25 Greatest Football Players of all Time – Expert Picks

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Best Football Players Of All Time

We realize, that answering the question… Who is the greatest football player of all time? can only come from a survey of many recognized football experts. We used this response to power rank these footballers.

As we all know Football is no doubt one of the most popular sports in the world. Notwithstanding, what distinguishes football from most other sports is the freedom of expression granted to the players. While baseball players and cricketers are limited to particular moves, footballers may shoot, pass, tackle or dribble the ball in any type of ways, allowing the most skilled players to reach the very peak of the game.

In this article, Ranking Facts have decided to name a few the Players who have made the sport much more interesting to watch over the years. We have to remind you that these names are just a few in the ocean of the greatest football players of all time.

Greatest Football Players Of All Time, Here We Go!

25. Andres Iniesta

The central midfielder is definitely one of the best players of his generation and one of the greatest midfielders of all time. Iniesta in the name to come up with all the honours in the soccer world. Andres Iniesta’s net worth is estimated to be around $120 million (as at 2020) which obviously made him one of the richest football players in the world.

The 35-year-old had a key role in the Barcelona sides that won two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015. He also has achieved 35 trophies, including nine La Ligas and four UEFA Champions League titles.

24. Paolo Maldini

greatest football player of all time

The famous AC Milan player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever defenders and players, holds the record for most appearances in Serie A, alongside Gianluigi Buffon, with 647. Throughout his career he was known for his calm and composed manner on the pitch, as well as his ability to read the game, preferring elegance and intelligence to physicality and aggression when defending.

23. Eusebio

greatest football player of all time

Greatly known as one of the greatest football players of all time, Eusebio was nicknamed the “Black Panther” or “the Black Pearl”, and was known for his speed, technique, athleticism, and his ferocious right-footed shot, making him a prolific goalscorer. Black Panther did a lot during his professional life including helping Portugal to reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, and also being the top goalscorer of the tournament with nine goals.

22. Lev Yashin

greatest football player of all time

And here in another panther on our list, but this time a black one!. Famous for his athleticism, positioning, stature, bravery, imposing presence in goal, and acrobatic reflex saves, Lev Yashin was known as “Black Spider” or the “Black Panther”. Today he is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the sport and is one of the most important football players of all time, as he basically invented goalkeeping.

21. Romario

The Brazilian legend who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time is widely considered a master of the confined space of the penalty area, rapid speed over short distances, and his own trademark, which is the toe-poke finish. It is also interesting to know that Romario has scored over 1,000 goals during his playing career. It was on 20 May 2007, when the 53-year-old scored his 1000th goal, which was a penalty kick against Sport Recife, while he was a part of Vasco da Gama.

20. Ronaldinho

greatest football player of all time

For sure, Ronaldinho is one of the names not to be forgotten forever. The Barcelona ambassador brought honor for any team he kicked the ball for, including PSG, Barcelona, A.C. Milan & Flamengo. With the all-time smile on his face and his brilliant technique, he was the player to add joy and beauty to soccer.

19. Bobby Charlton

Bobby Charlton is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. A member of the England team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup and the winner of Ballon d’Or in the same year, he played almost all of his club football at Manchester United.  Charlton was one of the flight passengers in the “Munich air disaster of 1958” and was rescued by Harry Gregg. He was one of the team members, known as “Busby Babes” on the plane.

Furthermore, the football legend was known for his attacking instincts, his passing abilities from midfield, and his ferocious long-range shot, as well as his fitness and stamina. These qualities made him stand out among his peers.

18. Giuseppe Meazza

Widely considered as one of the best players of his generation and also of all time, Giuseppe Meazza is famous for his technical skill, prolific goalscoring, and creative ability, which has given him the nickname “il genio” that means genius.

