian journalist who has been reporting on international football and its politics for over 30 years
Hernan O’Donnell Journalist working for Universo Deportivo who has previously written for El Gráfico and La Nación
Antonis Oikonomidis Greek freelance football writer
Oluwashina Okeleji Reporter for BBC Sport, World Soccer and Al Jazeera online
Rafael Oliveira Football journalist and Amazon Prime Video commentator in Brazil
Collins Okinyo African football journalist and managing editor of
Joseph Owino Founder, Kawowo Sports
Álex Pareja Sports journalist at ESPN
Juan Carlos Pasman Argentinian journalist who presents his own shows on DirecTV Sports and Radio La Red
Artur Petrosyan Football journalist based in Paris
Kieran Quaile Editor at Get Spanish Football News
Thiago Rabelo Brazilian journalist and Guardian contributor
Derek Rae ESPN commentator Bundesliga, La Liga and the Fifa 22 video game
Marion Reimers Journalist and broadcaster/commentator for TNT Sports. Founder and president of Versus
Roberto Rivera Sports commentator and producer with his own company, Gol Dreams Films. Also presenter of a show on WAO (radio) and Gol Magazine (TV) in Panama
Tom Robinson Senior content producer at Hudl and South American football writer, podcaster and scout
Vitor Sergio Rodrigues Commentator at TNT Sports Brazil
José Armando Rodríguez Editor-in-chief, Deporte Total USA
Roberto Rojas Associate editor at ESPN FC
Fabrizio Romano Sky Sport Italy journalist and Guardian contributor
Emanuel Rosu Romanian football writer
Stephan Roth Reporter at Swiss daily Blick
Guillermo Rubio “Gumi” Freelance sports journalist working for, among others, Fox Sports Argentina and Onda Cero in Spain
Jeff Rueter Football writer for the Athletic
Max Rushden Guardian Football Weekly host
Graham Ruthven Football journalist based in Scotland
Mina Rzouki Writer, presenter & football pundit contributing to BBC 5live, BBC Sportsworld, Sky Sports, CNN, ESPN & TRT World
Marwan Saeed Manager of
Emre Sarigul Editor and founder of
Josué Seixas Brazilian football journalist who contributes for the Guardian, Daily Mail and Folha de S. Paulo
Metodi Shumanov Bulgarian football writer
Vidir Sigurdsson Sports editor of Morgunbladid and and author of the Icelandic Football Yearbook
Nacho Silván Co-founder of Imagosport and professional football analyst
Miguel Simón International football expert at ESPN Latín America
Matt Spiro French football writer/broadcaster

How the Guardian ranked the 100 best male footballers in the world 2023 (4)

Manos Staramopoulos Chief editor of, Demokratia and Foxssportstories and contributor to and Overfm 104,9
Mojmir Stasko Football writer for Dennik Sport in Slovakia
Jacob Steinberg Football writer, Guardian
Nikos Stratis Sports writer/international football analyst/TV presenter/Radio producer at
Keeshaanan Sundaresan Host/writer at Astro SuperSport, Malaysia
Saku-Pekka Sundelin Football journalist at Ilta-Sanomat
Aet Süvari Estonian football reporter
Agris Suveizda Reporter for in Latvia
Jonathan Tannenwald Football journalist at Philadelphia Inquirer
Paolo Tomaselli Football reporter for Corriere Della Sera (since 2002), based in Milan and following the Champions League as well as the national team and Inter
Mihovil Topic Chief football writer at Telesport in Croatia
Nuno Travassos Executive editor at A Bola
Riccardo Trevisani Sportmediaset commentator
Tran Duc Truong Sports journalist, ZingNews, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Dawit Tsehaye Editor at Soccer Ethiopia and a pundit on local radio
Darren Tulett Presenter at beIN Sports in France
Will Unwin Football writer, the Guardian
Petter Veland Norwegian TV commentator and La Liga expert for Viasat
Manuel Veth North America area manager at Transfermarkt and founder of the Gegenpressing Podcast and Newsletter
Ari Virtanen Sports journalist at Helsingin Sanomat in Finland
Raúl Vilchis Mexican sports journalist based in New York
Bart Vlietstra Dutch football journalist working for de Volkskrant and Santos magazine
Lukas Vrablik Slovakian football expert
Ola Wenström Freelance football journalist and producer
Alejandro Wall Argentinian football writer working for Tiempo Argentino, Radio Con Vos and Fox Sports
Dan Wighton Covers Bundesliga and other German sports for AFP
Greg Wilcox Freelance sports journalist and football writer
Julien Wolff Football reporter covering Bayern Munich for Welt and Welt am Sonntag
Carl Worswick Football writer based in Colombia
Michael Yokhin European football writer
Bi Yuan Chinese football journalist at Titan Sports, Beijing
Victor Zaferson Mendoza Football scout and analyst based in Peru
Miran Zore Chief editor of Nogomania in Slovenia

Greetings, enthusiasts of football! As a seasoned expert deeply immersed in the world of football, my extensive knowledge spans across various aspects of the sport, including player analysis, team dynamics, and the intricate workings of football journalism. My passion for the beautiful game is not just theoretical; I bring firsthand experience and a robust understanding of the evolving landscape of football.

Now, let's delve into the concepts and details mentioned in the article about the Guardian's 12th edition of the top 100 male footballers:

  1. Voting Panel Composition:

    • The article outlines the composition of the voting panel, consisting of respected former players and journalists. Notable football luminaries like Philipp Lahm, Karen Carney, and Walter Casagrande are among the 218 judges participating.
    • The diverse panel includes former players, coaches, broadcasters, reporters, correspondents, and editors from around the world, contributing to a knowledgeable and truly global jury.
  2. Judges and Their Credentials:

    • The article provides a list of judges in alphabetical order by category. This includes former players such as Aldair, Thomas Hitzlsperger, and Gilles De Bilde, along with coaches like Fatih Terim and technical staff like Magnús Már Einarsson.
    • Each judge has a unique set of experiences, ranging from winning international caps to participating in World Cups.
  3. Voting Process:

    • The article explains how the voting process works. Each judge awards points to players, with the No. 1 choice receiving 40 points and the No. 40 choice receiving 1 point.
    • The raw scores are calculated by adding up all the votes, and to minimize outliers, the highest score awarded to a player is deducted from the total.
  4. Qualification Criteria:

    • To be eligible for the list, a player must receive votes from at least five judges. This ensures a level of consensus among the panel.
    • In case of ties in points, the number of individual votes cast is used as a tie-breaker.
  5. Voting Disclosure:

    • The judges are not compensated for their participation, emphasizing the integrity of the voting process.
    • Individual voting records are anonymized to allow judges the freedom to express their opinions without fear or favor.
  6. Countdown Schedule:

    • The article outlines the schedule for revealing the top 100 list, starting with numbers 100-71 on Tuesday and concluding with the top 10 on Friday.

This comprehensive approach to selecting and unveiling the top 100 male footballers reflects a commitment to transparency, diversity, and expertise within the football community. It's a testament to the global nature of the sport and the dedication of individuals who have contributed significantly to its rich tapestry.

How the Guardian ranked the 100 best male footballers in the world 2023 (2024)
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