Best-Ever Stars in Football History
A controversial subject; anyone has his or her opinion, although all agree that figures like Pele, Maradona, and Johan Cryuff are without any doubt the best-ever stars in football history. The controversy comes when you just come down the list of best-ever stars in football in the world.
If we rank Pele, Maradona, and Johan Cryuff first, then great footballers like Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinze Rummenigge, and Dino Zoff will surely rank second.
Best Footballers Ever in the History of Football
The list of best-ever stars in football history surely starts with all-time football legends, Pele and Maradona, but how does the list continue? stay with us to know!
Edson Arantes do Nascimento Known as Pelé
King of kings with the greatest goal-scoring record in football history: 1,281 goals in 1,363 games! Pelè had the kind of talent that not only outshined those on the pitch but also an entire generation of footballers. He wore number 10; literally, Number 10 has achieved its significance because it belonged to Pelè.
Gifted with powerful shots, speed and the ability to outperform defenders, he was an inside forward and playmaker that dashed between the opposing lines and tactically was aware of his teammates on the pitch.
Pelè played in only one club for much of his career, starting with Santos at the age of 16 and remaining for nearly two decades there, over the course of which he won 10 Paulista Championships, two Copa Libertadores and two Intercontinental Cups. He became the Brazilian League's top scorer 11 times, nine of which were consecutive.
Pelè is Brazil's top goal scorer of all time; in his 77 out of 92 appearances for Brazilian national team, he scored the most goals a Brazilian forward could have ever scored for his national team.
He is also the only one of two people in football history to have scored in four World Cup tournaments (The other is Diego Maradona). No doubt, he is one of the best-ever stars in soccer history and maybe more!
You might also like: Football clubs with most trophies in the world
Like Zidane, Diego Maradona’s previously glittering career also ended in shame. Failed drug tests at Barcelona and the 1994 World Cup ensured that there would always be a black mark against his name. Nonetheless, he’s one of the best-ever stars in football history.
Maradona has played in four FIFA World Cups and scored 34 goals in his 91 international appearances. With his lightning pace, quick reflexes and astonishing precision he also guided Napoli to two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup at his own time.
Together with Pelè, he was the joint winner of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century Award. He’s most famous for his multiple dribbles past opposing players on a single run. In his club career, he has scored 258 goals in 6 different clubs.
You might also like: Top Argentinian Footballers in History
Three times the top scorer of the Bundesliga and a fantastically talented dribbler twice honored with European Footballer of the Year, Rummenigge had the talent to skirt defenders with an embarrassing ease.
With Bayern, he won the Intercontinental Cup and the European Cup, as well as two league titles and two domestic cups, and with Germany he finished runner-up twice in a row, in 1982 and 1986.
Rummenigge was often seen as a complete and versatile forward. He was also renowned for his great speed and dribbling ability and could work well with another striker or on his own. His great talent in scoring goals allowed him to score over 200 goals during 10 years at Bayern Munich.
Not to mention his tactical legacy, Cruyff was one of the best footballers in the world between 1971 and 1974 and won three Ballon D'Ors (Jointly with Van Basten and Platini) as well as the Golden Ball of World Cup 1974. With Ajax, he won eight Eredivise titles and three European Cups in a row, scoring a total of 190 goals.
In 1999, Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century in an election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, and came second behind Pelé in their World Player of the Century poll.
Cruyff was the one who modernized the game of football. While Pelè and Maradona possessed unparalleled individual abilities that even Cruyff was not a match of, he had the rare ability to elevate the level of his teammates to his own.
Cruyff was great because he could make others appear great. Some believe he’s even better than Pelé when it comes to best-ever stars in football in the world.
You might also like: Best Young Footballers of 2020, Who Would Replace Today’s Stars?
Now the head of UEFA, Michel Platini was, in his time, the undisputed master of the pitch. He is considered one of the best passers and free-kick taker ever and, despite being a midfielder, he has scored the second most goals for the French national team (after Henry).
During his career, Platini played for the clubs Nancy, Saint-Étienne, and Juventus. Nicknamed Le Roi (The King) for his ability and leadership.
Over the course of four short years at Juventus, he won two league championships, one European Cup, one Cup Winners Cup, one European Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup title.
Despite being a midfielder, he became Serie A top scorer three times and was awarded Ballon D'Ors three times in a row. He’s indeed one of the best candidates for the list of best-ever stars in football history around the world.
You might also like: Facts about Zinedine Zidane You Probably Didn’t Know
Beckenbauer is the only man to have won the World Cup both as a player and a manager. Beckenbauer could menace any team on the pitch through a thoughtful reading of the game. He is often credited as having invented the role of the modern sweeper.
Twice named European Footballer of the Year, Beckenbauer appeared 103 times for West Germany and played in three FIFA World Cups.
He was in the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and in 2004 was listed in the FIFA 100 of the world's greatest living players. With Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1967 and three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976.
The legendary goalkeeper and the captain of Italy national team in 1982 FiFA World Cup who won the best goalkeeper of the tournament award and was elected to the team of the tournament for his performances.
Zoff also achieved great club success with Juventus, winning 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italia titles, and a UEFA Cup, also reaching two European Champions' Cup finals in the 1972/73 and 1982/83 seasons.
Zoff holds the record for the longest clean sheet ever (1142 minutes in his 112 appearances from September 1972 to June 1974). All in all, Zoff made 479 appearances for Juventus in all competitions, including 330 Serie A appearances with the club (all of which were consecutive, still a club record), 74 in the Coppa Italia, 71 in European competitions, and 4 in other club competitions.
