Who is The Best Soccer Player in The World: Best 30 Elite Players

| Posted on March 7, 2024

Choosing the GOAT(Greatest of All Time) in any sport is an impossible task, especially in soccer where fans all around the globe are ready to go to war with each other to determine who is the best soccer player in the world. 

There are a lot of factors that we need to determine before choosing the players for the elite top 10 soccer players of all time list. No doubt players like Ronaldo, Messi, Maradona, and Pelé are among them, but choosing other players might be a tough call. First, let’s start with the top 30 best soccer players, then we’ll get to the best soccer player in the world.

We have prepared this list considering those who have scored a higher number of goals, high achievements, most appearances, and better skills. So without keeping you waiting let’s begin.

Stats of 30 Famous Players in Soccer

Below we have made the list of 30 popular and best soccer players, their total goals, and appearances in their careers.

Cristiano Ronaldo8761207
Lionel Messi8271048
Johan Cruyff339602
Ferenc Puskás292330
Franz Beckenbauer177724
Zinedine Zidane233798
Alfredo Di Stéfano322458
Michel Platini338622
Gerd Müller636673
Paolo Maldini401027
Zlatan Ibrahimović558949
Franco Baresi34797
Mané  Garrincha1252
Marco van Basten301431
Lev Yashin (Goal Keeper)432
Andrés Iniesta104998
Gareth Bale226665
Ruud Gullit236642
Sir Bobby Charlton280782
David Beckham144839
Roberto Baggio304660

Data Source: Transfermarkt

These stats have been aggregated from Transfermarkt as it was difficult to obtain data on 80s and 90s players. We haven’t included the data of the junior country team. 

Also Read: 10 Best Openers in the World: The Opening Champions

Top 30 Soccer Players in The World

30. Cafu

Cafu Soccer Player

Kicking off with who is the best soccer player in the world at rank 30 we have Cafu, one of the greatest defenders Brazil has ever seen. He is the most capped Brazil player who represented his country in 4 FIFA World Cups and won 2 out of them. Known for his pace and energy in the field he has contributed a lot to his country. Prior to winning the World Cup he also contributed to winning the Copa America.

AS Roma1997-2003218835
AC Milan2003-2008166422
São Paulo1991-19943121
Real Zaragoza1994-199513


  • 2 times World Cup winner
  • 2 times Copa America winner
  • 1 time Champion League winner 
  • 1 time FIFA World Cup winner
  • 2 times Italian and UEFA Super Cup winner

29. Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio

Infamous for his ponytail who took Italy to the 1994 World Cup final, Robert Baggio was Italy’s greatest player at the time. He became the first Italian to score goals in three World Cups. After he retired in 2004 he dedicated his life to charity and worked for several organizations.

AC Milan1995-1997671923
Inter Milan1998-1999591718


  • 1 time Ballon d’Or
  • 1 time FIFA Best Player
  • 1 time Top Scorer
  • 1 time UEFA and Italian Cup winner
  • 2 times Italian Champion

28. David Beckham

David Beckham Famous Soccer Player

Well choosing who is the best soccer player in the world might be tough but choosing the most handsome soccer player this guy is at the top. The most underrated talent David Beckham was rising when he was with Manchester United where he attained huge success. Beckham proudly served the England national team during his brilliant career becoming one of the country’s most popular sporting stars. His long reputation as a football great is defined by his skill, professionalism, and worldwide effect, cementing his place as one of the sport’s biggest individuals.

Manchester United1992-200339585120
Real Madrid2003-20071592052
LA Galaxy2007-2008 and 2010-20121242042
AC Milan20093329
Paris SG2012-2013142


  • 1 time UEFA Best Player
  • 1 time UEFA Champions League winner
  • 6 times English Champion
  • 1 time French and Spanish Champion
  • 2 times English FA winner

27. Eusébio


He dominated through the period with Portugal and Benfica. Eusébio did not claim to have scored over 1,000 career goals, although he got close. He would have been regarded as the finest Portuguese talent the game has ever seen. Nobody could match his contribution to Portugal for a very long time and ultimately got overshadowed by another greatest player who is ranked 1 on this list. Eusébio remains one of football’s best finishes.

