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The 7 Best Soccer Players in History

Much like any other team sport, soccer players don’t have a lengthy career. It is not uncommon for retired players to begin coaching or find another way to remain involved in the game after they end their playing career.

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The best soccer players of all time were able to make an impact on the game and become household names. Some of these players may even go down in history as some of the best athletes ever. At their prime, they would have provided the best soccer odds for their teams. These are some of the greatest athletes to ever play soccer, listed from least to most famous player.

Zinedine Zidane

One of the best soccer players of all time, Zinedine Zidane was born in France in 1972. A gifted athlete, he began playing professionally in 1992 and quickly rose to prominence with his team, Juventus. Zidane helped lead Juventus to several championships, including the UEFA Champions League in 1996. He also played a key role in France’s victory in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring two goals in the final match. In 2001,

Zidane transferred to Real Madrid, where he became one of the most celebrated players in the club’s history. He helped lead Real Madrid to victory in the 2002 Champions League final, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year three times. Zidane retired from professional soccer in 2006, but remains one of the greatest players ever to grace the game.

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona was a former Argentine footballer, sports commentator, and current president of the Argentine Football Association. He played in the midfield position and is widely considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time. Maradona played for a variety of clubs in his career including Barcelona, Napoli, Boca Juniors, and Newell’s Old Boys.

He is most famous for captaining Argentina in the 1986 World Cup where he scored one of the most famous goals in football history against England. Maradona played in four World Cups and scored 34 goals, which is a record. He was an excellent player who was capable of playing in any position on the field. He was an entertaining player with a large fan base, and is one of the top soccer players ever.


Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or Pele, was a Brazilian football player who is widely considered the best player of all time. He is one of the few football players to have three FIFA World Player of the Year awards, and is the only one to have won the award three times in a row.

Pele started playing for Santos Football Club in 1956, and quickly became an icon in Brazil. He is the all-time leading scorer in the Copa Libertadores, with 46 goals. Pele is the only professional soccer player who has ever won three FIFA World Cups; 1958, 1962, and in 1970. Pele is a legend in the soccer world, and is one of the best soccer players ever.


Ronaldo is a former Brazilian footballer who played for Barcelona and Real Madrid. He was named one of the greatest players of all time in a survey by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). His speed, technique, and finishing ability made him one of the best players in the world. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year three times, and is the only player to have won the award three times.

He was also awarded the Ballon d’Or once. Ronaldo won two Intercontinental Cups, the UEFA Champions League, and the UEFA Super Cup. He was named an All-Star nine times and won the European Golden Shoe twice. Ronaldo had an incredible career, and is one of the best soccer players to have graced the sport.

Johann Cruyff

Johann Cruyff is widely considered to be one of the best soccer players in history. A three-time European Footballer of the Year, he led the Netherlands to the 1974 World Cup final, where they lost to Germany. He also had a successful club career, winning 11 trophies with Ajax Amsterdam, including three European Cups. Known for his vision, creativity, and technical ability,

Cruyff was an innovative player who helped to popularize the concept of “Total Football.” After retiring from playing, he became a successful coach, leading Barcelona to four Spanish league titles and a Champions League victory. He also coached the Netherlands national team at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. Johan Cruyff was a true pioneer of the game and a true icon of world soccer.

Michel Platini

Michel Platini goes down in history as one of the best soccer players from the eighties. He is a creative and talented playmaker who is best recognized for his time with Italian club Juventus, where he raked up three consecutive European Cups. In addition to his club successes, Platini also excelled with the French national team. He helped them secure a victory in 1984 at the European Championship.

Although he never won a World Cup, Platini’s individual achievements are staggering, and include being named European Footballer of the Year three times and top scorer at the 1984 European Championship. He is also the only player to have been named in both the World and European Teams of the Century. Michel Platini’s talent and ability have earned him a place among the greatest soccer players of all time.

Franz Beckenbauer

The German player, Franz Beckenbauer, was a versatile defender for his team. He was a master of the tackle and the interception, and was also known for his accurate passing and ability to start attacks from the back. He played an important role in West Germany’s World Cup triumphs in 1974 and 1990, captaining the team in the latter tournament.

After retiring from playing, Beckenbauer went on to have a successful career as a manager, leading Bayern Munich to victory in the Champions League in 2001. He is also credited with helping to develop the modern style of play known as “total football.” In recognition of his achievements, Beckenbauer was inducted into the FIFA World Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Final Thoughts

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, and attracts hundreds of millions of fans. Many of the best soccer players of all time are Brazilian, Spanish, or Argentinian. These South American countries are known for developing some of the best players. While some players made their name in the English or Italian leagues, the biggest names in the sport are from South America. These are some of the best athletes to ever play soccer, listed from least to most famous players.

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