You might also like: Best Goalkeepers of 2019
Marco Van Basten
Regarded as one of the greatest and most complete strikers and players in the history of football because of his close ball control, attacking intelligence, impeccable headers, and spectacular strikes and volleys, Van Basten won the European Footballer of the Year three times (1988, 1989 and 1992) and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992, scoring 300 goals in total.
He is the first player to score four goals in a Champions League match, winning two European cups in a row. He has played for Ajax and A.C. Milan, as well as The Netherlands national team, as a striker. Throughout his career, Van Basten converted 51 penalties out of the 54 he took, with a 94.44% success rate, the third highest in history.
Known as the "White Pelé" for his skill, finishing ability and passing quality, Zico’s direction of the ball remains legendary and quite possibly unsurpassed. Zico lit up the early eighties and is often considered the greatest player of that era, yet he never played in European teams. He appeared for Brazil in three World Cups and scored 52 goals in 52 matches.
Zico is often considered one of the best players in football history to not have won the World Cup. In 1977, he was awarded South American Player of the Year, and in 1983, he received the World Player of the Year Award.
You might also like: Football clubs with most fans in the world
Although Zico was not physically imposing, he was a quick, complete and a highly creative player, who is considered to be one of the best passers of all time, too, and in fact, one of the best-ever stars in soccer history around the world.
He was also known for his trademark no-look passes. Pelé once said about him: "Throughout the years, the one player that came closest to me was Zico."
If Bobby Charlton had not survived the Munich air disaster, Manchester United would simply not be the team they are today. He played almost all of his club football at Manchester United, where he became renowned for his attacking instincts, his passing abilities from midfield and his ferocious long-range shot, as well as his fitness and stamina.
Charlton won the English league three times with the Red Devils, then captained the team to a European cup in 1968. He has scored more goals for England and United than any other player. He is also second behind Ryan Giggs with most appearances for United.
You might also like: Oldest Football Clubs in the World
Originally a midfielder, Cafu was mostly employed in full-back position during his career. With 142 appearances for the Brazil national team, he holds the record for international appearances among all Brazilian players of all time.
Cafu represented his nation in four FIFA World Cups between 1994 and 2006, and is the only player to have appeared in three consecutive World Cup finals.
Known for his pace and energetic attacking runs along the right flank, he is regarded as one of the greatest full-backs of all time, one of the best defenders ever to play in the Italian Serie A and as one of the greatest Brazilian players of his generation. He’s simply one of the best-ever stars in football history.
You might also like: 2022 World Cup Stadiums
Moore’s 108 international appearances was a record until 28 March 2009 when David Beckham gained his 109th. Moore is a member of the World Team of the 20th Century and a national team icon whose bronze statue is situated at the entrance of Wembley Stadium.
Pele described him as the greatest defender he ever played, while Jock Stein, a famous Scottish manager once said about him: “There should be a law against him. He knows what's happening 20 minutes before everyone else.”
You might also like: Facts you didn’t know about David De Gea
A technically gifted, creative playmaker and a set piece specialist, renowned for his curling free-kicks, dribbling skills, and goalscoring, Baggio is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
Baggio played for Italy in 56 matches, scoring 27 goals, and is the joint fourth-highest goalscorer for his national team, alongside Alessandro Del Piero.
In 2002, Baggio became the first Italian footballer in over 50 years to score more than 300 goals; he is currently the fifth-highest scoring Italian in all competitions with 318 goals.
In 2004, during the final season of his career, Baggio became the first player in over 30 years to score 200 goals in Serie A, and is currently the seventh-highest goalscorer of all time in Serie A, with 205 goals.
You might also like: The Best UEFA Player of 2019
Baggio was a tactically versatile player, with a good understanding of the game, and was comfortable attacking on either flank or through the center of the pitch; this allowed him to play anywhere along the front-line.
In 1999, Baggio came fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll and was ranked 16th in World Soccer's list of the 100 greatest footballers of the 20th century, the highest ranked Italian player.
Giggs is one of the most decorated footballers of all time. During his time at Manchester United, he won 13 Premier League winner's medals, 4 FA Cup winner's medals, 3 League Cup winner's medals, 2 UEFA Champions League winner's medals, a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal, an Intercontinental Cup winner's medal, a UEFA Super Cup winner's medal and 9 FA Community Shield winner's medals.
Manchester United and Liverpool are the only clubs in English football history to have won more league championships than Giggs! Giggs has also a number of personal achievements: He was the first player in history to win two consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards (1992 and 1993, and the only player to play in each of the first 22 seasons of the Premier League, as well as the only player to score in each of the first 21 seasons.
You might also like: Top African Football Leagues
With 162 assists, Giggs also holds the record for the most assists in Premier League history. In addition to all his honors in the world of football, he was appointed The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honors List for his services to football.
With all these trophies and honors, he’s surely one of the best among the best-ever stars in football history.
The Bottom Line
The list of best-ever stars in football history is not limited to the footballers already mentioned in this post. There are other great footballers who have nothing less than the stars already mentioned, but introducing them in detail in one post is surely out of your patience.
The following list contains some of other best-ever stars in football history not mentioned in this post.
- Alfredo Di Stefano
- Jurgen Klinsmann
- Franco Baresi
- Gerd Muller
- Zinedine Zidane
- Ferenc Puskas
- Kenny Dalglish
- Ian Rush
- Roberto Carlos
- Paulo Maldini
- Lothar Matthaus
- Luis Figo
- Rudi Voller
- Dennis Bergkamp
- Eric Cantona
- Marcel Desailly
- Luis Suarez
- Fabbio Cannavaro
- Lillian Thuram
- Paolo Rossi
- Jean-Pierre Papin
- Alan Shearer
- Ruud Gullit
You might also like: