Top 10 Best Football Players Of All Time

Updated on September 21, 2014
Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan has been an avid fan of the English Premier League and European football for more than 20 years.

Football became a sport in 1848 England.
Football became a sport in 1848 England. | Source

Who Are The Best Football Players?

The creativity and ingenuity that typify the beautiful game would render it an art form if not for the physical context within which the sport is played. What distinguishes football from most other sports is the freedom of expression granted to the players. While baseball players and cricketers are limited to specific movements, footballers may shoot, pass, tackle or dribble the ball in any variety of ways, allowing the most talented players to reach the very peak of the game.

This list of the best football players does not include currently active stars such as Lionel Messi and Ronaldo. They can be properly judged once their careers are over. The list includes retired players from the entire recorded history of the modern game.

Youtube videos have been found to showcase the skills of the players listed. The Zidane and Diego Maradona videos are recommended for newcomers to the sport who wish to see a demonstration of the artistic brilliance of the beautiful game.

10. George Best - Northern Ireland

George Best's career was plagued by drink problems, but his talent was almost unparalleled. Famed for his dribbling abilities, he won the 1968 European Cup and two league titles during his time with Manchester United. As an attacking midfielder he scored a remarkable 205 goals in 579 games and won the Ballon d'Or in 1968. As Northern Ireland has never been a force in international football, he never made an impact on that stage. At the age of 28 his alcoholism sent his career into rapid decline, and he never achieved as much as his talent promised.

9. Zinedine Zidane - France

Zidane's strengths are his individual skill, ball control, strength and passing. Zidane's best performances were often in the most decisive games, demonstrating a character not seen in many other sportsman. As a central midfielder he scored 159 goals in 789 games. With France he won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championships. With Juventus and Real Madrid he won 3 league titles and one European Cup.

8. Alfredo Di Stefano - Argentina

The first forward on the list has to be Di Stefano. With 511 goals in 702 games he was a prolific goalscorer for Real Madrid. He wasn't your conventional striker though; he appeared all over the pitch, tackling, passing, and dictating the play. He was the most complete player ever to grace the game. With Real Madrid he won an incredible 5 European Cups, scoring in all of the finals. He won 13 league titles in his career (1945-1966). His international record is poor due to not featuring in a World Cup, although he did win a Copa America with Argentina.

7. Ferenc Puskas - Hungary

Puskas was probably the most precise goalscorer ever. Combining his finishing prowess with a general intelligence and ability to invent new skills (such as the drag-back), he scored a sensational 700 goals in 705 appearances during his career (1943-1966). For Real Madrid he won 3 European Cups and 5 league titles. In Hungary he won a further 5 league titles. At international level he led Hungary to the 1954 World Cup Final.

6. Franz Beckenbauer - Germany

Beckenbauer was a sweeper, or a defensive midfielder in today's lingo, but that didn't stop him scoring 111 goals in 776 appearances for Germany and Bayern Munich. Much like Di Stefano, he never had a true position, he was literally everywhere at once, dictating the game and exerting his influence. He was the ultimate captain, but combined with his dribbling, passing and all round technical ability, he was one of the greatest players ever. He won the 1974 World Cup, the 1972 European Championships, as well as 3 European Cups and 8 league titles during his club career.

5. Michel Platini - France

Platini was an attacking midfielder, scoring 353 goals in 652 games. He was an excellent passer and free kick taker, but he combined this with ruthless goal scoring ability. Almost single-handedly he guided France to the 1984 European Championships, scoring 9 goals in the process. He lifted the European Cup with Juventus, and also won 3 league titles in his club career.

4. Zico - Brazil

Often removed from top 10 lists due to his lack of achievements, Zico's footballing ability was never in question. With 527 goals in 769 games he was a prolific goalscorer, but also a remarkable creator of goals with a deft touch and an ability to produce unique shots and skills. As an attacking midfielder, he further combined his talents with heading ability and free-kick mastery to be one of the most complete offensive players ever. He made the famed Liverpool side of the 1980s look like amateurs in the 1981 Intercontinental Cup. He also won the South American equivalent of the European Cup, the Copa Libertadores, and 4 league titles.

3. Johann Cruyff - Netherlands

Cruyff had the skill, control and strength of Zidane and the dribbling and pace of George Best. He was the total footballer, combining a sublime gracefulness with clinical ability and calculating intelligence. He was a prolific goalscorer as well, scoring 401 goals in 710 appearances from attacking midfield. He won 3 European Cups and 10 league titles, but wasn't able to gain an international medal.

