USA: 21+ | Commercial Content | T&Cs apply | Play Responsibly
Best footballers of all time
At a highly competitive sport such as football, there is no way to avoid constant competition not only between clubs but also players. On top of that, we all know that we as humans strive for perfection. We all want to be the best version of ourselves. And although most of us aren’t as gifted in sports as professional football players, we as fans play a big role in evaluating the best footballers of all time. The greatest are perceived differently by various people, and there hasn’t been a player about who everyone has agreed to be the best. Instead of trying to name the single best in the game, we prefer to make a list of the best footballers of all time, and let you choose which is your number one. So, without further ado, and no particular order, let’s jump right in.
The Dutchman who was born in Amsterdam, and became an integral part of Netherland’s powerhouse Ajax is often regarded as one of the most influential and prolific players in the history of the sport. During his prime years at Ajax, he helped develop and integrate the football tactical system called “Total Football”, which was later used by some of the most feared football sides.
Diego Maradona proved to everyone that he is special at a very young age, making his senior team debut at the age of 15. The Argentinian’s career started and concluded in his homeland, but he is most famous for the time he spent with Napoli. He singlehandedly changed the club’s faith, something about which Napoli fans will forever be grateful. A free-kick taker specialist, “The Golden Boy” as he was often referred to, faced some legal trouble during his career, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the greatest to ever do it. Alongside Pelé, Maradona is the joint FIFA Player of the Century winner.
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima
A magnificent player, a genius with the ball. Dubbed “The Phenomenon”, this is who commentators referred to when they said, Ronaldo. Some of the new generations might not know about him, but his legacy as one of the best footballers of all time will live on. During his career, Ronaldo wore Inter Milan and AC Milan, as well as Barcelona and Real Madrid’s shirts, and has won numerous trophies. At the age of 23, he had already scored over 200 club and country goals, which speaks by itself.
Named by quite a few people the greatest of his generation and one of the best footballers of all time, Ronaldinho earned his glory through his spectacular displays with Barcelona. He began and finished his career with Brazilian clubs, but played for PSG, Barca, and Milan during his 10 years in Europe. Ronaldinho was impressed with his flair in dribbling and deadly goal-scoring sense, which earned him quite a few trophies. He is one of the few players to have triumphed in both the Champions League and Copa Libertadores. Ronaldinho was also the second Barcelona player to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid’s crowd at Santiago Bernabeu.
Hailed as a national hero of Brazil, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, more famous as Pelé hold the Guinness world record for most career goals. The number will blow you away – 1279 in 1363 games, including friendly games. This means that Pelé averaged nearly a goal per game throughout his career which spans to over 20 years. He is amongst the most successful and highly paid athletes of the 20th century and a football legend. Pelé became a joint winner of the FIFA Player of the Century award, which was given to both him and Diego Maradona.
Zinedine Zidane, commonly referred to as Zizou is one of France’s greatest ever footballers, and perhaps managers. The Frenchman’s career began in Cannes, but he rose to prominence while wearing Bordeaux’s kit. Later 10 years split between Juventus and Real Madrid would only prove that he is one of the best to ever do it. Now he is one of the best active managers and is one of the very people to have won the Champions League both as a player and as a coach.
The Portuguese superstar is perhaps the best currently active footballer, despite being at the age of 35. Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for the most Champions League goals in the history of the competition with 134. He has proven himself to be a top-quality player at some of the most competitive football leagues in the world – Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, as well as the Portugues Primeira Liga. Definitely the best to come out of his homeland, at a certain point in time he might be considered the best footballer of all time.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s counterpart – Lionel Messi is argued to be the greatest footballer to hail out of Argentina. Barcelona’s wonder is one the greatest superstars in the pop-culture of football, and he has the complete right to be so. Beginning his senior career in 2003, Messi recently broke the record for most official goals for a single club, currently sitting at 649. He is also the record Ballon d’Or winner with 6, 4 of them being consecutive. He has set numerous other records and won an extensive list of major silverware, which puts him on the list of the best footballers of all time.
Last but not least, it’s Juventus’ legend Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon. When talking about the greatest footballers, goalkeepers often get looked over, so we made sure not to repeat that mistake. He is one of the few players whose careers have spanned 4 different decades. Buffon is the record holder for most appearances in Italy’s top-flight as well as the most appearances in Europe’s top 5 leagues. Similar to Messi, his list of records is so long that there’s no point in going through it. Another incredible fact about the keeper is that he is still active even at the age of 43.