The ingenuity and creativity that symbolize the game of football would render a form of art rather than the physical context of the sport. Football players are granted the freedom of expression that is why it is the distinguished sport from others. Cricketers and baseball players are limited to specific actions, but football players may dribble, tackle, pass, or shoot in variety of different ways, which allows footballers to reach the peak of the sport.
The list below doesn’t include the current star players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, rather the list contains the players who have retired from the beautiful game.
10. Zinedine Zidane – France
Zinedine Zidane’s strong points are his passing, strength, ball control and individual skill. We got to see the best performances from Zidane in the most important or decisive games that we don’t get to see from many players. In 789 games he scored total of 159 goals as a central midfielder. He won 2000 European Championships and 1998 World Cup with France. With Real Madrid and Juventus he won one European Cup and 3 league titles.
9. George Best – Northern Ireland
The career of George Best was inundated by drink problems, but his ability and talent was almost unmatched. With Manchester United he won two league titles and 1968 European Cup. In 579 games he scored total of 205 goals as an attacking midfielder and was the winner of Ballon d’Or in 1968.
8. Ferenc Puskas – Hungary
Puskas was known for his precise goal scoring ability. Combining his scoring talent with the ability to produce new skills and general intelligence, he scored 700 goals in total of 705 matches. With Real Madrid he won 5 league titles and 3 European Cups. In 1954 he led Hungary to the World Cup Final.
7. Alfredo Di Stefano – Argentina
Stefano was a prolific player for Real Madrid with 511 sensational goals in 702 games. He wasn’t an orthodox forward though; he used to appear all over the filed, passing, tackling, and dictating the game. As a whole he was a complete footballer the game has ever seen. He won 5 European Cups with Real Madrid, and won total of 13 league titles throughout his career.
6. Michel Platini – France
With 353 goals in 652 matches, it wouldn’t be wrong to say Michel was an attacking midfielder. He was a superb free kick taker and excellent passer. Scoring 9 goals in 1984 European Cup, he almost helped France to win the championship. He won 3 league titles and a European Cup with Juventus.
5. Franz Beckenbauer – Germany
In today’s lingo, Beckenbauer was a defensive midfielder or a sweeper, but that wasn’t enough to stop him from scoring 111 goals in 776 appearances for Bayern Munich and Germany. Just like Di Stefano, he was seen all over the field, exerting his influence and dictating the game. Obviously he was the decisive captain, but combined with his all round technical ability, passing and dribbling; he was surely one of the greatest footballers ever. He won the 1972 European Championships, 1974 World Cup, along with 8 league titles and 3 European Cups during his career in clubs.
4. Johann Cruyff – Netherlands
Cruyff had the pace and dribbling of George Best and the strength, control and skill of Zinedine Zidane. Combination of calculating intelligence, clinical ability and sublime gracefulness made him the complete football player. As an attacking midfielder he scored 401 goals in 710 appearances. He won 10 league titles and 3 European Championships.
3. Zico – Brazil
Zico’s capability in football world was never in question, though he was seldom included in the list of top players due to his deficiency of successes. He was a prolific goal scorer with 527 goals in 769 matches. His ability to produce unique skills and shots also made him remarkable creator of goals. Moreover, he had mastered the free-kick and heading ability. He won 4 league titles and the Copa Libertadores.
2. Pele- Brazil
Pele is often ranked the best footballer in the history of the game. His dribbling ability, pace, strength and sheer power saw him score varieties of goal. In 1366 games he scored 1282 goals. The ultimate goal score machine helped Brazil win World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He also won 5 league titles and 2 Copa Libertadores.
1. Diego Maradona – Argentina
Undoubtedly Maradona’s talent was the greatest ever seen in the history of football. His crossing and passing were precise, his goal scoring was clinical and unique, and his dribbling ability was mesmerizing which helped earn him plenty of assists throughout his career. Being an attacking midfielder he score 345 goals in 680 matches. Though he had a difficult career than Pele, he still won 3 league titles and 1986 World Cup. He also won UEFA Cup with Napoli.