The Top 10 Best Soccer Players That Are Retired

Updated on April 7, 2020

Soccer Greats

Soccer is a sport that is played around the world. You just need a soccer ball, and you can start playing. The English invented this game. You would think they would have the most World Cup Trophies, but they only have one to date so far.

As for the greatest soccer players that have played this game, I have decided my top ten.

They are ranked based on the following criteria:

  • Club Achievements
  • National Team Achievements
  • Personal Achievements

Lev Yashin the Goalkeeper
Lev Yashin the Goalkeeper | Source

10. Lev Yashin (Goalkeeper)

  • Lev Yashin is known as "The Black Spider".
  • He is considered to be the best goalkeeper in the history of soccer.
  • He is well known for his amazing reflexes, superior athleticism and dominating figure.
  • He played for the Soviet Union from 1954–1967.
  • He played for Dynamo Moscow his entire career, unlike modern players who club-hop every few years.
  • He also stopped 150 penalty kicks in his entire career, which is the highest among goalkeepers.
  • He is also the only keeper to have won the European Footballer of the Year Award in 1963.
  • With the Soviet Union national team, he won the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 1960 European Championship. Only two quality modern goalkeepers—Iker Casillas of Spain and Gianluigi Buffon of Italy—have come close to Yashin's achievements.


9. Eusebio (Forward)

  • Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was a Portuguese footballer who played as a forward.
  • He was given the nickname "Black Panther" for scoring predatory goals.
  • He scored a total of 733 goals in 745 competitive matches. That is an amazing ratio and something every striker should aspire to. Speed, technique and powerful right-footed shots are some of the characteristics he is known for.
  • He led Portugal to third place in the 1966 World Cup and won the golden boot with 9 goals.
  • Eusébio was also a humble footballer. He respected his opponents and was well-liked by teammates. He saluted Gordon Banks and Lev Yashin in a match as a mark to acknowledge their goalkeeping skills. When was the last time you saw a modern footballer do that?

Marco Van Basten
Marco Van Basten | Source

8. Marco Van Basten (Forward)

  • Marco Van Basten is a Dutch footballer well known for his spectacular volleys, strength on the ball and soccer intelligence.
  • He won European Footballer of the Year 3 times (1988,1989 and 1992).
  • In 1992, he won the FIFA World Player of the Year as well.
  • Van Basten's greatest success at the international level was in Euro 1988. He scored 5 goals and was the competition's top scorer. He scored a memorable hat-trick against England and a spectacular volley against the Soviet Union in the finals. Holland went on to win the Euro 1988.
  • He also scored a total of 218 goals in 280 competitive matches. While it is not as great as Eusebio's record, he did it with a career shortened by injuries. That is very impressive.

Ferenc Puskás
Ferenc Puskás

7. Ferenc Puskás (Forward)

  • Ferenc Puskás was a Hungarian footballer. Like Eusebio, he was also a lethal scorer. He was masterful on the ball and possessed a predatory instinct in front of goal.
  • Having played for Budapest Honvéd and Real Madrid, he scored a total of 514 goals in 529 competitive matches. That is almost a 1:1 ratio for goals per match.
  • His international goal record for Hungary is even better: 84 goals in 85 international matches.
  • He was nominated the European Player of the Year award in 1954.
  • He led the Hungarians to the finals of the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, only to lose to the West Germans in the final.
  • He also won 5 back-to-back titles with Real Madrid in the Spanish League. A legendary player indeed.

Alfredo Di Stéfano
Alfredo Di Stéfano

6. Alfredo Di Stéfano (Forward)

  • Alfredo Di Stéfano was a great Argentine Footballer. He was the catalyst to the domination of Real Madrid in the European Cup in the 1950s.
  • He was given the nickname "Saeta rubia" (Blond Arrow) and was well known for his tactical intelligence, stamina and versatility as a player.
  • He scored a total of 377 goals in 512 competitive matches.
  • He was also part of Real Madrid's 5 back-to-back Spanish League title triumphs.
  • Although he did not quite have a good international record due to citizenship issues, his 5 European Cups and 2 Ballon d'Or in 1957 and 1959 were more than enough to give him a place in the top 10.

Michel Platini
Michel Platini

5. Michel Platini (Midfielder)

  • Michel Platini is a former French Footballer known as part of the "carré magique" ("magic square" in French). He is well known for vision, passing and free kicks.
  • He scored 9 goals in the European Championships in 1984, a record for most goals scored in that competition. France also went on to win the 1984 European Championships under his guidance.
  • He scored a total of 224 goals in 432 competitive matches. That is an outstanding record for a midfielder.
  • He also won 3 Ballon d'Or, which is the highest individual award a player can win. His international goal record is 41 goals in 72 matches. That is something every striker playing for his country can aspire to.

Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer | Source

4. Franz Beckenbauer (Defender)

  • Franz Beckenbauer—a.k.a. Der Kaiser (The Emperor)—had a graceful style of play and strong leadership skills, and he was a very versatile player.
  • He is one of the two players to have ever won the World Cup as a player and a coach. He led Germany to the World Cup in 1974 and won that as a coach with Germany in 1990.
  • In club accolades, he won 3 consecutive European cups (1974,1975,1976). It is often rare for a defender to win Ballon d'Or. He won 2 of them.
  • He is also credited for the creation of the sweeper role.

