The 100 greatest players of all time


Very few players have dominated the latter stages of a World Cup like Roberto Baggio did in 1994

70. Thierry Henry

Career span 1994-
Country France: 123 caps, 51 goals
Clubs Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls
Position forward
Medals 1 World Cup, 1 European Championship, 1 Champions League, 6 domestic titles (2 England, 2 Spain,1 France, 1 USA Eastern); 4 domestic cups (3 England, 1 Spain)

The great contradiction of Thierry Henry’s career is that his finest form never quite coincided with his most prized medals.
This is not to repeat the misguided charge that Henry was “not a big-game player”. He did, after all, score the quarter-final goal that put defending champions Brazil out of the 2006 World Cup. Before that, he had recharged a faltering Arsenal with the hat-trick against Liverpool that ensured their invincible season. And, bookending all of those feats, he had terrorised defences in Euro 2000 before proving a steady – and occasionally spectacular – presence on the wing for Barcelona’s historic treble.

But, in that 2008-09 campaign as well as France’s international double between 1998 and 2000, Henry was only ever a supporting actor in contrast to the star-turn he proved for Arsenal in between.

Which is not to take away from his highlights at Highbury. Henry was the player most responsible for the 2002 double, 2004 title and he even scored five goals in 11 games on the way to the 2006 Champions league final. As Arsene Wenger enthused, he could “take the ball in the middle of the park and score a goal that no one else in the world could.”

At his best, he was one of the most exquisite footballers ever seen. But, contrarily, his best moments never quite saw that.

Ability 85
International 73
Club 74
Total 77.3


69. Ladislao Kubala

Career span 1944-67
Country Czechoslovakia: 6 caps, 4 goals; Hungary: 3 caps; Spain: 19 caps, 11 goals
Clubs Ganz, Ferencvaros, Vasas, Pro Patria, Hungaria, Barcelona, Espanyol, Zurich
Position forward
Medals 2 Fairs Cups, 4 Spanish titles, 5 Spanish cups

“Thanks to Kubala,” former Barcelona player and scout, Pepe Samitier once said, “football moved from being an operetta to become an opera.”

Certainly, his career was filled with dramatic extremes. He should, for example, have been on the Torino plane that crashed into the Superga hills on 4 May 1959. Only illness to his son prevented him travelling with the side after agreeing to play in a friendly against Benfica.

Otherwise a pawn of history, Kubala was denounced as a delinquent on leaving Communist Hungary before finding himself hijacked for all kinds of propaganda purposes in post-Civil War Spain.

But it’s also funny how history turns out.

The story goes that, on signing for Barcelona in 1950, the club’s representatives had to get him drunk so he wouldn’t realise he was heading for Camp Nou instead of the Bernabeu. It was initially Real Madrid Kubala thought he was signing for.

Such were Kubala’s subsequent successes at Barcelona between 1951 and 1953, however, that Real Madrid simply had to respond. And they did so by ensuring the Catalans certainly wouldn’t get Alfredo Di Stefano.

And so arrived one of football history’s great turning points. In a wicked ironic twist, Kubala’s wild living – and the drinking Barca had apparently encouraged at first – would curtail his career at the top. By contrast, Di Stefano’s discipline and drive would completely transform Real Madrid. They went from a moderate team to a mega institution.

There can be little doubt, however, that both Kubala and Di Stefano were equivalents in terms of ability. When asked to compare the two, Samitier was diplomatic. “I will simply say that no one like these two players has until now produced football of such beauty and entertainment.”

In his brilliant history, Barca, Jimmy Burns describes Kubala as a playmaker who “brought a combination of skills that the club had until then rarely seen. He was quick on and off the ball, demonstrated extraordinary control when dribbling, showed an unrivalled vision and was always accurate in shooting and deadfalls.”

More importantly, though, “it was around Kubala’s charisma and footballing skills that Barca overcame its post-war loss of confidence and shattered organisation, developing one of its strongest and most successful teams.”

Kubala immediately inspired the club to successive league and cup doubles between 1951 and 1953. But it was the second of those that secured his mythical status. Kubala recovered from a bout of tuberculosis that doctors said could end his career to belatedly fire Barca to the title.

All those extremes couldn’t be contained to the pitch though. Just before a 1955 Fairs Cup game, Kubala lead a group his teammates to a late-night brothel. The club didn’t just strip him of the captaincy. They ordered a private detective to monitor his private life.

And a notorious disciplinarian like Helenio Herrera was never going to stand for such hedonism. As the new manager’s Barcelona took flight from 1958, they returned from one European trip only for Kubala to be asked if he had anything to declare at the airport. “Yes, two bottles of whiskey,” he responded… before pointing to his stomach.

It was little coincidence that Kubala’s career waned as Herrera’s rose. And, in that sense, it’s possible Herrera might have fulfilled his potential even more had he got to perform properly in the nascent European Cup.

