World Soccer 100 Players of the Century
As part of the discussion of the greatest athletes from all sports, including soccer, here is one view of the greatest football (soccer) players of the 20th century. This list of the 100 greatest football players of the 20th century was published in the December 1999 issue of World Soccer, an English language football magazine.
Where is Messi? - This list is of the greatest players of the 20th century - so from the years 1900-1999. Messi made his full international debut in 2005, and like the majority of the current top players were not even on the scene when this vote was taken.
The list is based on a readers' poll, in which the voters picked their top 10 players in order of preference, then points were assigned to each vote a player gained, 10 points for a 1st place vote, 9 points for a 2nd place vote etc.
As with all popular polls, the list suffers from some bias including the voters age and where they are from - it is not surprising to find a disproportionate number of English players and some more recent players who are possibly yet to reach their prime (in 1999 anyway). Anyway, these lists provide a starting point for discussions on the greatest soccer player ever, though an ending point may never be found. A better listing of the player of the century is based on votes by the eilte players themselves.
|4||Franz Beckenbauer||2780||West Germany|
|6||Alfredo Di Stéfano||1541||Argentina; Spain|
|7||Ferenc Puskás||1537||Hungary; Spain|
|8||George Best||1190||Northern Ireland|
|9||Marco van Basten||1026||Netherlands|
|10||Eusébio Ferreira da Silva||1022||Portugal|
|15||Gerd Muller||498||West Germany|
|31||Lothar Mathaus||202||West Germany, Germany|
|35||Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||149||West Germany|
|55||Jose Luis Chilavert||61||Paraguay|
|Juan Alberto Schiaffino||Uruguay, Italy|
|Gunter Netzer||West Germany|
|=77||Alessandro Del Piero||43||Italy|
|Sepp Maier||West Germany|
|Pat Jennings||Northern Ireland|
|=95||Ladislav Kubala||33||Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Spain|
- About the Greatest Soccer Player Ever
- More about soccer and some other soccer lists
- All time greatest index of sports
- Other sport specific lists
- More about the World of Sport
Commenting is closed on this page, though you can read some previous comments below which may answer some of your questions.
- Where is Teofilo Cubillas? Does he not deserve to be on the top 100 footballers after Pele said that he was the Pele of Peru? (from Luis, April 2022)
- where is safet sušić? he deservs to be at least top 20 i think you don't now nothing about football many good players are missing. from Yugoslavia (2013)
- What about Dragan Dzajic or Dragoslav Sekularac? from Serb (2016)
- AlkanÖ (2013)
Where is ronaldinho?
Where is zidane?
Where is rivaldo?
Where is dunninho?
Where is roberto carlos?
Where is moore?
Where is gullit?
- Can you READ?? It was made in 1999!
- Just so you know all those players played professional in 1999....... LolWhat (2016)
- Ronaldinho made his fame in 2001. Zidane was in there. Rivaldo 1998. Who the hell is dunninho? Roberto carlos in 2002. Bobby Moore was average. Gullit was in there. Shut up lolWhat (2017)
- Where is Ronaldinho! Ronaldinho was better than David Beckham and Where is rivaldo. Max willstrand (2013)
- Garrincha should be at least top 3, he is a very underrated player but my favourite of all time. Just Fontaine (2014)
- No Vava? Papin? Cant find Elias Figueroa(who should be top 10)? Hugo Sanchez?
- My top 10:
- guys learn how to read... those who are asking for ronaldinho... he wasn't in the 1989-1999 scenes in world football. Wc2014 (2014)
- Balu (2014)
Roberto carlos is at the position 64.
Rivaldo at 51
Zidane at 28.
Bobby moore at 14.
