Like previous years, this year, too, we have made the exclusive ranking of the greatest soccer players of all time. In the past, some of the greatest players in the history of the game have left the world astonished with their remarkable skills and amazing talent.
Legendary Brazilian player Pele is the greatest footballer of all time. He scored 1,279 goals in a total of 1,363 matches he ever participated in his footballing career between 1956 and 1977. Argentine legend Diego Maradona, another Argentine great, Lionel Messi, and Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo also deserve their mention among the greatest soccer players of all time.
Football, the world’s most-watched, played, and enjoyed sport, has produced many impressive players who are admired worldwide. Soccer is the only sport in the world that has insane fans.
As the game evolved over the years, there have been incredible players who have outdone each other. Now let’s look at the top ten football players who have lifted them to new heights and left a legacy to be remembered forever.
Greatest Soccer Players | All-Time Ranking | 2024 Updates
Club Goals: 424 (436 Matches)
International Goals: 41 (64 Matches)
The Portuguese-Mozambican footballer Eusebio is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He played 745 matches and scored 733 goals, which is an incredible feat in itself. Eusebio was famous for his speed, technique, and athleticism.
A famous player known as “The King,” he made history with his hard work and enthusiasm. His career began in 1971 when he helped the Maxaquene Club win multiple awards and cups.
He played for 3 seasons at the Maxaquene club before moving to Benfica in 1961, where he led the team to many awards like the Primeira Liga, Taca de Portugal, and the European Cup. During tough times, he was the man to look at.
Throughout his career, he played for many clubs and won several awards, including the Ballon d’Or, World Soccer, and the European Golden Shoe. The achievements he has accumulated make him the 10th greatest soccer player of all time.
Interesting Facts: He was known as a real knowledge seeker who never lost hope. Eusebio saw many failures in his life but always came back even stronger. He was also a great entertainer.
9. Gerd Muller
Country: West Germany
Club Goals: 487 (555 Matches)
International Goals: 68 (62 Matches)
One of the greatest footballers in the world, Gerd Muller, has earned his name by working extremely hard. One of the all-time top scorers of the Bundesliga, Gerd, started his career in 1958 at Nordlingen. Later, he played for Bayern Munich and Fort Lauderdale as a striker.
The German striker has made history by winning enormous awards like the Ballon d’Or, Footballer of the Year, and the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot. There are 1,251 goals he made in his name from 998 games, and he is considered the player who has more goals than games.
While playing for West Germany, he helped the team to win two awards FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship.
The enthusiasm he displayed and his success earned him the ninth spot on this list of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Interesting Facts: His nickname is “Ramdeuter,” which he gave himself. That literally translates as “space investigator,” and he thought he was good at finding space. Once at a local club, his team scored 165 goals, and 120 goals were scored only by him.
8. Franz Beckenbauer
Country: West Germany
Position: Central Defender
Club Goals: 79 (560 Matches)
International Goals: 14 (103 Matches)
A former German professional footballer and one of the most successful football managers, Franz is one of the most promising athletes around the globe. The two-time Ballon d’Or winner started his career in 1951 at SC Munchen Von.
He was known for his elegant style as well as his dominance and leadership on the pitch. Known as “The Emperor,” he started as a midfielder, and after working extremely hard and with determination, he made it to central defender.
Franz is one of three men who won the World Cup as a player and as a manager. In addition to winning the European Championship and World Cup at the international level, he also won the European Cup with his club.
Emperor is a player who is widely famous for his deep vision and versatility. His name appeared in FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020, and in 2004 was listed in the FIFA 100 of the World’s greatest living players.
Interesting Facts: He is the only person who has participated in the world cup as a player and as a manager and luckily won on both occasions.
7. Alfredo Di Stefano
Country: Argentina / Columbia / Spain
Club Goals: 376 (521 Matches)
International Goals: 29 (41 Matches)
An Argentine-born Spanish professional footballer and coach, Alfredo Di Stefano, started his journey in 1945 at the River Plate Club. He is widely known for scoring in five consecutive European Cup finals. Known as Saeta Rubia, he has phenomenal skills and amazing tactics that helped him outscore and work really hard.
As he helped the River Plate club to win two awards, back-to-back Argentine Primera Division, and Copa Aldao, in his early career. However, his actual success came in the Spanish league, where he became one of the all-time top scorers in La Liga.
