Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time

Here is a look at the list of top 10 best German footballers of all time.
Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time

Germany is one of the soccer superpowers in history. Germany has more achievement in the context of World Cups like no country has ever achieved. The country has received invaluable prestige in world football since the foundation of the German football association in 1900.

Germany has won a total of four World Cups in 1954, 1974, 1990, and 2014 and three European Championships in 1972, 1980, 1996, making them one of the most successful national teams in international tournaments. Germany has produced many footballers in this long term who have written their names in football memory.

Germany has produced amazing players over the decades with the most decorated career at club and international level. We noticed Franz Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer who owned sweeper roles and these days we find Thomas Muller has reformed the second striker role with his ability to find spaces that nobody else can discover.

German soccer is identified by its focus on team game. Germany likes to work as a team and is not typically reliant on one or two individuals for its enviable performance.

Over the decades they have produced some outstanding footballers that over time have become legends. Around the world, these players have impressed millions of supporters with their incredible performances, other than winning competitions and trophies for respective sides.  

The top 10 greatest German footballers of all time

Sportmob looks at the list of top 10 German players in the history. In this article, we have brought you the top ten German football superstars ever.

10. Matthias Sammer

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Date of birth: Sep 5, 1967
  • Place of birth: Dresden
  • Age: 52
  • Height: 1,81 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Midfielder - Defensive Midfield
  • Foot: right
Matthias Sammer, born in East Germany, played his first international game in 1990, winning against Italy in 1990.  His side finished as runners-up losing against Denmark.
He played as a defensive midfielder in the European Championship 1992. In 1993, Sammer was transferred to Borussia Dortmund and changed his role to sweeper.
His state of mind on the field and his skill as a sweeper to interpret the game put him in touch with some of the world's best footballers ever. Sammer was appointed Player of the Tournament when they defeated the Czech Republic in the Euro 1996 final.
Sammer lifted three Bundesliga trophies, two in Borussia Dortmund one at Stuttgart, whereas two DFB Supercups and one Champions League were also captured. Sammer is mainly one of the most decorated players in the history of German football and one of the greatest German footballers of all time.
.West-Germany players captured the FIFA World Cup 1990, but Sammer debuted on 19 December 1990 after the unification of Germany. His debut game took place In Stuttgart where Germany dominated 4-0 win against Switzerland at home.
Sammer was a part of the EUFA Euro 1992 German team, where the team was defeated by Denmark in the final. The player was listed for the FIFA World Cup 1994 as Germany was eliminated in the quarter-final stage by Bulgaria.
Sammer was involved with the libero position in UEFA Euro 1996 just like in Dortmund Borussia in that season.
In the second group game against Russia and in the quarter-final against Croatia he scored important goals and finally was named Player of the tournament after Germany won the final game against the Czech Republic. In a 1998 FIFA, World Cup qualifier against Ukraine Sammer played his final game for Germany.

9. Uwe Seeler

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Date of birth: Nov 5, 1936
  • Place of birth: Hamburg  Germany
  • Age: 83
  • Height: 1,70 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Forward - Centre-Forward
  • Foot: right
He was a successful Hamburger SV scoring machine and took part in the West German squad at seventy-two occasions. In 2004, he was named as one of the 125 best living footballers by Pele.
He is also known as one of the greatest German footballers of all time. Uwe Seeler was the first soccer player to receive the Federal Republic of Germany's Great Order of Merit. 
In the same four FIFA World Cups as Pele, Seeler played; 1958, 1962, 1966, and 1970. The 1966 team reached the final game where they infamously lost 4–2 against England.
The German side came fourth in 1958 and they came third in 1970, after being defeated in the semifinals by Italy, a match often called "the Game of the Century" which saw Germany a 4-3 extra-time loss.
Perhaps Seeler's most significant international goal was in the last round against England which made the score 2–2.
Uwe Seeler never won a World Cup but he had a successful career in the competition, having been the first player to play in 20 World Cup games with 21 matches overall, he is third of all-time.
Indeed, the unlucky player started 4 years after Germany lifted their first World Cup in 1954 and retired 4 years ahead of their second championship in 1974.
Across all decades, he still places 3rd behind Paolo Maldini and Lothar Matthaus in all-time minutes played in World Cups with 1980.
All in all, he scored 9 goals in the 4 World Cups in addition to 3 goals in World Cup qualifying games. Seeler scored 43 goals in 72 international games. In the 1966 World Cup Final, a picture of a disappointed Seeler was selected Image of the Century by Kicker.