2. Pele - Brazil

Pele was the ultimate goal scoring machine in his native Brazil, and is often ranked the best player ever to grace the sport. He scored an incredible 1282 goals in 1366 games. His sheer power, strength, pace and dribbling ability saw him score all varieties of goal for fun. He brought his goal scoring to the World Cup, which saw Brazil win the tournament in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He also won 2 Copa Libertadores and 5 league titles. These victories saw him within teams of highly talented players such as Garrincha and Carlos Alberto. He became a symbol for these teams, and as a result he is often accredited with all of the praise.

1. Diego Maradona - Argentina

Maradona's talent was without a doubt the greatest ever seen in football. His dribbling ability was mesmerizing, his goal scoring was unique and clinical, and his passing and crossing were precise - earning him many assists in his career. From attacking midfield he scored 345 goals in 680 games. With a much more difficult career than Pele, he still won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina as well as 3 league titles, and 1 UEFA Cup with Napoli. Against England he scored one of the greatest goals of all time.

Who is the best retired football player of all time?

See results

In summary, the beautiful game has witnessed many geniuses on the field. Whether you are a football fan or not, these videos should demonstrate the artistic brilliance and unique talent shown by the best football players of all time.

While some of the picks may be controversial, remember this is a top 10 list of the best football players, not the greatest. While pure ability and talent often result in trophies, so does being in a team of other talented players. If Messi won a World Cup it would make him a greater player, but it wouldn't make him a more talented player.

Many players marginally missed out on this list. Honorable mentions go to Eusebio, Marco Van Basten, Garrincha, Dennis Bergkamp, Rivaldo, Gerd Muller, Ronaldo (Brazil), Romario, and Giuseppe Meazza. Current players making a case to be on the list in future include Lionel Messi, Ronaldo (Portugal) and Andres Iniesta.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Thomas Swan

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        firstname surname 

        14 months ago

        Pele is better than Maradona

      • profile image

        hakan 

        14 months ago

        1 messi

        2 c.ronaldo

        3 ronaldo

        4 pele

        5 d.maradona

        6johan crıyff

        7 franz beckenbauer

        9 alfredo di stefano

        10 zico

      • profile image

        Kaan 

        14 months ago

        1 messi

        2 ronaldo

        3 c.ronaldo

        4 pele

        5 d.maradona

        6johan crıyff

        7 franz beckenbauer

        9 alfredo di stefano

        10 zico

        11 puskas

        12 zidane

        13 eusebio

        14 michel platini

        15 boby charlton

        16 lothar matthaus

        17 ruud gullit

        18 franco baresi

        19 paolo maldini

        20 marco van basten

      • profile image

        mattew 

        15 months ago

        george best is overrated in your list

      • profile image

        gabriel fernandez 

        16 months ago

        george best is 10th? really ? eusebio,lothar matthaus,ronaldo fenomeno,cristiano ronaldo,karl heinz rummenigge,paolo maldini,franco baresi,gerd müller,ruud gullit are much better than george best

        english people are overrated.

        You must be english/british

      • Yossef Ziati profile image

        youssef 

        3 years ago from morocco

        good classification , but i think ronaldo should be in your list .

      • profile image

        matt 

        4 years ago

        None of the older players would survive in today's game, pele would struggle to get into the starting 11 of a champions league team. the modern game is faster/ more skilful and better in every way to the glacial style of football played in the past.

      • profile image

        darren , 

        4 years ago

        right the main man missin g is John Charles who would probably make the team twice if experts were asked , was one of best in world at both central defence and centre forward, sorry but really don't know what the fasination with pele is , if he had succeeded in a big european league then maybe , and any player would of looked good in the Brazil team he played in . don't even think he was top Brazilian of his day , just a mention that John Charles has been voted as Italy's best ever foreign player , ,but he can't get in above certain others. will agree that Maradona best ever , as he played in Italy and Spain , and in Italy performed miracles and was the major force behind Argentina winning world cup , Messi is protected in spain and hasn't really set the world alight internationally , but as for Ronaldo even though i'm loathe to say it he has exelled in both the EPL and LA LIGA ..so i would say maradona best closely followed by John Charles. .the final 8 places is a toss up BUT IN MY OPINION BOTH PELE AND AS YET MESSI UNDESERVING OF A PLACE....and please b4 people react to Pele's omission can you give a reason which marks him as special . PERSUADE ME

      • profile image

        M_mali 

        4 years ago

        maradona is the best player for ever

      • erorantes profile image

        Ana Maria Orantes 

        4 years ago from Miami Florida

        Thank you for a beautiful hub. Top 10 Best Football Players Of Time. You did an outstanding article about sports. Specially, the world cup is coming soon in our marvelous Brazil. I love it. Thank you Mr. Thomas Swan.