Internazionale was the team he kicked the ball mainly for in the 1930s, scoring 242 goals in 365 games for the club, and winning three Serie A titles, as well as the Coppa Italia. However, later he took part in teams such as Milan, Juventus, Varese and Atalanta. It is interesting to know that at the international level, he led Italy to win two World Cups, one in 1934, and the other one in 1938 where he was the team captain.

17. Gerd Muller

The football lover has been one of the best in international scale at West Germany where he has scored 68 goals in 62 appearances, and also at club level, after 15 years with Bayern Munich, where he scored a record 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games and an international record 66 goals in 74 European club games. Müller is currently 17th on the list of all-time international goalscorers and is considered as one of the bests in soccer history.

16. Zico

One of the best players of all time, he is often called the “White Pelé”. A player who was a creative playmaker, with excellent technical skills, vision, and an eye for goal, with most clinical finishes and best passes ever. That was the reason for Pelé to say that Zico was the one player who came closest to him.

15. Franco Baresi

Franco Baresi is the next name on our list who spent his entire 20-year career with Serie A club Milan. The veteran captained the club for 15 seasons. Regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all-time, he has won three UEFA Champions League titles, six Serie A titles, four Supercoppa Italiana titles, two European Super Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups with his club during his professional playing career.

14. George Best

Greatly known as one of the best Wingers and players of all time, George Best spent most of his club career at Manchester United. The all-time player is known for his style, pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders.

Best had the opportunity to be so famous in advertising due to his good looks and so he became one of the first media celebrity footballers, earning the nickname “El Beatle” in 1966. However, his lifestyle and notably alcoholism, not only did not bring him happiness but also made him die at the age of 59.

13. Marco van Basten

Many of us remember Van Basten by his memorable volley in the UEFA Euro 1988 final against the Soviet Union. He is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport and is known for his close ball control, attacking intelligence, impeccable headers, and spectacular strikes and volleys.

The 55-year-old had an extraordinary performance during the short period of his playing career. Sadly, he was forced to be retired at the age of 30 due to his serious injuries. But as we all know that was not the end of his career as he continued coaching Ajax and the Netherlands national team later. Nowadays he is working as the FIFA technical director

12. Michel Platini

Though many remember his name by his ban from football as the UEFA president in 2015, we have to say that Michel Platini is definitely the greatest goalscoring midfielder of all time. The former Nancy, Saint-Étienne, and Juventus player was nicknamed “Le Roi” which means “The King” due to his ability and leadership. It is interesting to know that Platini was his country’s record goalscorer until 2007, and holds the record for most goals scored in the European Championship despite only appearing in the victorious 1984 edition as he has 9 to his name.

11. Ronaldo Nazário

The all-time football star is known for his dribbling at speed, feints, and clinical finishing and that’s why Ronaldo is considered as one of the greatest players of all time. During is fame he was 2 times Ballon d’Or winner, three times FIFA World Player of the Year, 1998 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 2002 FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe, 1994 & 2002 FIFA World Cup, 1996/97 European Golden Shoe, two times Copa America winner, two-time Pichichi winner, 1998 Serie A Footballer of the Year

10. Mane Garrincha

Who can believe that a boy with an alcoholic dad, with a lot of family issues, can be named as one of the best soccer players in the 20th century? Well, it’s better for you to change your beliefs as Mane Garrincha has had obviously all these problems, and still, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest dribblers of all time and also a legendary figure in the sport.

He is the one who played a vital role in Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 World Cup victories. and became the first player to win Golden Ball, Golden Boot, and the World Cup in the same tournament. This is while he was also named in the World Cup All-Star Team of both the 1958 World Cup and 1962 World Cup. Moreover, it is interesting to know that Brazil never lost a match while fielding both Garrincha and Pelé.

9. Ferenc Puskas

The first thing to be remembered by his name is the FIFA Puskás Award. The legendary soccer player who is widely known as one of the best players of all time kicked the ball for Budapest Honvéd and Real Madrid, plus Hungary & Spain national teams. He became an Olympic champion in 1952 and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup. He was named the tournament’s best player. Similalry, he was also recognized as the top scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS in 1995.