Benfica1961 – 1975301317Unknown
Portugal1961 – 19736441Unknown


  • 1 time Ballon d’Or winner
  • 12 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 11 times Portuguese Champion
  • 1 time European Champion Club

26. Sir Bobby Charlton

Sir Bobby Charlton

One of the 4 Englishmen who has won the Ballon d’Or and the most legendary footballer ever produced by England. Sir Bobby Charlton’s playing style thrilled viewers all over the world, because of his powerful thunderous shots and incredible vision on the pitch. Beyond his playing career, he remained an influential figure in football as a renowned guide to future generations.

Manchester United1956 – 197368623110
England1958 – 1970106491


  • 1 time Ballon d’Or
  • 1 time World Cup winner
  • 1 time Footballer of the Year and Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time European Champion
  • 3 times English Champion

25. Ruud  Gullit

Ruud Gullit Soccer Player

Gullit’s extraordinary talent and athleticism made him one of Europe’s most in-demand players. In the late 1980s, Gullit was the unstoppable force that led an unstoppable AC Milan force that dominated European football. While the big Dutchman is most renowned for his famous haircut and mustache, but there is no way we could ignore Gullit’s talent on the field.

Haarlem1979 – 19821003613
Feyenoord1982 – 19851034113
PSV Eindhoven1985 – 1987755329
AC Milan1987 – 19941715640
Sampdoria1994 – 199563265
Chelsea1995 – 19986470
Netherlands1981 – 199466177


  • 1 time Ballon d’Or
  • 2 times Footballer of the Year
  • 1 time Top Goal Scorer
  • 2 times European Champion Club Winner and UEFA Super Cup winner
  • 3 times Italian Champion

24. Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

Moving further with the list of who is the best soccer player in the world Gareth Bale might surprise you but he totally deserves to be here. Well, you should remember his hat-trick against Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League proved why he is among the emerging players. During his tenure with The Whites (Real Madrid), he scored many memorable goals and he was one of the most expensive transfers at that time. 

Real Madrid2013-202025810667
LA FC2022-20231430


  • 7 times Footballer of the Year
  • 2 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time Player of the Year
  • 5 times Champions League winner
  • 3 times FIFA Club World Cup Champion
  • 3 times UEFA Super Cup
  • 3 times Spanish Champion
  • 1 time Spanish Cup winner

23. Andrés Iniesta

Andrés Iniesta

Andrés Iniesta played a pivotal role during Barcelona’s dominant era. His contribution mostly gets overshadowed due to rank 2 of the list,  but he had his moment when he scored a goal during extra time at the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. Renowned for his outstanding ball control, elegant passing, and extraordinary vision, as well as his ability to execute under pressure he earned international respect.

Vissel Kobe2018-20231342625
Emirates2023 – present1021


  • 1 time World Cup Winner
  • 1 time UEFA Player in Europe
  • 1 time Footballer of the Year and Player of the Year
  • 4 times Champion League
  • 9 times Spanish Champion
  • 3 times FIFA Club World Cup winner

22. Xavi

Xavi Famous Soccer Player

A player who has filled his closet with every trophy except Ballon d’Or. Xavi Hernandez was amazing at his peak but got overshadowed by the rank 1 and rank 2 on this list dominance. He and Iniesta were just like brothers of destruction, they were the perfect combination on the field of soccer which dominated the entire European football with Barcelona and Spain. 



  • 1 time Footballer of the Year
  • 1 time World Cup winner
  • 2 times European Champion
  • 4 times Champions League Winner
  • 8 times Spanish Champion
  • 2 times UEFA Super Cup Winner
  • 1 time Qatari Champion 

21. Ronaldinho


The world witnessed the special player who actually enjoyed the game and always carried a smile whenever he was on the field. The way he used to glide across the opponents was flawless and you could watch that several times. Although having a great career in between but his final year as a professional footballer was quite sad as his name just flourished. 

