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Greatest Soccer Players of All-Time: A List of the Best Footballers Ever

Updated on December 19, 2015

Greatest Soccer Players of All-Time

Who are the greatest football players of all time? There have been so many legendary and talented player to have ever played this marvelous game that is makes it very difficult to narrow it down. There will always be a spirited discussion about this, but for now, here is a short list of who I consider to be the greatest soccer players of all time.

1. Diego Maradona

Full name: Diego Armando Maradona

Date of birth: 30th October 1960

Position: forward

Nationality: Argentina

Clubs played for: Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys

Diego Armando Maradona is arguably one of the greatest football players to have stepped on a football pitch. You might have not seen him playing on the pitch but watching recorded videos of his style of play and goals would surely make you baffled. He played 91 times for the Argentina national team scoring 34 incredible goals in the process. He was the captain of the Argentina team that won the 1986 soccer world cup. This tournament saw him winning the golden ball in recognition of being the best player in the tournament.

Great players are sometimes faced with challenges and controversies on top of the success they have seen and maradona happened to be that at some point in his football career. Some of the infamous things remembered for maradona include

  • The famous handball goal against England in the 2-1 win over England in the 1986 world cup finals which has been termed by many as “Hand of God” .
  • Being suspended for 15 months from playing football after failing drug test in 1991
  • Being sent home in the 1994 world cup for testing positive for banned drug

2. Pele

Full name: Edison Arantes do Nascimento

Date of birth: 23rd October 1940

Position: Forward

Nationality: Brazil

Clubs played for: Santos, New York Cosmos

Pele, the Brazilian soccer legend is regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time by football lovers across the globe. Pele’s contribution to the football game is massive and would be remembered for many many years to come. Some of the achievements and honors bestowed on a man once regarded as the king of football include

  • Being voted football player of the century by the international federation of football history and statistics
  • Ballon D’or winners player of the century
  • Being named the athlete of the century by the international Olympic committee
  • Scoring 1281 goals which is the highest a football player has ever scored
  • He is a national hero in his homeland of Brazil
  • Winning a world cup winners medal at the age of only 17

3. Zinadine Zidane

Full name: Zinadine Zidane

Date of birth: 24th June 1972

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Nationality: french

Clubs played for: Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus and Real Madrid

Zidane or "Zizou" as is commonly known is no doubt among the elite list of footballers who can boast of being among the greatest football players of all time. The French midfield maestro was simply the best in his position and has won the admiration of many people during his playing time. He could dictate the play from midfield, score goals and pass balls accurately to team mates and as such we will be missed by the general football audience across the globe.

His major achievements include

  • World Cup winners medal in 1998 with the French national team
  • Winning the Golden Ball in 2006 edition of the World Cup
  • Winning the European Championship with France in 2000
  • The UEFA Champions League with Spanish giants Real Madrid
  • The la liga title with Real Madrid
  • Serie A winner with inter Milan of Italy
  • Three times FIFA world player of the year
  • Ballon d’or winner in 1998

4. Alfredo Di Stefano

Full name: Alfredo Stefano Di Stefano Laulhe

Date of birth: 4th July 1926

Nationality: Spanish

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Clubs played for: River Plate, Huracan, Millonarios, Real Madrid and Espanyol

Alfredo Di Stefano is undoubtedly one of the greatest football players to have ever kicked a ball. Di Stefano, a man nick named “blond arrow” was one of the best forwards in his generation. He was versatile, quick on the ball and had a great vision and stamina for goal and as such he was more than capable of giving any defender a hectic time on the pitch. Di Stefano was described by some of his professional soccer players as ‘the most complete player to have ever played football’ but sadly this great talent has never played in a world cup.

Some of his honors and achievements include:

  • 4th highest goal scorer in the history of the Spanish la liga
  • Real Madrid’s second highest ever goal scorer with a total of 216
  • Named by another soccer legend, pele, as one of the 125 greatest living football players
  • Winning four European cups with Real Madrid

5. George Best

Full name: George Best

Date of birth: 22nd May 1946

Nationality: Northern Ireland

Position: Winger

Clubs played for: Manchester United and Fulham

George Best was a great football player who had almost everything that makes up a top player. The Winger who could also play as an attacking midfielder was one of the finest players in his generation. He played for many clubs but Manchester united football club is where he spent most of his professional football playing career.

Some of the major honors he achieved include:

  • 11th best European and 16th world player of all time according to the international federation of football history and statistics
  • Pele named him him as among the 125 top living football players in the year 2004
  • Voted best Manchester united footballer on earth in 2011
  • A European cup winner’s medal with Manchester united in 1968 in which he scored one of the 4 goals against Portuguese giants Benefica
  • Being crowned the European footballer of the year in 1969
  • Being voted football writers association player of the year
  • Winning two league titles with Manchester united

6. Johan Cruyff

Full name: Henrik Johannes Cruijff

Date of birth: 25th April 1947

Nationality: Dutch

Position: Forward

Clubs played for: Ajax Amsterdam, lavente, Barcelona, Feyenoord

If you are a football enthusiast or you happen to be a fan of Barcelona or Ajax, then Johan Cruyff would forever remain in your heart. Cruyff is one of the greatest footballers that the world has ever seen. He played for the Dutch national team scoring 33 goals in 48 appearances as well putting on the shirts of two great European clubs; Barcelona and Ajax.

Some of his major achievements and honors include:

  • Winning the Ballon D’or three times
  • Voted as the European player of the century in 1999. He was also second in the world category.
  • Winning the Dutch league with Ajax couple of times
  • Becoming the European footballer of the year in 1971
  • Winning la liga title with Barcelona
  • Winning the European cup with Ajax in 1972 where he scored both goals in the 2-0 defeat of inter Milan of Italy.

7. Franz Beckenbauer

Full name: Franz Anton Beckenbauer

Date of birth: 11th September 1945

Nationality: Germany

Position: forward

Clubs played for: Bayern Munich, New York Vosmos and Hamburg

Beckenbauer is possibly the best player Germany has ever had and one of the greatest football players of all time. He was nick named the emperor because of his leadership styles on and off the football pitch. He played most of his professional football career in his native Germany except for the small period of time he was in the United States.

His major honors and achievements include

  • Winning the Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich couple of times
  • European Cup Winner with Bayern
  • European Super Cup Winner’s Medal
  • Intercontinental Cup Winner’s Medal
  • European Championship Winner with Germany
  • Fifa world cup winner with Germany in 1974 and 1990

8. Michel Platini

Full name: Michel Francois Platini

Date of birth: 21st June 1955

Nationality: French

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Clubs played for: Nancy, Saint Etienne and Juventus

Michel Platini who currently serves as the president of European soccer governing body, UEFA is undoubtedly one of the greatest football players of all time and some of his major honors and achievements include:

  • Winning the European championship with France in 1984
  • He played in three world cups and but hasn’t managed to win the World Cup.
  • He is the second highest goal scorer for the French national team
  • Winning the Italian cup with Juventus
  • Winning the serie A with Juventus in 1984 and 1986
  • He won the European Cup Winners’ cup with juventus in 1984
  • He was also top scorer in the Italian league for three consecutive seasons

Your thoughts?

What do you think? Do we have the list correct? Who do you think are the greatest soccer players of all-time? Comment below!


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