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Home Sports The best 50 footballers of all time ranked with Cristiano Ronaldo in shock position

The best 50 footballers of all time ranked with Cristiano Ronaldo in shock position

by Nike
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The best 50 footballers of all time ranked with Cristiano Ronaldo in shock position

The 50 greatest footballers of all time have been named and ranked with the position of Cristiano Ronaldo in particular sure to gobsmack fans.

One of the main reasons we all love football is due to the different opinions we all share, with pub discussions over ‘which was the best goal?’ Or ‘Was he a good signing?’ typically lasting hours and hours.

Probably the most controversial footballing conversation of the 21st century is the debate over who has had the superior career, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

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This long-standing debate may have been put to bed in rather cynical fashion as the top 50 players ever have been ranked by the Daily Mail.

A notable absentee from the top 50 is Neymar Jr, who misses out despite being Brazil’s all-time top goalscorer as well as winning every trophy available to him in Europe.

See the full list below, but for now, let’s take a closer look at the top 10.

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10th- Cristiano Ronaldo

Rather shockingly, the man who many consider to be the greatest to ever do it only just sneaks into the top ten. Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or throughout his career and is the highest-scoring player EVER.

The now 39-year-old also captained his national side to their first-ever international trophies and holds the record for the most international goals of all time with 128 goals for Portugal.

Ronaldo also holds the record for most Champions League goals in history with 141 and has won the competition a record five times which included three consecutive titles from 2016-2018.


9th- Zico

In 9th place comes Brazilian legend Zico who despite never winning a World Cup title is widely regarded in Brazil as a bigger hero than many other players involved in World Cup-winning squads.

Zico was known for his dead-ball ability and was by far the star man in Brazil’s 1982 World Cup squad.

8th- Garrincha

Another Brazilian legend comes in at 8th with Garrincha sneaking ahead of both Ronaldo and Zico.

Garrincha is widely regarded as the hero of Brazil’s 1958 World Cup victory and was crowned the player of the tournament in 1962, a year marked by the significant absence of Pele due to injury in the initial stages.

7th- Ronaldo Nazario

It’s the other Ronaldo who claims seventh spot and is rather controversially ahead of the Portuguese star. Ronaldo’s natural talent was something to behold and he was rewarded with two Ballon d’Or wins but unfortunately, his career is a story of ‘what could have been?’ due to significant injury troubles.


6th- Alfredo di Stefano

Real Madrid’s second top goal scorer of all time behind Cristiano Ronaldo, De Stefano was a man who defined what it meant to be a Galactico. De Stefano won five European cups and was on the scoresheet in every single final, including a sensational hat-trick in the 1960 final.

5th- Zinedine Zidane

Here we go into the top five, enter Zinedine Zidane. One of the most brilliant aspects of Zidane’s game was his ability to glide across the pitch with the ball despite his rather large gangly frame.

The Frenchman’s first touch belongs in the Louvre, and you could quite easily hang his incredible first-time volley in the 2002 Champions League final alongside it. He made football art.

4th- Johan Cruyff

Arguably one of the most important minds in football, Johan Cruyff narrowly misses out on the top three. Cruyff is widely believed to be the founder of the concept of ‘total football’ a tactic that is still visible in today’s game through managers like Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta.

The Dutchmen won three consecutive European cups for Ajax and birthed one of the most iconic skill moves in all of football at the 1974 World Cup against Sweden.

3rd- Diego Maradona

Maradona instantly became the best footballer on any pitch he stepped on, and if one match could sum that up perfectly it’s the 1986 World Cup against England.

Rather awkwardly many still remember his infamous ‘hand of god’ goal rather than focusing on the greatest World Cup goal of all time. A goal that Lionel Messi came close to identically recreating against Getafe for Barcelona.

2nd- Pele

Just missing out on the top spot comes Brazilian and footballing icon Pele. Pele holds the distinction of being the only player to have won the World Cup three times, with his first triumph achieved as a teenager in 1958. He later became the iconic leader of the greatest football team in history, the Brazil side that clinched the 1970 World Cup.

1st- Lionel Messi

It was never going to be anyone else, was it? The greatest footballer of all time is Lionel Messi, the man with the most Ballon d’Or wins in history unsurprisingly sits on the thrown.

Messi has enjoyed one of the greatest careers in footballing history, winning the Champions League three times for Barcelona, a club in which he is the top scorer.

The Argentine added the crown jewel to his collection in 2022 by winning the World Cup in Qatar, a tournament where he scored seven goals, which included four penalties.


Full Top 50 via Oliver Holt

50th- Gareth Bale

49th- Robert Lewandowski

48th- John Robertson

47th- Roy Keane

46th- Lothar Mathaus

45th- Hugo Sanchez

44th- Paul Gascoigne

43rd- Hristo Stoichkov

42nd- Denis Law

41st- Thomas Muller

40th- Romario

39th- Jairzinho

38th- Thierry Henry

37th- Dennis Bergkamp

36th- Franco Baresi

35th- Gerson

34th- George Weah

33rd- Andres Iniesta

32nd- Xavi

31st- Paolo Maldini

30th- Stanley Matthews

29th- Lev Yashin

28th- Nándor Hidegkuti

27th- Duncan Edwards

26th- Kenny Dalglish

25th- John Charles

24th- Gianni Rivera

23rd- Bobby Moore

22nd- Cafu

21st- Marco van Basten

20th- Michel Platini

19th- Roberto Baggio

18th- Ronaldinho

17th- Eusebio

16th- Kylian Mbappe

15th- Gerd Muller

14th- Sir Bobby Charlton

13th- Ferenc Puskas

12th- Franz Beckenbauer

11th- George Best

10th- Cristiano Ronaldo

9th- Zico

8th- Garrincha

7th- Ronaldo Nazario

6th- Alfredo di Stefano

5th- Zinedine Zidane

4th- Johan Cruyff

3rd- Diego Maradona

2nd- Pele

1st- Lionel Messi

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