AC Milan2008-2011952629
Atletico Mineiro2012-2014732428


  • 2 times Best FIFA Player
  • 1 time Ballon d’Or
  • 1 time World Cup winner
  • 1 time Copa America winner
  • 1 time Champions League winner
  • 2 time Spanish Cup and Spanish Super Cup Champion

20. Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin

Well moving on with the list of who is the best soccer player in the world the only goalkeeper we have is the legend, Lev Yashin. You can imagine how good he was as he is the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or and whenever the name of best keeper comes in his name is always on top. 

Dynamo Moscow1950-1970358
Soviet Union1954-197074


  • 1 time Ballon d’Or
  • 1 time European Champion
  • 5 times Soviet Champion

19. Zico


Zico, also known as white Pelé, his dribbling skills and passing abilities always left the viewers in awe. He had that amazing accuracy that whenever he used to reach near the goal post he would score. Talking about his brilliance he wowed spectators with his innovation and class. Despite never winning a World Cup, his influence on the game went beyond trophies, gaining him worldwide appreciation and respect.

Udinese Calcio1983-198554305
Kashima Antler1991-199437211
Flamengo1967-1983 and 1985-198922166


  • 3 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 4 times Brazilian Champion
  • 1 time Japanese Champion

18. Marco van Basten

Marco Van Basten

He would’ve had a different career if he wouldn’t have gotten injured. Marco Van Basten was the rising superstar for the Netherlands until he took early retirement due to his ankle injury. Marco van Basten’s three Ballons d’Or wins are evidence of his talent, but it remained a ‘what could’ve been’ narrative. That’s how talented Marco van Basten was and his emerging all-time career went short.

Ajax1981 – 198717215234
AC Milan1987 – 199520112549
Netherlands1983 – 199258249


  • 1 time FIFA Best Player
  • 3 times Ballon d’Or
  • 9 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time Footballer of the Year
  • 1 time European Champion
  • 2 times European Champion Club and UEFA Super Cup winner
  • 3 Times Italian Champion

17. Mané  Garrincha

Mané  Garrincha Famous Soccer Player

Till now we have mentioned the best and famous soccer players who worked really hard but this guy was just unorthodox. Despite having one leg 6 cm shorter than the other and his right leg bent inward and left leg outward doctor certified him as a cripple. Despite never training instead preferring to go to the beach and play football with his friends, and despite having ‘bent legs’ and absolutely nothing to showcase in his trophy cabinet, Mané  Garrincha is one of the finest players of all time.



  • 2 times World Cup winner
  • 1 time Top Goal Scorer

16. Kaká

Kaká Famous Soccer Player

Kaká probably won’t be the best soccer player in the world but no one can forget his peak. From the period of 2000-2009, he won every prestigious trophy such as best FIFA men player in 2007, World Cup in 2002, Ballon d’Or in 2007, and so on. Kaká possessed a unique combination of physical power and amazing technical skill. The former Brazil star was the most complete attacking midfielder of the 2000s.

AC Milan2003-2009 and 2013-20143078481
São Paulo2000–200346198
Real Madrid2009–20131202939
Orlando City2014–2017782519


  • 1 time Ballon d’Or and UEFA Best Player in Europe 
  • 1 time FIFA Best Player and Top Goal Scorer
  • 3 times Player of the Year
  • 1 time Word Cup winner
  • 1 time FIFA Club World Cup winner
  • 1 time Champions League winner

15. Franco Baresi

Franco Baresi Famous Soccer Player

Now we have come halfway to a comprehensive list of who is the best soccer player in the world. Baresi is among the greatest defenders Italy has ever produced. Despite being the second-highest-ranked Italian center-back on the list, his defensive knowledge was nearly unrivaled. Baresi came extremely close to winning the Ballon d’Or when he placed second in 1989. Baresi was a real one-club man, rising through the junior ranks at AC Milan and spending the entirety of his professional career with the Rossoneri. Italian players are renowned for defending, and Baresi was no exception.

