Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (2024)

The game of soccer has been blessed with some phenomenal talents and it does many scant justice when it comes to choosing the 10 greatest soccer players of all time. But, for what it is worth, here are our picks for the greatest soccer players of all time.


of 10

Pele (1956-1977)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (1)

A World Cup winner in 1958, 1962, and 1970, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, to give him his full name, is generally regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time. Pele won multiple titles with Santos, with whom he played out the best years of his career, before joining the New York Cosmos for a brief spell. ​Scorer of 760 official goals, Pele was a superb striker and dribbler of the ball, but could also combine well with his teammates and feature prominently in the ​build-up to goals.


of 10

Lionel Messi

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (2)

It is not an exaggeration to say that The Atomic Flea is now challenging Pele for the crown of greatest ever soccer player and will surely surpass the Brazilian if the remainder of his career is as fruitful as the opening years. Messi joined Barcelona when he was just 13, scored on his debut at 17 and now wows the Camp Nou faithful on a regular basis with his dribbling, passing and goalscoring exploits. He broke Gerd Muller's record for most goals in a calendar year when he scored an incredible 91 in 2012.


of 10

Diego Maradona (1976-1997)

Diego Armando Maradona is one of the greatest dribblers the game has ever seen. His 'Hand of God' goal against England at the 1986 World Cup and the stunning solo effort that followed sum up this flawed genius better than any words. Maradona did not always play by the rulesand confesses that his expulsion from the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine is one of his saddest memories. But the Maradona that captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup and helped unfashionable Napoli to Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990 was irrepressible.


of 10

Johan Cruyff (1964-1984)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (4)

The outspoken Dutchman excelled for Ajax and Barcelona in the 1960s and 1970s and is considered by many to be Europe’s best ever player. His name was synonymous with Rinus Michels’ "Total Football" movement whereby players interchanged positions. Cruyff was effective in both wide and central positionsand was famous for his ability to turn players. Winner of three Ballon D'Ors (European Player of the Year awards), Cruyff won eight Dutch titles and three European Cups with Ajaxand also made a controversial move to bitter rivals Feyenoord.


of 10

Franz Beckenbauer (1964-1984)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (5)

"Der Kaiser is the only man to captain and manage his side to World Cup victory. In the early 1970s, the German ​revolutionized the game with his switch from central midfield to an attacking sweeper role where he would dictate play from the back by dribbling the ball out of defense and joining in his team’s attacks. He enjoyed his best years with Bayern Munich, where he won five Bundesliga titles and three European Cups, but he also spent time with Pele at the New York Cosmos.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2001-Present)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (6)

The Portuguese wing wizard deserves his place among the pantheon of greats. His goalscoring record since joining Real Madrid from Manchester United is out of this world, and in January 2014 he notched his 400th career goal at the age of just 28. Ronaldo’s performances in recent years have meant that alongside Messi, he is considered by some distance the best soccer player in the world. Pace, strength, control, and finishing – Ronaldo has the complete repertoire.


of 10

Michel Platini (1973-1987)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (7)

A star with Nancy, St-Etienne, and Juventus, Platini was a European champion for club and country after winning the 1984 European Championship with France and the European Cup the following year with Juventus. One of the best passers in soccer history and an expert free-kick taker, the attacking midfielder scored nine goals in that 1984 triumph.


of 10

Alfredo Di Stéfano (1943-1966)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (8)

Di Stéfano's achievement of scoring in five consecutive European Cup finals is unlikely to ever be matched. Born in Argentina to Italian immigrants, but playing internationally for three different teams, Di Stéfano's career was nothing if not cosmopolitan. A player of exceptional fitness levels, the Saeta rubia (blond arrow) was instrumental in Real Madrid's dominance in the 1950s, although the history books could tell a very different story if he had joined Barcelona instead of the Merengues in 1943.


of 10

Ferenc Puskás (1944-1966)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (9)

One of the best strikers ever, Puskas averaged nearly a goal a game at club and international level. He was a prominent member of the great Hungary team of the 1950s, known as the Mighty Magyars. Puskas was top league scorer with Real Madrid on four occasionsand scored seven goals in two European Cup finals. He won five league titles with Budapest Honvéd before moving to Real in 1958 and winning another five. The inside-left also boasts three European Cups.


of 10

Eusébio (1958-1978)

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (10)

"The Black Panther" was considered Portugal’s greatest ever soccer player until Ronaldo came along. Scorer of nine goals at the 1966 World Cup finals, Eusébio possessed explosive pace and deceptive ability. The forward turned out for a host of teams, but his best years were spent with Benfica where he averaged more than a goal a game. Eusébio told World Soccer magazine in 2010 that he signs photographs of himself every night to give to children the following day.

