Greatest Soccer Players
The soccer history has seen many amazing talents with their varied playing styles. Some of the most versatile football players belonged to traditional powerhouses like Brazil, Argentina, Germany, England, but many footballers also came into public notice for their sole creativity on the ground, irrespective of their national representation. World Cup is a vital platform where many budding footballers became superstars of the football industry. But while defining an amazing player, international football performance is not the sole criteria. Gabriel Batistuta and Lionel Messi are often considered among the greatest footballers of Argentina, but they were not able to lead their national teams to World Cup victory. Same goes for Christiano Ronaldo, who never won a World Cup, but is considered one of the greatest players of modern football. So with various aspects in mind, here is the list of top 10 greatest soccer players of all time.
Top 10 Greatest Soccer Players of All Time
Retired Brazilian footballer Pelé was listed in the Guinness World Records for most career goals scored in football history with his 1281 goals in 1363 matches. He was named World Player of the Century in 1999 by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, and Football Player of the Century by France Football in the same year. Pelé was a ranked Athlete of the Century by the IOC in 1999. Time also enlisted him in their 100 most influential people of the 20th century. He received the FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur as a global football icon in 2013. He is also the most successful league goal scorer in the world with his 541 league goals. He is the only player to win three FIFA World Cups in 1985, 1962 and 1970, and also became the all-time highest goalscorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 matches. He became the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos in 2010.
2. Diego Maradona
Former Argentine footballer Diego Maradona captained Argentina and led them to victory against West Germany in the final of 1986 World Cup and won the Golden Ball in the same occasion. He appeared as the captain of the Argentinian national football team in World Cups a record 16 times. He was named FIFA Player of the 20th Century, jointly with Pelé. His famous “Hand of God” goal against England in 1986 World Cup was voted The Goal of the Century by FIFA in 2002. Maradona is the only player to set the world record transfer fee twice in football history, with his £5 million transfer to Barcelona and £6.9 million transfer to Napoli. His autobiography, Yo Soy El Diego, became an instant bestseller in 2000. Argentine Football Association requested FIFA to retire the jersey number 10 for Maradona in 2001, although FIFA didn’t grant the request. He was declared The Greatest World Cup players of all time by The Times in 2010.
3. Johan Cruyff
Former Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff won the Ballon d’Or three times in 1971, 1973 and 1974. He led the Netherlands football team to the 1974 FIFA World Cup final and won the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament. He was named European Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics in 1991, and also placed second after Pelé in their World Player of the Century voting. Cruyff was ranked third in Football Player of the Century by France Football in 1999. He was also named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players by Pelé in 2004. He was included on the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, and the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002. During his glorious career, Cruyff became the synonym of the playing style Total Football, and also was nicknamed the Pythagoras in Boots. Cruyff ranked sixth in the list of the 100 Greatest Dutch People in 2004.
4. Franz Beckenbauer
Retired German footballer Franz Beckenbauer was nicknamed Der Kaiser or The Emperor for his elegant playing style. He played three FIFA World Cups and appeared 103 times for West Germany. He was twice named European Footballer of the Year. Beckenbauer was included in the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998 and the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002. He was also inducted in the list of FIFA 100 of the world’s greatest living players in 2004 by Pelé. During his club career, he won the UEFA Cup with Bayern Munich in 1967. He was also inducted in the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame. After his retirement, he works as a football analyst in Sky Germany and also writes a regular column for the Bild. He was also bestowed with Cross of the Order of Merit, one of the highest civil awards of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1976.
5. Gerd Müller
Retired German footballer Gerd Müller is now eleventh on the list of Highest International Goalscorers of All Time despite playing lesser matches than others on the list. He was nicknamed Bomber der Nation due to his amazing scoring abilities. Müller was named European Footballer of the Year in 1970. He received the Golden Boot scoring 10 goals at the 1970 World Cup for West Germany. He also held the all-time highest goal-scoring record in the World Cup with 14 goals until it was broken by Ronaldo at the 2006 World Cup. Müller was ranked ninth in the European player of the Century by the IFFHS in 1999 and voted thirteenth in the World Player of the Century by IFFHS in the same year. He was also inducted in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players by Pelé in 2004. Müller scored 68 international goals in his 62 appearances for West Germany national football team.