AC Milan1977 – 19977163324
Italy1982 – 1994811Unknown


  • 1 time Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time World Cup winner
  • 3 times UEFA Super Cup Champion
  • 6 times Italian Champion
  • 1 time champion League winner
  • 2 times European Champion Club winner

14. Zlatan Ibrahimović

Zlatan Ibrahimović

Zlatan is the most underrated striker. Although his list of trophies may not be filled with prestigious titles. He has been awarded Footballer of the Year 15 times and oldest player to receive it at the age of 39. His infamous overhead kick during Sweden vs England in 2012 is still arguably the greatest goal of the decade. Zlatan scored the most goals for Milan in his final run, helping finish runners-up in Serie A and return to the Champions League. He became the oldest non-Italian scorer in Serie A in 123-year history, helping his club win the title for the first time in 11 years with serious ligament injury.

AC Milan2010-2012 and 2019-20231639335
Paris SG2012-201618015662
Inter Milan2006-20091176630
Los Angeles2018-2019585315
Manchester United2016-2018532910
Malmö FF1999-2001833


  • 1 time Puskás Award winner
  • 15 times Footballer of the Year
  • 6 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time FIFA Club World Cup winner
  • 5 times Italian Champion
  • 1 time UEFA Super Cup winner

13. Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini

It has been said that Paolo Maldini’s real age is younger than his actual age. The way he used to perform at the age of 36 was just like a professional soccer player if he was in his early 30s. He made the art of defending look effortless and has incredible in-game tactics. Having a lustrous career his only disappointment was when Italy came runner ups in the 1994 World Cup and Euro Cup in 2000.

AC Milan1984 – 20096472928
Italy1988 – 200213812Unknown


  • 3 times Champion League winner
  • 2 times European Champion Club winner
  • 7 times Italian Champion
  • 1 time FIFA Club World Cup winner
  • 4 times UEFA Super Cup winner

12. Gerd Müller

Gerd Müller

Müller is the Bundesliga’s all-time highest goalscorer, with 365 goals. In a single season, he scored 67 goals in only 49 games. He looked faster than anyone in the field even though he wasn’t fast, it was his ability to react faster than anyone else. He had the remarkable skill of being present at the right time at the right place which made him the greatest German footballer the world has ever seen.

Bayern Munich1964 -1979611568102
Germany1966 – 19746369Unknown


  • 1 time Ballon d’Or
  • 1 time World Cup winner
  • 2 times Footballer of the Year
  • 17 times Top Goal Scorer of the Year
  • 1 time European Champion
  • 3 Times European Champion Clubs
  • 4 times German Champion and German cup winner

11. Michel Platini

Michel Platini Famous Soccer Player

All credit for making France as a powerful football nation goes to Michel Platini. He was just so mesmerizing to watch him on the field that even Pelé couldn’t resist complimenting him. He guided France to win the major title league and retired at his peak and inspired many latter to take France to newer heights. Later, Michel was appointed as UEFA president.

AS Nancy1972 – 1979182110Unknown
Saint-Étienne1979 – 198214583Unknown
Juventus1982 – 198722310449
France1976 – 1987724117


  • 3 times Ballon d’Or
  • 2 times Footballer of the Year
  • 4 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time European Champion
  • 2 times Italian Champion

10. Alfredo Di Stéfano

Alfredo Di Stéfano

Now we have officially started with the top 10 elite list of the best soccer players of all time. And no wonder Alfredo deserves to be in the top 10. He is the 4th highest goal scorer for Real Madrid, he was the most complete footballer of his generation, and no one could even match him during his peak. Playing with the attacking striker Puskás and Gento for Real Madrid destroyed every other team during that era. Unfortunately, he never got any chance to play in the World Cup but that doesn’t define his career.

