Who are the greatest athletes from the sport of soccer? We are compiling the list which will then be voted on and the winner placed on the shortlist of the all time greatest athlete ever (all sports). The first stage is to get nominations for soccer before the vote is started. See the current list below of top football player, compiled using other published lists and visitor feedback. If you believe that there is someone missing from this list, please place a comment below, including any relevant details about the player.
A somewhat similar poll to determine the Greatest Soccer Athlete of All Time was conducted on the ESPN Sport Science website in 2012 - looking for the greatest athlete, not player, from the sport of soccer.
Soccer's Greatest Players
The athletes below are listed in alphabetical order (first name) - once the shortlist is complete then you will be able to vote for who you think is the greatest of all. It is expected that some of the greatest players ever will come from a list such as the greatest players of the 20th century, though the last 10 years have produced some outstanding players. There is also another list of the top players of last century.
The list below is not complete - if you know of someone who you think should be listed, let us know using the comment form below.
- See the list of greatest players of the 20th century according to World Soccer magazine.
- The Football Player of the Century by France Football
- More about soccer
- 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.
- Ronaldinho should be on this list in my opinion he is 4th best in history after Pele, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi (these names are in order and Messi should not be on this list because Ronaldinho made him the man he is today) (from Damian Dal Prete, April 2023)
- Zidanne is the best french player in the world. Will butler (2013)
- Maradona is the best player ever, then Messi , Zidane, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo Nazario, Ronaldo CR7, Pele.. Maria Del Cid (2013)
- The world is forgeting somebody. He is George Weah of liberia. George Weah of Liberia is soccer all time best. Fahn (2013)
- George Weah is the consummate soccer star of the world only after Pele and Maradona if you put the entire package together: Country of origin, his personal background, and how he rose to the top. The other contenders are from countries considered soccer superpowers with all the facilities, exposures, and trainers. William Sonpon Fahn (2017)
- How about Ibrahimovic? With the likes of Totti and Beckham on there I think he should definitely enter. DrDooDee (2013)
- Don't forget Michael Laudrup !! One of the best and most underrated player of all time. Faruk Ahmed (2020)
- Petition to add: Ali Daei, Garrincha, Lothar Mattheus, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romario. Alan Boksic, Davor Suker, Hristo Stoichkov, Roberto Carlos, Paolo Maldini, Carlos Valderrama, Marco Etcheverry, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer. I could go on a while before I exhaust a list of players better than Gerrard/Litmanen/Kaka/Henry/Beckham (from Jeffers, 2018)
- how about Manuel Neuer. he is the bEst goalie. Dev (2016)
- The Black Pearl! Amanda Nemaric (2016)
- Surprised Ruud Gullit (Ned) didnt make the list definitely player of80s/90s. Christopher Nicholson (2014)
- They should add pele. He is not on there. He was the best brazilian soccer player in the world. Josh (2014)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Thern (2014)
- these are great players but they need to add nouyer. Ozzie gunn (2013)
- ryan giggs? Sir Matt Busby. Matt (2013)
- where is ibra? Jord (2013)
- Where is jay jay okocha, d man with an extra incredible talent. Nestor oladipo peters jord (2014)
- I think Pale is the greatest player of all time but I want to add some players to the list 1 luis Figo. 2 Jay Jay Okocha. 3 Gabriel Chitalo. (from Echebiri Success, Apr 2013)
- Lionel messi is undisputedly the best soccer player to brace the game (from Ogar Israel, Mar 2013)
- It's Messi-1, Messi-2, Messi-3; infact, it's Messi all through. Sharp (from Chancy, Mar 2013)
- Pele is by far the best (from Hugo batchelor, Feb 2013)
- Lionel Messi is the best ol of them (from Golam zakaria(Kanak), Feb 2013)
- As for me, the all time greatest soccer player that is best known to me is Diego Amando Maradona because I have watched many of his playing days matches and all I can found was that he has no rival when it comes to dribbling, power play, skills, speed, joggling and even passion and love for the game he has no mate, infact he is the best. (from Kayrocky, Feb 2013)
- As for me, we will better judge messi at age 30-33 (from Joseph Argbah, Jan 2013)
- For me only pele is compare to messi.c.ronaldo is subject to messi,so pls try to arranged your list in a better form. (from JENSEN WEEDOR, Nov 2012)
- 4 me pele is the best player in history of football 2nd mardna 3 messi 4 ronaldinho5delima ronaldo (from Adekunle, Oct 2012)
- I think messi is the one cause no one can be like/more than magic(messi) (from Jafary, Aug 2012)
- Andres iniesta should be in the list. because he is a good play (from Abu bakarr bah, July 2012)
- 4 me, d greatest footballer of all time dat i know is Da lima Ronaldo. (from Don Bosco Henry, May 2012)
- 4 me i can say Edson arante do nascimento because is get d ability to hold ball at age of 16yrs ,to d age of 34 yrs he 1,265goal and play 1385 game infact is the best ever player in history of football (nascimento)the greatest ever player even if football is going 2 ended no player can beathim infac(t Nascimento)is use lift&right leg 2score The king of football (from Asudes4real, Dec 2011)
- How can messi be better than kaka? (from Nov 2011)
- What about marodona? (from matt owen, Nov 2011)
- How about Mia Hamm (from Jereld, Mar 2011)
- Suggestion: Buffon (Italian national soccer team goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon) (Oct 2010)