But he had already made history – even if he was occasionally used by it.

Ability 90
International 61
Club 81
Total 77.3


68. Frank Rijkaard

Career span 1980-95
Country Holland: 73 caps, 10 goals
Clubs Ajax, Sporting, Real Zaragoza (loan), Milan, Ajax
Position midfelder
Medals 1 European Championship, 3 European Cups, 1 Cup Winners Cups, 7 domestic titles (5 Dutch, 2 Italian), 3 Dutch cups

Arrigo Sacchi would accept no alternatives. Despite president Silvio Berlusconi’s attempts to push other players in his direction, the Milan manager knew who he wanted in the summer of 1987: Frank Rijkaard.

The Dutch midfielder, after all, was a classic “universalist” as Sacchi would call it – equally proficient breaking up attacks as making them. The latter was most emphatically seen at Milan. Sacchi would use Rijkaard’s force and power to great effect in his pressing game – not least in the 1990 European Cup final when the Dutchman motored through the Benfica defence to score the game’s only goal.

In the same showpiece five years later, he would frustrate Milan using his other qualities. Louis van Gaal guided Ajax to the 1995 Champions League partly through his utilisation of Rijkaard as a wisened head at the back.

Not that we saw that side of him in 1990, of course. Rijkaard losing his temper was part of the reason Holland lost their World Cup second-round game against Germany. But then he had already been a focal point in the Euro 88 victory. And so many other victories thereafter.

Ability 77
International 75
Club 80
Total 77.3


67. John Charles

Career span 1948-74
Country Wales: 38 caps, 15 goals
Clubs Leeds United, Juventus, Leeds United, Roma, Cardiff City, Hereford United, Merthyr Tydfil
Position forward, centre-half
Medals 3 Italian titles, 2 Italian cups, 2 Welsh cups

Not Diego Maradona. Not Marco Van Basten. Not Ronaldo. Not Zinedine Zidane. The player at the top of Serie A’s greatest foreign imports is none other than the ‘gentle giant’ John Charles.

Part of that is undoubtedly down to the period he joined. Before Charles arrived, Juventus hadn’t won a title in six years. After it, they won Serie A three times in four years, with one of them part of a double.

By then, he had also been at the heart of Wales’s greatest ever international achievement as they reached the last eight of the 1958 World Cup. Only a Pele goal put them out, with Charles missing the game through injury. Brian Glanville wondered what might have happened had he been fit, since he had given opposition teams “immense trouble” throughout.

Indeed, one of his greatest gifts was undoubtedly his sheer presence, which helped him reach “a world-class level” – according to Bobby Robson – as a centre-half and centre-forward. Not to mention in two different countries.

Ability 80
International 76
Club 76
Total 77.3


66. Arie Haan

Career span 1969-85
Country Holland: 35 caps, 6 goals
Clubs Ajax, Anderlecht, Standard Liege, PSV Eindhoven, Seiko
Position defensive midfielder
Medals 3 European Cups, 2 Cup Winners Cups, 6 domestic titles (3 Holland, 3 Belgium), 4 domestic cups (3 Holland, 1 Belgium)

According to David Winner’s touchstone book on Dutch football, Brilliant Orange, Arie Haan was the most underrated player of the 1970s golden age for the country.

Not by himself of course. Haan actually accumulated more medals than any other individual of the period – as he always made sure to point out.

“Cruyff may have been the best, but I won more. And that’s what football is about.”

Whatever the truth of that, Haan arguably typified Total Football even more than Cruyff. Across his career, he moved from defensive midfield to libero to playmaker and ultimately striker. More importantly, he excelled in each.

Having been one of the midfield motors of the European three-in-a-row alongside Johan Neeskens, Haan was then moved into central defence by Rinus Michels for the 1974 World Cup. The idea was that the Dutch would be an even more aggressive, progressive team with Haan’s passing ability initiating attacks from just in front of the main centre-half. It worked superbly… until the final when his lack of actual defensive abilities allowed Rainer Bonhof to charge past him and set up Gerd Muller for the deciding goal.

Haan somewhat made up for that in the next tournament as his long-range rocket against Italy put the Dutch back into the final. Thereby, he also fulfilled one of Cruyff’s predictions from his youth.

“That lad has gunpowder in his shoes,” Cruyff enthused on first seeing Haan. “Watch him, he’ll develop himself tremendously and he will demonstrate his rickets from distance.”

Anderlecht certainly saw the best of that, as Haan’s goals effectively secured the first of two Cup Winners Cups. But, evidently, there was so much more to Haan’s game.

Ability 77
International 80
Club 75
Total 77.3


65. Roberto Baggio

Career span 1982-2004
Country Italy: 56 caps, 27 goals
Clubs Vicenza, Fiorentina, Juventus, Milan, Bologna, Inter, Brescia
Position forward
Medals 1 Uefa Cup; 2 Italian titles; 1 Italian Cup

So much talent. So few actual trophies to show for it.

