Sun 12 July 2020 | 13:00

Best football players in the 20th century

23 years have passed since the end of the 20th century. A century with many legends and names to be remembered to the eternity.

The football world has not been different during the last century and reminds us of many footballers to make the soccer world a more mesmerizing one. In this article, we would like to take the chance and talk about some of these 

Best football players in the 20th century


We have to mention that our list contains just 10 of these great players and is just a drop in the ocean.

The Best football players of the 20th century

Here we go with these awesome players!

10. George Best

Greatly known as one of the best Wingers and players of all time, George Best spent most of his club career at Manchester United.


all-time player

is known for his style, pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders.

Best had the opportunity to be so famous in advertising due to his good looks and so he became one of the first media celebrity footballers, earning the nickname "El Beatle" in 1966.

However, his lifestyle and notably alcoholism, not only did not bring him happiness, but also made him die at the age of 59.



Titles & Achievements: 

Ballon d'Or winner in 1968, 1967/68 FWA Footballer of the Year, 1967/68 Football League First Division top scorer, 1968 European Cup, two Football League First Division titles, Football League 100 Legends in 1983, Golden Foot in 2005, and many other awards to his name.

9. Marco van Basten 

Many of us remember Van Basten by his memorable volley in the UEFA Euro 1988 final against the Soviet Union.

He is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport and is known for his close ball control, attacking intelligence, impeccable headers, and spectacular strikes and volleys.

The 55-year-old had an extraordinary performance during the short period of his playing career as he was forced to be retired at the age of 30 due to his serious injuries.

But as we all know that was not the end of his career as he continued coaching


and the Netherlands national team later. Nowadays he is working as the FIFA technical director



Titles & Achievements:

Ballon d'Or winner in 1988, 1989 & 1992, FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992, UEFA Best Player of the Year in 1989, 1990 & 1992, Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1984/85, two Capocannoniere, 1988 UEFA European Championship, two European Cups, European Golden Boot winner in 1985–86, Top Scorer and Best Player with 5 goals in UEFA Euro 1988, World Golden Boot in 1985/86, three Scudetti, three Eredivisie, three KNVB Cups and many more awards.

8. Michel Platini

Though many remember his name by his ban from football as the UEFA president in 2015, we have to say that Michel Platini is definitely the greatest goalscoring midfielder of all time.

The former Nancy, Saint-Étienne, and Juventus players was nicknamed “Le Roi” which means “

The King

” due to his ability and leadership.

It is interesting to know that Platini was his country's record goalscorer until 2007, and holds the record for most goals scored in the European Championship despite only appearing in the victorious 1984 edition as he has 9 to his name.



Titles & Achievements:

 Ballon d'Or winner in 1983, 1984, 1985, French Player of the Century, two times French Player of the Year, three times Capocannoniere, 1984 UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament, 1984 UEFA European Championship, UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament in 1984, one European Cup, one Ligue 1 title, one Coppa Italia, one Intercontinental Cup and many other awards.

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7. Mane Garrincha

Who can believe that a boy with an alcoholic dad, a lot of family issues, one leg 6 centimeters shorter than the other one, and also left leg turned outwards and right leg turned inwards can be named as one of

the best soccer players in the 20th century


Well, it’s better for you to change your beliefs as

Mane Garrincha

has had obviously all these problems and still he is widely regarded as one of the greatest dribblers of all time and also a legendary figure in the sport.

He is the one who played a vital role in Brazil's 1958 and 1962 World Cup victories and became the first player to win Golden Ball, Golden Boot and the World Cup in the same tournament.

This is while he was also named in the World Cup All-Star Team of both 1958 World Cup and 1962 World Cup. Moreover, it is interesting to know that Brazil never lost a match while fielding both Garrincha and Pelé.



Titles & Achievements:

1958 & 1962 FIFA World Cup, 1962 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1962 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot, Best Player of the Brazilian Championship in 1962, Best Player of the Rio-São Paulo Tournament in 1962, named in World Team of the 20th Century, World Soccer's Greatest Players of the 20th century in 1999, IFFHS World Player of the 20th Century in 8th place.

6. Ferenc Puskas

The first thing to be remembered by his name is the

FIFA Puskás Award

but the name in much bigger.

The legendary soccer player who is widely known as

one of the best players of all time

kicked the ball for Budapest Honvéd and Real Madrid, plus Hungary & Spain national teams.

He became an Olympic champion in 1952 and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup where he was named the tournament's best player. It is interesting to know that he was also recognized as the top scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS in 1995.



Titles & Achievements:

 Five Spanish League titles, World Soccer Player of the Year in 1953, European Player of the 20th Century, Olympic gold medal, 1954 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1960 Ballon d'Or runner-up, 1954 FIFA World Cup runner-up, four-time Pichichi winner, four-time Hungarian league top scorer, two-time European Cup top scorer, three European Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, one Copa del Rey, five Hungarian League titles. 

5. Franz Beckenbauer

The 74-year-old legendary footballer, known as “

Der Kaiser

”, which means the Emperor is considered as one of the greatest players in history. You may know that Beckenbauer started his playing career as a midfielder, but he made his name as a central defender and one of the bests in fact.

