Top 100 Soccer Players Ever – by the ‘Association of Football Statisticians’

‘Greatest Ever Footballers’ by Headline publishersNote: This is the same article I published on, which you can find here.

It’s that time of the year again. The time when a random (ok, let’s call it ‘well-respected’ if you prefer) football publication makes an “All Time Best” ranking that never fails to create controversy and offend a few people. FourFourTwo did one of those last month, this time it’s the turn of the Association of Football Statisticians’ to make its Top 100, after studying every fact and figure from the beautiful game over the past 100 years. Points are given for goals scored by forwards and clean sheets for defenders. Players also get awarded marks for trophies won, captaincy and the level they played at throughout their career.

It should come as no big surprise to see Pelé at nº1 spot (the Brazilian legend totalling 16,799.44 points), but the names and rankings further down the list are bound to raise some eyebrows. The analysis of The Sun highlights the biggest problems in English Premiership terms:

  • Manchester United legends George Best, Denis Law and Eric Cantona don’t make the top 100.
  • Ali Daei’s 109 goals in 149 games for Iran puts him at 26th – ahead of players like Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho.
  • Diego Maradona is ranked only 6th.

The publishers explain to The Sun that Best misses out because he never participated in a World Cup tournament, and had a fairly short career, while Ali Daei won his place by scoring 109 goals in 149 international matches for… Iran.

The page of the ‘Daily Star’ with the Top 100 article

The Daily Star takes a look the UK players, and finds out that England’s top star is Bobby Charlton in 23rd spot, two places above Scotland’s Kenny Dalglish. David Beckham is 44th, Kevin Keegan at 46th, Gary Lineker 56th, Welsh ace Ryan Giggs 62nd, and Michael Owen 68th. Alan Shearer misses out of the top 100.

Further analysis of the ‘Best 100′ reveals that the top 3 trio is 100% Brazilian (with Ronaldo 2nd and Romario 3rd… and Cafu closing down the Auriverde block at 10th). Figo is 4th, Zidane 5th, and other big names such as Platini (13th), Maldini (15th), Zico (16th), Gullit (18th) and Cruyff (21st) are excluded from the Top 10.

The most represented nation is France (with 16 players), followed by Brazil (11), Italy and Germany (10). England totals 7, Argentina 5 (Messi not included).

Also, in terms of overall football career, the most represented European league is the Serie A. Indeed, most of the Top 100 played at one point or another in Italy: Serie A totals at least 58 players in that ranking, closely followed by La Liga (44), and the EPL (36).

Other represented leagues include the Bundesliga (22), the French Ligue 1 (22), the Dutch Eredivisie (20), and the Portuguese Superliga (5). As for South America, the Campeonato Brasileiro counts 11 players while the Argentine Apertura/Clausura only 8 (most of the Brazilian/Argentine stars obviously beginning their career back home). An interesting note is the total of 13 players who played in the MLS/USL (mostly at the end of their careers), making North America the destination of choice for footballers close to retirement.

As for the Italians, aside from the aforementioned Paolo Maldini the remaining 9 players in the list are Paolo Rossi (43rd), Alessandro Costacurta (49th), Dino Zoff (51st), Alessandro Del Piero (60th), Demetrio Albertini (64th), Giacinto Facchetti (75th), Franco Baresi (77th), Gianni Rivera (78th) and Roberto Baggio (79th).

The Top 100 is revealed in the book Greatest Ever Footballers, on sale next week by Headline publishers for £14.99 (€21.50).

Here’s the full list.

1 Pele Pelé (Brazil)
2 Ronaldo Ronaldo (Brazil)
3 Romario Romário (Brazil)
4 Figo Luís Figo (Portugal)
5 Zidane Zinedine Zidane (France)
6 Maradona Diego Maradona (Argentina)
7 Matthaus></td>  <td>Lothar Matthäus </strong></td>  <td><strong>(Germany) </strong></td>  </tr>  <tr>  <td><strong>8 </strong></td>  <td><strong><img src= Lothar Matthäus (Germany)
8 Muller Gerd Müller (Germany)
9 Beckenbauer Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
10 Cafu Cafu (Brazil)