- where is hugo sanchez. Gera ola (2013)
- You know that Cruyff is the best of all time !! Nobody can beat him regarding talent and intelligence !! from Faruk Ahmed (2020)
- i'm getting sick of you pretentious yanks poisoning OUR game. it's called FOOTBALL ....and that isn't EVER going to change. from Oggmeista (2017)
- Where is Dragan Stojković?????????????!!!!! from Cool (2017)
- Where is Carlos Alberto the captain of legendary brazillian team that won 1970 World cup who is one of the greatest defenders of all time. from Ruzmi (2016)
- Football_fan (2016)
- Msec Football_fan (2019)
Jari Litmanen???? Are you kidding me????
- Sid (2014)
- Jonathan Hjelm (2014)
- RATHEESH (2014)
WHO IS MORE THAN TIMES WINNER FOR FIFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
- Rob Admin RATHEESH (2014)
Messi won the FIFA player of the year award four times in a row (2009-2012), the first player to do this. Two other players have won the award three times: Zidane and Ronaldo. See more here: http://www.topendsports.com...
- Darne (2014)
where is kaka
- Patrik O (2014)
Gunnar Nordahl - It was some years ago, but he was top-scorer in Italy 5 times during his proffesional career. That shold qualify him for this great list!
- Γιαννακός (2013)
Platini, Best and Van Basten are overrated on your list and many of the Brits do not belong there.
- Msec Γιαννακός (2019)
Best is overrated everywhere.
- StockholmUltras Γιαννακός (2014)
Platini, Best & Van Basted belong here but you are right, no way they are better than Alfredo dí Stefano or Eusébio. To me Ronaldo will always be better than everybody on this list except Péle, Maradona, dí Stefano & Eusébio, but its true that since he played half his career in the 21st century it becomes complicated for a list like this. I agree about the brits, for creating the sport they are not very good at it lol.
- I think Zidane deserves a spot on the list, after all he carried France to the world cup in '98, by then he was just a ticking bomb waiting to explode. Still the greatest of all times, Zizou.
- Dyk StockholmUltras (2015)
Zidane is my favorite and he should be around where he is but some little higher. Zidane is underrated tho. Well, just not as famous with not footballers
- Γιαννακός StockholmUltras (2014)
To your top four list (Pelé, Maradona, di Stéfano & Eusébio), I would add Johan Cruyff and Ferenc Puskas as an untouchable top six. As for Zidane, I would definitely put him above Platini and also the others I previously mentioned.
- StockholmUltras Γιαννακός (2014)
- Yes, but Id rather have Cruyff as the manager thou.;) Of course Puskas, yes Im French & here there is no question who is the greatest between Zidane & Platini. We even raised a statue of Zizou headbutting Materazzi in Paris haha.
- Renzo (2013)
where is messssi
- Rob Admin Renzo (2013)
The list only includes players from the years 1900-1999
- Henry Jaws (2013)
this is a terrible list. why wouldnt u put Lionel Messi first thats terrible everybody says Lionel Messi is first and then Renaldo and then maybe Rooney who ever done this list is very silly or doesn't know much great soccer players
- I doesn't matter Henry Jaws (2016)
You are dumb. I can take people saying Messi is the best ever, and even take that Cristiano Ronaldo is somehow in the top 10 best ever, but ROONEY ? I can say at least 5 englishmen that would pound Rooney to the ground and at least 15 Man U players that would make Rooney look like a child playing . I can name, at the very least, 300 players that are better than Rooney in general . Rooney's name shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Zidane or Messi in NO WAY, and NEVER, it is a sin to do it .
- Roy Steine Henry Jaws (2013)
Dude! This list is from 1900 till 1999.. So who is silly now..
- Majid Sarlak (2014)
ZIDANE should be the number one (No. 1) in this ranking. He is the best player of all of the times. The cosmos has not & wont see footballer like him. We can call him "SAHER" in terminology. The word that means magician in persian .
- SuperbFlab (2014)
I honestly can't understand or believe, having watched soccer for over 35 years, how Francesco Totti is left off any Top-100 list. It suggests to me clearly someone is not watching properly because this guy possesses skills few players have or had. Just go on youtube and watch for yourself and try and tell me some of these players on the list should be ahead of him. Ridiculous.
