10 Greatest Footballers In 2023

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Ninety-three years have passed since the first FIFA World Cup in 1930. The world has seen 22 World Cups with Brazil being the most successful country with 5 titles. The latest 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup was completed in 2022 with Argentina winning its third title. The next World Cup is scheduled for 2026 with 48 participants.

Football has produced many players but some of them are called legends. They are the greatest players of all time because of their skills visible in their goal-scoring abilities and winning titles.

Here we’ll list the top 10 greatest footballers of all time

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1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Born: 24 June 1987, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina    

Position: Forward, Attacking Midfielder

Current Team: Paris Saint-Germain

Active: 2002-Present

Number: 30

Captain of the Argentina national team and forward for Liga 1 club Paris Saint-Germain, Lionel Messi made his country proud by winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Also, he holds the records for most goals and hat-tricks in La Liga. He has scored 474 goals including 36 hat-tricks in La Liga. But his total goals are 806 including league and international.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Born: 5 February 1985, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Position: Forward

Current Team: Al Nasar

Active: 2004-Present

Number: 7

Cristiano Ronaldo is a proud captain of the Portuguese national team and Al Nasar club. He has scored 837 goals in over 1000 appearances and won most Ballon d’Or awards (5) and European Golden Shoes (4) by a European player. He has made records in the Champions League for most appearances (183), goals (140), and assists (42); international appearances (198), international goals (122), and most goals (14) in European Championship.

3. Pelé (Brazil)

Born: 23 October 1940, Três Corações, Brazil

Died: 29 December 2022, São Paulo, Brazil  

Position: Forward, Attacking Midfielder

Active: 1957-1977

Pelé needs little introduction as he is the most successful footballer of all time. He played 1,363 matches and scored 1,279 goals but his greatest feat is winning three World Cups (1958, 1962, and 1970) for Brazil. Today Brazil is the most successful team in the world winning 5 World Cup titles. Even Time recognized his contribution to football by including him in the list of 100 most important people of the 20th century.

4. Diego Maradona (Argentina)

Born: 30 October 1960, Lanús, Argentina

Died: 25 November 2020, Dique Luján, Argentina

Position: Attacking Midfielder, Second Striker

Active: 1977-1994

Number: 10

Diego Maradona is rightly called “The Golden Boy” because of his exceptional ball control, dribbling skills, passing, and vision. Also, FIFA recognized his contribution to the game by making him a joint winner of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award with Pelé. His classic number 10 position is still a hot favorite of football fans and players.

5. Zinedine Zidane (France)

Born: 23 June 1972, Marseille, France

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Active: 1988-2006

Zinedine Zidane has an illustrious football career. He has been named FIFA World Player of the Year thrice in 1998, 2000, and 2003. Also, he won the World Cup for his country in 1998. He displayed an amazing game in the final match of the World Cup 1998 and became a national hero. France also capped him 108 times to recognize his contribution to the game.

6. Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)

Born: 25 April 1947, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Died: 24 March 2016, Barcelona, Spain

Position: Forward, Attacking Midfielder

Active: 1966-1977

Johan Cruyff left his indelible mark both as a player and a manager. His skills both on the ground and in training were remarkable. His greatest contribution to football was the exploration of Total Football, a philosophy promoted by Rinus Michels. In football, he led the Netherlands team to the final of the 1974 World Cup. The Netherlands remained runners-up in the World Cup but Johan Cruyff won the Golden Ball award for three goals and three assists.

7. Alfredo Di Stéfano (Spain)

Born: 4 July 1926, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Died: 7 July 2014, Madrid, Spain

Position: Forward, Attacking Midfielder

Active: 1947-1961

Alfredo Di Stéfano holds the record for playing multiple countries including Argentina and Columbia. He started his football career in Argentina but he played mostly for Spain. During the 1950s and 60s, he was associated with Real Madrid and it was due to his contribution that the club was able to dominate the European Cup and La Liga. 

8. Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)

Born: 11 September 1945, Munich, Germany 

Position: Defender

Active: 1964-1977

German footballers still recognize Franz Beckenbauer as “The Emperor” of the game. He played 103 matches for West Germany and became European Footballer of the Year two times. Also, he was one of the few to win the World Cup both as a captain and as a manager. Considering his contribution to football and his skills, he was included in the World Team of the 20th    Century (1988), the FIFA Cup Dream Team (2002), and the Ballon d’Or Dream Team (2020). FIFA even named him the FIFA 100 of the World’s greatest living players in 2004.

9. Ronaldo (Brazil)

Born: 18 September 1976, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Position: Striker

Active: 1993-2011

Ronaldo deserves to be called one of the greatest footballers of all time due to his style of play. His style of play was unique and it is evident from the awards and accolades he won. He became FIFA World Player of the Year three times and won Ballon d’Or awards two times. Ronaldo is still popular as R9 or “The Phenomenon” among his friends and fans.

10. George Best (Northern Ireland)

Born: 22 May 1946, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Died: 25 November 2005, South Kensington, London, England

Position: Winger, Attacking Midfielder

Active: 1964-1977

George Best is still remembered for his unique playing style, especially his two-footedness. Also, he had an exceptional ability to get past defenders and score goals. In club football, he appeared in 470 matches and scored 179 goals. In international football, he was capped 37 times by Ireland.

Conclusion

The list of greatest footballers of all time could change according to preference and scores. There is hardly a day without a football match in the world but legends are born once in a decade. Here we’ve tried to rank the 10 greatest footballers in the world.