To an extent, Baggio’s problem was timing. Despite proving himself one of the most prolific Italian penalty-makers, for example, he went and missed the most infamous spot-kick in the country’s history. Shortly after that, he fell out with Marcello Lippi just as Juventus embarked on the most successful era in their history. And he then joined Milan in 1995 just as theirs was coming to an end.

If Baggio didn’t exactly lift many trophies, however, he did lift a lot of spirits. Not least at USA 94. In effect, Baggio dragged Italy to the final. He scored the last-minute equaliser against Nigeria in the last-16, the late quarter-final winner against Spain and then tore Bulgaria apart in the semi-finals. In terms of match-winning influence in latter-stage games, there have been very few players who have matched Baggio’s in that World Cup. It remains one of the competition’s great individual displays, whatever followed in the final.

But then that tournament also illustrated his eternal difficulty in Italian football. When the side went down to 10 men in the opening round against Norway, manager Arrigo Sacchi sacrificed his star turn in order to keep the structure of the system. In essence, Baggio was always too effervescent – as well as headstrong – to fit into the country’s rigid tactical approaches of the time.

It ensured he finished with few medals. But plenty of memories.

Ability 88
International 75
Club 70
Total 77.67


64. Samuel Eto’o

Career span 1997-
Country Cameroon: 103 caps, 50 goals
Clubs Real Madrid (Leganes, Espanyol, Mallorca); Malloca, Barcelona, Inter, Anzhi Makhachkala
Position striker
Medals 2 African Cups of Nations; 3 Champions Leagues; 4 domestic titles (3 Spain, 1 Italy); 3 domestic cups (1 Spain, 2 Italy)

Off the pitch, Samuel Eto’o has always had something of a reputation for difficulty. He departed Real Madrid with the hierarchy complaining that “he leaves a lot to be desired as a person” before eventually falling out with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. And even beyond his difficulties with Spain’s big two, his career has been punctuated by training-ground spats, troubles with teammates and even an accusation that he had issued a reporter with a death threat.

But the offset has always been that, on the pitch, Eto’o has made life much easier for everyone except the opposition.

Firstly, through his goals. Between 2002 and 2011, Eto’o has enjoyed a ratio of a goal every 1.6 games. And two of his strikes, of course, were the equaliser in the 2006 Champions League final and the opener in the 2009 event. Talk about a striker that produces on the biggest stages.

But it was the Champions League final that he didn’t score in which illustrated Eto’o’s other main quality: his endeavour and selflessness. For Inter, Eto’o admirably adapted his game to prove a right-winger-cum-right-back. There can be no questioning his commitment when he’s actually playing.

Nor can you question his commitment to his continent. A very vocal and proud African, Eto’o is fittingly the Cup of Nations’ all-time leading scorer. And that has brought Cameroon two titles, in 2000 and 2002. The only caveat to his international career is that, in three World Cups, he has never driven his country to the second round.

He was much more successful, of course, in driving managers mad. But also in winning them trophies.

Ability 80
International 70
Club 83
Total 77.67


63. Omar Sivori

Career span 1954-69
Country Argentina: 19 caps, 9 goals; Italy: 9 caps, 8 goals
Clubs River Plate, Juventus, Napoli
Position striker
Medals 1 Copa America; 6 domestic titles (3 Argentina, 3 Juventus); 2 Italian Cup

When Omar Sivori took to the field, he used to roll down his socks and provocatively expose his shins in order to show hack-happy defenders he wasn’t scared. His audacious dribbling ability did, after all, invite a lot of overzealous tackles. So exceptional was Sivori’s effervescent technique, that defenders found it immensely frustrating to get close to him. And, at just five-foot-six, he probably felt that he needed to make a statement beyond his size. In truth, though, Sivori was well able to handle himself. He was sent off on 10 occasions in his Serie A career – a record at the time – and once had to be slapped by John Charles to calm down.

Normally, however, the two got on much better. Indeed, despite their drastically different playing styles and personalities, Charles and Sivori complemented each other perfectly at Juventus. The little forward would destroy teams before the big Welshman would finish them. Their partnership led to three titles for Juventus and a 1961 Ballon D’Or for Sivori.

The Argentine, of course, qualified for the award at that point because he had by then switched nationality to Italy. Having decided to take one of the many lucrative offers from Europe after lighting up the Argentine championship with River Plate, he was effectively declared a non-person by his country’s association. And that despite helping their side to the 1957 Copa America.

He didn’t enjoy success with Italy as the side exited in the first round of his only World Cup. But that never affected his standing as one of the most spectacular players to ever appear in Serie A.