8. Zinedine Zidane

The current Real Madrid coach has always been one of the most beloved players in the soccer world. The 47-year-old has been marked by his elegance, passing, ball control, and technique. Most Importantly, he is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Zizou has made us many unforgettable moments in football history. This includes his left-foot volley in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final.  The goal is considered as one of the greatest goals in history

7. Franz Beckenbauer

The legendary footballer, known as “Der Kaiser”. Which means the Emperor is considered as one of the greatest players in history. You may know that Beckenbauer started his playing career as a midfielder. But he made his name as a central defender and one of the bests at that time.

He is one of three men, along with Mário Zagallo and Didier Deschamps to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager. In fact, he lifted the World Cup trophy as the captain in 1974 and repeated the feat as a manager in 1990. In addition, he was the first captain to lift the World Cup, European Championship, and the European Cup during the time of captaincy.

6. Alfredo Di Stefano

Alfredo Di Stefano is regarded as one of the best footballers of all time. This is best known for his achievements especially with Real Madrid. In international scale, he played mostly for Spain after moving to Madrid. He also played for Argentina and Colombia. Di Stefano is remembered as a prolific forward who could also play almost anywhere on the pitch.

5. Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff is obviously not just known by his style of playing but also is famous for his coaching techniques. However, he is most remembered by his special type of playing. In fact, Johan was a player to invent his own skill move and also modern football. That is why he is one of the most influential names in football history.

Certainly, Cruyff’s style of play and his football philosophy was so strong and admirable. This has influenced managers and players all around the world. Names such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Eric Cantona and Xavi.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo

greatest football player of all time

CR7, as he is fondly called, is the player to win almost every possible honour. Both in football’s world and for sure one of the best players of his generation. Currently, he kicks the ball as a forward for Serie A club Juventus and also captains the Portugal national team.

The goal poacher has formerly played for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid. The 34-year-old has won 29 trophies in his career, including five Ballons d’Or and four European Golden Shoes.

As at the time of writing, Cristiano Ronaldo receives a whooping wage of $663,000 every week from Juventus. The Legend’s net worth is currently valued at $460 million which place him among the world richest football players.

3. Pele

greatest football player of all time

The 80-year-old as at the time of writing is obviously one of the bests. And can be referred to as the best forward player of all time. According to TIME magazine, Pele is one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. Interestingly in 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics. He is also the all-time leading goalscorer for Brazil. With 77 goals in 92 games, while in total he has scored 1281 goals in 1363 games. In addition, in Brazil, he is hailed as a national hero for his accomplishments in football and for his outspoken support of policies that improve the social conditions of the poor.

2. Diego Maradona

greatest football player of all time

Late Diego Armando Maradona is one of the most famous players in the world. Greatly regarded as one of the bests of the 20th century and all time. He is known for his vision, passing, ball control, and dribbling skills. The Golden Boy was the first player in football history to set the world record transfer fee twice. The first time was when he transferred to Barcelona for a record of £5 million. The second time was when he transferred to Napoli for another record fee of £6.9 million.

The veteran was appointed as Argentina coach in November 2008. He was in charge of the team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Before leaving at the end of the tournament. Above all, The world of football will miss this Legend.

1. Lionel Messi

greatest football player of all time

And here is the first player on our list. Lionel Messi is the best of all time. While he is the best football player in the 21st century with no doubt. The player to win Six Ballon d’Or awards, & six European Golden Shoes.

Just hearing his name in the squad will make the opponent players nervous. For this reason, he is considered the best player in the world. Moreso, Lionel Messi’s net worth as at 2020 is valued to be at $400 million. That is why he is both widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and one of the richest football players in the world.

Conclusion

Who do you think is missing on our list of greatest footballers of all time? Are there any of your favorite players not included in our list? Share your comment and personal thought with us below.

You can as well check out our article on the Greatest UFC fighters of all time.