TOP 10 GREATEST FOOTBALLERS OF ALL TIME

TOP 10 GREATEST FOOTBALLERS OF ALL TIME

 10 GREATEST FOOTBALLERS OF ALL TIME

The question “Who is the greatest footballer of all time,” is one that has been subjected to a series of never-ending debates. While many iconic figures have graced the football world, it’s hard to refute that some of these figures have forever etched their names in the memories of football lovers.

Football bodies, associations, authorities, etc., seem to have their own standards for ranking the world’s greatest footballers of all time. Whichever way a football association or authority chooses to rank football greats, one universal fact is that goal contribution, (big) trophy wins, on-pitch influence and overall football ingenuity constitute the metrics for ranking the greatest footballers of all time.

While superstars like Pele and Diego Maradona seem to always feature in the ranking of the all-time greatest footballers, it’s noteworthy that these two football greats are very notable in the history of the World Cup, which is the most important trophy in football.

Maradona won the hearts of many football fans for his unprecedented effort which earned Argentina the 1986 World Cup. Pele, on the other hand, netted twice in the 1958 World Cup final to win the coveted trophy for Brazil. He set an unparalleled record as the youngest player to score in the World Cup; he was only 17 years old when he scored his first World Cup goal. Pele also won more World Cups than any other footballer.


Who Are the Top 10 Greatest Footballers of All Time?

While Pele and Maradona are most notable for having dominated the football world in the 20th century, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are inarguably the most dominant footballers of the 21st century. Based on our findings as well as data gathered from trusted sources, here is our own list of the top 10 greatest footballers of all time:


Lionel Messi (No 1)

Lionel Messi is No.1: Barcelona Star Sets Another Record in UCL Following Hat-trick vs PSV | ht_media

Arguably, Lionel Messi has been considered the greatest footballer of all time. He has a lot of trophies and individual honors to his name, and without any doubt, he’s one of the greatest footballers of all time.

In the view of many football fans, Lionel Messi deservedly takes the first spot among the world’s greatest footballers. Messi has seven Ballon d’Or awards, making him the record holder of the award; he has won the award more times than any other footballer (has).

Lionel Messi has graced the football world as an amazing goal scorer and excellent playmaker. The most significant era of his career at the club level was at Barcelona where he racked up 474 La Liga goals, making him the record goal scorer in the history of La Liga.

Lionel Messi has massively dominated the football world not only as a prolific goal scorer, but also as an unmatched playmaker. In the history of football, he is unarguably the player with the most assists. In La Liga alone, Messi notched up as many as 192 assists.

In season 2008/09, Lionel Messi claimed his first Ballon d’Or award at the age of 22, making him the second youngest player to win the award after Brazil’s Ronaldo Nazario who won it at 21. Messi is incredibly the first player to win the Ballon d’Or award for four consecutive seasons; he was the recipient of the highly coveted award between 2008/09 and 2011/12.

In addition to winning the Ballon d’Or on multiple occasions, some of Lionel Messi’s impressive individual honors include 2014 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, several Golden Boot awards, and six European Golden Shoes.

With respect to goal scoring, Messi is a massive achiever at both international and club career levels. He has more than 700 senior career goals, and at an unparalleled tally of 80 goals, he is unarguably the record holder for most international goals by a male South American footballer. Moreover, Messi has led his country (Argentina) to finals on several occasions: Copa America finals (2015, 2016 and 2021); FIFA World Cup final (2014). Unfortunately, he secured victory with Argentina at only one of those finals by winning the 2021 Copa America.


Cristiano Ronaldo (No 2)

Fabrizio Romano on Twitter: "Official Man United statement on Cristiano Ronaldo 🚨🔴 #MUFC “Cristiano will not be part of the Man United team for this Saturday's game against Chelsea. Rest of the

There seems to be a never-ending debate –among football fans –on who is the greater all-time footballer between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

While these two great men are undeniably among the all-time greatest footballers, Cristiano is clearly the greatest achiever in the history of the UEFA Champions League.

Thanks to his 100+ goals for Portugal, Ronaldo is also the leading all-time goal scorer in international football. His 800+ official senior career goals (for both country and club) make him the all-time goal scorer in the history of football.

