The sport ‘Football’ has been in existence for as long as most can remember. The game has certainly grown over several decades and centuries into what we see today and regarded as one of the most famous parts of the sporting universe.
Like every other sport, Football has seen great men over decades of its existence, some we probably never heard of from the ancient times of the game. It’s definitely a tedious task to analyze and decipher a few which we could call the best football players in the world, but it’s not impossible.
Over the years, several players have done the extraordinary, set records and broken existing ones. Most have gone as far as engraving their names to the event as footballers we may never forget in its history.
When the statement ‘best football players in the world’ or ‘best players in history’ comes to ear, we quite easily think of certain stars and names we are well aware of, having heard or seen multiple times. Most definitely our favorites of the game.
However, with the football federation [FIFA] here for years and seen several talents come and go by, how well do you know the history of footballers.
Who Are The Best FIFA Players In History?
1. Edson Arantes do Nascimento
Popularly known to the entire sporting universe by the name Pele, the forward is one of the pillars on which the thesis of modern football has been built on. The Brazilian’s long-standing record of a total 1,281 in 1363 remains a dream record to every modern player who has weaved their way to stardom.
Pele burst into the scenes as early as the age of 15 when he began his career at Santos, and one year later at 16, he stepped into the international world of Brazilian Football.
With 77 goals in 92 international appearances, Pele won three world cups in the years 1958, 1962, 1970. He is a rare talent in football. Fast, strong, skillful and with two dominant legs, he is one most people would call ‘a complete player’ in modern football.
2. Diego Maradona
While most would say the Brazilian Pele is the greatest footballer in history, others would definitely stand behind the Argentine ace Diego Maradona. Diego Armando Maradona, ‘The Golden boy’ was as fast as he was strong and could simply weave his way past a maze of defenders only to comfortably beat the goalkeeper in the end.
The Argentine set the world record transfer record twice in his time when he moved to Barcelona for £5 million and then Napoli for £6.9 million. The famous ‘hand of God’ is one stand out goal no generation will probably ever forget, while his 60m goal in that very fixture was voted goal of the century in 2002.
3. Johan Cruyff
With Three Ballon d’Or awards to his name, Hendrik Johannes Cruyff definitely makes the list too. He is said to have been a massive influence on Manchester United’s legendary Alex Ferguson.
The Dutchman is widely regarded as one of the best players in history and with a skill of his very own ‘The Cruyff turn,’ you can’t ask why. John has been at Ajax and Barcelona as both a player and a manager, and in his industrious club career, he won three European trophies, eight Eresdive trophies, an intercontinental cup and a La Liga trophy in his first season with Barcelona.
4. Alfredo Di Stefano
Best known for his achievements at Real Madrid, Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano Laulhé was a crucial part of the Madrid squad who ushered in an era of pure and utter dominance in European football.
Nicknamed “Saeta Rubia” by his colleagues, Di Stefano was one of the only three players who played a part in all five Real Madrid European victories in the 1950s and was another outright contender for the role for the ‘most complete player in history.’
He was voted fourth, behind Pelé, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff in a vote organized by France Football magazine which consulted their former Ballon d’Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century.
5. Zinedine Zidane
Past and Present, Zinedine Yazid Zidane, popularly known as ‘Zizou’ has defined football as both player and manager in the modern era. The French midfielder was well renowned for his ball control, technique and oh yes, his left-foot volleyed winner in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final.
Zidane was included in the FIFA 100 and has been named FIFA world player of the year three times, Ligue 1 and Serie A player of the year and is one of eight players to have won the balloon d’Or, the champions league and FIFA world cup trophy.
Fast forward to present times and Zinedine Zidane is still living true to the statistics as a manager. Zizou is the only manager to win the current Uefa champions league trophy not twice, but three times in a row with Real Madrid, before eventually quitting the club.
6. Paolo Maldini
Only one of the very few defenders to ever bargain for the best in the game, Paolo Cesare Maldini could perfectly suit in the position of a center back, and a left-back.
Spending all his club career at Inter Milan, Paolo’s 25 seasons in the Serie A was a rather largely successful one. He won five UEFA Champions League, seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana titles, five European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Maldini never won the balloon d’Or in his career but came third on the list on two occasions, 1994 and 2003. He was also named in the FIFA 100 list. In a bid to celebrate his industrious time with the club and to commemorate his loyalty for 25 seasons, Inter Milan retired his no.3 shirt at the club.
7. Michel Platini
He may have been banned from football, over ethics violations as the president of UEFA in 2015, but that doesn’t take away his title as one of the greatest players to ever walk the planet.
Michel François Platini made most of his career between the years 1983 and 1985 in which he won three consecutive Ballon d’Or awards, three Serie A Capocannoniere awards and two European top scorer awards in 1984 & 85.
The former French international was placed sixth on the Fifa player of the century vote and was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1985 and Officier in 1988 in recognition to his achievements.
Regarded as one of the best dribblers and one of the greatest footballers of his time, Manuel Francisco dos Santos was also the other half of the great Pele of Brazil.
Spending most of his club-level football career with Brazilian team Botafogo, Garrincha was best known for his achievements with his national team ’Brazil.’ Most famously, his major role in helping Brazil win the world cup in 1962 with Pele out injured.
Garrincha eventually received the golden ball award for finishing with the highest goal in the tournament. Stats records Brazil never lost a match which featured both Garrincha and Edson Arantes do Nascimento[Pele] in the same lineup.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
Due to the eternal rivalry between these two players, we couldn’t risk getting torn apart by their ever-loyal fans. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will always make the list as one of the very best not just in the modern generation, but also in the history of football. Both players have written their names across virtually every record and award in club football.
With Cristiano Ronaldo winning the Euro 2016, an international recognition still evades Lionel Messi and sets a marginal barrier between the two.
Ronaldo and Lionel have shared the balloon d’Or awards equally between themselves for the last decades, including multiple FIFA awards, Uefa awards and other records littered across the football world. It’s no doubt both players have gained comparison and even rumored to surpass the great Pele of Brazil and the Golden boy Maradona.
So, who according to you is the best FIFA player in history? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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