- Afdhal Cher (2013)
where is Ronaldo and Messi. No LEGENDS I MEAN.
Ribery and Falcao.
Xavi and Neymar jr.
- Jack Lee Afdhal Cher (2014)
neymar should not be in the list even if it was written tomorrow.
- StockholmUltras Afdhal Cher (2014)
please Afdhal, read before you comment, this list is players from 1900-1999, so only Xavi & (Luís) Ronaldo (Nazarío de Lima) are eligible but I guess you mean Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro who didn't even play professional football in 1999... Neymar Jr. was 7 years old the last year this list counts.
- Cristiano ronaldo (2013)
where is cristiano ronaldo?
- StockholmUltras cristiano ronaldo (2014)
He didn't play professional football the last year this list counts, can you please read before you comment?
- Dude (2013)
Ehm.. Why isnt Zlatan ibrahimovic listed here!? ;O
- Ronaldo, beckham, zidane shouldn't be so down (from kabir chatterjee, Apr 2013)
- OH MY GOD,WIA DO U PEOPLE KEEP CR7,DAT IS RONALDO,HE CAN'T JUST BE 4GOTTEN JUSR LYK DAT,IF U THINK AM JOKING U CAN CONFIRM 4RM NEDERLAND NO 2 DEFENDER DURING EURO 2012. (from MATTHEW STANLHEY, Apr 2013)
- What about abedi pele or zico (from soccer champ, Apr 2013)
- Zidane deserves number 3 and Lionel Messi Number 4... This list it full of lies (from anonymous, Mar 2013)
- Where is d miracle dribbler, d model of many great players today AUSTIN J J OKOCHA. its quite unfair. (from ken sam, Mar 2013)
- Some of these people commenting are semi-literate: they dont realise the list stops at 1999: Owen was a phenom from 18 in 1998; maradona is probably the most skilled ever but pele is number 1 for overall ability. alot of those british players really shouldnt be on the list or atleast so high up...michael laudrup is better than the list make him look...di stefano was injured when his times for world cup came but he still deserves a top 10 place...and puskas(best leftie ever-another accuracy of the list is that it ranks baggio as the best italian ever but meazza would be higher...heard he that elegant skills-walked through defenses for fun(like best) and was a party animal like him to...yes, cubillas should be there and other non-british players like czibor, boszik and hideguti from hungary's 1950s team; cuelemans and scifo from belgium; stojkovic from yugoslavia...but point well taken about the biases...remember it was a poll...we didnt see varela, santmaria, hector castro, stabile,rava, combi and foni from the 30s...the ball was hard to control and shot then-those players would have been as great now...with all the help thses newbies are getting to look good. (from nicholas, Mar 2013)
- The world has seen great futbol players and to say one is better than the other wouldn't be fair. I know of an awesome player that played in Spain at the same time that Maradona did and matter of fact Maradona claimed that jorge "El Magico" Gonzales was the best in the world. Garricha, one of the greatest of all time dispite his handicap he was able to run circles around the defenders. I'm just glad for Youtube and being able to watch so many great players in action. (from Gianni, Mar 2013)
- Yes Pele is the 1st no doubt.but for Maradona who was on drugs shuoldnt be ranked 2nd.And playerz like Zinedine Zidane,Ronaldo,Ronaldinho,Cristiano Ronaldo,Samuel Eto,Eric Cantona,Jay Jay Okocha,Rivaldo,Romario couldnt had been leftout or ranked that low.Fifa should try and say the truth wityout taking sides or fear faces eor the have the powr above all football association.Fifa please stop too much politics so as not to spoil the good works you people have been doing, thanks. (from ajikabi romaric, Feb 2013)
- Where is raul gonzalez? (from aryan, Feb 2013)
- Pathetic, biased list by a magazine that attempts to be cultured and high-brow but falls flat because of its enormous pro-British and EPL bias. Pele is ranked so much higher than Maradona because of the Hand of God, and the rankings of British players are absolutely laughable. George Best and Bobby Charlton better than Baggio? ZICO?! Bobby Moore better than Paolo Maldini? Kenny Dalglish of all people ahead of Batigol? Gigi Riva 72nd? Gianni Rivera not even present? Pathetic, clueless list. (from Davide, Feb 2013)