      • profile image

        joe 

        4 years ago

        Ronaldinho is the best ever

      • AvineshP profile image

        Avinesh Prahladi 

        5 years ago from Chandigarh

        I understand that the list contains some of the best football players, but I must say that two of the most renowned players are missing in the list.

        The list is not complete without these two names - Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.

      • FootyPundit13 profile image

        FootyPundit13 

        5 years ago from London

        Although I understand your reasoning, I think that footballers these days are far superior to those of the old days. My list would be:

        1. Messi

        2. Ronaldo

        3. Pele

        4. Maradona

        5. Cruyff

      • Daniel Cutter profile image

        Daniel Cutter 

        5 years ago

        11. Eusebio

        12. Franz Beckenbauer

        13. Zinedine Zidane

        14. Franco Baresi

        15. Didi

        16. Giuseppe Meazza

        17. Bobby Charlton

        18. Zico

        19. Sandro Mazzola

        20. Stanley Matthews

      • profile image

        LuisS 

        5 years ago

        Maradona #1 DAFUG. We all know Pele was the best ever.3 WC more than 1000 goals. Maradona was good but Can't put him in # one Come on who ever made the list.

        #1.Pele

        #2.Maradona

        #3.Beckenbhauer

        #4.Zidane

        #5.Ronaldinho. he did motivate Barcelona even though iam a Madrid fan.

      • CCahill profile image

        CCahill 

        5 years ago from England

        Yup i guess removing personal bias, upholds the integrity of the article

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        CCahill, yes, I've come to regard Platini as a rather shallow character too. He seems old fashioned, and marginally racist against the English. I don't let that affect this list though. It's only about talent. Maradona was a cheat and a druggy, but his talent was the greatest (in my opinion).

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        touregoddard, I agree that artistry is an important component when judging a player's talent. It's not everything though. I couldn't help thinking that Zidane could have scored more (look at players like Lampard), and he did lack a bit of pace. Bergkamp was a very artistic player and didn't make the top 10, so I think I've ranked Zidane highly, and those above I think are rightly ranked higher.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        Good lists Andy and pmarinov. Andy, that's a lot of Brazilians in your top 10! pmarinov, Ronaldo was excellent but I couldn't place him above Puskas for goalscoring ability, and the way Ronaldo's career ended was very disappointing to see.

      • CCahill profile image

        CCahill 

        5 years ago from England

        No matter how good Platini was, i just can't honor him given his corrupt FIFA connections :P

      • touregoddard profile image

        touregoddard 

        5 years ago from New York

        I'd rank Zidane much higher on the list. When you talk about artistry I don't think any player played the game with more art than Zinedine Zidane. Maradona and the others were all wonderful players, but the variety in Zidane's technique surpasses them all. IMO.

      • pmarinov profile image

        Blogger at Best 

        5 years ago from Detroit MI

        Great hub and topic.

        Here is my Top 5:

        1 - Pele

        2 - Maradona

        3 - Zidane

        4 - Ronaldo

        5 - Platini

      • profile image

        Andy 

        5 years ago

        1. Ronaldo

        2. Maradona

        3. Pele

        4. Puskas

        5. DiStefano

        6. Garrincha

        7. Beckenbauer

        8. Best

        9. Romario

        10. Platini

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        Agreed, I have added Romario to the honorable mentions at the end. Cheers for the comment.

      • profile image

        Danny8oy1 

        5 years ago

        I think that Romario deserves a mention considering the amount he managed to achieve in his career

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        Damn, I'd just written a long reply to everyone who commented, but deleted it by closing two tabs instead of one. Thank you to everyone who commented.

      • Oliver Reed profile image

        Oliver Reed 

        5 years ago

        Its very difficult to actually determine the best 10 footballers as there are so many "genius" players there. So someone has to miss out. I think its a good list, and the current players are quite rightly not involved. Really enjoyed reading.........