Cristiano Ronaldo trails only Lionel Messi in terms of Ballon d’Or awards. While his closest football rival has a record seven Ballon d’Or awards, Ronaldo has five Ballon d’Or awards to his name. Interestingly, he won back-to-back Ballon d’Or awards on two occasions: 2013 and 2014, and then 2016 and 2017.

Ronaldo has earned plaudits not only for scoring goals, but also for winning lots of trophies and individual honors. He has more than 30 trophies, along with four European Golden Shoes and several other honors. He won his first Ballon d’Or award at the age of 23.

Ronaldo’s 140+ goals in the UEFA Champions League make him the competition’s all-time leading goal scorer. He has also won the UEFA Champions League on five occasions –one with Manchester United and four with Real Madrid.

At the international level, Ronaldo has enjoyed success with his country (Portugal). His major achievements for Portugal include winning the Euro 2016 and the 2019 UEFA Nations League.

At both international and club career levels, Ronaldo has won Golden Boots. His most recent Golden Boot award at the international level was in Euro 2020 –a competition he ended as the top goal scorer.

Ronaldo is the European player with the most European Golden Shoes (4). He is also the player with the most goals in male international football. Incredibly, Ronaldo’s tally of 450 goals for Real Madrid also makes him the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Long and short of this is that Ronaldo’s goal stats are so impressive that they back up his status as the footballer with the most official senior career goals in the history of football.

With Real Madrid where he had the best of his club career, Cristiano Ronaldo won a total of 15 trophies. Ronaldo who has achieved success with several football clubs –Real Madrid, Man United, and Juventus –is undeniably one of the greatest footballers of all time.


Pele (No 3)

Football News: Legends of Football Number 3: Pele

Pele is another football great who has etched his name in the history of football at both club and international levels. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) named him the World Player of the Century in 2000. Cementing his status as the joint best player of the 20th century, Pele was featured among the 100 most important people of the 20th century by the Time.

Pele has a number of jaw-dropping records to his name, including being the world’s youngest player to score in the World Cup. He was only 17 years old when he scored his first World Cup goal. Besides being the all-time leading goal scorer for the Brazilian football club Santos, Pele is the all-time leading goal scorer for the Brazil national team. He scored 643 goals and 77 goals for Santos and Brazil respectively.

Pele is one of the most notable goal scorers in the history of football. In fact, he is recognized as a Guinness World Record holder for his incredible record of 1,279 goals, including official and unofficial goals, in 1,363 games. Pele has also won the World Cup more times than any other footballer.

During his days as a football player, Pele was a fantastic goal scorer and playmaker. While he is undeniably one of the living football heroes, Pele has been touted, by some people, as “the god of football.”

The International Olympic Committee elected Pele “Athlete of the Century” in 1999. Interestingly, this particular honor further cements Pele’s status as the greatest player of the 20th century.


Diego Maradona (No 4)

Diego Maradona | Biography, Hand of God, & Facts | Britannica

Diego Maradona is one of the footballers whose exploits are hard to erase from the memories of football fans. He and Brazil’s Pele have been named FIFA Player of the 20th Century. It’s really notable that Maradona and Pele are the only players to have earned the latter recognition from FIFA.

Maradona was an exceptionally gifted footballer who showcased excellent dribbling and passing skills. Not only was he a fantastic playmaker cum goal scorer, Maradona also proved his mettle as a leader on the pitch. He captained the Argentine squad that triumphed over West Germany at the 1986 World Cup.

He remains a widely remembered footballer particularly for his performance at the 1986 World Cup, where he earned the “Hand of God” nick for his “handball” goal. Maradona scored this controversial goal during Argentina’s encounter with England in the quarter final of the tournament.

Maradona was dubbed “El Pibe de Oro,” which is translated in English as The Golden Boy. The reason behind the latter nickname isn’t far-fetched as Maradona showcased mouth-watering dribbling skills, ball control, passing, and goal-scoring ability. He’s still remembered for his stunning second goal against England at the 1986 World Cup. In 2002, FIFA.com voters tipped that goal as the “Goal of the Century.” In that goal, Maradona beat five England players, through his incredible dribbling skills.