The Top Three Soccer Legends of All Time

The top three is almost indisputable. They are the legends that have been holding that spot for a long time. Although we might see Lionel Messi break into the top three, he will have to prove that he can lead Argentina to the World Cup before we see him as a legendary player.

Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff

3. Johan Cruyff (Midfielder)

  • Johan Cruyff is a former Dutch footballer. He is most well-known for being a pioneer in the creation of 'Total Football'. Close dribbling, speed and technical ability were some of his talents in football.
  • Although he primarily played as a playmaker, he would drift to different positions to confuse his markers. He could be a center forward for a while and drop back to a deep-lying midfielder when the situation calls for it.
  • For personal achievements, he won the Ballon d'Or 3 times. He also scored 291 goals in 520 competitive matches. He also won league titles in Holland and Spain.
  • As for the Dutch national team, he scored a total of 33 goals in 42 matches. The Dutch national team also never lost a match in which Johan Cruyff scored.
  • He was part of the famous 1974 World Cup team that coasted to the finals against West Germany, only to falter for being overconfident.
  • He also perfected a move named after him—the "Cruyff Turn". Below is a video of the move.

Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona

2. Diego Maradona (Forward)

  • Diego Maradona is famous for scoring the "Hand of God" goal against England. He is a legendary Argentine footballer.
  • He was very outspoken, which often caused controversies.
  • He was a good dribbler, a great sprinter and had excellent acceleration.
  • In a World Cup match against England, he took the ball from midfield and dribbled from the center to score a spectacular goal.

  • He won the World Cup with Argentina against the West Germans in 1986. He was also the tournament's best player and golden boot winner. He scored a total of 34 goals in 91 matches for Argentina.
  • In club competitions, he scored a total of 258 goals in 492 matches. He was a bit of a nomad, playing for 6 different clubs in his entire career. Perhaps you can attribute that to his personality, as he always got in trouble with either teammates or coaches.


1. Pele (Striker)

Here we have it. Pele is the legendary soccer player that every professional soccer player knows about.

  • He played soccer with Santos for almost the entire career. He is hailed as Brazil's pride, a national hero.
  • Having scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 games, he was truly a goal-scoring machine. People call him "King of Football".
  • He has a host of titles he won with Santos and he is the record holder of the number of hat-tricks scored, which is 92.
  • He is the only player to win 3 World Cups. He won them with style too. He was brutally fouled in the 1966 World Cup, and Brazil was eliminated in the first round of the competition. But the victory was bittersweet. He came back in 1970 and won the World Cup, and was named player of the tournament.

Who do you think is the best soccer player?

See results


Here we have it, the top 10 best soccer players of all time. Perhaps someday I will be able to see Lionel Messi win the World Cup and witness the next legendary soccer player. Till then, see you, folks!

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Seet


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        14 months ago

        Did you know that the best footballers are ronaldo ,ronaldinho ,maradona,zidane,buffon

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        pele, maradona, ronaldino, cruyff

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        In my opinion, these are my top 3;

        3) Zinedine Zidane

        2) Pele

        1) Ronaldinho.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        Pele is the best in those days he will always be best tho he has been retired

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        pele is the best and will always be.

      • profile image

        John slawson 

        2 years ago

        Pele, Maradonna, Cryuff. Kenny Dalglish is a great honourable mention. Had the good fortune to see Pele play live on his farewell tour with Santos. He was 3 or 4 moves ahead of every other player. Absolutely brilliant player ! Saw Puskas & DiStefano live as well, same class as Pele.

      • worldsoccer profile image

        Kamrul Hasan 

        5 years ago from Dhaka

        I think Leo Messi now can be in the Top 3 as he lead Argentina to the World cup final, for me Pele, Maradona and Messi are the all time best players. There are lot of great players like Ronaldo, Romerio, Zidane lot of but this 3 can have the spot of top 3 although Messi still playing but doing enough to have it.

      • profile image

        Jesse Stephens 

        6 years ago

        The King, Kenny Dalglish.

      • profile image


        6 years ago

        What about ronaldo this article is horrible

      • AvineshP profile image

        Avinesh Prahladi 

        6 years ago from Chandigarh

        Even though I am not aware of most of the players mentioned in the hub. But, I know Pele and Maradona, there is no doubt that there is no game like soccer.

      • Hikapo profile imageAUTHOR


        6 years ago from California

        Thanks for stopping by Alok Lance Kumar!

      • Hikapo profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago from California

        haha, yea I know I am getting stick for not putting them, but I know they are up there as well.

      • szjoe profile image

        Joe Perrott 

        7 years ago from Ireland, China, On an airplane

        George Best?

      • cal94 profile image


        7 years ago from England

        Zico? Zidane, Baggio, Ronaldo (fat), Ronaldinho.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, 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:

      Show Details
      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 or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      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)
      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.
      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)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)