Alfredo has more prizes in his name, like Ballon d’Or, World Soccer, and UEFA President’s Award. He is one of those players who led Real Madrid to win 8-time La Liga and 5-time European Cups.
The giant Alfredo has a colorful and successful journey which makes him one of the 7th greatest soccer players of all time. Alfredo Di Stefano twice won European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959.
Interesting Facts: He made his first debut for the Buenos Aires club River Plate in 1944. And then Alfredo Di Stefano twice won European footballer of the year in 1957 and in 1959.
6. Johan Cruyff
Position: Forward / Attacking Midfielder
Club Goals: 291 (514 Matches)
International Goals: 33 (48 Matches)
Forward Attacking midfielder Johan Cruff was a Dutch professional football player and coach. He started his career in 1957 at Ajax, where he played for 7 consecutive seasons.
He won eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups, and one Intercontinental Cup as a player at Ajax. As one of the greatest footballers ever, Johan won three Ballon d’Or awards. After Ajax, he moved to Barcelona, where he led the team to win La Liga four times, Copa del Rey, Supercopa de Espana, and European Cup/UEFA Champions League.
He also helped the Netherlands to win the 1974 FIFA World Cup final and won Golden Ball as the player of the match. And he is still dubbed as one of the FIFA World Cup heroes remembered by all football fans.
His imaginative playmaking and flexibility have made him well-known. All his achievements made him gain the 6th spot out of the top 10 greatest soccer players of all time.
Interesting Facts: He was kidnapped once with his family for a long time, then lifted the club and had not played for a long time.
5. Zinedine Zidane
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club Goals: 95 (506 Matches)
International Goals: 31 (108 Matches)
Zinedine Zidane, also known as Zizou, was a former French professional football player. In 1989, he made his debut at Cannes. Needless to say, Zizou is one of the greatest footballers of all time.
He helped Bordeaux win two cups – UEFA Intertoto and UEFA Cup. Having played at Bordeaux for four seasons, he moved to Juventus in 1992 and led the club to multiple titles like the Serie A twice, the Supercoppa Italiana three times, and the UEFA Champions League three times.
During his playing career, he played for Real Madrid and France after joining Juventus. Zinedine played phenomenally throughout his career, winning numerous titles, including Onze de Bronze, UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament, and Serie A Footballer of the Year.
He will be remembered for centuries to come. And even after his retirement from active football, he is still dubbed as one of the greatest football midfielders of all time.
Interesting Facts: Once Zinedine was voted the most popular Frenchman of all time, and his family is immigrants from the village of Aguemoune. He said he was lucky to experience different types of people in his childhood.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Jersey Number: 7 (club & Country)
Ballon d’Or: 5
Known as “CR7”, Cristiano Ronaldo is widely recognized as being unstoppable. A forward for the Saudi side Al Nassr and the captain of the Portugal national team started his career at Andorinha in 1992 in his early life. And now, he tops the list of the highest-paid athletes of this year.
He is a man of class and believes in hard work. The best thing about him is his work ethic and discipline. Football’s GOAT, CR7, is a five-time Ballon d’Or and four-time European Golden Shoe winner.
He also has won 34 major prizes in his all career. He has five FIFA Ballon d’Or, two PFA Players’ Player of the Year, and the Pichichi Trophy three times. CR7 has participated in more than 1100 matches and scored 780+ goals for clubs and countries.
He surely deserves the 4th spot out of the top 10 greatest soccer players of all time. Besides, he is also one of the most popular footballers of all time.
Interesting Facts: Cristiano was a sweeper during his childhood days, and he said he and his younger cousins went every night to get leftover burgers from shops for free.
3. Diego Maradona
Position: Attacking Midfielder / Second Striker
Club Goals: 259 (491 Matches)
International Goals: 34 (91 Matches)
Diego Maradona was an Argentine professional football player and manager. He was widely famous as the greatest of all time in football. Diego’s presence in the field made colleagues feel energized. He is one of the greatest football forwards the world has ever seen.
Free-kick master was one of his other titles. However, he is also often dubbed as one of the most controversial athletes of all time. His infamous “Hand of God” goal was one of the biggest sports scandals of all time.