Ability 85
International 70
Club 78
Total 77.67


62. Juan Schiaffino

Career span 1943-62
Country Uruguay: 21 caps, 8 goals; Italy: 4 caps, 0 goals
Clubs Penarol, Milan, Roma
Position attacking midfielder
Medals 1 World Cup, 1 Fairs Cup, 7 domestic titles (4 Uruguay, 3 Milan)

In the summer of 1951, all of Italy’s elite seemed determined to bring Schiaffino to his ancestral home. Roma had readied a bid of half a million pesos, Juventus had even sent Fiat patron Gianni Agnelli to Montevideo.

Unsurprisingly, however, Penarol simply wouldn’t let him go.

The previous summer, after all, Schiaffino had confirmed his precocious ability with a key goal on the greatest stage of all. After Uruguay had just about managed to keep Brazil down to a goal in the 1950 World Cup decider, Schiaffino silenced the 200,000-strong crowd with an emphatic equaliser.

It set Uruguay on the way to their most glorious moment, as well as setting a trend for the player himself. As Brian Glanville wrote, the midfield schemer possessed “exquisite ball control, a gimlet eye for the telling pass and a left foot which scored many an important goal”.

Ironically, it was only after a World Cup in which Schiaffino didn’t score – but did prove himself as one of the globe’s pre-eminent players – that he got his move to Italy.

Following a series of performances that propelled Uruguay to the 1954 semi-finals, he finally got his move to Milan. And continued that trend.

Eventually moving to centre-forward, Schiaffino scored many a key goal on the way to three Serie A titles as well the strikes that put a post-Munich Manchester United out of the 1957-58 European Cup and the opener in that season’s final.

It wasn’t enough to interrupt Real Madrid’s run of five European Cups. But then it was also rare that any opposition interrupted Schiaffino’s rhythm.

Ability 77
International 80
Club 75
Total 77.67


61. Bobby Moore

Career span 1958-77
Country England: 108 caps, 2 goals
Clubs West Ham United, Fulham
Position centre-back
Medals 1 World Cup, 1 Cup Winners Cup, 1 FA Cup

Alf Ramsey put it pretty plainly.

“Without Bobby Moore, England would never have won the World Cup… he was the spirit and the heartbeat of the team.”

And, as much as the focus has always rightfully been on 1966, it’s often forgotten that team went on for some time. With Moore anchoring the backline and underpinning every attack, England only six times in five years and also reached the semi-finals of Euro 68. Indeed, Moore was central to the side’s most cherished moment. It was during the flight of his sublime, searching pass for Geoff Hurst that some people ran onto the pitch.

The curiosity in his career, however, is not just that Moore only enjoyed a moderate medal haul at West Ham. It’s that it almost cost him a place at 1966. By that summer, Moore was itching to leave East London. But, since he was at that point between contracts, it meant he was technically ineligible for a Fifa competition. So, for the good of England, Ramsey forced Moore and West Ham manager Ron Greenwood into the same room and got them to sort out the situation.

The result, of course, brought Moore’s country their greatest triumph. But it arguably cost him a more success-laden club career.

Nevertheless, Moore’s personal performances within West ham’s mid-table struggles should not be underestimated. Although he was neither the fastest nor the most forceful in the air, he overcame all of that with startling speed of thought. As Jock Stein once exasperated, “there should be a law against him. He knows what’s happening 20 minutes before everyone else.”

And it also ensured he was a few levels above almost every other defender in history.

Ability 85
International 80
Club 67
Total 77.67



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maramu 5 pts

This is a really interesting subject for every people in love with football especially the really sophisticated way ranking has been tackled here. Even I think this topic DOES need updating, I could even imagine others rankings related to players. I think something like geatest brazilians, english, italians, ... of all time, then it could be done clubs by clubs like best united, barcelona, real, milano ... players of all time and why not a ranking position by position.


I do hope this website will live !

maramu 5 pts

Please we really need update after last season. I can't see how c.ronaldo couldn't enter the list. Pirlo probably should also. Do you shcedule an update before the end of the year ?

snakehips 5 pts

I think that the way the players have been ranked has been far more sophisticated than most other

similar attempts - taking into account many variables - including those who had no real prospect of winning the world cup.

Real efforts have been made to justify inclusion players in the final XI team + the rankings of players,

which attempts to take away the subjective view which many will have (country team/they support).

Also the compilers give rationale for why certain players did not make the team or list.

In the course of this I have been educated/learnt new things.

A contributor has persuaded me about Carlos Alberto.I favoured Cafu.

I saw the latter in action in two world cups which Brazil won.He played superbly.

If the pre-match Ronaldo event/omission hadn't happened I think he would have won three.

But Carlos Alberto - despite only playing one game - the final - in one of the two world cups he won,

was probably the better player.I am willing to accept this now after considertion.

Also further research has changed other views on players.

My only doubt is still around Neeskens being so high in rankings + in the final XI team.

Again, saw him play.He was adaptable,highly skilled - a total football player.

But - on your point, given a choice,you would have had Gerrard,Keane,Souness or Bryan Robson

- if you were picking a central midfield player in preference + you wanted to win a game.

