Who is the best soccer player in history?
Who is the best soccer player ever? It’s not an easy question to answer! With so many players gracing the beautiful game with their silky skills, it’s hard to choose.
In today’s article, we take a look at the best soccer players of all time, running through a countdown of the top 15…
Our Countdown: Best Soccer Player of all Time
#15 - Gianluigi Buffon
In a position that doesn’t usually receive much credit, Gianluigi Buffon has gone far beyond what most goalkeepers could only aspire to achieve.
At 6ft 3”, he stands head and shoulders above the rest of the world’s goalkeepers! Since starting as a youngster for Parma at just 17 years old, his resume includes being the world’s most expensive player, 7 Serie A titles, winning the Copa Italia twice and the Europa League twice.
#14 - Marcos Evangelista de Moraes: Cafu
Known for his fast bursts of pace down the wing, the Brazilian full back was a pleasure to watch. He played an inspiring role for his national team, forming the classic Brazilian squad of the 90s and early 2000s.
Cafu is the only ever soccer player to have been involved in 3 World Cup Finals. That alone shows just how important he was for Brazil’s national squad.
#13 - Alfredo Di Stefano
Born in 1926, Alfredo Di Stefano is an old school legend that helped Real Madrid establish a reputation as one of the biggest clubs in the world. He played mostly for Spain’s national squad but even played for Columbia and Argentina at one stage.
In terms of El Clasico’s, the high-profile game between Real Madrid and Barcelona, he still holds Madrid’s record for the highest scorer.
He was also a deadly striker in front of goal. In 282 league games for Madrid, he scored 216 goals!
#12 - Marco Van Basten
Tragically, Marco Van Basten’s career was cut short by an injury. However, despite ending his soccer career early, he still managed to score 300 goals and win the Ballon d’Or three times.
The Dutchman was an attacking mastermind, with a reputation for unstoppable volleys.
#11 - Lothar Matthaus
Lothar Matthaus is a German soccer legend. In a prolific career, he played in five World Cups, which is more than any other outfield player.
He’s also a record breaker for the amount of World Cup games played, participating in 25 games in total. He was a feared defensive opponent for every striker of his era.
#10 - Franz Beckenbauer
As arguably the most famous German soccer player of all time, Franz was a dominant force on the pitch and a true leader.
His soccer career was still successful after retiring, being one of only two players ever to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager. That shows just how great his understanding of the game is.
#9 - Paolo Maldini
Whenever Italian defensive greats are mentioned, Paolo Maldini is always the first name to pop up. He led Italy as captain for eight years, reaching the final of both the Euros and the World Cup.
He was a loyal player, spending his whole club career over 25 seasons with AC Milan and winning an incredible 26 trophies with them.
#8 - Michel Platini
Although he’s now recently become a controversial figure with a reputation for corruption at Fifa, that shouldn’t overshadow his contribution to football in the 80s. Anyone old enough to remember Michel Platini knows just how great he was.
He even won the Ballon D’Or three times. He was an incredible striker who still holds the record for scoring the most goals in a Euro tournament, despite only playing in one!
#7 - Johan Cruyff
As one of the founders of Total Football, Johan Cruyff is a Dutch soccer great that will never be forgotten. His legend still exists on the pitch in the form of his signature move, the Cruyff Turn, a beautiful piece of skill that’s still popular today.
Key achievements include winning the Ballon D’Or three times, becoming European Footballer of the Year and scoring 33 goals in 48 games for the Netherlands.
#6 - Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is a sensational player. During his career he’s played for Sporting CP, Manchester United, and Real Madrid, scoring an amazing 260 goals in 236 games for Real Madrid.
As a player that’s not even an out and out striker, that’s an unbelievable record! Despite still enjoying his playing career, he’s already been voted the best Portuguese player of all time.
#5 - Zinedine Zidane
OK, he did end his international career being sent off with a headbutt during the World Cup Final. However, the famous “Zizou” was incredible to watch.
There was even a film about Zidane that focused entirely on him during the course of 90 minutes.
#4 - Luis Nazario de Lima: Ronaldo
The original Ronaldo won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times, the Ballon d’Or twice, he’s the second highest goalscorer for Brazil of all time and won the World Cup twice.
He was a striker that made it look all too easy. A true all time great.
#3 - Diego Armando Maradona
The Argentine is a controversial figure for his ‘Hand of God’ goal and failing a drug test but that just adds to his fame.
He was a sensational and prolific attacker, dribbler and goalscorer that almost single-handedly won Argentina the World Cup in 1986.
#2 - Edson Arantes do Nascimento: Pele
As the best Brazilian player of all time, he’s still their record goalscorer and won the World Cup three times with them. He was performing for Santos at the age of 15, for Brazil at 16 and was an outstanding player from an early age.
In just under 700 games, he scored an amazing 654 goals which just shows how prolific Pele was.
#1 - Lionel Messi
This wasn’t an easy choice but we truly believe Messi is the best soccer player ever. Here’s just a handful of the current highlights of his career:
He won a sixtuple with Barcelona in 2008!
Played in over six major tournaments for Argentina
A World Cup finalist
4 times Ballon d’Or winner
Four European Golden Shoes
Over 500 goals playing for Barcelona!
The most exciting thing about Lionel Messi is that he still has a lot more to achieve – we’re lucky to see such an amazing player in action!
Final Thoughts: The Best Soccer Player in the World
So there you have it, the top 15 soccer players of all time. Choosing the best soccer player in the world ever wasn’t an easy job and there are many who could have easily made the top 15…
Did we miss one of your favorites off? Let us know who you think is the best player of all time