        Oliver

      • profile image

        zidanohec 

        5 years ago

        are you serious??!!!Zidane is 9th!!!

        he is the best ball controller in the history of the game...you might argue between him, pele, and maradona, but no doubt Zidane football is the one you'll most enjoy watching

      • profile image

        Socrates 

        5 years ago

        All you so called experts here arguing over who's the best seem to have missed an obvious player who should be in the top 10. ROMARIO. Not only did he win numerous trophies and leagues he also won the world cup and was top scorer in that tournament. Was FIFA player of the year, not to mention a prolific goal scorer at club and international level and has scored over 1000 career goals. He is second to Pele in the most international goals for Brazil and is probably the most talented, skillful and technically gifted penalty box striker ever.

      • profile image

        Tomas 

        5 years ago

        Ronaldo R9 Phenomeno is the best ever.

      • profile image

        Daveyc2001 

        5 years ago

        GUYS, MESSI IS NOT ON THE LIST AS HIS CAREER IS STILL IN PROGRESS, AS THE WRITER OF THIS ARTICLE HAS SAID MULTIPLE TIMES.

        For me i think it's a very hard argument to compare different generations. Players today are fitter and faster however in previous years, rugby tackling was pretty much accepted as a challenge. You could argue that Best, Cruyff n Maradona etc would be even better in today's game if defenders were reluctant to even tackle them. On the other hand I doubt that the goal scorers on the list would amass anywhere near the same ratio as defending is far superior now.

        I think the argument for Messi as number one is a bit premature though. Yes, he's the best in the world today however he is surrounded by arguably the best midfield ever assembled who feed him the ball at his pearl. When he plays for Argentina, he's great but not 'best ever' great!!

        For me it's Diego.

        Maradona took average Argentina and Napoli sides and won the World Cup and Italian league respectfully. This at a time when ever defender he came up against was instructed to 'take his legs' .

        And re Rooney!!! I initially thought that comment was a joke but have since read it again and realised that someone actually believes that he should be mentioned in the same breath as Pele and Zidane, one of the most asinine comments I have ever read!! Wayne Rooney would struggle to be named in the top 10 English players of the last 20 years never mind this list. Gazza, Robson, Waddle, Gerrard, Shearer, Barnes, Lineker, Scholes, Lampard, Owen (on his day he was phenomenal) would all be before him in my opinon. In fact i think if he weren't English then he wouldn't even make most peoples top 10 for the EPL right now!!

      • profile image

        lalalala 

        5 years ago

        CMON U HAVE TO PUT MESSI IN THE TOP TEN MESSI IS A FRICKIN LEGEND.

      • Daniel Cutter profile image

        Daniel Cutter 

        5 years ago

        1. Pele

        2. Diego Maradona

        3. Alfredo di Stefano

        4. Lionel Messi

        5. Johann Cruyff

        6. George Best

        7. Ferenc Puskas

        8. John Charles

        9. Garrincha

        10. Michel Platini

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comments. Baggio and Van Basten would be top 15, as well as Eusebio and Garrincha. People look for top 10 lists though, not top 15. Also if I was to add another 5 videos, this page would be even slower to load than it is. I suppose I could split into 3 pages, but I doubt it would be as popular then. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho... good, but more top 30, maybe top 20 at a stretch. Players like Hagi, Figo, Stoichkov and Michael Laudrup were of the same calibre as Ronaldinho. Ronaldo is probably top 20 though. It all depends on the era you grew up in. Players get over-rated if you watched them when you were 10 years old, and the two Ronnies certainly got hyped.

        As for Messi, I hope he does light up the World Cup in Brazil 2014. It's what we all want to see. It's still the biggest tournament in the world, and it deserves to see his ability. Their defense certainly are shaky though. If I was the Argentina coach, I'd be experimenting a lot with my forward and midfield lines. Either play Messi with 3 attacking mids and two DMs, or play 442 with Aguero/Messi, two wingers that cut inside, and two DMs. They need the defensive mids though. They can rely on Messi to provide enough in attack. Otherwise they'll be losing games 4-3 and 3-2.

