The sport of soccer, or football as it’s known to most people on the planet, is filled with extremely talented athletes. There are a few elite footballers that have the ability to electrify crowds with their passion for the game and their amazing play on the field. Over the years, there have been many legendary soccer players who have stepped onto the field of play. They each left their own special mark on the game and this list is a tribute to the top 10 best soccer players ever to play the game.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, also known as Pele, was born on October 21, 1940 in Tres Coracoes, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Pele is considered by most soccer fans to be the greatest footballer of all time. In 1999 the IOC gave him the title of Athlete of the Century. Pele is the only player to have won the World Cup three times in his career. He was a gifted athlete who smart, fast and had a great sense of when to shoot. His accomplishments are numerous, his 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches is a record that seems insurmountable. He scored 5 goals in a game 6 times in his career. He won titles for both Santos and the New York Cosmos and won the International Cup in 1962 and 1962. In total, Pele played the game for 22 years. Upon his retirement from the game, Pele became the Brazilian ambassador to the United Nations. He continues to promote the game of football by appearing at major tournaments around the world. There are few who can dispute that Pele is at the top of the 10 best soccer players ever.
2. Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona was born on October 30, 1960 in Villa Fiorita, a province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maradona is often called a football genius and is thought to be one of the greatest playmakers to ever play the game. Small in stature, Maradona was able to move so quickly that at times, he seemed unstoppable. His passion for the game led to many great accomplishments such as his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. Maradona often let his passions get the better of him and was known to become violent during games. He is said to have cheated during games and the end of this great footballers career was marked by his cocaine use. Today he is revered by his fans in Argentina and managed Argentina’s team in the 2010 World Cup and is always considered as one of the top 10 best soccer players ever.
3. Franz Beckenbauer
Beckenbauer was born on September 11, 1945 in Munich, Germany. He was a highly athletic, versatile player for Germany and is often considered to be the best defender of all time. Beckenbauer redefined the sweeper position with his ability to not only defend against scoring attacks, but to also lead his team to scores. Nicknamed Der Kaiser (The Emperor) by his teammates because of his influence on and off the field, Beckenbauer was a strong leader and is the only man in the history of the game to win as a team captain and a manager in the World Cup. While playing with Bayern Munich, he won 5 Bundesliga titles and 3 European Cups. He was selected European Footballer of the Year twice and often mentioned as one of the top 10 best soccer players ever.
4. Lionel Messi
The Atomic Flee, Lionel Messi, is considered by some to be on track to be the greatest to ever play the game and is found on everyone’s top 10 best soccer players ever list. Messi was born on June 24, 1987 in Argentina. His passing, dribbling and ability to score almost at will are just a few of his impressive attributes. In 2012 Messi scored 91 goals in one calendar year which broke Gerd Muller’s long standing record. He is now the youngest player to score 200 La Liga goals, has scored the most consecutive goals in La Liga and is the all time goal scorer for Barcelona in official club competitions. Surprisingly, Messi is only the second highest paid footballer in the world even though he, if his health holds and he continues playing as he has all of his career, he will no doubtedly be the number one player in history.
5. Eusebio da Silva Ferreira
Born in Mozambique on January 25, 1942, Eusebio is remembered for his speed, his athletic ability and his scoring prowess as a striker. The Black Panther played for Portugal and is considered one of their greatest sports icons. During the 1966 World Cup finals, Eusebio scored 9 goals. His most productive years were spent playing with Benfica. While playing for Benfica he scored 317 goals in just 301 matches. Eusebio passed away on Jaunary 25, 2014. The Portuguese government declared 3 days of mourning to allow the nations thousands of Eusebio’s many fans to honor him as they remember him as one of the top 10 best soccer players ever.
6. Ferenc Puskas
Hungarian football legend Ferenc Puskas was born on April 2, 1927 and died November 17, 2006. Puskas was short and stocky but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most productive strikers in soccer history. In his 85 appearances with Hungary, he scored an amazing 84 goals. He won 5 league titles with Budapest Honved and won 5 titles with Real Madrid. He also held the top league scorer with Real Madrid 4 different times. Puskas was a member of the Magical Magyars and was awarded La Liga’s best striker 4 times in his long, highly decorated career. He retired from football in 1966 and coached teams in countries all over the world including the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Greece and his homeland of Hungary.
7. Johan Cruyff
Cruyff was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands on April 25, 1947. Although he was nicknamed El Flaco, The Skinny, because of his delicate build, Cruyff was well-known for his speed and endurance. He was part of the Total Football movement, which coaches players to play different positions. Cruyff had great success playing club soccer and won the European Cup in 1971, 1972 and in 1973. In 1974 he led the Dutch team to a World Cup where they lost the final against West Germany. Cruyff retired and became a very successful manager with Ajax and Barcelona and is fondly remembered as one of the top 10 best soccer players ever.
8. Ronaldo de Lima
Simply known by his first name, Ronaldo, this Brazilian great was born September 18, 1976 in Brazil. He is best known for his mental toughness, his speed and his ability to shoot the ball well with either foot. Ronaldo won the FIFA World Cup in 1994 and in 2002 and scored 62 goals in his 97 appearances. He scored a record 15 goals in the World Cup and he is Brazil’s number 2 scorer of all time, only Pele has scored more goals for Brazil than Ronaldo. He was also named FIFA Player of the year 3 times which makes him one of the top 10 best soccer players ever to play football.
9. Bobby Charlton
Sir Robert Charlton was born on October 11, 1937. Bobby was part of the legendary Man U Busby Babes line up during the 1950’s. Charlton played from 1954 until 1975 and was an incredible passer who is held up by many to be the best English footballer ever to play the game. He was honored with the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball as he helped lead England to the 1966 World Cup Championship. Bobby is often mentioned as one of the top 10 best soccer players ever to play the game. After he retired from Manchester United, Charlton tried his hand at managing Preston North End, but his run proved unsuccessful. He moved into the business world and is also involved in a variety of charities.
10. Alfredo Di Stefano
Di Stefano was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Italian immigrants on July 4, 1926 and died July 7, 2014. He earned the nickname Saeta rubia, the blonde arrow, because of his hair golden locks and his amazing speed on the field. He was a strong, powerful forward, but he was comfortable anywhere on the field. Di Stefano is best remembered for his years spent playing for Real Madrid where he helped the team earn 8 league titles and 5 straight European Cup championships He retired from the sport in 1961 and managed soccer teams for 20 years. In 2000 Real Madrid named Di Stefano an honorary president of the team. Di Stefano is always considered when naming he top 10 best soccer players ever.