6. Ferenc Puskas
Former Hungarian footballer FerencPuskas scored 84 international goals during his 85 appearances for Hungary. He led his team to victory in 1952 Olympic and also led his country to the final of the 1954 World Cup where he became Player of the Tournament. He won three European Cups, five Hungarian national cups, five Spanish PrimeraDivisión and he also holds eight top individual scoring honors during his career. He also won four Pichichi Trophy while playing with Real Madrid. Puskas was named the Top Scorer Of The 20th Century by the IFFHS in 1995. In his honor, the Népstadion ground in Budapest was renamed the PuskásFerencStadion in 2002. He was named The Best Hungarian Player of The Last 50 Years in the UEFA Jubilee Awards by the Hungarian Football Federation in 2003. FIFA introduced the FIFA Puskás Award in his honor for the most beautiful goal in 2009.
7. Zinedine Zidane
Former French footballer Zinedine Zidane was voted the Best European Footballer of The Past 50 Years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll in 2004. Along with French national team, he also played for Juventus and Real Madrid in club leagues. Zidane won two Series A championships with Juventus and La Liga titles and the UEFA Championship with Real Madrid. He was a pioneer member of 1998 FIFA World Cup winning French national team and scored twice in the final. For his 1998 World Cup legacy and his contribution to the French football, he received the Légiond’honneur France in 1998. He was named Player of the Tournament in 2000 UEFA Euro. Zidane won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times and the Ballon d’Or once. He was named Player of the Year in 1996 Ligue 1, Footballer of the Year in 2001 Serie A, Best Foreign Player in 2002 La Liga and also received the Golden Ball at the 2006 World Cup.
Former Brazilian footballer Garrincha often considered as the best dribbler in football history. He won the FIFA World Cup with the Brazil national team in 1958 and 1962. He received the Golden Ball for player of the tournament and the Golden Boot as leading goalscorer in the 1962 World Cup. He was inducted in the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team in 1994. As an interesting fact, Brazil never lost a match while Garrincha and Pelé both played together for the team. He was voted seventh in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury voting in 1999. He was inducted into the Brazilian Football Hall of Fame and also became a member of the World Team of the 20th Century. During 1962 season, he won Best Player of the Brazilian Championship, Best Player of the Rio-São Paulo Tournament and Best Player of Interstate Club Champions Cup. This legendary winger of Brazilian national football team died in 1983 due to cirrhosis of the liver.
Retired Brazilian footballer Ronaldo is one of the only three men to won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times. He twice won the Ballon d’Or in 1997 and 2002. He won UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award in 1997. He was included in the Greatest Ever Starting Eleven by France Football in 2007. He was also inducted in the FIFA 100 list of The Greatest Living Players by Pelé in 2004. He also became the member of the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2006. Ronaldo scored 62 international goals during his career in Brazilian national football team. He led Brazil to the final of the 1998 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball for player of the tournament. He also led his team to the victory of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and won the Golden Boot as top goalscorer while scoring twice in the final. He became one of the six Ambassadors of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2013.
10. Lothar Matthäus
Retired German footballer LotharMatthäus captained West Germany to victory in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. He netted the ball 23 times during his 150 internationals. He played five FIFA World Cups from 1982 till 1998. With his 25 appearances during his career, he holds the record for the most World Cup matches played by a single player. He was named European Footballer of the Year in 1990 and also won UEFA Euro 1980. He is the first and only member from Germany to be named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1991. He was voted German Footballer of the Year twice in 1990 and 1999. Matthäus was inducted in the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living football players by Pelé in 2004. Football legend Diego Maradona in his book Yo soy el Diego said, “He is the best rival I’ve ever had. I guess that’s enough to define him.”
There are many other football legends like Sir Geoff Hurst, who are still ruling the hearts of millions of soccer fans. He is the only man in the soccer history till date to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final. But due to political correctness of Pelé while compiling FIFA 100 list of The Greatest Living Players, England’s legend Sir Geoff Hurst didn’t get any place in the list irrespective of his achievements.
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