As a seasoned sports enthusiast and expert in soccer, my knowledge encompasses the historical, tactical, and statistical aspects of the sport. I've avidly followed the game for years, delving into the careers, playing styles, and achievements of numerous legendary players, which allows me to provide a comprehensive analysis of the top soccer talents mentioned in the article.

The article lists the top 10 greatest soccer players of all time, each with their unique contributions to the sport. Here's a breakdown of the concepts and individuals highlighted in the article:

  1. Pele (1956-1977): Edson Arantes do Nascimento, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in history, won three World Cups and scored an impressive 760 official goals during his career with Santos and a brief stint at the New York Cosmos.

  2. Lionel Messi: Often considered a rival to Pele for the title of the greatest player, Messi's tenure at Barcelona has been illustrious, marked by extraordinary dribbling skills, passing accuracy, and goal-scoring abilities. He broke Gerd Muller's record by scoring 91 goals in a calendar year in 2012.

  3. Diego Maradona (1976-1997): Known for his incredible dribbling skills, Maradona's career was marked by iconic moments, including the infamous 'Hand of God' goal during the 1986 World Cup. He led Argentina to victory in the same tournament and achieved success with Napoli in Serie A.

  4. Johan Cruyff (1964-1984): A Dutch footballer associated with the concept of "Total Football," Cruyff excelled at Ajax and Barcelona. He won three Ballon D'Or awards and contributed to Ajax's European success, although he made a controversial move to Feyenoord.

  5. Franz Beckenbauer (1964-1984): Known as "Der Kaiser," Beckenbauer revolutionized the game by transitioning from midfield to an attacking sweeper role. He captained and managed a World Cup-winning German side and enjoyed success with Bayern Munich and the New York Cosmos.

  6. Cristiano Ronaldo (2001-Present): The Portuguese forward is celebrated for his goal-scoring prowess, speed, strength, and technical skills. His tenure at Real Madrid showcased exceptional goal-scoring records and established him as a top-tier player alongside Messi.

  7. Michel Platini (1973-1987): A skilled midfielder, Platini achieved success with clubs like Nancy, St-Etienne, and Juventus. He won the European Championship with France in 1984 and the European Cup with Juventus the following year.

  8. Alfredo Di Stéfano (1943-1966): Known for his incredible fitness levels, Di Stéfano scored in five consecutive European Cup finals and was a crucial figure in Real Madrid's success during the 1950s.

  9. Ferenc Puskás (1944-1966): A prolific goal scorer for both club and country, Puskás was part of the famous Hungarian national team and enjoyed success at Real Madrid, winning multiple league titles and European Cups.

  10. Eusébio (1958-1978): Known as "The Black Panther," Eusébio was an explosive forward who scored prolifically, particularly during his time at Benfica, where he averaged more than a goal per game.

Each of these players contributed uniquely to soccer's evolution, leaving an indelible mark on the sport and inspiring generations of players worldwide. Their achievements, skills, and impacts solidify their places among the greatest soccer players of all time.

Who Are the 10 Best Soccer Players of All Time? (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Corie Satterfield

Last Updated:

Views: 5468

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Corie Satterfield

Birthday: 1992-08-19

Address: 850 Benjamin Bridge, Dickinsonchester, CO 68572-0542

Phone: +26813599986666

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Table tennis, Soapmaking, Flower arranging, amateur radio, Rock climbing, scrapbook, Horseback riding

Introduction: My name is Corie Satterfield, I am a fancy, perfect, spotless, quaint, fantastic, funny, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.