But on the whole, agree with most choices/rankings - particuarly Maradona as No.1.

Would be so interesting to see Alex Ferguson's top 100 + final team

( an honest one - with no politics).He was around to see most of those on the list.

Would ceratinly have to give it respect.

Bobby Charlton did one - best ever XI - which is worth a look at

+ Pele named his top players (100+) - but was criticised for potentially appeasing certain countries.

Interesting he did not even include Didi - a fellow Brazilian - seen by many as best midfielder ever.

After listening to views + research of my own, I would select the following:


My final team - with rest of squad would be:



                                   Ronaldo (Brazil)     Pele


           Best                 Didi                    Mattheus          Maradona


           Facchetti          Beckenbauer    Baresi              Carlos Alberto




G -   Buffon, Casillas.

FB-  Djalma Santos (RB), Nilton Santos (LB).

CD-  Moore  Sammer.

CM - Keane Zidane

F -    Cruyff Romario DiStefano Garrincha


Standby (7) - Banks (Gk) Puskas Eusebio Messi Gerrard Hansen Dalglish.


The debate goes on! :)



NicolajThiimSchmidt 5 pts

Ronaldinho is heavily underestimated.

JGG 5 pts

 snakehips I could easily have Nílton Santos over Facchetti. By any objective (and subjective) means, he is the greatest left-back ever with considerable ease.

snakehips 5 pts

Good point.I thought Dalglish was in best 100.But maybe wrong.

With Best, probably my favourite player of all time.

There was something magical about the way he played.

But that supporting striker role has so much competition.

Pele + many others (Ronaldo/Romario - Brazil + Muller - Germany + Rush! being out + out strikers).

So difficult to compare the decades - but the discussion is the enjoyable part.


bazzie 5 pts

Its difficult to say who the best player(s) of all time are. I prefer to view the history of football as (generations). Footballers of a decade would be more accurate. For instance the fitness level, training techniques and sports medicine are different today than to what they were 60 years ago. Footballs now are more like athletics, full time professionals with diets and training schedules. 

No giggs, gerrard, cantona, dalglish berkamp in the top 100 football players of all time makes this list laughable in any case. Weah and Best could never have won or even played in the world cup so the points system is not correct. 

JGG 5 pts

My all-time squad:



1) GK: Lev Yashin (Banks)

2) RWB: Carlos Alberto Torres (Djalma Santos)

3) CB: Franz Beckenbauer (Figueroa)

4) CB: Bobby Moore (Baresi)

6) LWB: Nílton Santos (Roberto Carlos)



5) DM: Lothar Matthäus (Rijkaard)

8) CM: Johan Cruijff (Didi / Zidane)

11) AM: Diego Maradona (Platini / Zico)



7) Di Stéfano (Garrincha)

10) Pelé (Best / Eusébio) 

9) ST: Ronaldo (Müller / Puskas / Van Basten / Romário)




                      BECKENBAUER                MOORE

 C.A.TORRES                                                         N. SANTOS




                       DI STÉFANO




maramu 5 pts

 JGG Whith such a roster, I think, when you loose the ball, you are in a bad shape

snakehips 5 pts

Noticed Paul Scholes' name cropping up quite regularly in these types of polls.

Great player that he was, find it difficult to see how he would even get into Man Utd's greatest team ever

- let alone a world's greatest ever team.

As a central midfield player - Keane,Robson,Stiles + Edwards were surely in a different league.

Occasional games left-sided midfield - but he comes up against Best + Giggs.

Right-sided midfield - Ronaldo + Beckham.

Many games as a forward (supporting forward - not striker - especially early on in career

- but Law,Charlton,Cantona,Rooney,Nistleroy + Sherringham would have to be the front-runners.

Apologies,Man U fans - great player - a player's player - but not one of the greatest ever.

snakehips 5 pts

Well on last night's form (Celtic 2 - Barcelona 1), looks like the world's best current team below may have lost (most Barcelona players). Genuinely well done, Celtic.Everyone likes a David v Goliath.


Messi not unstoppable/unplayable tonight, anyway - nor the rest of the crew.See Mascherano paying centre-back as used many times before - still think he is the best holding midfielder in the world.


Ps.getting back to world's best ever - see team below, Carlos Alberto definitely scored one of the best goals ever - but his international career was fairly brief - compated to the likes of Cafu + Thuram - who both were intrinsic players (right-backs) in their world cup wining teams - Brazil + France, respectively.

No figures to hand, but both either passed or were close to 100 caps.


Think that THAT goal + the 1970 Brazil best team ever general acceptance may have obscured the fact that other players/right backs/wingbacks were actually better players - brilliant though Carlos Alberto was. Just out of interest who was the left-back in the same Brazil 1970 team?

Get my point? Can't see him on anyone's list.Comments?

JGG 5 pts

 snakehips Hi, man. The LWBs on the Brazil 1970 squad were Marco Antônio and Everaldo. Both of them were considered one of the weak links on the team, together with Felix (GK) and Brito (CB).


