My Profile

Smartest Football Players Ever

Thu 03 September 2020 | 12:00

In the following article from SportMob, we will have a look at the list of the smartest football players ever and discuss the reasons they are entitled to be labeled as one.

For many football fans and fellow journalists, a player's IQ test result or educational background are the key factors in determining the most intelligent players in the history of football. But we at


believe that it is the footballing intelligence that determines who is among the smartest football players ever. But what is exactly a football intelligence? Let's say its combination of intuition and decision making in crucial times, as well as sophistication on the character lever and of course their IQs.

Players like Marvan Fellaini and Juan Mata are amazing when it comes to general IQ tests or educational background, but no one would consider them as the most intelligent football players of all time. On the contrary, great players like Ronaldinho may have never studied anything in their lives, but considering the way they play on the football field, they sure are among the

smartest football players ever

. Top Ten Intelligent players in the history of football

From Ronaldinho "The Poet" of football world to the genius of Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi, the following is the list of smartest football players ever in the history of football.


 Leaving aside his stupid decision to enter Paraguay with a fake passport, Ronaldinho is one of the smartest football players ever. His unbelievable free-kick goal from the middle of the pitch in the 2002 world cup left David Seaman, and the rest of us open-mouthed and was a testimony to his high intelligence.

Ronaldinho liked to do things his way? Back-passing the ball? No problem! Hitting the crossbar four times in a row? Piece of cake! He regularly terrorized the best defenders in the game and was among the few players in the history to force

Real Madrid

supporters into a standing ovation. Some would say that "The poet" made some not-very-smart decisions throughout his career- like leaving top-class football too early- but no one can deny his unusual intelligence, as well as his artistry in the football field.

Frank Lampard

There is no doubt that rank Lampard is among the

most intelligent footballers ever

to grace the turf. We mean, even looking at Lampard's face could convince you of his high IQ.  As a player, Lampard bossed the midfield line and dictated the game whenever he was on the field. His IQ is said to be only 10 behind the great Physicist, Albert Einstein and Lampard's vision of the game and his pinpoint passes were legendary.

He won many individual and collective awards during his career and if it was not for his famous disallowed goal against Germany in the 2006 world cup - which paved the way for the introduction of VAR into football- Lampard may have won the world cup as well. As a manager the Chelsea legend promoted Derby County to the

premier league

in his first experience and had a very good first season at Stamford Bridge.

Diego Maradona

Yes! We know that his high temper and rebellious attitude made him do not very clever things like using Drugs and mingling with Mafia Business, but leaving Diego Maradona out of the list of the

smartest football players ever

would be a crime against the beautiful game.

Maradona was so tactically intelligent that he didn't need any tactics! He single-handedly guided Argentina to two world cup finals. His "Hand of God" goal against England was so smart that few football fans care about the illegal nature of it. He also guided


to its most memorable Serie A title and is surely one of the smartest soccer players ever.

Johan Cruyff

The mastermind behind the famous Total Football system needs no further justification to be on the list of

smartest football players of all time.

He revolutionized the game both as a player and as a coach. His most intelligent moments as a player were his acrobatic goal against Athletic Bilbao and his famous Panenka Penalty in Ajax Amsterdam. As a coach, he helped Barcelona get back on the elite map of football by winning 4 La Liga and 1

Uefa Champions League

titles. However, for all his intelligence, he could not bring a world cup to his home nation, Netherlands, as he was beaten by Germany in the final of the 1974 World Cup.

Cruyff was among the pioneers of modern football. He regularly experimented with new systems to gain an advantage over his rivals and believed in team play above all. He was the one who came up with the idea of using strikers as the first line of defense and the goalkeeper as the first line of attack. It is fair to say that no one influenced the modern way of football more than the great Dutch artist, Johan Cruyff.

Pep Guardiola

Even his haters would admit that

Pep Guardiola

is among the smartest people in the history of football. As a player, he was a key member of Johan Cruyff's Barcelona Dream Team. As a coach, he upgraded his mentor's philosophy of the game into a new system of total football. In his first experience as a coach, he led Barcelona to the only sextuple in the history of football and went on to win 14 trophies in just 4 seasons.

 Although pep has not been able to reach the same heights with his next two teams, Bayern Munchen and Manchester City, He has been collecting trophies in both of them. Many football fans admire Guardiola for his new version of attacking football and many managers around the world have tried to imitate his vision and tactical intelligence, albeit with less success. Guardiola is considered by many of his players as the smartest coach in the world of football and is with no doubt one of the smartest footballers in the world of all time.