Millionarios1949 – 195312Unknown
Real Madrid1953 – 19643602762
Espanyol1964 – 19665613Unknown
Spain1957 – 19613123Unknown


  • 2 times Ballon d’Or
  • 10 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time Copa America winner
  • 5 times European Champion
  • 8 times Spanish Champion 

9. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane Famous Soccer Player

Zidane is widely recognized as the finest complete midfielder. His control over the ball was phenomenal. His ability to change through the gears and drive through the field has rarely been matched. He scored 3 world cup final goals and one of the best goals of a decade in the UEFA 2002 final helping Real Madrid to win against Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.

Cannes1989 – 1992716Unknown
Bordeaux1992 – 19961793923
Juventus1996 – 20012123150
Real Madrid2001 – 20062274968
France1994 – 20061083130


  • 3 times best FIFA Player and Footballer of the Year
  • 1 time Ballon d’Or 
  • 1 time World Cup winner
  • 1 time European League Champion
  • 1 time Champions League and Spanish Champion
  • 3 times Intercontinental Cup winner

8. Ronaldo

Ronaldo Football Player

Ronaldo’s career has been overlooked a lot of times just because of his name. Ronaldo (R9) was a generational icon, the ultimate all-rounder, and a player who surpassed brilliance. The Brazilian great had it all, physical dominance, technical talent, and his deadly runs when he needed to be at all times.

Cruzeiro1993 – 1994102Unknown
PSV Eindhoven1994 – 199657547
Barcelona1996 – 1997494713
Inter Milan1997 – 2002995910
Real Madrid2002 – 200717710335
AC Milan2007 – 20082095
Corinthians2009 – 201142246
Brazil1994 – 2011996232


  • 3 times Best FIFA Men’s Player
  • 2 times World Cup winner
  • 1 time UEFA Best Player
  • 1 time Footballer of the Year
  • 6 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 2 times COPA America winner
  • 2 times UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Champion winner

7. Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer

One of the two defenders to win the Ballon d’Or as a defender and also twice is something that would be written with golden words in his book. The only defender on the top 10 best soccer players of all time is due to the fact that not only he was a brilliant defender but scored goals and his trophy cabinet is filled with prestigious titles.

Bayern Munich1964 – 19775827475
Hamburger SV1980 – 19823800
West Germany1965 – 19771031410


  • 1 time World Cup winner
  • 4 times Footballer of the Year
  • 2 times Ballon d’Or
  • 1 time European Champion
  • 3 times European Champion Club
  • 4 times German Cup winner

6. Ferenc Puskás

Frenec Puskás

You are simply a legend if you have an award named after you. Till now only a few strikers are compared with the striking ability of Puskás. His peak form came during the 1950s when he helped Real Madrid win 5 La Liga titles, he gave us the match of the century between England and Hungary in which Hungary defeated England by 6-3 in which Puskás scored 2 spectacular goals.

Honvéd SE1943 – 195664Unknown
Real Madrid1958 – 1966231201Unknown
Hungary1945 – 19569388Unknown


  • 8 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 3 times European Champion
  • 5 times Spanish Champion
  • 1 time Spanish Cup winner

5. Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff

Famous for his tactical designs Dutch player Cruyff may not have world cup in his trophy. But his skills and technical aspects were entertaining to watch for fans. Very few people have ever shown the exceptional game sense that the Dutch attacker possessed. At Barcelona, he was allowed to play in his own style, which he did magnificently.

Ajax1964 – 1973 and 1981 – 1983325227180
Barcelona1973 – 1978180608
Feyenoord1983 – 198444133
Netherlands1966 – 1977483330


  • 3 times Ballon d’Or and European Champion
  • 7 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 6 times Dutch Cup winner
  • 1 time Spanish Champion 
  • 1 time Spanish Cup winner 
  • 1 time UEFA Super Cup winner

4. Maradona

Famous Soccer Player Maradona

Rarely is a player idolized to the level that Maradona has become. Maradona’s cabinet may not be filled with lustrous trophies for a guy who is often regarded as the greatest footballer of all time. But that doesn’t define his career alone. Maradona’s famous dribbling skills, aims, marksman-like passing ability, and unwavering passion to win changed Napoli and Argentine football.