During his time as a footballer, Maradona played 91 games for the Argentina national team and clinched a total of 34 goals. His major achievement for Argentina was winning the 1986 World Cup. Maradona not only won the cup for Argentina but also clinched the Golden Ball award for himself at the tournament.


Johan Cruyff (No 5)

Johan Cruyff - Wikipedia

Johan Cruyff was a fantastic footballer whose major career highlights came in the 1970s when he clinched the Ballon d’Or thrice. At the club level, he’s most notable for his stints at Ajax and Barcelona. He’s still widely respected for his introduction of tiki-taka at Barcelona. Tiki taka is a football philosophy which is based on a beautiful and possession-oriented style of play.

Cruyff did exploits as a player and as a coach. He won three Ballon d’Or awards between 1971 and 1974. During his time with Ajax, Cruyff won three European Championships with the Dutch team. He was a great leader who’s widely revered in the Netherlands for his massive contribution to the success of Ajax.

Johan Cruyff also succeeded with the Netherlands national team; he led the team to the final of the FIFA World Cup in 1974. In the history of football, his name may not be erased from the clique of legends who made impacts not only as footballers but also as coaches.



Ferenc Puskas (No 6)

Ferenc Puskas will always go down as one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of football. Puskas, who was dominant from the 1950s to the 1960s, scored as many as 806 goals during his playing time. And the most striking thing about this is that Puskas achieved that goal tally from 793 official games.

Puskas was a striker who showcased amazing goal-scoring ability. While playing for the Hungary national team, the prolific striker clinched 84 goals from 85 games. One of the most notable years in Puskas’ career is 1954 when the exceptional forward led Hungary to the final of the World Cup.

He was decorated with several awards during his career. Besides winning eight individual honors as a top goal scorer, Puskas won 10 national championships which included five Spanish Primera Division titles. Between 1959 and 1966, the exceptional Hungarian forward also won three European Cups.

At the club level, Puskas was a star player for Real Madrid in Spain. He had a great impact for his team in two European Champions Cup finals where he scored a total of seven goals. He also won four Pichichis during his time with the Spanish giants (Real Madrid).

Alfredo Di Stefano (No 7)

Alfredo Di Stefano is one of the Real Madrid legends who have etched their names in the book of football history. He is one of the greatest men to have graced the football world.

At the club level, Di Stefano played for Real Madrid where he bagged 216 goals from 282 matches. His goal-scoring impact was also felt in the European Cup where his tally of 49 goals (in 58 games) remained the highest in the competition for many years. Today however, quite a number of prolific goal scorers –including Raul, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, etc –have surpassed Di Stefano’s goal record in the competition.

Di Stefano’s status as a Real Madrid legend means he remains one of the Spanish club’s legendary goal scorers. He comes third among Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorers in the Spanish top division. And among the all-time leading goal scorers in this division, Di Stefano currently occupies the sixth position.

Di Stefano was a very dominant force in the 1950s during which he helped Real Madrid dominate La Liga and the European Cup. With Real Madrid, he won a total of five Champions League trophies, and scored in five European Cup finals. Incredibly, he is still the only footballer with this enviable record of having scored in five European Cup finals.

As for his playing style, Di Stefano was a footballer who combined several excellent qualities including creativity, vision, stamina, skill and versatility. He was dubbed Saeta Rubia which translates in English as “Blond Arrow.”

Ronaldo Nazario (No 8)

Fully known as Ronaldo Nazario de Lima, Ronaldo Nazario is one of the greatest footballers of all time. During his playing time, he won several trophies and individual honors. He played as a forward, and he is, in fact, one of the greatest football strikers of all time.

His impact as a footballer was massively felt in the Brazil national team and at the club level. His most notable achievements for Brazil include winning the World Cup in 1994 and 2002. Incredibly, Ronaldo Nazario is still the record holder for the youngest player to win the highly coveted Ballon d’Or award. Ronaldo won the award in 1997 when he was just 21. More incredibly, he is also the youngest player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award. He won the award in 1996 when he was a 20-year-old footballer.