      • profile image

        Oussama 

        5 years ago

        I agree with the list you made, pretty much all ur top 10 deserve to be in the list. I just suggest to make top 15 list since there is more then 10 players deserve to be on the list. they are all about the same level, they just play in different time different positions. I diffidently think the brazilian ronaldo and ronaldino deserve to be in the list, also players like van basten, roberto baghio could be in the list. with they new generation of course messi is number one and he deserve to be top 3 in the futur if not the best ever, cristiano ronaldo is a good player but a don't think he can make top 10 ALL time list, I really like iniesta to be included in top 20, cause he is a rare talent. One more thing Eto and roney are good players for sure but no way close to top ten, if we r going to name eto and roney then we can name another 100 players. they can be top ten player playing now but no way top 10 all time.

      • profile image

        HENRY 

        5 years ago

        MESSI IS DA BEST

      • profile image

        Richard-Murray 

        5 years ago

        Thomas, the greatest challenge for Messi is coming in Brazil. If he can win it with argentina in Brazil he will be deemed the best ever. Club side he is already a great but the true test of greatness is the ability to lift that golden magic above the world. If he can do this. oh wow! and i think his best chance will be in brazil, Russia is six years from now, near a decade, messi will be 31 he will not be as fast and his game demands speed, with his lack of natural strength. and interestingly , argentina will be quite matured then, di maria, aguero, higuain will be there. Defensively i am uncertain with argentina. I hope a brazil argentina final in brazil, destiny awaits:)

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comment. This is just retired football players. It's hard to judge a players career until it's over. Messi will probably enter at #1 though when he retires. His ability is second to none. Ronaldo might just make it into this list too.

      • profile image

        seyi ojeleye 

        5 years ago

        all of you guys on this page are definitely oldies, and not followed football in the past 20 years, are you telling me that ronaldinho, ronaldo delima, messi, does not stand a chance on that list, i don't think so.

      • profile image

        Don Sata 

        5 years ago

        Maradona was very skilled but certainly not the best. His trajectory is very irregular, he had very bad sportsmanship and his socres fall short compared to other great players.

        Maradona is praised by weak egos because he is very egocentric.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comment! I gave Ronaldo and Eusebio honorable mentions, and Eusebio was very close to getting in the top 10. Figo is more of a top 40 player for me. If I mentioned him I'd probably have to mention others like Ronaldinho, Laudrup, Hagi, Stoichkov, Weah, etc.

      • thecollegeway profile image

        thecollegeway 

        5 years ago

        I think that Eusebio deserves a mention as well! The Brazilian Ronaldo and Luis Figo were also quite good... maybe they could at least get an honorable mention!

      • profile image

        Ola 

        5 years ago

        ZIDANE WAS BORN AND RAISED IN FRANCE --- BORN IN MARSEILLE ON JUNE 23, 1972. So please friends, stop the nonsense!

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Well Zidane played for France his whole career. I don't call him French anyway. Di Stefano is generally regarded as Argentinian. He began his career with River Plate, and represented Argentina at international level. He only represented Spain later in his career.

      • profile image

        jose 

        6 years ago

        Zidane is from Algeria,he weren't born in France. But ok...you can say that Zidane is from France because he played in his national team,but then Di Stefano is from Spain...change it in your description

      • profile image

        JG 

        6 years ago

        Pele will always be regarded as the all-time greatest footballer, like it or not.

        Anyone who says otherwise is just willing to be different or trying to attract attention.

        It makes A LOT more sense to make a point for Pele as the greatest football player ever than Maradona. No question about the.

        PS. I'm glad you included Zico on your list. Probably the most underrated football player in History, because he failed to win a WC.

      • profile image

        harry saadi 

        6 years ago

        messi

        maradonna

        pele

        cruyff

        bockenbauer

        ronaldo

        van basten

        lev yashin

        zidane

        platini

        eusebio

        best

        puskas

      • profile image

        don z 

        6 years ago

        messi

        maradona

        pele

        cruyff

        stefano

        best

        luiz ronaldo

        backenbauer

        zidane

        (puskas.eusobio)

      • profile image

        Néstor 

        6 years ago

        Para mi personalmente Messi y Maradona son los mejores, son los únicos jugadores en los que he podido observar la capacidad de salir gambeteando desde la mitad de la cancha hasta patear y hacer goles (Maradona en reiteradas ocasiones aunque solo vean el gol contra Inglaterra), son muy distintos al resto, llevan la pelota atada al pie como ningún otro jugador, pueden pasarse con facilidad a 4 jugadores. Messi la temporada pasada fue el jugador que mas cantidad de goles oficiales marco en total, 83 goles y casi 40 asistencias. por otra parte e visto varios videos de otros grandes, enormes jugadores como Zidane, Garrincha, Cruyff , Platini, Baggio Cristiano ronaldo, Schiaffino y no vi en ellos tal capacidad. Pele y Zico fueron quizás los mejores delanteros, quienes tenían muy buena precisión al disparar al arco pero ninguno de ellos son como Maradona y Messi.