Philipp Lahm

Philipp Lahm was once famously labeled by Guardiola as the most tactically intelligent players he has ever coached and for anyone who has seen him on the field, pep's quote doesn't sound just like a mere compliment.  Lahm was a unique right-back and is the only defender in our list of the smartest football players ever. His ability to read the game and make interceptions was out of this world.

He won almost every trophy there is with

Bayern Munchen

and Germany National team. From the right-back position to the left-back and Defensive midfielder, Lahm made all of them his own in no time. Every time he was put in a new position on the field, it was like he had played his whole life there. He retired from football after winning the 2014 world cup with Germany. A timing which further proves why he is considered as one of the most intelligent football players of all time.


The great Brazilian maestro, Socrates, is in many ways the most unusual case in the list of smartest soccer players ever. Named after the famous Greek Philosopher, Socrates was not just a genius footballer, but also a political activist, a journalist, and most surprisingly a doctor! Such was his intelligence that he got his bachelor's degree in medicine at the same time he was playing top-level football.

Recognized for his headband and beard on the football pitch, Socrates inspired many footballers and even non-footballers in the 1970s and '80s. He captained the Brazilian national team in 1982 and 1986

World Cup

but was eliminated by Italy and France respectively. He died at the relatively young age of 57 and he is considered to be one of the

smartest football players ever

in the history of football.

Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo is regarded as one of the best midfielders ever and is surely among the smartest footballers ever. For those fortunate enough to see his magic, his vision on the pitch as well as his passing ability and creativity were delightful to watch.

He won many trophies with AC Milan and


as well as the 2006 FIFA World Cup. All his coaches acknowledged his intelligence and Carlo Ancelotti famously said that Pirlo is miles ahead of any other midfielder when it comes to sending the best most accurate passes in dangerous situations. His genius chip penalty against Joe hart in the world cup is alone a good reason to include him in the list of the

most intelligent footballers ever


Cristiano Ronaldo

Not known for his intelligence as much as his incredible physic, CR7 is one of the most complete players in the history of football. He has pace, technique, power, and unbelievable jumping power all in one package. Ronaldo and his eternal rival, Lionel Messi are probably the most consistent players in football history and one of the most intelligent ones.

Ronaldo has won 5 Ballon Do'rs and has scored some of the hardest goals possible, like his rocket-of-a-free-kick against Arsenal in the Uefa Champions League or his Out-of-worldly bicycle kick against Juventus which left the legendary Gigi Buffon motionless.

At 35,


seems strong as ever and keeps breaking records every season. Many of his haters would point out his many tap-ins and penalty goals, but what they don’t seem to realize is that it takes insane intelligence to read the game in a way to score such seemingly easy goals.

Lionel Messi

The Argentinian magician needs no introduction as his historical achievements are enough of a testament to his greatness and intelligence. He has won every possible title, except well, the world cup of course, and has broken many of the longest-standing records in the history of football.

He is the only player to have won six Ballon Do'rs and Six Golden Shoes. He is one of the few players ever who were able to dribble past every player of the opposition team. His goal against Getafe, his dummy and chip against Boateng and Neuer, and his incredibly difficult goal against Atletico Bilbao in Copa Del Rey Final were among his most intelligent plays.


is the master of dribbling the opponent players without even touching the ball. At 33, he has lost a yard of his legendary speed, but he has made amends with changing his position to more of a playmaker than a winger or a false-nine. He is one of the smartest football players of all time.


Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or as we know him, Pele is regarded as the best player in the history of football and certainly one of the most intelligent ones. He won his first of three world cups with


at the tender age of 17 and to this day no one has been able to reach the same height Pele was during his highly successful career. He was the first person to call football "the beautiful game".

 His best games were arguably at the 1970 world cup, where he put magical performances game after game and won his record third world cup. Pele scored more than a thousand goals during his career but surprisingly his most intelligent moments on the football field didn't end up in the opposition's net. In the 1970 world cup game against Uruguay Pele noticed the goalkeeper off his line and sent a rocket of a shot from the halfway line, only for the ball to go out agonizingly wide of the target. Minutes later in one of the most intelligent plays of the history of football, he dummied the goalkeeper without even touching the ball but sent his shot inches wide. Pele ended his career without playing in any of Europe's big giants because he was declared by the Brazilian President as a national treasure. 

There it was! Our list of smartest football players ever. So tell us what you think? Who should have included it in the list? Which intelligent player do you like the most? Let us know in the comments below.

Read More:



 for the 

latest football news

source: SportMob