He started his career in 1976 at Argentinos Juniors, where he played for five seasons. After that, he moved to Boca Juniors club for a single season, where he led the club to achieve Argentine Primera Division.
Later on, he kept winning awards like Copa del Rey, Copa de la Liga, and Supercopa de Espana for Barcelona. Diego was famous for his vision, passing, ball control, and dribbling skills. His amazing skills made him secure the 3rd spot out of the top 10 greatest soccer players of all time.
Interesting Facts: He holds the records for suffering 53 fouls in the 1986 World Cup and 23 fouls in a single tournament in 1982.
2. Lionel Messi
Jersey Number: 10 (club & Country)
Ballon d’Or: 7
A professional footballer from Argentina, Lionel Messi started his career in 1992 at Grandoli. He has won the Ballon d’Or seven times and the Golden Shoe six times. And with his current yearly net salary of $41 million from PSG, he remains the highest-paid soccer player of all time.
Leo is widely considered one of the greatest players in soccer history. The Dream Team of the Ballon d’Or for the last 10 years also includes him. Besides, he proved his talent and effectiveness during Argentina’s winning run in FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
He spent his entire career in Barcelona from the beginning to August 2021. And he created a buzz around the globe while joining the French side PSG on 11th August 2021.
In total, Leo has won 35 major trophies for Barcelona, including four UEFA Champions Leagues, seven Copa del Reys, and 10 La Ligas. This is a huge win for him and for his team. Today, he is one of the greatest footballers in the world.
Interesting Facts: Messi’s father, Jorge, worked as a steelworker and coached a youth football team. And Messi had a growth hormone deficiency, which stopped his normal growth rate at the age of 11.
Position: Forward / Attacking Midfielder
Club Goals: 541 (560 Matches)
International Goals: 77 (92 Matches)
Former Brazilian professional footballer Pele began his career at Bauru in 1953 as a forward. He has been hailed as an icon, as the world’s most versatile player. Besides, he is also one of the all-time top scorers of the FIFA World Cup.
In 1999, the International Olympic Committee named Pele Athlete of the Century. Pelé is one of the few players who has a Guinness World Record. Besides, he is also among the most successful retired footballers with his presence in the global media and sports circuits.
Among his many awards are the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, the Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur, and the South American Footballer of the Year. Over the course of his 1279 games, he scored 1363 goals.
The Black Pearl is well known for his kicking power and accuracy, as well as his ability to anticipate other players’ moves. We rank him as the 1st greatest soccer player of all time based on his talent and accomplishments.
Interesting Facts: Pele is the only football player who holds two Guinness World Records, and when he was nearing the end of his career, he won three FIFA World Cups with Brazil.
The list of the greatest soccer players of all time is truly incomplete without mentioning some of the football’s greats like Ferenc Puskas, Lothar Matthäus, Michel Platini, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho.
That’s all, folks. The top collection of the great footballers in history we compiled is sure to please you. You can post a comment, or you can send us a mail if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing your response. Thank you for supporting us!
Greatest Soccer Players | All-Time Ranking | Infographics
FAQs Regarding Football’s Greatest
Q. Who is the greatest active footballer in the world right now?
Lionel Messi, with seven Ballon d’Or and six European Golden Shoes, is truly the greatest active footballer in the current scenario. Portuguese player and arch-rival of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, with five Ballon d’Or, is also another great player active in the current footballing scenario.
Q. Which footballer scored the most goals?
Legendary former Brazilian striker and captain Pele has the record for scoring the most number of goals in his carrier. In his career stretching between 1956 and 1977, Pele scored 1,279 goals in a total of 1,363 matches, including friendlies. Besides, he scored 77 goals in 92 official international matches he played for the Brazilian national side.
Q. Who is the GOAT in football between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi?
While many consider Cristiano Ronaldo the greatest of all time, many also consider Lionel Messi the real GOAT of football. Messi achieved seven Ballon d’Or till now, while Ronaldo achieved just five. However, Ronaldo scored more than 700 goals in club football, while Messi scored 683.
Q. Who is the most skillful footballer of all time?
Diego Maradona is widely considered the most skillful footballer of all time. He single-handedly led the Argentine national side to the 1986 FIFA World Cups. However, current Brazilian star Neymar is also dubbed as the most skillful player in the current football scenario.
Last Updated On: February 2024