        Esta es mi humilde opinión, para mi ellos dos son los mejores, pero no significa que lo sean para todos. Un saludo para todos, gracias.

      • FootballisABeauty profile image

        FootballisABeauty 

        6 years ago

        As I expected so many comments. Happy to see Maradona at #1 :)

      • profile image

        Daniel 

        6 years ago

        I think Jorge "El mágico" Gonzalez deserves a place in the list. The salvadorian born was technically similar to Maradona. I think Garrincha, who led Brazil to achieve WC1962, could be instead Zico or Platini. Cristiano Ronaldo never could be in a "top 10 best players of all time list", he is just a noob compared to this real "cracks".

      • profile image

        rudimanukwari 

        6 years ago

        I don't really know how pele, maradona, cruyf, zico playing. everyday time born a star player, i know zidane when playing at juventus, then real madrid, world cup 2006 vs italy. When france won world cup and euro.

        I think he is best player (playmaker) ever born on earth, full skill. And now best player ever born on earth is Messi but different position (striker). irrefutable!! for united fans, visit our site about full united http://www.unitedhot.com/

        But messi Messi not won the title with Argentina. Zidane Title: World Cup, euro, serie A, Laliga, Champion League...Complete

      • profile image

        nwa 

        6 years ago

        really zedan is legend

      • IOwn profile image

        IOwn 

        6 years ago from My laptop in the UK

        As good as Rooney is, he simply has not done enough to be on that list, especially with the kind of talented players on it! Besides, there are better players than Rooney around who are not on the list either, Iniesta?

      • CCahill profile image

        CCahill 

        6 years ago from England

        I imagine Rooney is close but hasn't yet done enough imo and that's as a fan who has his name of the back of their shirt :)

        He still has plenty of time and in that time he will need some international success and a little more individual dominance to gain a domestic cup, rather than a collective team effort

      • Icematikx profile image

        Icematikx 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom, Staffordshire

        No wayne rooney!?! He's awesome!

      • OutDaremagazine profile image

        OutDaremagazine 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom

        sorry, typo! FAIR*

      • OutDaremagazine profile image

        OutDaremagazine 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom

        I think Zidane is pretty far at 9, i had him in the same position myself. There is no logical argument that can put Zidane before Maradona or Pele, and to be fair im not sure he can be argued before players like Cruyff, Di Stefano and Puskas. Beyond that is is subjective probably..

      • profile image

        Aaryan khorasani 

        6 years ago

        come on mate don't embarase your self. how u dare to put zidane at number 9??????? with out any doubt he come in top 3. didn't u read the comments? do u want me to make a video on his football career and compare it to other players along with the big succeeds he had in his career then send it to u?????sorry for my bad english.

      • OutDaremagazine profile image

        OutDaremagazine 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom

        That's right, im sorry i missed it. The struggle i had was not with Iniesta actually, it was whether to include C.Ronaldo or Xavi. I went with Garrincha purely because of conversations i have had in Brazil with some of the locals. They raved on about him. I was impressed with how they talked about his talents and it swayed me!

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comment OutDare, I also had about 15-16 players on my shortlist. I gave some of these players an honourable mention at the end of the hub, and Garrincha was one of these, so he's certainly top 15. I think I saw him as slightly one-dimensional (dribbling), but then we are limited in our footage of these great players and the time we can spend evaluating them.

      • OutDaremagazine profile image

        OutDaremagazine 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom

        @Thomas, very interesting list that i found to be very similar to my own. I didn't include Zico however, and to be honest out of the 15-16 players i considered he was not one of them. Completely overlooked him. However i would say Messi, even if his career ends today, is top four. Puskas is a great shout, unbelievable scoring record, 84 goals in 85 matches (internationally) and something like 523 in 560 odd games domestically. But the one player nobody seems to mention that i included is Garrincha. Led brazil to the 1962 world cup final, won the final, all without pele. Brazilians recognize him as one of their best players ever and the best dribbler of the football the game has ever seen. Really enjoyed the hub though, you definitely found a couple Youtube videos better than ones i could!!