8. Bastian Schweinsteiger

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Date of birth: Aug 1, 1984
  • Place of birth: Kolbermoor  Germany
  • Age: 36
  • Height: 1,83 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Midfielder - Central Midfield
  • Foot: right
After his impressive appearance in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina, Bastian Schweinsteiger registered his name in German football history as one of the greatest German footballers of all time.
Schweinsteiger started as a winger but gradually turned into a central midfielder. In the span of 13 years, he played for Bayern Munich's first-team squad and was considered as one of the best midfielders across those years. Bastian  Schweinsteiger had a powerful shot, great vision, and fantastic passing ability.
The German is one of the most decorated players of all time having eight Bundesliga trophies to his name. He had completed 17 campaigns with 500 games for Bayern Munich and netted 68 goals.
He won 8 league trophies, 7 DFB-Cup championships, UEFA Champions League trophy, a world cup FIFA Club title, and a UEFA Super Cup. In 2015, he joined Man United and spent 18 months before leaving for Chicago Fire in MLS.
In October 2019, he confirmed his retirement while for the German national team he played between 2004 and 2016. Having played 121 international games and scored 24 goals, he is Germany's fourth most-capped footballer in history. 
He was picked for 4 European Championships and 3 world cups one of which results in winning the title. He was also commonly recognized to be one of the greatest players of the triumphant campaign playing an essential role in defending Lionel Messi in that game.
On 2 September 2014, Schweinsteiger was named National Team Captain after Philipp Lahm's international retirement. On 31 August 2016, he played his last game against Finland after which he decided to retire from international soccer.

7. Sepp Maier

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Name in home country: Josef Dieter Maier
  • Date of birth: Feb 28, 1944
  • Place of birth: Metten  Germany
  • Age: 76
  • Height: 185 m
  • Citizenship: Germany  Germany
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Foot: right
Sepp Maier was considered as the world's greatest goalkeeper in the 1970s. He kept the four clean sheets at the 1974 World Cup as they lifted the trophy-winning against the Dutch team influenced by Johan Cruyff.
He also played for Germany two years prior when the Germans won the first European Championships. Thrice German Footballer of the Year spent his entire career with Bayern Munich as a professional player.
He won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal 4 times during his 19 years with the club and played nearly 400 consecutive games. He is known as the all-time greatest goalkeeper in Germany and in addition to his ability to stopping shots, he was also renowned for his ability to control his box.
Due to his sense of humor and charisma, he was a fan favorite footballer. The cat of Anzing once stated: "a goalkeeper should give up a sense of calm, and he should not fall asleep while doing so."

6. Fritz Walter

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Name in home country: Friedrich Walter
  • Date of birth: Oct 31, 1920
  • Place of birth: Kaiserslautern  Germany
  • Date of death: 17.06.2002 (81)
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Midfielder - Attacking Midfield
  • Foot: right
Fritz Walter is one of the greatest German footballers of all time. An important award is now named after him awarded to the best German player; previously Kuhn and Katterbach won the prize.
The only team Walter played for was Kaiserslautern where he born. Walter netted 357 goals in 364 matches for Kaiserslautern capturing the German championships prior to the Bundesliga's foundation.
He led the Germans to the World Cup Final in 1954, where they defeated Hungary 3-2. He typically played as a second striker. He played 61 international games and netted 33 goals, and was skipper of the team which won the FIFA World Cup in 1954. 
Fritz and Ottmar were the first siblings to win the World Cup together. He was honored as the most exceptional player of his country over the last 50 years and was acknowledged at the UEFA Jubilee Awards in 2004.