Regarding CARLOS ALBERTO TORRES, he is widely regarded, together with DJALMA SANTOS, as the greatest RWB of all time. No contest there, my friend. Believe me, it's not just because he was in a great team that he deserves the title (as you can tell by the obscurity of the names I mentioned above).


C. ALBERTO TORRES was included on the FIFA World Team of the 20th Century and capped Brazil 53 times, scoring 8 goals.

DJALMA SANTOS made it onto the FIFA World Cup All Time Team, played in FOUR World Cups (winning two) and capped Brazil 98 times.


Both of them hold the title for greatest RWBs ever and were named so by several institutions. There's really no dispute there. They were an essential part of their squads.


In Brazil, CAFU is generally considered the third greatest RWB. As great as he was, he wasn't as complete as the other two and still ranks behind them.

snakehips 5 pts

 JGG Genuinely interesting + good point.But that poll was back in 1998, as I understand.Cafu achieved a great deal after that.142 caps altogther  - most capped Brazilian ever + 2 world cups + Euro Cup with Milan.

He played for Brazil almost three times as many games as Alberto.

Amazing resilience + endurance - quick, reliable + dynamic. 

So difficult to compare different players from different times.

Also The FIFA team (4-3-3), as you pointed out had two rightbacks + three attacking midfield players - Cruyff, DiStefano + Platini.

I was looking for a team which would 'work' - the best 'team'.

Hence the inclusion of two primarily defensive midfield players.

Whole of FIFA team for those interested:



Alberto Santos Beckenbauer Moore

Cruyff Di Stefano Platini

Guerrincha Pele Maradona.


More opinions needed - everyone had a valid one + it is always so interesting just to see what people think - as long as it is not a list of players from the last few years who come from the club they supported.There is some great knowledge out there.Go on - prove us all wrong!:)

JGG 5 pts

 snakehips Well, a lot of what I say is from what I've heard and researched. I never saw Djalma Santos and Carlos Alberto Torres play, although my grandfather did and he assures me that they were in a league of their own. I mean, anyone who can sustain their status for so many decades has to have been an exceptional player, right?


Anyway, I was talking more about what is general agreement in Brazil amongst football critics, journalists, historians and researches rather than what I think.


Regarding Cafu having more caps than the other two, I don't think that is enough to place him ahead of them. It's not just about  how many times a player has been active. Many legendary players didn't have over 70 caps (probably most of them) and still are considered some of the greatest ever.


Anyway, in terms of who has a better resumé, the order would be 1) Djalma Santos (4 WCs disputed, 2 won), 2) Cafu and 3) Carlos Alberto Torres. But of course, Torres caused a huge impact on the game and really revolutionized the RWB position, so in terms of importance (and sheer technique), he'd be very probably number 1. In terms of sheer defensive functions, Djalma Santos would be again #1.


So, the overall impression I get is this:


Greatest Brazilian Right Backs

1) Djalma Santos/Carlos Alberto Torres

2) Cafu

3) Leandro/Nelinho


Those are the Top 5 greatest Brazilian names on the postition, with the first 3 names being the greatest of all time worldwide as well.



snakehips 5 pts

Just to clarify 'Ronaldo' as the striker in the team refers to Brazil Ronaldo

(three times world player of the year + highest ever total scorer in World Cup)

- not current Madrid/Portugal Ronaldo (who is referred to as C Ronaldo).

Despite verastility, could not find a place for Neeskens + many other top players.


Just for interest, current top world team.


                                    C Ronaldo   Messi   


                        Xavi      Alonso     Mascherano   Iniesta

                       (Bale)    (Mata)      (Busquets)    (Tevez)

                        Cole       Vidic         Pique      Ramos

                        (Alba)          (Y Toure)            (Alves)


                                        (Hart + Krul)


Rest of squad in brackets - some liberty with centrebacks as Ramos is proven there + right-back.

No traditional right winger - because Alves (Barc) could easily play there.


Anyway, minor diversion - back to the world's best EVER!

The platform/soapbox is all yours/your turn now................




snakehips 5 pts

Yes - Muller.incredible player.similar type to Romario - absolute 10/10 finishers.Just thought that Ronaldo (Brazil) was like a force of nature in his time.Like Usain Bolt now - or Jona Lomu (to use rugby(!) at his peak.Fast, massively powerful + never missed. Don't know a great deal about Larsson - presumerably not Sunderland! LOL (laughs).Seem to remember Larsson being brought in at a late stage by Ferguson (Man Utd) + winning the title.If it's the same one (popular surname)

-  he was obviously some player with a massive impact. Van Basten was great - I think everyone remember THAT goal.Retired early + never won world cup - but I guess you could say that of Best.Ronaldo above (Brazil) also seemed to lose all incentive after injuries when about 28. 

There's just so many good players. 