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comment Donnacha.

        Rehaan, Maradona's drug taking had nothing to do with his ability as a footballer. Messi and Ronaldo would be included if I hadn't explicitly stated that this list only includes retired players! You can't judge current players properly until their careers are over, but yes, Messi would probably be number 1.

      • profile image

        rehaan ahmed 

        6 years ago

        do not even utter a word about diego maradona he is the person who took drugs and you say that diego maradona is far better than messi and ronaldo.that diego doesn't even know how to kick the ball.and you people compare him with football stars like messi and ronaldo

      • Donnacha C profile image

        Donnacha C 

        6 years ago from Ennis, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland

        fantastic list, and as a Hungarian I really appreciate the inclusion of the mighty Ferenc Puskas, who often gets forgotten when lists like these are made....I agree with you 100%, and I think including Messi, Ronaldo etc, would be far too premature, given their age and the opportunities they still have ahead of them....

      • profile image

        Richard-Murray 

        6 years ago

        true thomas

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        When I was making this list of the top 10 best football players of all time, I was looking at talent and ability only. A lot of people do "greatest players of all time" lists, which consider achievments. For me, achievements are irrelevant unless they demonstrate talent and ability. Unless Messi does something wholly unexpected to win a World Cup, it won't change my opinion of him. He is capable of winning a WC with the talent he has now, and that's probably how he will win it. He doesn't need to do anything surprising.

        That's why I ranked Diego Maradona number 1, and Johan Cruyff number 3.

        Di Maria and Aguero could certainly help Messi win, but they need a decent defense to do that.

      • profile image

        Richard-Murray 

        6 years ago

        Thomas, Many will never give him the greatest label until he wins the world cup. Look t Iniesta and Xavi, what winning the world cup has done for them. LEts be honest, with all of barca's successs , it was winning the wOrld cup that catapulted them in the media's eye.

        Messi will be like Cryuff and others if he doesn't win the world cup with Argentina and people will still talk about the second coming of Maradona.

        Oddly I think Aguero and DI maria and Higuain are his saving grace. You need a team to win it and they will help him try it in Brazil.

        If he could win it there, he will be called number one without question. In parallelel, if Brazil win in Brazil, Neymar will be on his way to being the next Pele.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comment Owolabi. I agree Messi will be top 5 for certain, but more likely the #1. He probably is the best football player of all time if I'm honest. I guess this list will need updating when he retires!

      • profile image

        Owolabi Abidemi 

        6 years ago

        Messi is going to become a great legend one day

      • profile image

        Richard-Murray 

        6 years ago

        China, the middle east and Russia. Players like to retire in the USA for their non soccer reasons, but they don't come to the USA for fame.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks Richard. For sure there are lots of players I haven't heard about, especially in the Mexican league. I still think the best players end up playing for European and American clubs though. It's the only way to earn enough to retire on, and the only way to achieve fame. China and the Middle East are moving fast to catch up though. Chinese clubs are talking about buying Rooney. He would never go, but it demonstrates money and ambition.

        Thanks also Crai2db. I am happy with where I have placed Zidane. He lacked pace, and his goal-scoring record could have been better. There were better players before his time in my opinion. Great players like Bergkamp and Eusebio didn't even make this list, so I certainly rate Zidane highly.

      • profile image

        Crai2db 

        6 years ago

        How the hells is Zidane not up more on the list.... He is the only player there that I would put before Messi.

      • profile image

        Richard-Murray 

        6 years ago

        My pleasure,

        I said Concacaf not MLS. Primarily Mexico, the coach for Santos LAguna was a great player, lovely skill. And, you are right, the best athletes and the strongest sports programs aren't in soccer in the USA.

        TP Mazembe made it the finals of the club world cup, the first non UEFA or CONMEBOL team. And, players like Usubio for portugal and others have played for European countries when they would have played for their forebears on the international stage. Ghana and Ivory Coast and Cameroon and Nigeria are all countries whose players20 years ago would have played for England and France.

        So in terms of international play I think the CAF is only bested by UEFA and CONMEBOL. AFC and CONCACAF don't field better teams than CAF. As for leagues, well, the fiscal situation in Africa makes it unfair to ask for a direct challenge to the other more fiscally prosperous regions, [not in terms of mineral wealth] but infrastructure and return value for trade. Africa gets very little for all the resources that come out of it, regardless of the why.