5. Miroslav Klose

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Name in home country: Miroslaw Marian Jozef Kloze
  • Date of birth: Jun 9, 1978
  • Place of birth: Opole  Poland
  • Age: 42
  • Height: 1,84 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Forward - Centre-Forward
  • Foot: right
Miroslav Klose is the player who broke the record of Ronaldo Nazario in 2014 World Cup hitting 16 World Cup soccer goals outperformed the Brazilian after overcoming Gerd Muller's tally as Germany's top scorer.
While winning the World Cup in 2014 he lifted and league trophy with Bayern Munich and additionally won the Coppa Italia with Lazio in 2013.  It is difficult to find many strikers like him at scoring goals in the box.
He is generally considered as one of his generation's greatest strikers and holds the amazing record for most FIFA World Cup goals. His football career with the German national team is better known than his club career.
He was a member of the German team which won the FIFA world cup 2014, having recently completed the second and third three times. Klose is the leading goal scorer at the FIFA World Cup with 16 goals, 5 goals at his 2002 World Cup play, and 5 goals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
He also netted four times at the 2010 World Cup and two more at the 2014 World Cup, overtaking Ronaldo's then-fifteen goal-record of all time. Klose is also Germany's most successful all-time goal scorer whose team never lost a single game in which he had scored.
He is one of the greatest German footballers ever. Klose is one of very few footballers in the history to win the world cup medals for gold, silver, and bronze. On 11 August 2014, soon after Germany won the World Cup 2014, he retired from the national football.
Klose was less prolific but always a trustworthy goal machine at the club level. After his debut for FC 08 Homburg, he played for Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and for Lazio in Serie A. He lifted league trophies and cup competitions with Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen, and Lazio as well.

4. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Date of birth: Sep 25, 1955
  • Place of birth: Lippstadt  Germany
  • Age: 64
  • Height: 1,82 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Forward - Centre-Forward
  • Foot: right
Rummenigge is one of the greatest German footballers of all time. He has ensured that the clinical instincts of Germany's offense have been continuous at the international level following the footsteps of Walter, Seeler, and Muller.
The sixty-four-year-old netted nine goals at three World Cup competitions including a hat-trick against Chile in 1982. He became the second-best goal scorer ever for Bayern Munich behind Gerd Muller. Surprisingly, he left his job at the bank to sign for Bayern Munich in 1974.
In 1980 and 1981, he won the Ballon d'Or for his club and country displays. He had his top favorite achievement with the German giants Bayern Munich, capturing two European Cups, an Intercontinental Cup, and two league titles.
Rummenigge won the 1980 European Championship with West Germany and was a part of the team which completed runner-up at the 1986 World Cup and 1982 FIFA World Cup. Twice European Footballer of the Year played in the World Cup in Argentina in 1978, in Spain in 1982, and in Mexico in 1986.
West Germany eliminated in the second group stage in 1978. They finished runner-up behind Italy and Argentina in 1982 and 1986. Two European Championship competitions were also played by Rummenigge where West Germany beat Belgium 2-1 in the 1980 tournament in Italy and won the title.
All in all, Rummenigge played 95 international matches for Germany between 1976 and 1986 and netted 45 goals.