Barcelona1982 – 1984583823
Napoli1984 – 199125711571
Sevilla1992 – 199329710
Argentina1977 – 1994843220


  • 1 times World Cup winner
  • 4 times Footballer of the Year
  • 5 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 1 time UEFA Champion
  • 2 times Italian Champion

3. Pelé

Famous Football Player Pelé

Pelé left behind a legacy that nobody could ever match, his status as king of Brazil will never be taken and his contribution will never die. The number of goals scored by Pelé is still unsure by officials as Guinness World Record credits him with 1,279 goals but FIFA has recorded over 1,281 goals.

But the below stats show less than 200 goals which is due to lack of credibility. Pelé is the only famous soccer player who has won 3 World Cups, arguable he could be the greatest of all time.

Santos1956 – 1974583569unknown
New York Cosmos1975-18776437unknown
Brazil1957 – 19719277unknown

Source: Wikipedia


  • 3 times World Cup winner
  • 6 times Top Goal Scorer
  • 6 times Brazilian Champion
  • 2 times Copa Libertadores Champion

2. Messi

Famous Soccer Player Messi

Well it would be sad for Messi fans that they didn’t get to see Messi on top of the list. The 2022 World Cup-winning captain has broken most of the records which is the most goals in La Liga and Copa de Espana. Messi also holds 41 Guinness world records. Also, Messi holds the most number of Ballon d’Or which is eight.  

TeamsTimelineAppearancesGoals Assists
Barcelona2004 – 2021778672303
PSG2021 – 2023753235
Inter Miami2023 – Present14115
Argentina2005 – Present18010656


  • 8 times Best FIFA Player and Ballon D’Or
  • 23 times Top Scorer
  • 3 times UEFA Best Player
  • 1 time World Cup winner 
  • 1 time Copa America winner
  • 4 times Champions League winner 
  • 10 times Spanish Champion
  • 8 times Spanish Super Cup winner
  • 3 times UEFA Super Cup winner

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Greatest Soccer Player Ronaldo

Well Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t only deserve to be in the top 10 best soccer players of all time but also an easy pick for us to place him as the 1. Even at the age of 39 his hard work and dedication can be seen on the field and his most aesthetic physique says it all.

Although, Ronaldo doesn’t have any World Cup on his list of achievements he positively looking forward to playing in the 2026 World Cup. Ronaldo has 5 Ballon d’Ors and 5 Champion Leagues and is the highest goal scorer for Real Madrid and has surpassed all the records in soccer history.

Sporting CP2002 – 20033156
Manchester United2003 – 2009 and 2021 – 202234614564
Real Madrid2009 – 2018438450131
Juventus2018 – 202113410122
Al-Nassr2023 – Present534713
Portugal2002 – Present20512846


  • 1-time Portuguese Super Cup, Italian Cup winner
  • 2 times English Super Sup, Italian Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Spanish Cup, and English League Cup winner
  • 14 times Footballer of the Year
  • 5 times BALLON D’OR
  • 3 times Best FIFA Player
  • 4 times Best UEFA Player
  • 1 time FIFA Puskás AWARD
  • 5 time Champions League winner

Final Thoughts

These were the list of top soccer player contenders to help you determine who is the best soccer player in the world. But at the end of the day, everyone has different opinions and we may have missed some of the legends in the list that you think belong here.

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Ans: Miroslav Klose from Germany has the highest goals in the FIFA World Cup. He has scored a total of 16 goals and played 24 matches.

Ans: Cristiano Ronaldo nowadays plays his role as a Striker. Earlier he used to play Midfielder.

Ans: Cristiano Ronaldo has more social media followers. He has over 622 Million followers on Instagram.

Ans: Faiq Bolkiah, with an over $20 Billion net worth, is just after Lionel Messi with a $600 Million net worth.

Ans: Pelé has more than one World Cup trophy as a player. He has won on separate occasions, the first time in 1958 and 1962, and then 1970. But as a captain, no player has won more than one trophy.

Ans: Lionel Messi has more trophies than anyone. He has over 44 trophies in his career.

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