        I think the next world cup in Brazil will show even stronger CAF sides, Ghana has a great under 20 and they look to be very consistent over time. Ivory Coast has a great generation and youth players coming up as well.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks JKenny! I did think about Maradona's cheating ways, but ultimately decided that it didn't detract from his talent.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comment Richard. I'm not really sold on the MLS or African football yet. It seems most of the best sportsman in America choose american football, basketball, hockey or baseball. For the Premier League, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain could have gone into any number of sports, but he chose football because it's the biggest and most loved sport. USA are certainly well organised and tactically good, but in terms of flair and talent, I'm not seeing it. Donovan certainly is very good, but a top 10 player? - No chance. As for Africa, we get most of their best players in the European leagues. Apart from George Weah, I didn't see much need to consider their players, and George is more top 40 than top 10.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks for the comments barry, anusujith and dinkan! Zidane was the only modern era player I included, but I wonder how he compares to people like Laudrup and Hagi. In terms of achievements, and bringing his best performances to the biggest games, I think I was right to put him in this list.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        Thanks CCahill!.. I agree that defending was worse, although they were able to dive in more and be more physical than they are today. Perhaps that evens it out somewhat. Defending is certainly more organised today though. Also all players are close to peak fitness, which wasn't the case in the old days. A fit player in today's game would be incredible 50 years ago.

      • CCahill profile image

        CCahill 

        6 years ago from England

        Pele said himself that George Best was the best player ever and he also made sure to get Bobby Moore's shirt after facing him, in awe of his ability.

      • dinkan53 profile image

        dinkan53 

        6 years ago from India

        Pele, Maradona and Zidane are really the soccer gods. I love them and enjoyed watching their greatest game moments. Nice work.

      • JKenny profile image

        James Kenny 

        6 years ago from Birmingham, England

        A good list, with some very talented players. Of course being only 25, the only one I saw play frequently was Zidane, although I do remember Maradona's brief appearance in the 94 World Cup.

        My own personal favourite is Bobby Moore, the model England captain, a man who led by example and had exceptional tackling skills and an excellent touch for a defender. Moreover he always played the game with a sense of decency, honour and fair play. There wasn't a cheating bone in his body. Which is more than can be said for Maradona.

      • anusujith profile image

        Anoop Aravind A 

        6 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

        In this I like Zidane the most... I don't know about all others nothing else the reason is...

      • profile image

        Richard-Murray 

        6 years ago

        Ferenc Puskas was the only one I am not knowledgeable of. But, it can be argued but many great players from CAF, AFC, and CONCACAF are missing too

      • barry1001 profile image

        barry1001 

        6 years ago from North Wales

        Voted up, interesting.

      • CCahill profile image

        CCahill 

        6 years ago from England

        Some tough decisions, i think what's difficult is comparing the different generations, you have to say that defending was a lot worse back then and so it was easier to score wtf crazy goal tallies

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        CyclingFitness, thanks for the comment! It depends what you mean by action. The answer is probably no because I haven't watched any La Liga matches from the 1950s. With these lists you have to go by a number of factors including video clips, stats, reputation, achievements at club and country level, how they carried teams they were in, etc.

        In my opinion attacking players demonstrate a higher degree of natural talent for the game, although I have included Beckenbauer, who had a big defensive role. I've also recognised Di Stefano's non-attacking qualities. A defenders main focus is on stopping other people playing the game.

      • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

        Thomas Swan 

        6 years ago from New Zealand

        CollegiateFitness, thanks for the comment! I haven't included current players because their careers are not over yet, so it would be difficult to judge them properly. However, I would rank Messi somewhere between #1 and #4. Ronaldo would be somewhere between #7 and #10. It's hard to compare between eras, while defending has improved, the contact side of the game has decreased, meaning defenders are less likely to dive in. I think these two factors cancel out for the most part.

      • CyclingFitness profile image

        Liam Hallam 

        6 years ago from Nottingham UK

        Can you honestly say that you've watched all of these players in action?

        Very disappointed that you've only focused on flair attacking players as the game is about more that just that.

        And where's Stanley Matthews?

      • CollegiateFitness profile image

        CollegiateFitness 

        6 years ago

        Only 1 of 10 have played in the last 20 years, interesting. I think you have to at least acknowledge the players of today like CRonaldo or LMessi. Personally, I'm not a big Messi fan...but these two players have crushed La Liga records.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, howtheyplay.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://howtheyplay.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)