11 Roberto Carlos (Brazil)
12 Marco van Basten (Holland)
13 Michel Platini (France)
14 Rivaldo (Brazil)
15 Paolo Maldini (Italy)
16 Zico (Brazil)
17 Raúl (Spain)
18 Ruud Gullit (Holland)
19 Eusébio (Portugal)
20 Ferenc Puskás (Hungary)
21 Johan Cruyff (Holland)
22 Alfredo di Stefano (Argentina)
23 Bobby Charlton (England)
24 Jürgen Klinsmann (Germany)
25 Kenny Dalglish (Scotland)
26 Ali Daei (Iran)
27 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Germany)
28 Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina)
29 Michael Laudrup (Denmark)
30 Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)
31 Dennis Bergkamp (Holland)
32 Frank Rijkaard (Holland)
33 Thierry Henry (France)
34 Pavel Nedved (Czech Rep)
35 Gheorghe Hagi (Romania)
36 Peter Schmeichel (Denmark)
37 Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
38 Sepp Maier (Germany)
39 Didier Deschamps (France)
40 Lilian Thuram (France)
41 Enzo Francescoli (Uruguay)
42 Hakan Şükür (Turkey)
43 Paolo Rossi (Italy)
44 David Beckham (England)
45 Jean-Pierre Papin (France)
46 Kevin Keegan (England)
47 Marcel Desailly (France)
48 Oliver Kahn (Germany)
49 Alessandro Costacurta (Italy)
50 Clarence Seedorf (Holland)
51 Dino Zoff (Italy)
52 Patrick Kluivert (Holland)
53 Jari Litmanen (Finland)
54 Daniel Passarella (Argentina)
55 Bixente Lizarazu (France)
56 Gary Lineker (England)
57 Ronaldinho (Brazil)
58 Sylvain Wiltord (France)
59 Bebeto (Brazil)
60 Alessandro Del Piero (Italy)
61 Davor Šuker (Croatia)
62 Ryan Giggs (Wales)
63 David Trezeguet (France)
64 Demetrio Albertini (Italy)
65 Patrick Vieira (France)
66 Jürgen Kohler (Germany)
67 Laurent Blanc (France)
68 Michael Owen (England)
69 Youri Djorkaeff (France)
70 Frank De Boer (Holland)
71 Emilio Butragueño (Spain)
72 Hugo Sánchez (Mexico)
73 Rudi Völler (Germany)
74 Djalma Santos (Brazil)
75 Giacinto Facchetti (Italy)
76 Kanu (Nigeria)
77 Franco Baresi (Italy)
78 Gianni Rivera (Italy)
79 Roberto Baggio (Italy)
80 Oscar Ruggeri (Argentina)
81 Gheorghe Popescu (Romania)
82 Jon Dahl Tomasson (Denmark)
83 Raymond Kopa (France)
84 Carlos Valderrama (Colombia)
85 Rui Costa (Portugal)
86 Gary Neville (England)
87 Edgar Davids (Holland)
88 Claudio Taffarel (Brazil)
89 Paul Scholes (England)
90 Diego Simeone (Argentina)
91 Bryan Robson (England)
92 Roy Keane (Rep of Ireland)
93 Brian Laudrup (Denmark)
94 Henrik Larsson (Sweden)
95 Fabien Barthez (France)
96 Michael Ballack (Germany)
97 Jan Koller (Czech Rep)
98 Edwin van der Sar (Holland)
99 Robert Pirès (France)
100 Johan Neeskens (Holland)

Posted in Soccerlens, World News |

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  • 274 Responses to “Top 100 Soccer Players Ever – by the ‘Association of Football Statisticians’”

    1. john so says:

      Weah is also in Genius Class ,


    2. Arwin says:

      crappy… Holland has 9 players but instead England is mentioned with 7 and how is Van Basten ranked higher than Cruyff? Bergkamp is listed way too low, his technique and diligence was insane.

    3. Luke says:

      NO GAZZA!

    4. Ilian Nachev says:

      Hristo Stoichkov deserves to be higher on this list – at least in the top 10!!! It is not fair when other players who never left as big of an impact in soccer are ranked higher.

    5. Ndi Richard says:

      Not at all satisfied. I thought Samuel Eto’o Fils should feature. Why not Roger Mila too. The list should be revised

    6. Hristo says:

      im bulgarian and i think hristo stoichov should be higher but i think ronaldhino should be number 1 cause this list is bull fuckin shit

