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Football is one of the most prestigious and renowned sports in the current generation. It has produced some truly exceptional talents that will be placed in our minds forever. It’s not even possible to choose only 10 players from such a time period where many footballers left an unmatched legacy.
Playing football perfectly is truly art and considering GOAT in the games comes with lots of commitment.
Footballers shoot, pass, tackle or dribble the ball in various possible ways embedded with beautiful skills which allow the most talented players reach the peak of the game.
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Although it’s an extremely hard job to elect the greatest players of all time, here are the 10 best footballers of all time.
David Beckham is considered one of the most decorated player histories has ever witnessed. Known for his extreme ability to score set-piece goals and also for his charm and good looks, Beckham truly was an expert both on and off the field.
His lofted passes were too juicy and a piece of art. The goals he scored and the assists he provided are worth watching at any time period.
He started his professional career at his country club Manchester United in 1992 at the age of 17 where he went on to win the Premiere league title, FA cup, and UEFA champions league in 1999.
He went on to play for Real Madrid where he won La Liga in his final season. He also played for AC Milan and LA galaxy; the club from Major League Soccer.
He retired in 2013 at the age of 38, playing his final match from the club PSG. He had a wonderful career where he played for about 20 years and won 19 trophies.
He was a role model for almost every player back in the old days because of his handsomeness and ability to score from almost all the chances of the set-piece.
The vision, as well as range he had, his ability to cross the ball playing as a right winger and score breathtaking bending free-kicks, makes him one of the greatest and most recognizable midfielders of his generation, as well as one of the best set-piece specialist of all time.
Ronaldinho Gaucho, popularly known as Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the greatest ever to play football.
He became the pioneer of modern soccer showcasing his mesmerizing dribbling, stunning free kicks, and no-look pass.
He also became notable with his unique style of celebrating popularly known as ‘Samba Dance’. Ronaldinho made a huge impression in European football; first in France by playing for PSG and in Spain where he played for Barcelona.
His smile and trademark celebration made him a popular figure in Barcelona. Later, he got injured which deprived him of becoming a huge star which turned out to be the end point of his career.
Due to several injuries in a short period of time, he moved to Italy in 2008 and played for AC Milan. During his time period in Milan, he was heavily criticized saying he did not take his job seriously and had diverted his mind towards parties and all other stuff which had a huge impact on his playing style.
Ronaldinho liked partying and chilling rather than focusing on playing. He was a prominent player for Barcelona as he played a vital role in winning La Liga trophies in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.
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Maldini is one of the most decorated, loyal, and respected players in the history of football.
He had true genes of his father, Cesare Maldini, who was an accomplished centre back in the old days. Following the footsteps of his father, Paolo went on to become one of the toughest defenders turning out to be a nightmare of many beasts forward ever to grace in the game. The
90’s and early 2000’s era was truly an era of classy Italian defenders. Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta and Franco Baresi were the toughest defenders at that time, but above all them, there was Paolo Maldini, only Maldini.
Although he was a center-back, his talent was so exceptional that he could even play as a full-back, centre-forward without degrading his performance of playing. He literally had all the traits. He was right-footed, but he could score thunderous goals with both his feet which frightened every opposing team he played against.
In his peak form, many clubs offered him high wages but he was loyal to his club and refused every offer he got. He played for AC Milan for over 25 seasons and won every trophy with them including 5 European Cup/ Champions League winning trophies. He is arguably the best defender football history has ever witnessed.
Popularly known as ‘The Phenomenon’, R9 is one of the best strikers ever to play the game.
Known for his infamous haircut at the 2002 world cup, he slammed every opponent team with his ferocious goal-scoring ability in that world cup. By the age of 21, he had won a world cup, and 2 FIFA world player of the year awards.
His career did not last long as he suffered many injuries that deprived him of playing. It is said that every record would be in the name of ‘The Phenomenon’ if he had played for more than 4 to 5 years.
The man behind the modern playing style of football; Tiki Taka, Cruyff was a true football legend who paved the way for a new generation in playing the infamous Tika Taka style.
He was successful both as a player and coach. The Dutch footballer was exceptional and won Ballon d’Or three times in 1971,1973 and 1974.
At the 1974 finals, Cruyff performed a feint that was finally named after him, the ‘Cruyff Turn’ which is performed by modern-day footballers too.
He helped Ajax, his hometown team to various league titles and three European Championships making history.
Alfredo Di Stefano
Nicknamed ‘Saeta Rubia’(‘Blond Arrow’), Di Stefano is considered to be the best striker in the 1950s. The Argentinian was a smart, skillful prolific forward with great stamina, versatility, and vision.