If playing now - like a visiting 'Harlem Globe Trotters' against all-comers,think I would have used the 2011-12 Man City formation.4-4-2: with two defensive midfield players - Dida + Mattheus.So would have had the easy (!) task of dropping one of Best,Pele,Maradona,Zidane or Ronaldo from 1st draft team.LOL. It's an endless enjoyable debate - loads of names sprang to mind after listing the team.Seeing old clips of Eusebio destroying top quality defences makes you think if he had been Brazilian, he would be everyone's 1st choice. Still think Messi + C Ronaldo have a lot to do on national stage.Maradona won with Argentina on his own.The ten other players in his side could have been picked from the crowd before the match! Messi has Tevez Aguero Collocini (Newc) Maxi Rodriguez (ex-Liv) + others of quality.Guess it's a case of getting them to play well together.On paper, on a par with Spain maybe).


Anyway,here's my final draft team:.


Final Draft Team:


                                               Ronaldo            Pele


                        Best                                                                Maradona

                                               Didi                   Mattheus        


                        Facchetti        Beckenbauer    Baresi             Cafu





G:    Buffon Casillas

FB:  Maldini Thuram

CD: Hansen Cannavaro

CM: Keane Zidane

WM:Guerrincha Cruyff

F:    Romario Eusebio


Standby: Khan Brehme Sammer Stiles Di Stefano Puskas Messi.


This team allows a more defensive start to games than the 1st draft.

Two primarily defensive central midfielders - allowing the four flair players to flourish.

Basically Man City's tactics last season (2011-12).

Mattheus was a brilliant World Cup winning captain who defended + attacked.

Like the old 'Bryan Robson' style - both ends of the pitch.

Carrying on the Man City/modern day theme, he would be Yaya Toure to Didi (Barry).


In any second half, the attacking options available - Zidane,Cruyff + co (above)

- would surely win any game.Anyway,finally happy with this team (final draft).


Congrats to providers of this fantastic list + the detail/time which has been spent compiling it.

So grateful that it shows high intelligence + has inspired some great debate/comments.

Stated at first that there was a predictable concentration on forward + midfield players.

But on Saturday,to quote again (!) Gary Neville (a defender) said that's were the best players play!


Many thanks again for the opportunity to contribute to this!

Look forward to comments/further discussion.:)










Akiak 5 pts

Very good list. Only complaints are the lack of Bergkamp, one of the most skillful players in EPL history, and Willem van Hanegem, considered by many the second best dutch player in history, better than the 3 milanistas. List could also use a couple more from Ex Yugoslavia, namely Dragan Dzajic and Milos Milutinovic.


Those who could easily be dropped are Johnny Rep, Redondo, David Villa and Eto'o.

JGG 5 pts


1) GK: Lev Yashin (Gordon Banks)

2) RWB: Carlos Alberto Torres (Djalma Santos)

3) CB: Franz Beckenbauer (Figueroa)

4) CB: Bobby Moore (Baresi)

6) LWB: Nílton Santos (Roberto Carlos)



5) DM: Lothar Matthäus (Rijkaard)

8) CM: Johan Cruijff (Zinedine Zidane)

11) AM: Diego Maradona (Platini)



7) Di Stéfano (Garrincha)

10) Pelé (Puskas) 

9) ST: Ronaldo (Van Basten / Romário)

francis 5 pts

 JGG Very good and similar to my choices although I would have Muller at No9

JGG 5 pts

 francis I respect your opinion, but wouldn't rank Muller ahead of Ronaldo at all. Not only has Ronaldo surpassed Muller as the all time WC scorer, but he was also a lot more complete as a football player and as a typical number 9 striker than Muller. Let's not forget the man was elected FIFA player of the year for 3 years. 


I'd still place Puskas, Van Basten and maybe even Romário higher than Gerd Muller.


Oh, and Zico and Didi would also make it on the bench. Forgot to include them on my squad.

francis 5 pts

 JGG Well of course it's your team but I don't think there has ever been a better  finisher than Muller, his goals stats speak for themselves.  Some of the other guys you mention were better all round players, but in such a great team you would only need someone to finish and no one was ever better in the penalty box then "Der Bomber"

Still a great team though, congrats.


Thought I should mention that Van Basten is my own personal favourite, after Henrik Larsson of course ;o)

snakehips 5 pts

Generally well thought out/justified list.

Inevitably concentration on the forwards + midfielders - percentage wise (the glory players).                How many defenders saved/won games?


Apparently Pele himself said Best was the best ever.

Nobby Stiles - World Cup + Euro Cup.

Could mark any player out of a game.


Brehme - German left back - immense + a habit of winning games with a single goal.

Di Stefano + Neeskens brilliant but too high (not World Cup Winners).


