Soccer history has given us some of the most iconic players whose fans extended beyond the confines of national borders. Here are the top 10 that made an irreplaceable mark:
10. Michel Platini
The French player is attributed with putting the French team on the map as one of the strongest competitors in the world. Michel Platini played 3 world cups (1978, 1985, 1986) and he scored 5 goals.
9. Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff, the dutch player, three-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, and a God for Ajax and Barcelona, Johan Cruyff is a legendary player and manager at number 9. Johan Cruyff participated in the 1974 world cup only where he played 7 matched and scored 3 goals.
8. Ronaldo Nazario
Ronaldo Nazario, the most incredible striker of all time, known better as O Fenomeno, Ronaldo Nazario has grabbed the number 8 spot. Ronaldo participated in four World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006). He also scored 15 goals in 19 games. Three World Player of the Year honors recipient (1996–97 and 2002).
7. Alfredo Di Stefano
Alfredo Di Stefano has achieved the number 7 spot on the list. The best that Real Madrid ever had, Stefano managed to hold his position as the best for almost the entirety of his career. The most goals ever scored in the European Cup were scored by Di Stéfano, who scored 49 goals in 58 games.
Garrincha’s tricks, skills, and record-breaking two-time world cup win put him in the 6th position on our list. Garrincha played 3 World Cups (1958, 1962, and 1966) where he scored 5 goals.
5. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane, another Ballon d’Or winner, came to the limelight with his performance against Brazil in 1998, ever since, he has been dubbed as one of the best of all time. Zinedine Zidane participated in 3 World Cups and he scored 3 world cup goals. France was champion in 1998.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
A list of top soccer players of all time is complete with Cristiano Ronaldo. Eight goals have been scored by Cristiano Ronaldo in 22 games in FIFA World Cups, along with a hat-trick against Spain in the 2018 tournament. With 118 goals for Portugal since his debut in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for most goals scored in a single international game.
3. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi, also dubbed the GOAT after the latest world cup, has swept the third position. Messi set a record by bringing home 35 trophies for his club, including 10 La Liga titles, 7 Copa del Rey victories, and 4 UEFA Champions League titles. Both the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 FIFA World Cup were won by him and his country. Messi has scored 13 world cup goals.
2. Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona’s 1986 iconic match against England just put the entire fanbase and audience in awe of the player. As one of the two co-winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award, he is widely considered to be one of the finest players in the sport’s history. He played 91 times for Argentina’s national team and scored 34 goals during that time. Maradona participated in four FIFA World Cups, one of which was the Mexico 1986 World Cup.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend! This list has got to have Pele at the top. With 77 goals in 92 games, Pelé is tied for the most goals scored by a Brazilian. He was Santos’ all-time leading scorer at the club level with 643 goals in 659 games. Pele is the player with the most awards because he competed in four World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966, and 1970) and won three of them (1958, 1962, and 1970).