3. Lothar Matthaus

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Name in home country: Lothar Herbert Matthaus
  • Date of birth: Mar 21, 1961
  • Place of birth: Erlangen  Germany
  • Age: 59
  • Height: 1,74 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Midfielder - Defensive Midfield
  • Foot: right
Lothar Matthaus is one of the greatest German footballers of all time. Germany's record appearance maker by some distance with 150 which includes winning the World Cup 1990 and Euro 1980, along with finishing World Cup '82 and '86 as runner-up.
Matthaus was a charismatic midfielder who led Germany to beat Argentina with Diego Maradona at the 1990 World Cup. The leadership of Matthaus in that tournament is something that can be lauded where he scored 4 goals as well.
In two different periods, between 1984-1988 and 1992-2000, Matthaus won 7 league championships with Bayern Munich in addition to one Serie A and a UEFA Cup trophy with Internazionale.
He was appointed as European Footballer of the Year after leading West Germany in 1990 at the FIFA World Cup; winning the title. He became the first FIFA World Player of the Year 1991 and is the only German to be awarded ever.
Matthaus registered his name in five FIFA World Cups squad and held the record ahead of the 2018 World Cup when Rafael Mexico's equaled the tally. With 25 games he still holds the record for the most World Cup matches played of all time.
He was named German Footballer of the Year once again in 1999, at the age of 38. Through 20 years, he played in 150 international matches and scored 23 goals.
Matthaus is a part of the FIFA 100 list of the best living soccer players composed by Pele. "He is the greatest opponent I have had in my entire career and I think that's enough to describe him," stated Diego Maradona in his book Yo soy el Diego.    
Regarding his style of play, Matthaus was a flexible midfielder known for his passing ability, tactical sense, strong tackling, and solid shooting force. He usually performed as a box-to-box midfielder throughout his career, yet he did play as a sweeper late in his career as well.

2. Gerd Muller

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Name in home country: Gerhard Müller
  • Date of birth: Nov 3, 1945
  • Place of birth: Nordlingen  Germany
  • Age: 74
  • Height: 1,76 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Forward - Centre-Forward
  • Foot: right
Not much scoring records are out there that Gerd Muller already doesn't hold. The renowned goal scorer shares Germany's leading position with Miroslav Klose, but in far fewer appearances he achieved the tally.
In comparison, his 566 goals make him the top goal scorer ever in Bayern Munich, while his goals-to-games rate is untouchable in the European Cup history. The ambitious forward scored 10 goals during the 1970 World Cup including hat tricks against Peru and Bulgaria.
Such accomplishments secured the gold ballon d'Or the year before he assisted the Germans in capturing Euro 1972. He scored doubles in the semifinal as well as the final game.
Afterward, he completed his international career netting four goals at the point when West Germany won the World Cup of 1974. Gerd Muller has been hailed as one of the greatest soccer players of all time and is universally recognized as one of the greatest German footballers of all time.
There's not really anything that Muller hasn't accomplished other than Germany's top scorer that he lost in 2014.At the international stage, with 68 goals in 62 games, modern-day strikers in Germany can still be compared to him. 
Muller's scoring record has seen him win the same awards as Sepp Maier although his goals for Bavarians have seen him secure four Bundesliga championships and three European Cups.

1. Franz Beckenbauer

Top 10 Greatest German Footballers of All Time
  • Name in home country: Franz Anton Beckenbauer
  • Date of birth: Sep 11, 1945
  • Place of birth: München  Germany
  • Age: 74
  • Height: 1,81 m
  • Citizenship: Germany
  • Position: Defender - Sweeper
  • Foot: right
Franz Beckenbauer is considered as one of the best soccer players of all time. A central defender who could play as a midfielder as well. Nowadays the position of the modern sweeper or libero is credited to his name.
Twice European Footballer of the year played for West Germany 103 times, featuring in 3 FIFA World Cups and two European Championships.
In 1974, he won the World Cup title as Captain and once again in 1990 as German's head coach. Along with Mario Zagallo and France's Didier Deschamps, he is one of the three men to win the tournament a player and a manager.
He was the first skipper at the international and club level to win the World Cup trophy and European Championship. That is one of the most important reasons why he is one of the greatest German footballers of all time.
Beckenbauer was named in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team of the 20th Century in 2002, and in 2004 as one of the world's best living players in the FIFA 100.
Beckenbauer won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1967 and three European Cups in a row from 1974 to 1976 at club-level with Bayern Munich. He is the first footballer to lift three European Cups as the skipper.
The bulk of his achievements came with the Bayern Munich, who earned four championships of the Bundesliga, 4 DFB-Pokals, and three European Cups.