With such a rich history of soccer, it’s hard to narrow down who the best of the best truly is. Yes, there are many names missing from this list, but these players are those who we believe firmly stand out from the rest. In no particular order, here are ten of the greatest soccer players to have ever hit the pitch!
1. Diego Maradona
Without a doubt, Maradona is known to many to be one of the greatest soccer players of all time. Although he may not be as well rounded as players today, his free-kicks and leadership were unmatched. Known for having two of the most memorable soccer goals of all time, the Argentine attacking midfielder was a mesmerizing player to watch.
Fun Fact: Maradona holds the FIFA Goal of the Century, which is an honor that no one else has!
2. Ronaldo Nazario
One of the greatest Brazilian forwards to ever hit the field, Ronaldo defined Brazil as a soccer powerhouse. Known for his pure talent and technique, many would say that he was the perfect player. Some even feel that he could have been the world’s greatest if it weren’t for the unfortunate injuries that led him to retire.
Fun Fact: Ronaldo received FIFA Player of the Year three times, and the first being at the age of 21 making him the youngest recipient ever.
3. Franz Beckenbauer
Among the ranks of the most talented athletes in the world, Beckenbauer is one of few to manage and captain his way to a win at the FIFA World Cup. He was both versatile and elegant on the pitch and changed the game by moving from central midfielder to a back-to-back role attacking sweeper.
Fun Fact: Beckenbauer is the only defender to ever win the Ballon d’Or, and he won it twice!
4. Johan Cruyff
Cruyff is not only known as one of the most talented soccer players of all time, but he has also been one of the most influential. He was strategic, skillful, and one of the greatest promotors of the soccer theory “Total Football.” His imaginative plays and soccer philosophy will no doubt influence managers and players for years to come.
Fun Fact: The Cruyff Turn, which is an evasive dribbling move still used in modern play, was named after the Dutch Player.
One of the most entertaining players to watch, Eusebio was one of the most iconic strikers of his time. He was famous for his speed, technique, and athleticism, allowing him to score 733 goals in 745 matches. Eusebio was nearly unstoppable with his ability to score from any range and always came back stronger after failure.
Fun Fact: When playing internationally against North Korea (who was one of the strongest teams at the time), he was able to score four consecutive goals after losing three to zero during the first half.
6. Lionel Messi
There is a reason why many call Messi the “GOAT.” Breaking records, scoring goals, and setting new heights are things he does on the daily. His low center of gravity allows him to keep the ball glued to his foot and achieve greatness each game. His skill, technique, nerve, and most importantly class makes him extraordinary.
Fun Fact: Messi has replicated both of Maradona’s Goal of the Century & Hand of God goals.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo
Remarkable for his athleticism, power, drive, and skill, every game that CR7 plays, he dominates. He is the definition of “hard work” and shows no signs of slowing down. Ronaldo’s proof of excellence is shown through his many awards, records, and the fact that people who don’t watch the sport, know his name.
Fun Fact: The University of British Columbia Okanagan, has a class where you can study the sociology of Cristiano Ronaldo.
8. Alfredo di Stefano
Among the classic players, Di Stefano is easily named one of the greats. His reputation was gained from his performance with Real Madrid where he was an all-around player and twice named European Footballer of the Year. Considered the “complete” player, he had a great balance of skill, intelligence, and tactics that led him to outscore his competitors.
Fun Fact: Di Stefano is the only player to ever receive the Super Golden Ball, also called the Super Ballon d’Or
9. Zinedine Zidane
Some know Zidane for his infamous headbutt, while others appreciated his ability to always have the ball glued to his foot. He played phenomenally throughout his career and even scored three World Cup final goals. After proving himself to be a world-class player Zidane was able to translate this success into his coaching.
Fun Fact: His playing career was nothing short of amazing, but as a coach, he became the first to win the Champions League three times in a row.
One of the most important soccer players of all time, the former Brazilian player is one of the all-time top scorers of the FIFA World Cup. His ability to anticipate the moves of others, his accuracy, and his frequent goal scoring has made him one of the greatest influencers of the beautiful game.
Fun Fact: Pele is the only football player to earn two Guinness World Records, these being Most Career Goals & Most World Cup Winners’ Medals.
See one of your favorite players on this list? Head to SoccerCards.ca where you can find authentically signed memorabilia and collectibles of these inspirational players!
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