- Where is baggio? (from di leng, Feb 2013)
- Cruyff better than pele and maradona ... the best player ever !!!!! (from cruz joseph, Feb 2013)
- Where is Oliver Kahn or Yashin? Aren't goalies considered footballers too? - O.K. I apologize you have Yashin, but you can't keep Oliver Kahn off this list, undoubtly one of the best goalies all time. (from Jerry, Feb 2013)
- You guys have done well, but come to think of it, why excluding the likes of Paulo Rossi, Juninho, Jay Jay Okocha, Zola, Veron, Van Nistelrooy and Careca. (from Kayrocky, Feb 2013)
- Zidane #1 pele #2
- Where is my best player Cristiano Ronaldo? (from kelvin Kay frm Ghana, Feb 2013)
- The truth is Maradona never deserved to be 2 alongside the obvious number 1 Pele. Ronaldo, Mane Garrincha, Romario, Ronaldinho were way better than Maradona and accomplished a lot more. Maradona is the most over rated player in the history of the sport, he got involved with drugs, promoting leftist communist ideas. Brazil would dominate the top players in history if it was not for politics of Fifa. (from Roger Stephen Roth, Jan 2013)
- what about Trésor Mputu? (from Rene cyoskas, Jan 2013)
- If lionel messi isnt included. Then yo gods must be crazy (from Alfred, Jan 2013)
- As for me messi and c.ronaldo are the two greatest in the world presently 2013 (from Christian kamanda, Jan 2013)
- What is the criteria for ranking Garrincha 20 when many footballers ranked higher than he did not achieve the success that he did. For instance, you ranked Alfredo Di stefano above Garrincha. Garrincha played in 3 World cups, (1958,1962,& 1966). In 1958, he made his debut. He played against the allstars of other countries and he mesmerized them with his ball handling and dribbling ability. In 1962 he led Brazil to their second World Cup trophy. In 1966 he did not achieve much, Brazil failed to make it to the second round. (from Alix Roy, Jan 2013)
- This figures of rating are wrong, though th first and second is nt arguable those 2 are special Pele and Diego, re collecting those of rough days when we do nt hv good picth and safety shades to wear. They play hard football these days we hv modern devices to wear. What do somebody like Beckham, Michael Owen, got to do with Greatest soccer lists ever. And why would Stanley be ahead of a player like great Zico and th rest. (from Mike, Jan 2013)
- This list is a joke. Way too many British players in this biased list. Neville Southall ? Alan Hansen ? Where is Gianni Rivera and Sandro Mazzolla of Italy? Where is Hugo Sanchex of Mexico? By the way its Tostao not Totao. (from David, Jan 2013)
- The list is made in 1999, hence why many current players aren't there and why Zidane and Ronaldo are lower than where they should be really, because they hadn't finished their career off by then (from Prazzy, Jan 2013)
- Where is celtics great jimmy johnstone? [jinky]
- What about ronaldinho? (from simon taabu, Jan 2013)
- Where the heck is ronaldinho? (from Rouenjp, Jan 2013)
- THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME IS RONALDO AS WE HAVE NOT SEEN OTHER GREATS ONLY HEARD OF THEM (from jAMES, Jan 2013)
- MICHAEL OWEN SHOULD NOT BE ON IT (from timmie, Jan 2013)
- Where r the best current players; MESSI, RONALDO, XAVI, INIESTA, IMBRAHIMOVIC ETC? (from antonip, Jan 2013)
- Some of u r talkin about c ronaldo , messi xavi. Dnt forget it 1900-1999 (20th century) (from Seeker, Jan 2013)
- Where is football god messi? (from Lasana m konneh, Jan 2013)
- I don't get d criteria they put in put to embark on this result ... where is jay jay okocha who made magic with the ball,who to me if he was a white guy would have been a world player. So, to me I don't see this as the top 100. (from nestor oladipo peters, Dec 2012)