He played for Spanish giant Real Madrid where he scored 216 league goals in just 286 matches, holding a record of scoring in 5 European finals.
He had great versatility and he could excel anywhere on the pitch. His goal-scoring rate was a record at that time, but it was surpassed later by Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo later.
The Argentinian was given the Ballon d’Or for the European Footballer of the year in 1957 and 1959.
Nicknamed ‘EL Pibe de Oro(‘The Golden Boy), Diego Maradona is widely considered the godfather of football.
His passing, dribbling, feints, ball controlling ability is known to all of us. His presence on the field is enough to boost the enthusiasm and confidence of the team.
He became part of the Argentinian national team in 4 World Cups; 1982,1986,1990 and 1994. He showcased his brilliant individual performance in the 1986 world cup where he scored 2 beautiful goals in the final. One goal was the infamous hand goal for which he is known as the ‘Hand of God.
The goals he scored proved to be decisive and Argentina lifted their 2nd World Cup trophy.
A cohesive and skillful attacking midfielder who was impossible to be tackled, Maradona rose from lower clubs in Argentina and went on to play for Napoli where he is considered a god.
In his 21-year professional career, he played over 500 official club games and scored 259 goals. In his national career for Argentina, he played 91 games and scored 34 goals. He is undoubtedly the top player of the 20th century.
Leo Messi, the little magician is truly an exceptional player and he has has a phenomenal career up to now and will continue giving his best for some more years.
He has numerous individual records in his name and is the greatest player ever to grace the game. Equally skillful as a forward and attacking midfielder, Messi is blessed with outstanding ball control, pace, and vision. Watching him play is a pure source of joy.
He has 41 titles to his name which is an outrageous number and has won every possible title with Barcelona. He has a record of 7 Ballon d’Or in his name given for his individual performance in different time periods of his career.
He started his professional career at Barcelona where he joined at an early age of 17 and played with the likes of the great Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Xavi, and many more which ultimately fostered his skills taking him to next level.
Among his multiple records, the most noticeable record is the record of scoring the most goals in a single calendar year.
He scored a mammoth 91 goals in the year 2012 which seems to remain for a long period of time. He has over 750 goals for club and country and seems to score more in upcoming years. He guided his team in three finals; the 2014 world cup final, the 2015 and 2016 Copa America final. Unfortunately, he could not win any of the finals.
In 2021, he did the unthinkable by winning his 1st major international trophy. He won Copa America as Argentina defeated Brazil in the final.
He truly is one of the greatest football players history has ever witnessed with an unmatchable legacy.
The list of top players is incomplete if CR7 is not in it. The fierce forward of the 21st century made his career all by himself without playing with any other big names.
He started his professional career with his native football club, Sporting CP. He was then bought by Sir Alex Ferguson as the playing style of young CR7 was mesmerizing and noticeable.
Cristiano holds numerous world records to his name. He established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League and played for Real Madrid to create histories and memories that will be implanted in the minds of football fans forever.
He is the most hardworking athlete in today’s date and keeps on improving with time. He has an unreal physique even after crossing 35 years of age and he is always hungry for more challenges.
It is said that records and Ronaldo are made for each other. He is currently the player with the most international goals. He has won 15 trophies with Real Madrid which includes 4 Champions League-winning trophies.
Cristiano scores about 460 goals in 438 appearances across all competitions which makes him the top goal scorer with an unbeatable goal ratio of 1.07. He has over 800 goals in his professional career. He has 32 titles in his name which includes 5 Ballon d’Or.
His international career is equally successful as he led Portugal to their 1st major international trophy by winning the 2016 Euro Cup. Ronaldo will retire as the most hardworking athlete of the 21st century with a legacy that no one will ever come close to.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele is the most famous athlete of the 20th century. He is regarded as the god of football.
The Brazilian has won more World Cups than anyone else. He was the leader of forwards for club and country. In 1999, he was elected as Athlete of the Century and was added to the Time list of the most important people of the 20th century.
His recognition and honor show how good a player he was. There is surely no one like Pele and no one will ever be like the God of Football.
He has scored more than 1250 goals in over 1360 games combining friendlies, which itself is enlisted in Guinness World Record.
He is the youngest player to score a goal in the World Cup final; scoring twice in the final at the age of 17 years and 249 days against Sweden in 1958. He has over 640 goals from 659 matches at the club level as he played for his native club, Santos. Also, he has 77 goals for Brazil and he is the top scorer for his country.
In Brazil, he is a national hero for the achievements he got in football.
Although there are countless footballers that proved to be the greatest of all time, not everyone could fit the list of top 10, here we have some honorary mentions that did not make it to the above list. Zidane, Puskas, Buffon, Lewandowski, Salah, Henry, Raul, Kaka