My team (with rest of traditional 23 man squad after:


                                  Ronaldo   Pele 

         Best                                                     Maradona

                                  Didi        Zidane


         Facchetti          Baresi    Beckenbauer   Cafu




G -   Buffon Khan

FB - Brehme Thuram

CB - Hansen Cannavaro

CM - Stiles Mattheus

WM- Guerrincha Cruyff

ST -  DiStefano Romario


Standby - Keane Banks Moore Eusebio Messi.


Uncomfortable leaving out -

Puskas,Carlos Alberto,Philol,Desailly,Henry,Rychard,Maldini,Carlos,Pasarella,Xavi,Iniesta,

Krol,Keane,Sammer,Davids,Casillas,Neeskens + no doubt others.


But the team has balance,flair + is attacking-minded with enough defensive options in the squad

+ plenty of room for a brilliant squad rotational system.


Anyway, pleased to make a contribution! Hope this adds to the debate!:)

francis 5 pts

 snakehips  I don't believe Pele said that about Best or if he did it was one of those leading questions the British press are so good at asking.

Like when they asked Klinsmann how he felt about getting the opportunity to play in England and he replied with "it's always been my dream", funnily enough the same answer he gave when he signed for Inter.

adamrhbrown 5 pts

 francis  snakehips Actually I believe Pele did say that once, but he does say a lot of things. However, you might be interested to know that Maradona once said it too.

francis 5 pts

 adamrhbrown  snakehips Mmmmmnnnnnn another guy talks crap. Besides I think Best is a wonderful player, just the most overated ever especially in the UK.

UsamaShakir 5 pts

where are paul scholes and ryan giggs you gotta be kiding me ..eric cantona ? bergkamp ? 

elelelelel 5 pts

my team would be:


                                                                              Lev Yashin




Carlos Alberto             Franz Beckenbauer                Franco Baresi                 Roberto Carlos






Jimmy Johnstone                                               Pele                                                           Maradona                



                                                          Zidane                      Messi



Subs: Cassilas, George Best, ronaldo, kenny dalglish, di stefano

Durbbb 5 pts

This list is garbage. The most talented player ever Ronaldinho at 39 is madness!!, C Ronaldo not even on the list yet eto'o is?! And No Clarence Seedorf?? One of the Champions leagues greatest ever players.

aDutchmenAlwaysKnowsBest 5 pts

Where is Purrel Frankel on this list???? He is a freaking legend in De Graafschap. I can not take this list too serious. Purrel Frankel belongs here.

djuasse 5 pts


The real site with the legends of the football with their biographies

biatch0r 5 pts

R9 at 18 and listing his ability at 92? He should easily be in the top 5 and have an ability of 100 considering what he's achieved with the major injuries he's managed to come back from.

Conversation from Facebook

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

It's in the reasons there Alan, in the short argument with each player.

Alan Mahmood
Alan Mahmood

why u choose maradona better than pele?

Cláudio Alegria
Cláudio Alegria

i was about to ask you what had happened to the part 2 of this series, looks like i've got good stuff to read to distract me from work today =)

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

He should be in one of the many that missed out actually. Can't argue against lifting Celtic to a Uefa Cup final and then contrbution to 2006 CL.

Michael Dore
Michael Dore

What about Henrik Larsson, believe he should have got a mention at least.

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

Oh yeah, haha! It's been a long week finalising the list!

Michael Dore
Michael Dore

well that went right over your heads!

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

Dalglish also didn't really make it for his Celtic career

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

Ultimately, Rangers players didn't quite have the European pedigree. Baxter very unlucky to miss out though

Michael Dore
Michael Dore

Jinky & Kenny make the list, no Gers again, lack of Scottish referees in Europe deprived Rangers players of playing at the highest level.

Emmet Gates
Emmet Gates

hes won more than maradona too, but he isnt half as good. by the way the lack of batistuta on your list was shocking. pound for pound has been the best striker of the last 20 years.

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

Have to agree to disagree on Messi I'm afraid. His ability is unreal. And his application is even better. Sure he's already achieved more - in terms of major trophies - than both Baresi and Ronaldo did!

Emmet Gates
Emmet Gates

messi is too soon, baresi should have been top ten, the man is the best defender in the history of football. messi wasnt as talented as ronaldo or baggio. he gets so much protection from referees nowadays compared to the 80s and 90s. plus he hasnt done much with argentina. olympic gold aside.

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

Personally, I agree on Messi. Think he'll be up there.

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

Much appreciated guys!

Ciarán Coyle
Ciarán Coyle

Great list, so glad Stevie Me wasn't in it. What you wrote about his positional play is spot on, he plays football like a giddy 13 year old i.e. just follows the ball around the pitch, not the play.

Timothy Bane Mwinyella
Timothy Bane Mwinyella

Huh! Somehow in the very order I wrote. What are the odds that Messi will top the list by the time he retires? B.t.w GREAT JOB with these lists.

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

You'll have to click, haha!

Timothy Bane Mwinyella
Timothy Bane Mwinyella

lemme ask before i click on it? Maradona, Pele or Cruyyf?