- Zidane was better than other (from shakiba, Dec 2012)
- Page a not is the best in the world all time (from Pipu, Dec 2012)
- Good job Alessandro Del Piero can not believe he is 77th good effort C Ranaldo and Messi should not even be in the top 100 (from Charlie, Dec 2012)
- Why is Okocha not part of d list 4 goodness sake? (From STAR-A, Dec 2012)
- What about the likes of Lineker, Cafu, van Nistelroy, Jaap Stam, Yorke and many other great players. (from Josphat Kwayo, Dec 2012)
- Its great ,but maradon desevs th first position.weah needs to be pulled up th ladder. (from more, Dec 2012)
- Where is Henrick larsson? (from Dom, Dec 2012)
- WHERE IS MESSI? (from JOHNY DEPP, Dec 2012)
- Where is jay jay okocha? (from Jimkings, Dec 2012)
- Dont' u think dat zinidine zidane has three legs. (from sabiu musa, Dec 2012)
- Maradona was better than pele and other. If you would see his skill,dribbling,ball control and ability you will think amaizing. so maradona is greatest of all time. (from Bashistha, Dec 2012)
- Well done guys for your hard works,but where is football genus messi? he's well capable of being no.2due to pele ability to the ball.pls think about it. (from SAMUEL LASSA, Nov 2012)
- They got number 1 and number 2 right. The rest is arguable and subjective, really. (from JG, Nov 2012)
- Why is ronaldhino and ronaldo very low? (from Martin, Nov 2012)
- I really appreciate your work. But I think zidane could have climb a few spots up. More over ronaldinho should have earned a spot in the list. (from Soumya, Oct 2012)
- D list is a gr8 one, those of them askin abt messi nd c.ronaldo shld b rational, d list rangez frm period of 1900-1999 (from Lordpiin, Oct 2012)
- U done wll but sme grt playrs lk ronaldinho messi cr7 xavi is nt thr undsv(owen) (from Adekunle gafar, Oct 2012)
- The really no 1 greatest player was suitable for maradona. its not pele because maradona was magicle player in history of football (from Bashistha, Oct 2012)
- Where is messi, c.ronaldo, xavi and iniesta (from emmanuel, Sept 2012)
- Why is Zidane so low on the list? And why are Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore so high? As for Beckham he shouldn't even be there. (from aoibhil, Sept 2012)
- I very well appreciate the great work you and your team must have put into this task to research the 100 best football/soccer players of the past 100 years. Kudos to you and your able staff; job well done! But ... I wonder whether researchers ever took some soul-searching how GEORGE WEAH ended up on this list of football/soccer luminaries of all time!? Do they take into consideration the depth from whence he come: His country Liberia, not even a soccer powerhouse in West Africa, notwithstanding the world?! On your list, he is perhaps the only one whose genius on the field of play is not fully characterized, all things considered. Almost all the football/soccer greats on your list are either from Europe or Central and South America, regions well noted as soccer superpowers on the globe. This is due to programs with resources and zeal for the sport by their respective countries. As for Zidane who hails from Algeria, North Africa, and Roger Milla from Cameroon, West Africa (perhaps the only other Africans on the list), those two countries have long been regarded as soccer superpowers on the African Continent. Weah never had such privilege or luxury in his formative training as an up and coming footballer. Soccer is given only given lipservice and nothing more in a poor and small country as Liberia. His success is purely based on talent and skill, pure genius! By all fairness, George Weah should be ranked up there with Pele and Maradona. Think about that! (from Matthew Nimpson, Aug 2012)
- Fake, i can't find c ronaldo and messi. what is special about beckhamp. (from Mustee Gora, Aug 2012)
- Where's teofilo cubillas ten world cup goals (from Louie, Aug 2012)
- Ladislau Kubala he has to be on this list (May 2012)