    7. Dr E. O. Olanipekun says:

      Yr List needs some corectn : Pele’ remain.1st Zined. Zidane2nd, Ronaldo de Lima 3rd, Nwankwo kanu 4th, Romario 5th, J.J.OKocha6th, George Weah7th, Maradona8th, Samuel Eto9th, Bebeto10th. Ronaldinho11th, George Best12th, Maco van Basten13th, Paolo Maldini14th, SchiMicheal15th, Thiery Henry16th, Roberto Carlos 17th, Rivaldo 18th, R. Bagio19th, Oliva Kan 2Oth, David Seaman 21st, Histrino Stoichov 22nd, Lilian Thuram,23rd, Davor Sucker24th Lionel Messi 25th. Roger Mila26th, Didier Drogba,27th. Zico28th, Klivert 29th, Note dat David Becham & Diego Simoni shld not make d list of 100 World Best. Hav fogotn d name of v gud Brazilian during Pele’s time it shld be among d best 5 in d World

    8. Dr E. O. Olanipekun says:

      30th Dennis Bergkamp, 31st Mitche Platini,32nd Finidi George33nd Frank Deboer, 34rd Ruud Gullit,35th Allessandro de Piero, 36th Youri Djorkaeff, 37th Marcel Dessaille, 38th Paolo Rossi, 39th Clearance Seedorf,, 40th Shevchenko, 41th,Bobby Charlton. 42nd D Deschamp,43 John Cruyff,44th Gabriel Batistuta,45th Cafu ,46th G. Muller 47thJurgen Klinsman , 48th F.Barthes, 49Hossam Hassan 50th Patrick Viera, 51st Ali Dei, 52nd Luis Figo,53rd L. Mathiaus, 54th Jan Liftman 55th G Lineker, 56th Allan Shearer, 57thAlfredo Stefano ,58th karl Heinze, 59th Abedi Pele. 6oth Rigobert Song , 61st Ferenc Puskas ,62nd M. Ballack, 63rd Eusehn ,65th F. Beckenhauer, 67th Kalusha Buwaya,68th kevin Keegan,69th Frank Lampad, 70th G. Popesceu, 71st Rashidi Yekini, Rauul, 72nd,Hakaru Sukur, 73rd Segun Odegbami, 74th Robert Pires, 75th Raj Majjar, Trezguet, 76th Robson,77th Victor Ikpeba, 78th E. Francescolli. 79th Laurent Blanc,80th Sylvian wiltford .

    9. Dr E. O. Olanipekun says:

      83rd Franco Baresi, 84nd Rudi Volleq, 85th Gianni Riveria,86th Oscar Rogeri, 87th Christian Ronaldo, 88th. Uche Olke chukwu, 89th Emilio Butragueno, 90th.Vander Saar, *51st Delnison(Brazil), *50th Emmanuel Ammunike, *52nd ITALIAN Goal Keeper in USA ’94 (name forgotn) instead, 93rd G. Facehetti ,94th Taribo West, 95th Sol Cambell, 94th ,Micheal Essien, 95th Guut, 96th Dino Zoff, 97th Jean pierre Papin, 98th.& 99 Cole brothers( of Man U),100th CZEC(Chelsea Goal Keeper).

    10. celts says:

      How can george best not be in the the top5

    11. emad says:

      I think didier drogba is the 1st . i love him really … ;-)

    12. hans says:

      ali daei should not be in the top 100. who is he?

    13. Alex-Romania says:

      I sincerely think that you can not make a top 100 football players of all time because it wouldn’t be fair for the football players, but you could make a large database with best players of 1990-2012, and you could make the people vote. I also think that you should put it in categories such as GK’s, Defenders, Midfielders and Strikers. This list should include players like GK: Zubizareta, Kahn, Zenga, Schmeichel, Kopke, Canizares, Buffon, Casillas, Victor Valdes, Nuno Claro; DF: Matthaus, Cannavaro, Thuram, R. Carlos, Lizarazu, Maldini, Nesta, de Boer, Neville, Kuffour, Hierro, Tony Adams, Nemanja Vidic, Maicon, Dani Alves, Kompany, Lahm, Evra, Gladstone; MF: Maradona, Beckham, Figo, Zidane, Overmars, Davids, Pires, Scholes, McManaman, Giggs, Roy Keane, Basler, Hamann, Nedved, Veron, Seedorf, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Sneijder, Essien, Mascherano; ST: J.P. Papin, Klinsmann, Stoitchkov, Savicevic, Baggio, Suker, Pizzi, Djorkaeff, Ravanelli, Bierhoff, Batistuta, Casiraghi, Mijatovic, Bergkamp, Kluivert, Laudrup, Vieri, Del Piero, Morientes, RAUL, Shearer, Owen, Drogba, Suarez, Higuain, van Persie, Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi… The list is much much bigger but I hope I, at least, woke up some memories in you. As far as for romanians: Bogdan Lobont, Razvan Rat, Cristian Chivu, Gheorghe Hagi, Ciprian Deac, Adrian Mutu. That’s all. TNX ;)

    14. jack says:

      why does’nt dragan stojkovic in this list he is one of the best footbal players ever.