Part of Ronaldo Nazario’s notable achievements for the Brazil national team includes winning Copa America in 1997 and 1999. Ronaldo was a spectacular goal scorer for both club and country. When he was 23, he had already reached an impressive tally of 200 goals.

Quite importantly, Ronaldo Nazario was not only a fantastic goal getter but also a big-game player who is still remembered for having scored in significant matches including the World Cup final. In terms of individual honors, Ronaldo’s highlights include Ballon d’Or (2) and FIFA World Player of the Year (3).

At the club level, Ronaldo played for notable football clubs including Barcelona and Inter Milan.

Zinedine Zidane (No 9)

Zinedine Zidane is a great achiever who has earned a place among the greatest footballers of all time. During his time as a footballer, he was a magnificent playmaker for the France national team and at the club level.

He was an impactful member of the France national team that won the World Cup in 1998. Zidane was instrumental in France’s triumph, thanks to his two goals in the final of the competition. The legendary playmaker also won UEFA Euro 2000 for the France national team.

Zidane was impactful at the club level where he played for Real Madrid and Juventus. At Real Madrid, he won the UEFA Champions League and La Liga.

Zidane’s most notable individual honors include the Ballon d’Or (1998) and FIFA World Player of the Year (1998, 2000, and 2003). Some of his other significant individual honors are the Golden Ball award at 2006 World Cup, Player of the Tournament at UEFA Euro 2000, and the Legion of Honor award in 1998. In the UEFA Champions League, Zidane’s memorable left-footed volley goal features among the competition’s best goals of all time.

France’s Zinedine Zidane definitely merits a position not only among the greatest playmakers, but also among the greatest footballers of all time.

Ronaldinho (No 10)

Beyond being one of the greatest footballers of all time, Ronaldinho, during his playing time, was a fan favorite for his exceptional technique which incorporated feints, “killer” passes, tricks, etc.

Ronaldinho was also an incredible free-kick taker, and his impressive career earned him highly coveted accolades: Ballon d’Or (1) and FIFA World Player of the Year (2). He had a great impact for his country as he helped the Brazil national team win the FIFA World Cup in 2002. The exceptional playmaker scored a total of 33 goals for the Brazil national team.

At the club level, he was most successful with Barcelona where he won trophies including La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. Ronaldinho has definitely etched his name in the history of football’s greatest playmakers. In Brazil, he is also regarded as a legend in the league of other Brazilian icons including Rivaldo, Ronaldo Nazario, etc.


FAQs

Who Is the Greatest Footballer of All Time?

While it’s still subject to debate, the recognition for the greatest footballer of all time goes to Lionel Messi. In the view of many football fans, Lionel Messi deservedly takes the first spot among the world’s greatest footballers.

Messi has seven Ballon d’Or awards, making him the record holder of the award; he has won the award more times than any other footballer (has). Lionel Messi has massively dominated the football world not only as a prolific goal scorer, but also as an unmatched playmaker. In the history of football, he is unarguably the player with the most assists. In La Liga alone, Messi notched up as many as 192 assists.

Who Is the All-Time Leading Goal Scorer in Football?

Cristiano Ronaldo is the player with the most goals in male international football. Ronaldo has more than 800 official senior career goals (for both club and country). Incredibly, Ronaldo’s tally of 450 goals for Real Madrid also makes him the club’s all-time goal scorer

Long and short of the above is that Ronaldo’s goal stats are so impressive that they back up his status as the footballer with the most official senior career goals in the history of football.

Who Is the Greatest Footballer of the 20th Century?

This award –FIFA Player of the Century –was presented in the year 2000 to the duo of Pele and Diego Maradona. It signaled FIFA’s recognition of Pele and Maradona as the greatest footballers of the 20th century.

Conclusion

You might have a list that’s quite contrary to what we’ve provided, but the truth is that each of the individuals in our list of Top 10 Greatest Footballers of All Time has contributed in no small measure to the art of football.

Summarily, Lionel Messi is, arguably, the greatest all-time footballer. Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest all-time goal scorer in male football, while Pele and Diego Maradona are the joint greatest players of the 20th century.


References:

https://www.sportshubnet.com/top-10-greatest-footballers-of-all-time/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_Player_of_the_Century