It is interesting to know that he is one of three men, along with Mário Zagallo and Didier Deschamps to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager. In fact, he lifted the World Cup trophy as the captain in 1974 and repeated the feat as a manager in 1990.

In addition, he was the first captain to lift the World Cup, European Championship, and the European Cup during the time of captaincy.



Titles & Achievements:

 2-times Ballon d'Or winner in 1972 & 1976, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, 1966 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award, four-time German Footballer of the Year, FIFA World Cup winner in 1974, 1972 UEFA European Championships, three European Cups, four Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokals, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1966–67, one Intercontinental Cup. As a manager he also won the World Cup with West Germany in 1990, Ligue 1 title in 1990–91 with Marseille, and a Bundesliga title in 1993–94 and UEFA Cup in 1995–96 with Bayern Munich.

4. Alfredo Di Stefano

Alfredo Di Stefano is regarded as one of the best footballers of all time and is best known for his achievements especially with

Real Madrid

. On an international scale, he played mostly for Spain after moving to Madrid, but he also played for Argentina and Colombia.

He is remembered as a powerful, quick, skillful, and prolific forward, with great stamina, tactical versatility, creativity, and vision, who could also play almost anywhere on the pitch.

He joined Real Madrid in 1982 and before that kicked the ball for teams like Valencia and River Plate. He is currently the sixth-highest scorer in the history of Spain's top division, and Real Madrid's third-highest league goalscorer of all time, with 216 goals in 282 league matches between 1953 and 1964. For Real Madrid, he is staying alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.



Titles & Achievements:

Argentine Primera División top scorer in 1947, Ballon d'Or winner in 1957 & 1959, five European Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, eight La Liga titles, five-time Pichichi winner, World Team of the 20th Century, one Copa del Rey, FIFA 100 in 2004, European Cup top scorer in 1958 and 1962, and many more awards.

3. Johan Cruyff

As one of


best soccer players in the 20th century

Johan Cruyff

is obviously not just known by his style of playing but also his coaching techniques, books, and business venture. However, he is most remembered by his special type of playing.

In fact, Johan was a player to invent his own skill move and also modern football and that is why he is one of the most influential names in football history. A player to be known for his technical ability, speed, acceleration, dribbling and vision, possessing an awareness of his teammates' positions as an attack unfolded and later a coach to be famous for "Total Football".

Total Football is a system where a player who moves out of his position is replaced by another from his team, thus allowing the team to retain their intended organizational structure.

Cruyff's style of play and his football philosophy was so strong and admirable that is has influenced managers and players all around the world.

Names such as Arrigo Sacchi, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Frank Rijkaard, Michael Laudrup, Eric Cantona, Peter Bosz, Óscar García Junyent, and Xavi.



Titles & Achievements:

8 Eredivisie titles, 3 times European Cup winner, Ballon d'Or winner in 1971, 1973 & 1975, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner in 1974, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, three-time Dutch Footballer of the Year, two-time Dutch Sportsman of the Year, one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey, six KNVB Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, UEFA European Championship Third place in 1976, FIFA World Cup Runner-up in 1974, and many more awards and titles.

2. Pele

The 79-year-old is obviously one of the bests & can be referred to as

the best forward player of all time

. One of the 100 most important people of the 20th century according to TIME.

Interestingly in 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics. He is also the all-time leading goalscorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games, while in total he has scored 1281 goals in 1363 games.

You also need to know that in Brazil he is hailed as a national hero for his accomplishments in football and for his outspoken support of policies that improve the social conditions of the poor.



Titles & Achievements:

Most career goals (of any footballer ever, like ever), FIFA Player of the Century, France Football's greatest FIFA World Cup player, TIME 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century list, Brazil's all-time leading goalscorer, Santos' all-time leading goalscorer, youngest FIFA World Cup winner, most assists in FIFA World Cup history, 1958, 1962 & 1970 FIFA World Cup, top goalscorer in FIFA World Cup finals, two Copa Libertadores titles, six Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A titles, two Intercontinental Cups, 1970 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, 1958 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player, 1970 Bola de Prata.

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1. Diego Maradona 

Maradona is one of the most famous players in the world, greatly regarded as one of the bests of all time and known for his vision, passing, ball control, a wide range of maneuver and dribbling skills.

It is interesting to know that "

The Golden Boy

" was the first player in football history to set the world record transfer fee twice. The first time was when he transferred to Barcelona for a then-world record £5 million, and the second time was when he transferred to Napoli for another record fee £6.9 million.

The 59-year-old started coaching Argentina in November 2008. He was in charge of the team at the

2010 World Cup in South Africa

before leaving at the end of the tournament. Maradona is currently coach at Argentine sports club, Gimnasia.



Titles & Achievements:

FIFA World Cup award in 1986, South American Footballer of the Year in 1979 & 1980, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 1986, 1985 Serie A Footballer of the Year, FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, FIFA Goal of the Century, Argentine Sports Writers' Sportsman of the Century, South American Footballer of the Year two times winner, Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year 4 times winner, one Coppa Italia, one Copa del Rey, one UEFA Cup, & many other awards.

Who else do you think has to be on this list? Put your comment in the comment section.

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