    15. hi says:

      Sorry alex but I don’t think they shoul make ppl vote cuz all kids nowday will vote for c.ronaldo and messi

      I real love the list I think it more then fair and my bast 2 players of all time are ronaldo(brazil) and zidan

    16. hi says:

      Should **

    17. Steve Williams says:

      Possibly the worst list I have ever seen mainly because the best centre half that ever lived or shall I say definately in a top 3 consisting of Baresi n Beckenbauer , Bobby Moore is by far the best centre half ever lived and you uneducated footabll idiots class Gary Neville better , ask Pele who the best defender he ever came up against is !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    18. Manuel el Bueno says:

      The list is ridiculous. It is really obvious that the writer was just made consideration based on players’ stats and achievements, instead of their historical value. How can Johan Cruyff cannot make it to top 10? I see an anomaly in the name of Gary Neville. He is surely a good player, but how can he outlist Fabio Cannavaro who in fact is the FIFA World Best Footballer in 2006. And where is Lev Yashin? He was the most iconic goalkeeper in his time. God, I can make 1-2 pages to make this list looks not valid.

      And hey, Hans? You don’t know who Ali Daei is? GTFO! We are discussing about football legends, not some great players that you played in your console game your momma bought. He is pretty good footballer in his time, and arguably deserves to be the top 100. Why? Because he was represented Asia when there is not so many Asians playing outstandingly back then.

    19. Akamo Abdoolateeph Olatoonjee says:

      so many loopholes in dis list..atleast all d players dat av won d ballon d’or shud b here…where’s messi,where’s ronaldo..wats owen,beckham doing in dis list..where’s george weah & also anoda african legend samuel eto’o?lotta finz still gotta b in place here

    20. Akamo Abdoolateeph Olatoonjee says:

      d mistake is jes too much..FIGO in top ten?…even ahead of d maestro Zidane?..jes cant stop laffing..a lotta correction shud b made in dis bullshit u call list

    21. Akamo Abdoolateeph Olatoonjee says:

      pele doesn’t deserve d best ever pls…someone dat cudn’t play in top european leagues so as 2 show case his striking prowess..gud taste of f’ball lies in europe..if he had played in europe i can beat my chest he’s not gonna score quarter of dat cos he’ll need lotta energy…even Messi dat neva won d world cup buh won d ballon d’or 4 a staggering 3 consecutive time n on d verge of getting d 4th & not in dis list,atleast shud av bn in d top 3,which will include Delima & Zidane,these are better players anyday anytime…gat d technical know-how,& very strong as well
      u’ve gotta really look-in very deep b4 making decision on dis kinda’s jst gonna b lyk placing d Mouthed Mourinho over Vincente Del Bosque in d best of coaches

    22. Mano el Buano says:

      Hey, Akamo. You know what? This list actually was made at 2007. It was 5 years ago. Yes, Messi and Ronaldo have been kicking the ball back then. Of course they’re great but both of them were still below the radar. No historical values were made by both of them… yet. Back then, we were still talking about Ronaldinho, Kaka and so on. FYI, Ronaldo won Ballon d’Or the next year after the list was made (2008) and Messi won it one year later.

      You can complaint about the disappearance of Messi and Ronaldo if the list were made at 2010 which in fact, is not.

      And please, kid, you need to attend writing class some more. Your comment is such a total chaos. I need some extra effort to read your words. Don’t let your Ma down, kid.

      And please don’t complaint about my grammars, I’m not a native english speaker/writer.

    23. JOHN SO says:

      Classic and ultimate ranking in soccer history :
      1. Maradona
      2. Ronaldo
      3. Messi

      4. Pele

      Other genius say Ronaldino , Cruyff , Platini , Tosto, Garrincha , Didi , Bebeto , Zidane, , Rivelino, Jairzinhos , Gerson , Kaka , Gullit , Shevchenko , Socrates , Kempesare , Beckenbauer , Eusebio , Batistuta , Figo , Rivaldo , Facchetti ,
      Desailly , Seedorf , Thuram , George Best , Romario … overall with distance to the above .

      sorry no reference for Puskás , di Stefano , they should be great and with high rankings .


      Beckham is a commercial star, not a good skill player .

      Think over, his skill is really poor , be fair .

    24. Mohamad sadegh says:

      ;-) ali daei 109 goals good