Football is by far the most played sport in the world, and this sport has seen some of the greatest athletes over the years and decades. Every time a golden generation hangs up their shoes, a new generation comes in and warms our hearts. We look at the five best footballers of all time.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento
Better known as Pelé, the world star born in Brazil on 23 October 1940 is undisputedly considered the most successful footballer of all time. Pelé began his professional career in 1956 (at the age of 15) with Brazilian club FC Santos. During his time there, he scored an incredible 1,088 goals in 1,114 matches. At 16, he was nominated for the national team, and just one year later he and his team won the World Cup. 4 years later (1962), and in 1970 he achieved this triumph again. This makes Pelé the footballer who won the most World Cup titles during his career. His speed, agility and exceptional technique were particularly impressive. FIFA has also recognised his achievements by awarding him the title of World Footballer of the 20th Century.
Diego Armando Maradona
In a train with Pelé, Maradona is often mentioned, who is not listed here as the best footballer of all times but can undoubtedly be called the best footballer of his generation. In addition to his club titles with Boca Juniors and FC Barcelona, Maradona also won the 1986 World Cup with the Argentinian national team. Much of the credit for winning this title goes to Maradona’s exceptional class. Probably the best dribbling football of all time, Maradona led a very average Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, scoring two of the best goals in the history of football.
When he moved to Barcelona, it was a world record transfer fee at the time, but his time in Barcelona was short-lived, full of controversy and lack of performance, as he could only win a “Copa del Rey” trophy with Barcelona. He switched to Napoli, who were not yet title candidates at that time. Juventus, AC Milan, Roma and Inter Milan dominated Italian football.
But his time with Napoli proved a success, leading them to Italian Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, as well as several other trophies such as the Coppa Italia 1987 and the UEFA Cup (now Europa League).
The Dutchman Johann Cruyff is considered the best soccer player in Europe. This is mainly due to his inspiring technique and his dynamism. Cruyff played for Ajax Amsterdam from 1964 to 1973 (190 goals in 240 games) and for FC Barcelona from 1973-1978. Three times during his career he was named European Footballer of the Year and reached the 1974 World Cup final in Munich with the Dutch national team. Because of his achievements, Cruyff is considered, especially in Holland, to be the most gifted striker and playmaker of the last century.
Lionel Andrés Messi
The best footballer currently still active is without doubt Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona. Three times in a row he has already been voted World Footballer of the Year. He has already won the Spanish championship five times and the Champions League three times. He is the only one on this list still missing a world championship title, which he has not yet won with Argentina.
From a German perspective, “Der Kaiser” is probably considered the best footballer of all time. He won the European Cup three times with Bayern Munich, and his contribution to winning the 1974 World Cup is undisputed. As a libero, he is rather an exception in this list, which is mainly led by strikers. Beckenbauer won the World Cup once again during his coaching career in 1990 in Rome.
Many more exceptional players can, of course, extend our list of the 5 best footballers of all time. Nevertheless, the five players mentioned above stand out clearly from the vast pool of other world stars.